Monday, March 16, 2015

The Needs Of The Many...

In honor of the late Leonard Nimoy, here's my vector rendition of Mr. Spock.

The Spock we all know and love could have been a very, very different character. When producer Gene Roddenberry first made his pitch for Star Trek in 1964, he described Spock as "probably half Martian," with "a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears." He also thought it would be a good idea if rather than eating, Spock would ingest energy through a plate in his stomach (!). 

Fortunately, writer Samuel A. Peeples convinced Roddenberry that these traits would make Spock a little too alien, and suggested he be half-human in order to make him more relatable to audiences. Roddenberry agreed, and toned down Spock's alien-ness a bit. He also changed his home planet to the fictional Vulcan, because he worried that if Star Trek was a success, man might actually make it to Mars during the show's run (!!!).

Roddenberry was looking for an otherworldly name for the character, and eventually came up with the suitably alien-sounding "Spock." He claimed that at the time he hadn't heard of celebrity child expert Dr. Benjamin Spock. If he had, he no doubt would have chosen a different name, and we'd now be talking about Mr. Spork.

When it came to casting, Roddenberry inexplicably wanted DeForest Kelly for the role. Thankfully Kelly turned it down, and went on to play Dr. McCoy. Phew! Roddenberry's second choice was Adam West, but he was busy working on the film Robinson Crusoe On Mars. Phew again! The idea of Batman as Mr. Spock boggles the mind! Martin Landau was also considered for the role. 

Around that time Nimoy made a guest appearance on the Roddenberry-produced series The Lieutenant. The minute Roddenberry saw Nimoy's thin, gaunt features, he knew he'd found his Spock. He approached him for the role, Nimoy agreed, and the rest is TV history.

When NBC saw the first pilot, they were less than pleased with Spock. They worried that his "satanic" appearance would offend viewers in the South. They even went so far as to airbrush out his slanted eyebrows and pointed ears in publicity shots. Once the pilot was picked up, NBC demanded Spock be dropped from the series, which just goes to prove that network executives have never known what the hell they're doing. Luckily for us, Roddenberry persevered and the network eventually allowed Spock to stay.

Spock went on to become the most popular character on the show, receiving up to ten thousand fan letters a week.

Many of Spock's characteristics were invented by Nimoy himself. The split-fingered Vulcan salute for example, was actually a Jewish ceremonial gesture Nimoy witnessed as a child during church, and utilized it for the show. Nimoy came up with the Vulcan neck pinch as well, saying that Spock wouldn't stoop to simply punching a bad guy in the nose, and would find a more efficient and logical way to incapacitate an enemy.

Nimoy was surprised when Spock became a sex symbol, reporting, "I've never had more female attention on a set before. And get this— they all want to touch the ears!" He believed Spock appealed to women because he was "tall, dark, thoughtful, alien and exotic."

Spock has been an inspiration to many scientists and engineers, especially at NASA. Nimoy said that when many scientists met him, they would breathlessly tell him about the projects they were working on as if he were their intellectual peer (and could understand the concepts they were going on about). He said that in these situations he had a standard response: "It certainly looks like you're headed in the right direction."

After Star Trek was canceled, Nimoy tried to distance himself from the character for many years, but eventually made his peace with Spock and embraced him. In a recent interview, Nimoy said, "Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock."

As for the drawing, Spock's "Live long and prosper" salute gave me a lot of trouble. I just couldn't get it to look right, and finally had to (gasp) trace over a photo of him making the gesture.

Most of the characters I draw have only three fingers, which is a tradition in the world of cartoon illustration. You may note that Spock here has four. He had to— the gesture wouldn't have worked with any less.

Please forgive the ugly watermark on the illustration. I swore I would never add one to my art, because I know that 99.99% of my readers would never even think of stealing it. However, it was recently brought to my attention that a particular person out there was not only stealing my art, but selling it as her own (!). Hence the watermark, in an attempt to foil this art thief. This is why we can't have nice things.

I'm toying with the idea of selling this image as a print, if there's any interest.

Mr. Spock is a vector drawing, done all in InDesign.

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