The Concordance Color Book — and three fantastic surprise autographs

This was going to be an article about the Star Trek Concordance, both the initial fan version and the later publisher editions, with a bit at the end about the Star Trek Concordance Color Book 1, a small fanzine-type collection of drawings.

I was flipping through the Color Book — and I found a David Gerrold autograph I didn’t know was there.

My first Star Trek autograph was Gerrold’s, on a first-edition copy of his The World of Star Trek. This foundation stone of my collection was purchased at Toronto’s Bakka sci-fi bookstore. I also have Gerrold’s autograph on a Trouble with Tribbles script (ordered online from him), a Vul-Con II convention program from 1975, and a seri-cel from the animated episode More Tribbles, More Troubles. (What is a seri-cel?)

I was thrilled to have another Gerrold autograph, especially as it was a surprise. I kept flipping through the book. And…

So, this was a moment for me. D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry. Wow.

All three autographs were personalized to Gennie Summers. She likely got her book signed at a convention. Roddenberry wrote “Hello Gennie, Sorry to missed you.” (He presumably intended to write “Sorry I missed you.”) I imagine she handed the book to a friend and then went off somewhere, just before Roddenberry came along.

It is impossible to definitively identify the convention. Equicon ’74 is a good candidate; Roddenberry, Fontana and Gerrold were all there (and there’s even some film from that con), although with most of the main cast in attendance and considering celebrities didn’t charge for signatures in the early days, it seems strange there aren’t more here.

Perhaps, as an amateur artist, Summers gravitated towards the writers in the lineup.

Ethel Gennie Summers

I was able to find information about Summers, as the unusual spelling of her name made for effective searches in online newspaper archives.

Summer loved art but, according to her hometown paper, the Springfield Leader and Press, she was “prevented from seriously pursuing art as a career by eye trouble a number of years ago.”

The February 12, 1967 article Cassville’s Miss Gennie Creates ‘Crazy Critters’ continues:

Miss Summers fashions all kinds of animals and birds — both real and fancied — from native nuts, gourds, pine cones, teasels, gourds, cockleburs, peach pits, acorns, sycamore balls and all kinds of seeds. Some of the results are so realistic they are described as “cute”; others so “far out” that they are fascinating.

(A teasel is a tall prickly plant with spiny purple flower heads, a cocklebur is a flowering plant in the sunflower family, and the journalist listed gourds twice — that’s not my error.)

Summers went on to create artwork for a number of fanzines, according to the site Fanlore. It reports that she won several FanQ Awards and lists more than 30 publications to which she contributed.

The fan story From Hell’s Heart used her illustration on the cover. The story is a sequel to The Wrath of Khan, according to Fanlore:

Khan’s spirit returns to haunt the Admiral, not having succeeded from getting his revenge.

“Khan’s obsession is the key that unlocks the door to Admiral Kirk… Khan vows to have Kirk chained at his feet, to serve him in HELL!”

Summers died in 2010, according to an obituary in The Cassvile Democrat.

ETHEL GENNIE SUMMERS

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ethel Gennie Summers, 85, of Cassville, passed away Tuesday, May 25, 2010, in Red Rose Health and Rehabilitation Center, Cassville.

She was born, Aug. 2, 1924, in Nebraska, the daughter of Alvin Dale and Ethel Mae (Smith) Summers, who preceded her in death.

She lived much of her life in Barry County. She was a self-employed dog groomer, but was more known by her close friends as a graphic artist for Star Trek. She designed the posters for the movie and also drew characters for Star Trek comic books. She even had a space ship in her home, which she invited some to get in.

Cassville, Missouri

The claim that Summers designed “the posters for the movie and also drew characters for Star Trek comic books” must be a reference to fan productions, and I could find no information on the spaceship that was in her home.

D.C. Fontana has that drawing on her wall

Not a coloring book, for some reason, but a “color book,” it was produced in 1973 by John Trimble, husband of Bjo Trimble, the people most identified with the campaign that got Star Trek a third season. It’s a small book, folded once and held together by one staple. It reprints artwork that appeared in The Star Trek Concordance, a fan-produced show encyclopedia. Its original iteration covered only seasons one and two, and I will write an article about it and the publisher editions that followed.

The centre spread — the one Roddenberry and Fontana signed for Summers — was drawn by Alicia Austin. The biography in the book says Austin is a cytotechnician who “illustrated many fanzines, as well as books, and the new science fiction magazine, Vertex.” She has 22 pieces of art in the book and lives in LA today. Visit her site to see more of her work.

Austin’s large drawing depicts a “young Vulcan” sitting atop his pet sehlat.

Her work is the go-to reference piece for none other than D.C. Fontana, who wrote both Journey to Babel, the original-series episode that first references Spock’s sehlat, and Yesteryear, the animated series episode in which we see young Spock with his pet, named I Chaya. In a July 2016 episode of the Saturday Morning Trek podcast, Fontana told host Aaron Harvey:

I wanted it to be kind of bear-like, so that it had a lovable quality about it. And I wanted it to be faithful, because the sehlat wanted to follow Spock, and did, and of course it saved his life. I made up that reference in Journey to Babel on the original series, as “Oh, it’s a teddy bear?” says DeForest Kelley, and then I think it’s Spock who says “On Vulcan, the teddy bears have six-inch fangs.” I have a picture on my wall by Alicia Austin of a sehlat, and when people say to me “What does a sehlat look like?” I show them Alicia’s picture.  

Four other artists contributed to the Color Book. Notable among them were:

Greg Bear: now better known as a novelist, with more than 50 books published, including the 1984 Star Trek novel Corona, Bear contributed three drawings.

Greg Jein: Jein went on to work on many Star Trek productions. He created the V’ger interior models for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, worked on two Enterprise-D studio models, contributed to TNG’s Encounter at Farpoint and other episodes, and worked on DS9, Voyager and many of the movies. The cover of Inside Star Trek issue 2 is his sketch of the Klingon battle cruiser; see my article on that here.

So, how did I end up with the book?

I bought the book out of a bargain bin at a Toronto Trek convention. I don’t remember exactly when because I didn’t take special note of it. It was sold in a plastic comic bag and I never took it out, so I did not know the autographs were inside. Clearly, the dealer didn’t either.

I paid $10 for it.

I bought it because it’s a quirky piece of Star Trek memorabilia from the 1970s, and I am a big fan of quirky Star Trek memorabilia from the 1970s. But at the time I wondered if it was worth $10.

A few months ago, I recommended that collectors go through their boxes of stuff after I was surprised to find some View-Master reels. That was fun, but it can’t touch the thrill of turning a page and finding a Gene Roddenberry I didn’t know I had. So, go through your stuff. Open boxes. Turn some pages. Seriously. You might find something wonderful.

And thank you, Gennie. I don’t know how your book got to that bargain box in Toronto, but I am glad it did and glad too to learn a little about your life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.