Zander Cannon was the writer for IDW’s Star Trek and Transformers comic book series.
How did you end up writing for IDW’s Star Trek and Transformers titles?
I was recommended by Scott Dunbier, an editor at IDW, on both accounts. I had worked on Top Ten with Scott at Wildstorm, and so when he moved to IDW, he had me in his head as a relatively versatile writer. I had also done some tryouts as an artist for some Star Trek series (although getting the actors’ likenesses right was not my strong suit) and so I was fresh in their minds.
When working on both franchises, what kind of research did you do before writing the stories?
Well, when I spoke to the editorial team about Transformers, I told them that I really didn’t know anything about anything after 1986, when the Transformers and the 13-year-old me were precisely in sync. I thought that would be a problem, but it turned out that they wanted a original 80s Transformers feel to the book. So I approached it that way; I intended it to be aimed younger than the other projects that were coming out at the time, which was not a big hit with the most vocal Transformers fans. I have been told that the book ended up selling very well, however.
For Star Trek: TNG, I had to really go back and do some research. I had seen perhaps a dozen episodes when they were on TV, so I borrowed some DVDs from a neighbor and dove in, watching probably 5 seasons in a pretty short amount of time. The funny thing was that you really only have to watch about a dozen episodes before you get the formula and characters pretty well. I did a fair amount of fact-oriented research as well with online scripts and the Star Trek Technical manual just to get a little more of the technobabble to make sense.
Out of the IDW titles that you’ve worked on, is there one that sticks out in you mind?
I’ve only done the two; I was writing and doing layouts for them both at the same time, so what I remember was this sort of mad rush of creativity where I would be solving storytelling problems while I was walking to work or driving somewhere. I really enjoyed swapping between the two, from semi-serious science fiction to robots turning into trucks, that was also, for reasons unclear to me, supposed to be semi-serious.
Are you currently working on any projects?
Why yes! My studio partner (but not brother) Kevin Cannon and I are currently working on a project called Double Barrel, which is a digital-only pulp anthology from Top Shelf. He and I are both serializing lengthy pulp novels, as well as working on other, smaller projects in each issue. The issues are averaging around 100 pages each, for $2. Kevin’s serial is Crater XV, a sequel to his 2009 Eisner-nominated pulp graphic novel Far Arden. Mine is Heck, a story about a man named Hector who inherits his father’s house that turns out to have a portal to hell in the basement. He starts a company that resolves inheritance disputes by just asking the person who wrote the will, but he soon has to do some errands for an old flame that shows up. We are really excited to be making old-fashioned pulp adventures but distributing them digitally; it’s nice to have the old and the new fit together so neatly.
Nerdy Question: If there was a cross over between Star Trek and Transformers, what would you want to see in it?
I would want someone to build a robotic Picard that transforms into the Enterprise-D. Or a robotic Wesley that turns into a shuttlecraft.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the questions! And I’m serious about that robotic Picard.