Review: Star Trek – The Art of Juan Ortiz

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Remember Star Trek? I’m not talking about the modern franchise of the glitz and glitter movies. I’m talking about the original television series. I’m talking about the one that started it all. What would happen if each and every one of the original episodes, eighty in all, were made into blockbuster movies? Forget about all of the merchandising and inevitable movie trailers. To promote these “classic” movies, fandom would like – no, fandom would demand to see some spectacular movie posters.

In Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, the renowned artist Juan Ortiz has created a brilliant collection of movie posters, one for each of the eighty individual episodes of the original series. This is a big book with big pages. Utilizing a retro style of art, these pulp comic looking images bring to life the emotional story from each of the television shows that started it all.

The reader is first treated to an interview of Juan Ortiz by Christopher Cooper. We learn about the artist’s fanaticism of the Star Trek series and the painstaking effort it took to create these images.

The Man Trap from Star Trek - The Art of Juan Ortiz
The Man Trap from Star Trek – The Art of Juan Ortiz

On September 8, 1966, the first episode of Star Trek titled The Man Trap aired on television. Not the first episode filmed, nor the first episode in order (based on the stardates), the plot revolves around a salt eating shape-shifting creature from the colony planet M-113. In the imagined movie poster, Ortiz “tried to picture what Kirk’s view was while he was having the salt sucked out of him. By filling the page up completely, I hoped to give the viewer the sense of being smothered or trapped.” The painted image may not be as frightening as intended, but the artist gets his point across. There is no starship, no space scene and no other character from the show. The creature’s likeness takes up the entire poster and the viewer understands that THIS is what the episode is about.

Though a few posters seem to stray from the plot of their corresponding episode, the loyalty to the overall theme of the show is still evident in each and every page. Some however, are more in depth and draw from the special bond the episode may have built with its audience. If you have a favorite episode, you will probably be ripping a page from this book (or at least you’ll want to) and plastering them all over your walls. Admit it. It’s going to happen.

Plato's Stepchildren from Star Trek - The Art of Juan Ortiz
Plato’s Stepchildren from Star Trek – The Art of Juan Ortiz

On November 22, 1968, the season three installment Plato’s Stepchildren aired on television. Inhabitants of a planet sculpt their society on Greek traditions, but their telekinetic powers are used against the crew of the Enterprise crew. Historically cited as the first interracial kiss shown on US television, the image of Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura is perhaps as memorable as it was historical. While dressed in Greek attire, the famous image of Kirk and Uhura is once again immortalized in this would-be movie poster. As for the impression Ortiz had of his own artwork, “My favorite parts are the eyelashes.” Hmm, I wonder if they were looking at the eyelashes back in the sixties too.

The back of the book includes an index of the entire collection including production information and movie quotes. But the most telling aspect in this listing might be the personal comments from the artist. Inspirations, techniques, pleasures and failures are all included.

Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz is a must have book for any devoted fan of the original series. The only negative would be the final condition of the book after the pages are ripped from the binding. It’s a wonderful book, but you know this is going to happen.

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