Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't miss! Saturday's online Trek auction—with “visual technobabble”?

After all the big pioneering Trek auctions of recent years, let’s hope new bid-fests have not become passé.

Especially one THIS Saturday—tomorrow—that may have somehow flown low under your radar! It deserves better, because there’s a whole class of cool collectible that’s never really been out in public before. And if you are new to Trek auctions, you have to check this out.

Propworx, partnering now with for the online mechanics, is offering a huge new catalog of 257 various Trek goodies in an online-only, 21-hour auction opening at 1 pm ET/10 am PT (links below). My buddy Alec Peters, collectors’ guru blogger and founder of Propworx, points out there’s a raft of reasonable items in the $100-$200 range—all the way up to, amazingly, an actual original Star Trek series matte painting—on glass!—of Starbase 11 from “The Menagerie.”

But what caught my eye are a few bid items that should appeal to both art lovers as well as the graphics techheads—we know who we are!—and anyone who appreciates true Trek history.

Most of all— I bet you’ve never seen anything quite like them in a major auction before! Don't let them get away.

I’m talking about the original artboard paste-ups for what we lovingly call “Okudagrams,” after Mike O. himself—not just sketches, and not the final colorful translight controls and readouts as used on-set, but the ROOT of what made them: original paper black-and-white paste-ups on heavy stock, used to shoot film that was then gelled with cut-to-fit colored plastic sheet.

Eventually, about midway through DS9, tech finally evolved to allow a direct output from the art department’s Macs to a large, continuous-sheet renderer—ending the time-consuming paper paste-up, film shoot, and then cookie-cutter gelling of clear film. As with fully-formed filming miniatures, it was yet another hands-on analog process made outmoded by the CGI and digital tech evolution revolution.

But those artboard paste-ups—with a lot of fine type and in-jokes galore, for you eagle-eyed out there—actually are original works of art, too, when you think about it, and deserve to be framed and treated as such. Some of them are truly iconic and one-timers—like the Kirk and Spock personal log and daily schedules text panels from their quarters in Star Trek VI (above—apologies for the low-res image), or the animation board for the Klingon's sighting in to shoot Voyager 1. Others are like the oft-seen DS9 station cutaway chart with IDs, used everywhere—but this is the original! … or even the periodic table of the "elements" from TNG and DS9, or the DS9 Replimat menu and greeting signs, chock-full of a zillion small-type in-jokes.

What’s more, most of them even come with their own “certificate of authenticity” by way of scrawled handwritten notes to the camera operator, like “Please Shoot 150%."

Can you tell I love these things?  I have several, and they are a techheads' dream. Talk about touching the real thing... ! And being able to READ it, finally? C'mon, you text geeks—you know who you are.

All you need to do for bidding is to register on Live Auctioneers here—and you can also download the full color 158-page catalog for free at Propworx' site; it's as easy as Ebay to bid, and will stay open 21 hours. Alec's premiere Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction blog has been going since the Christie's auction in 2006 at

Saturday’s auction has tons of high- (and low-) profile costumes, props and paper goods like scripts and call sheets, too—and this session even has “rainbow pages” final scripts with the companion first-draft versions, itself a rare offering for those who love script evolution (but not well illustrated in the photos).

But wow—just don’t let the simple, underrated descriptions of the “artboard” artwork pass you by.

It’s like owning your own real piece of visual technobabble—suitable for framing!

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