Everything in Hollywood has a story, but to pop culture nerds, perhaps no story is more interesting than the one surrounding the controversy behind acclaimed writer Harlan Ellison and his popular Star Trek tale, “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Ellison wrote the original teleplay for the penultimate episode of the first season in early 1966, which he notes, “was changed vastly when the episode aired” on April 6, 1967. “The City on the Edge of Forever” focuses on the USS Enterprise discovering a portal through space and time, which ultimately leads to an accidental altering of history that Kirk and Spock, trapped in the 1930s, must race against time to correct. At its core, however, the episode is a genuine and moving love story between Captain Kirk and social worker Edith Keeler (Joan Collins).
Since its initial debut, “The City on the Edge of Forever” has been heralded as one of the best hours of the original series, landing on numerous lists from TV Guide, IGN and yours truly as one of the most widely revered episodes of television. It also garnered critical acclaim in the form of a 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and a Writer’s Guild of America Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay.
Despite all the accolades it has received, the full saga was one that was never seen by fans – until now. For the first time, IDW is releasing the story in graphic novel form, in the exact way that Ellison originally intended it to be told as a five-part graphic novel series that goes above and beyond what appeared on screen. Juan Ortiz will design a special cover for each issue, and variant covers will be produced by artist Paul Shipper.
“Presenting Harlan Ellison’s brilliant original script for “City on the Edge” has been a goal of ours since IDW first began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007,” series editor and IDW Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a press release. “The episode justifies its position atop “best Star Trek episodes” lists but even it ain’t nuthin’ compared to what Ellison did in his original teleplay. This is truly going to be a Star Trek adventure unlike any other, even to fans who have that beloved episode memorized.”
Working in tandem with Ryall, as well as artist J.K. Woodward and writers Scott and David Tipton (all of whom are no strangers IDW’s Trek world, Ellison is excited to offer fans the opportunity to see one of their favorite Trek episodes deconstructed and expanded in its original form. And sure, it might be four decades after the fact, but that doesn’t deter his excitement about the project in the least.
“For years, it has been a huge controversy,” Ellison told EW. “Which is better? My original version, as I dreamed it? Or as Roddenberry went back and had people rewrite? Now, for the first time since I had the original dream, somebody has interpreted it exactly as I dreamed it.”
In addition to being groundbreaking for providing a fresh look at the story, the graphic novel’s release also represents a personal milestone for Ellison – not only will “The City on the Edge of Forever” be released on the same month of his 80th birthday, it will represent his 102nd publication (all of Ellison’s previous work can be found by visiting www.harlanellisonbooks.com).
“The graphic novel, I think, is the perfect medium for storytelling,” Ellison explains. “It gives you more range and depth than television…it is as good as the best book you’ve ever read, because the book engages your imagination, and you have to see what’s there in a book. You have to see what’s behind your eyes. Television narrows your vision. The little handheld devices narrow your vision. The handheld device, the Internet, television…have all blurred everyone’s eyes. You go to a movie now, it’s like a physical assault. It’s like being beaten up in the streets of Red Hook. A movie is now six stories high with them throwing shit at you in 3D, rock after rock. To read a graphic novel is to engage your imagination is to engage all five of your senses, and to picture what the creator dreamed. And that’s what this book does for me.”
Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s Original City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay #1 will be available in June.