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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old June 7 2013, 06:51 PM   #1
JackSparrowJive
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I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

I could have sworn I read in one of the interviews at trekmovie.com at the ongoing JJ-comics were canon. Getting to the point; at the beginning of Into Darkness Kirk talks about having not lost any of his crew since being given the Enterprise. But in the first few issues of the comic series a few random joes get killed(including Gary Mitchell). So are the comics not canon after all, or is this just yet another example of canon contradicting other canon?
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Old June 7 2013, 06:54 PM   #2
The Wormhole
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

The "comics are canon" line comes from the infamous Trekmovie interview where Orci was essentially goaded and manipulated into saying they were canon, which he recanted within a day of the interview. Bottom line, they aren't canon.
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Old June 7 2013, 07:37 PM   #3
Christopher
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Yeah, it's so weird that that one interview where Orci was pressured into saying they were canon is remembered, while the dozens of other interviews he's given over the years where he said they aren't canon are forgotten. Perhaps it's because the former would be a more significant declaration if it were true.
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Old June 7 2013, 08:06 PM   #4
DorkBoy [TM]
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

I think its because it got repeated around a lot. And still does.

Also, I think people like to ascribe "semi-canonical" status to things where the on-screen creator was involved in some way. (Whether or not said writers said they were "canon.") For example: Jeri Taylor's Voyager books. Those were often declared "canon" by the fans back when they came out, even though, as I recall, they were contradicted by later episodes.

A lot of times such books can involve back-story that was created for the series but not shown on-screen. (Jeri Taylor's books used stuff she wrote for the series bible, for example.)

I think what people miss is that "canonicity" isn't about some sort of hidden knowledge the creators have about the past, its about the constraints that the writers have to be held to in order to tell a story in the future. So even if something was in Bob Orci's head, or the Voyager series bible, at one point, that doesn't make it canon until it shows up on the screen. Because they might change their minds or have a better idea later on.
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Old June 7 2013, 08:39 PM   #5
Christopher
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

DorkBoy [TM] wrote: View Post
Also, I think people like to ascribe "semi-canonical" status to things where the on-screen creator was involved in some way. (Whether or not said writers said they were "canon.") For example: Jeri Taylor's Voyager books. Those were often declared "canon" by the fans back when they came out, even though, as I recall, they were contradicted by later episodes.
But that illustrates the mutable nature of canon. So long as Taylor was the showrunner for VGR, her books were effectively canonical, because she chose to treat them as such. But once she wasn't running the show anymore, her successors didn't feel bound by her books, so they lost what canon status they'd had.

I think what people miss is that "canonicity" isn't about some sort of hidden knowledge the creators have about the past, its about the constraints that the writers have to be held to in order to tell a story in the future. So even if something was in Bob Orci's head, or the Voyager series bible, at one point, that doesn't make it canon until it shows up on the screen. Because they might change their minds or have a better idea later on.
Except that the only writers bound by those constraints are tie-in writers, or staffers working for the showrunner. A lot of fans have this impression that canon is some higher law imposed by the studio or God or something that the creators of the show are required to follow. That's getting it backward. The canon is simply the creation itself. Whatever is created or supervised by the work's primary creator is defined as the canon. It's not a policy or a stricture, it's just a word that means "the stuff created by the primary creator." Conan Doyle's Holmes stories are canon while other writers' are not. The Buffy comics directly plotted and overseen by Joss Whedon are canon while the earlier comics by other authors are not. And so on. And in the context of series television, the primary creator is the showrunner.

Sure, the creators of an ongoing series have a certain responsibility to be aware of its history and keep it consistent, but that's not because they're "constrained by canon" -- it's because staying true to the continuity of the canon they're creating is generally a good idea if you want to maintain your audience's suspension of disbelief. But in a work or franchise where the responsibility for its creation passes from one hand to another, then the new creator will bring a different vision and interpretation to events and may create new canon that overwrites old canon. Or even a single creator may choose to overwrite their earlier work with new interpretations.
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Old June 7 2013, 08:53 PM   #6
Greg Cox
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Yeah, it's not like there's some secret vault where the official "Bible" of Star Trek, including tons of untold, irrevocable, set-in-stone backstory, is locked away, inviolate and unchanging. The "canon" is something that's being made up as it goes along, by a succession of creators, who sometimes change their mind or contradict themselves.

It's a perpetual work-in-progress . . ..
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Old June 7 2013, 09:05 PM   #7
DorkBoy [TM]
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

^ Yeah, what Greg just said is what I was trying to get at.
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Old June 7 2013, 09:44 PM   #8
Greg Cox
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

I remember the original Voyager "Bible." Tuvok was an elderly Vulcan who was a mentor to B'Elanna. The EMH was named "Doc Zimmerman." And we weren't allowed to mention what kind of animal Chakotay's spirit guide was because that hadn't been decided yet.

Clearly, everything was set in stone from Day One.

Similarly, the original DS9 "Bible" contained no mention of the Dominion, Founders, Changelings, Vortas, pagh-wraiths, Jem Hadar, or any hint of Odo's origins. All of that came later.
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Old June 7 2013, 10:32 PM   #9
Christopher
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

And in the original TNG bible, Data had an Asian or Pacific-Islander appearance, his name rhymed with "that-a," he was the creation of mysterious aliens, he had the actual personalities of his colony's survivors stored within him, and "Bill" Riker was prejudiced against him. Plus Geordi was the liaison with the ship's children, and Worf didn't exist.

Nothing against Tim Russ, but I never understood why the VGR producers didn't think any of the older African-American actors they looked at were suitable for the part. There were and are lots of great actors who could've fit the bill. Imagine Roscoe Lee Browne as Tuvok, for instance. That would've been something.
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Old June 7 2013, 10:58 PM   #10
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

Christopher wrote: View Post

Nothing against Tim Russ, but I never understood why the VGR producers didn't think any of the older African-American actors they looked at were suitable for the part. There were and are lots of great actors who could've fit the bill. Imagine Roscoe Lee Browne as Tuvok, for instance. That would've been something.
Perhaps Berman/Paramount had a hope that this crew would make it to the big screen, so they wanted younger-ish actors?
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Old June 7 2013, 11:11 PM   #11
Christopher
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

^Seems very unlikely -- and Morgan Freeman's age, for example, certainly hasn't kept him from having a busy screen career. (Ooh, imagine Morgan Freeman as Tuvok...) But it could've been network/advertiser pressure to cast a younger crew in order to draw a younger demographic.
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Old June 7 2013, 11:33 PM   #12
R. Star
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

People put too much stock into what is and isn't canon. Given the creators and producers can't come to a consensus, why should we? If you like the comics and want to consider them part of your Trek experience, go for it. I haven't read them myself, and can't say I've much desire to, but that doesn't matter to anyone but me. I enjoy a lot of the books and consider them part of my Trek experience. I enjoy some of the games and consider them part of it. Really going around telling people what does and doesn't count is just silly at best.
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Old June 8 2013, 12:15 AM   #13
Lt. Cheka Wey
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

The contradictions so far are no bigger than the ones between the SWmovies and the rest of SW fiction.
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Old June 8 2013, 12:28 AM   #14
Christopher
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

R. Star wrote: View Post
People put too much stock into what is and isn't canon. Given the creators and producers can't come to a consensus, why should we? If you like the comics and want to consider them part of your Trek experience, go for it. I haven't read them myself, and can't say I've much desire to, but that doesn't matter to anyone but me. I enjoy a lot of the books and consider them part of my Trek experience. I enjoy some of the games and consider them part of it. Really going around telling people what does and doesn't count is just silly at best.
The problem is that it's a mistake to define "canon" as "telling people what does and doesn't count." That's a myth created as a result of the 1989 Roddenberry memo where he declared TAS non-canonical, which created a perception of canon as something defined by exclusion and opposition. But really, canon just means the work itself, and even a canonical series is subject to contradictions, retcons, errors, and reinterpretations.

The focus should be not on "canon" but on continuity -- yet with the understanding that continuity is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Maintaining consistency within a work is good for its plausibility and the audience's investment, but there can be instances where selectively breaking continuity can serve a purpose -- for instance, to remedy mistakes or discard bad ideas, to replace outdated scientific assumptions, and the like.

So it's not really about what "counts." It's about what serves the story.
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Old June 8 2013, 01:13 AM   #15
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Re: I thought they said the JJ-comics were canon?

BillJ wrote: View Post
Perhaps Berman/Paramount had a hope that this crew would make it to the big screen, so they wanted younger-ish actors?
No, IIRC, Tim Russ auditioned for TNG and the TOS movies a lot, and was a favourite with the casting people. He managed to score a few small roles with them prior to Tuvok. He was very nearly Geordi. Although Tuvok's description was for an older actor, Russ was able to audition and managed to impress the right people at the right time.
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