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

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Old October 2 2013, 02:43 PM   #31
trampledamage
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Yes, please do.
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Old October 10 2013, 12:15 AM   #32
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Re: Peter David comic book story

I have a question, if I may. What did David Arnold actually do that got him in Roddenberry's good graces and allowed him to achieve his exalted position? And what did this guy do for a living that allowed him to pay his bills while he did volunteer work for the franchise? California ain't cheap. And if he had so much power over Trek, how did his ass get cashiered when Rod died? Who ended up with the power? I guess that's four questions, but...

I know he was fired. But I don't know who fired him. I'm wondering, while Arnold ran the show and dicked people around, who was really in charge, and why those people allowed him to do what he did but then fired him after Gene died, if indeed those were the same people all along. And didn't he somehow find himself doing a lot of Trek stuff even after getting fired?
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Old October 10 2013, 09:34 PM   #33
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Re: Peter David comic book story

SicOne wrote: View Post
I have a question, if I may. What did David Arnold actually do that got him in Roddenberry's good graces and allowed him to achieve his exalted position?
Richard Arnold.

And what did this guy do for a living that allowed him to pay his bills while he did volunteer work for the franchise?
I don't think it's any kind of secret. When I first met Richard in January 1984, he was a senior bellboy at a Los Angeles Hotel. That was his regular dayjob, and he was a volunteer tour guide at Paramount on his days off. On weekends, he was a Trek fan. In the early 70s, he ran a fan club for Grace Lee Whitney, attended conventions, got friendly with the actors, Bjo Trimble, Susan Sackett and the Roddenberrys - and proved his worth as having a very good memory for Star Trek trivia, which made him a rather useful go-to person when the only reference book was Bjo Trimble's "ST Concordance".

Similarly, when I ran a large Trek club here in Sydney in the 80s, Australia, I was often the person getting urgent, weird calls from the media, at all hours of the day and night, asking really dumb Trek questions because I usually knew the answers.

California ain't cheap.
But it is filled with hotels.

And if he had so much power over Trek, how did his ass get cashiered when Rod died?
He was paid to read all ST tie-in proposals and manuscripts on behalf of GR, so that GR didn't have to, and to relay comments to the licensees. That was one part of his job. It was the huge financial success of ST IV, and the coming of TNG, that convince Paramount that a ST Archivist paid position was required. Prior to that, I know Susan Sackett had read all the Bantam novels' manuscripts for Roddenberry.

Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek Office on the Paramount lot was closed when Roddenberry died in September 1991. Susan Sackett, who had begun with Gene as a secretary in the early 70s, was fired immediately, as was Richard. No boss = no job. Ernie Over, Gene's chauffeur and personal assistant, had already been moved across to Roddenberry's own payroll about six months earlier when GR was too ill to be driven to the office on a regular basis, and Ernie continued as Majel Barrett's chauffeur and personal assistant for about a year.

Who ended up with the power?
Responsibility for vetting the manuscripts fell to Paula Block, then-head of CBS Consumer Products. Her office had read all manuscripts back from the Viacom days. ie. from the early 80s, all ST tie-ins were vetted by both the Star Trek Office (representing GR's interests), and Paula's team, representing Paramount's interests.

The old position of of Star Trek Archivist (doing duties such as supplying official images to the tie-ins and the media) was downgraded, and held by Guy Vardaman, who had acted as RA's assistant for several years.

I know he was fired. But I don't know who fired him
The Office was closed. His job vanished.

I'm wondering, while Arnold ran the show
No, he was simply "Star Trek Archivist".

and dicked people around
Imagine all the gross errors he caught. Literally thousands, I imagine.

who was really in charge, and why those people allowed him to do what he did
Contractually, Roddeberry was allowed to scrutinize the licensed tie-ins and ensure they represented Star Trek. And so was Paramount/Viacom/CBS.

And didn't he somehow find himself doing a lot of Trek stuff even after getting fired?
Yes, AFAIK, Richard still does actor liasion for conventions and freelance advice to tie-in licensees who seek out his services.
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Last edited by Therin of Andor; October 10 2013 at 09:48 PM. Reason: typos fixed
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Old October 12 2013, 04:05 PM   #34
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Thanks, Therin, that was much more detail than I've seen in what I remember of Arnold posts some time back. I had been of the understanding (erroneous now, I can see) that he worked for Paramount when in reality he worked directly for Roddenberry, so yeah, I can see him being out of a job when Paramount rolled up Rod's office. But I remember reading tales on the BBS about Arnold being difficult to deal with (and read a rumor that he had been brusquely escorted off property the day after Roddenberry's death), which if true would help explain why Paramount didn't find him a suitable position, which it looks to me like they then filled with Guy Vardaman. But now that I have more background on his position and his relationship with the Roddenberrys, comparing that knowledge with earlier stories about Arnold's way being the only True Way, was he genuinely relaying what he got out of scripts, proposals, et al to Gene and taking Gene's feedback to the authors and creators, or was he just making decisions in Roddenberry's name without really consulting him? I don't know what kind of a "hands-on" guy Roddenberry was while Arnold was working for him, whether he trusted Arnold's take on the material or whether he just didn't want to be bothered with it. I mean, as a Trek reader it doesn't have any real bearing on reading current Trek books, but there's been some uncomplimentary things said about him on the BBS and I'm curious if they're accurate as well as placing them in proper historical context. FWIW, even if I were paid to minutely examine every Trek proposal and manuscript that crossed my desk (and surely some of the truly bad ones got weeded out before even hitting Arnold's desk...), I might get a little surly and demanding myself while dealing with exceptionally shitty ideas.
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Old October 13 2013, 09:35 AM   #35
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Re: Peter David comic book story

SicOne wrote: View Post
I had been of the understanding (erroneous now, I can see) that he worked for Paramount when in reality he worked directly for Roddenberry, so yeah, I can see him being out of a job when Paramount rolled up Rod's office.
I think Richard's position was at least part-paid for by Paramount. Roddenberry convinced them an Archivist was needed when ST IV made so much money.

When Roddenberry passed away, they let Richard go and Guy Vardaman (who'd been his assistant) held the fort, finding images for the "Star Trek Fact Files", etc.

But I remember reading tales on the BBS about Arnold being difficult to deal with (and read a rumor that he had been brusquely escorted off property the day after Roddenberry's death)
Richard and Susan were "locked out" of the office the day after Gene died. This is normal procedure in showbiz, to stop disgruntled employees sabotaging things. A friend of mine was a clerical assistant of a big wheel in cinema distribution - for almost 20 years and she was "locked out" - and escorted off the premises, possessions in a box - when her boss got forcibly retrenched.

which it looks to me like they then filled with Guy Vardaman.
Exactly.

I don't know what kind of a "hands-on" guy Roddenberry was while Arnold was working for him, whether he trusted Arnold's take on the material or whether he just didn't want to be bothered with it.
GR was getting very ill by the end of Season One of TNG. I guess he found someone he believed would steadfastly examine each piece with GR's philosophy in mind.

I might get a little surly and demanding myself while dealing with exceptionally shitty ideas.
Approach Richard at a convention and talk to him. He enjoys talking to fans.
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Old October 14 2013, 06:25 AM   #36
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Re: Peter David comic book story

SicOne wrote: View Post
FWIW, even if I were paid to minutely examine every Trek proposal and manuscript that crossed my desk (and surely some of the truly bad ones got weeded out before even hitting Arnold's desk...), I might get a little surly and demanding myself while dealing with exceptionally shitty ideas.
Then you would suck at your job and shouldn't be doing it. There's no excuse, none, for unprofessional behavior. I've been a professional editor for 25 years, and I've dealt with a lot of crap in my time. I never bitched people out publicly nor did I treat anyone the way Arnold treated several Trek novelists and comics writers. His behavior was appalling, and the fact that he allowed himself to develop the reputation he developed means he did his job poorly. Any surliness and demanding-ness (which is totally not a word) should be kept to oneself, and problems should be dealt with politely and professionally.
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Old October 14 2013, 09:59 AM   #37
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Re: Peter David comic book story

SicOne, you might find this an interesting read. It's the short story of how Richard Arnold totally butchered the novel Probe.
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Old October 15 2013, 05:41 AM   #38
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Re: Peter David comic book story

So did Arnold actually have any professional training to be doing any of this stuff? Because it sounds like he was literally some dude off the street who happened to be friends with Rodenberry, and was just handed the job. I have to wonder if perhaps they wouldn't have been better off with someone with some kind of literary/creative analysis training.
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Old October 15 2013, 11:48 AM   #39
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Re: Peter David comic book story

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
SicOne, you might find this an interesting read. It's the short story of how Richard Arnold totally butchered the novel Probe.
Yes, first he took exception to it cos it featured some author-created characters that had appeared before in an earlier Trek novel, and then he went ballistic at a character in a rewrite that he took as an attack on Roddenberry.
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Old October 15 2013, 02:24 PM   #40
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Re: Peter David comic book story

JD wrote: View Post
So did Arnold actually have any professional training to be doing any of this stuff? Because it sounds like he was literally some dude off the street who happened to be friends with Rodenberry, and was just handed the job.
I have no idea if Richard has university training as a "literary/creative" analyst", but one of his jobs was to read proposals and manuscripts and pass his comments back to GR, and write memos to the licensees. How much training does that need? He was a fan with a very good memory for Star Trek trivia, and that's what GR wanted. It's not a talent that many professionals with "literary/creative analysis training" necessarily have, or would be interested to cram. And having RA around meant they didn't have to keep diving into Bjo Trimble's "Star Trek Concordance" every few minutes.

I have to wonder if perhaps they wouldn't have been better off with someone with some kind of literary/creative analysis training.
RA wasn't the only port of call re the tie-ins. He was reading things so that GR didn't have to read the whole thing himself. GR was simply too busy. Media tie-ins are bought and read by 2% of the general audience.

We know he did the vetting of tie-in manuscripts after Susan Sackett and others got too busy to do it. Susan is a professional writer, but she wasn't when started off in Trek - as GR's secretary, with a teaching degree behind her.

The proposals and manuscripts were already being examined by the licensees' editors and the representative of then-Paramount/Viacom Consumer Products. RA didn't have to be creative, just advise on problems he perceived. (He made some enemies doing that, certainly, but it was a group of angry writers and supporters who started publishing quotes from his memos on the Usenet and GEnie electronic bulletin boards. Normally, fans wouldn't have been privvy to such internal information.) I believe RA also looked at the scripts and Paramount's media releases, and again found many, many errors that others didn't.

Margaret Clark and Paula Block started out as Star Trek fans too, you know. I assume they've had training as editors, but perhaps not. Many, many professionals playing in the Trek sandbox - writers, actors, makeup artists, SPFX people, etc - got their start as enthusiastic, amateur fans who were in the right place at the right time, or knew someone who knew someone.

I've been a professional editor myself - I did it for five years - with no specialist training in that area whatsoever. (I still don't know or use all the correct markup symbols.) I was employed because I knew the topic being covered, not because I knew literary/creative analysis. And I received many accolades for the work I did, even increasing circulation from 2000 to 3000 copies over my time there.
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Last edited by Therin of Andor; October 15 2013 at 02:38 PM. Reason: more
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Old October 15 2013, 06:16 PM   #41
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Margaret Clark and Paula Block started out as Star Trek fans too, you know. I assume they've had training as editors, but perhaps not.
Margaret started as a writer/editor for DC and Marvel, working on the "Shadowline" series from Marvel's Epic comics imprint and on various titles for DC (not just Trek, but issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and a miniseries based on the Viper TV series), before she went to work for Pocket Books.
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Old October 15 2013, 09:03 PM   #42
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Christopher wrote: View Post
Margaret started as a writer/editor for DC and Marvel, working on the "Shadowline" series from Marvel's Epic comics imprint and on various titles for DC (not just Trek, but issues of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and a miniseries based on the Viper TV series), before she went to work for Pocket Books.
Yes, I know, but in her early days... she was an amateur Star Trek fan dabbling in fanzines, fan clubs and conventions.
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Old October 15 2013, 10:13 PM   #43
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Well, you said you weren't sure if she had training as an editor. On-the-job experience should certainly count.
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Old October 16 2013, 06:45 AM   #44
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
JD wrote: View Post
So did Arnold actually have any professional training to be doing any of this stuff? Because it sounds like he was literally some dude off the street who happened to be friends with Rodenberry, and was just handed the job.
I have to wonder if perhaps they wouldn't have been better off with someone with some kind of literary/creative analysis training.
RA wasn't the only port of call re the tie-ins. He was reading things so that GR didn't have to read the whole thing himself. GR was simply too busy. Media tie-ins are bought and read by 2% of the general audience.

We know he did the vetting of tie-in manuscripts after Susan Sackett and others got too busy to do it. Susan is a professional writer, but she wasn't when started off in Trek - as GR's secretary, with a teaching degree behind her.

The proposals and manuscripts were already being examined by the licensees' editors and the representative of then-Paramount/Viacom Consumer Products. RA didn't have to be creative, just advise on problems he perceived. (He made some enemies doing that, certainly, but it was a group of angry writers and supporters who started publishing quotes from his memos on the Usenet and GEnie electronic bulletin boards. Normally, fans wouldn't have been privvy to such internal information.) I believe RA also looked at the scripts and Paramount's media releases, and again found many, many errors that others didn't.

Margaret Clark and Paula Block started out as Star Trek fans too, you know. I assume they've had training as editors, but perhaps not. Many, many professionals playing in the Trek sandbox - writers, actors, makeup artists, SPFX people, etc - got their start as enthusiastic, amateur fans who were in the right place at the right time, or knew someone who knew someone.
But wouldn't most of them have been in a lower position, with someone with more training above them? (This is not sarcastic or rhetorical, I am honestly curious)

I've been a professional editor myself - I did it for five years - with no specialist training in that area whatsoever. (I still don't know or use all the correct markup symbols.) I was employed because I knew the topic being covered, not because I knew literary/creative analysis. And I received many accolades for the work I did, even increasing circulation from 2000 to 3000 copies over my time there.
I was not aware of that. I had assumed to be an editor you needed some kind of a communications, or writing degree or something along those lines.
I just thought it was weird that he was given so much power over the franchise, when based on what I've read his only real qualification was that he was a fan who knew Roddenberry.

It just seems to me that if you're going to be criticizing books, comics, and things like that professionally then you should have some experience or in depth knowldge of writing or publishing. But this is just my opinion, and I'll admit I have very little inside knowledge of Hollywood, and the publishing industry.
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Old October 16 2013, 06:53 AM   #45
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Re: Peter David comic book story

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, you said you weren't sure if she had training as an editor. On-the-job experience should certainly count.
Of course. (I mentioned my own on-the-job experience as a first-time editor.)

But the OP was doubting that Richard Arnold should have been allowed on-the-job experience. RA ran a fan club for Grace Lee Whitney in the late 70s/early 80s, AFAIK.

JD wrote: View Post
But wouldn't most of them have been in a lower position, with someone with more training above them? (This is not sarcastic or rhetorical, I am honestly curious)
When you go for a job, you sometimes simply have to perform better than other applicants at interview. Or sometimes be the only person in the right place at the right time.

I had assumed to be an editor you needed some kind of a communications, or writing degree or something along those lines.
So did I, but perhaps no one else applied? I wasn't ever allowed to know if I was the only interviewee, or if I beat others better qualified.

I just thought it was weird that he was given so much power over the franchise, when based on what I've read his only real qualification was that he was a fan who knew Roddenberry.
I'm sure when GR handed RA that first manuscript and said, "Susan's too busy to read this stuff. Would you have a look at this and see if the author is on the right track?" that no one imagined that writing drafts of official memos to licensees would be perceived as "power over the franchise".

It just seems to me that if you're going to be criticizing books, comics, and things like that professionally then you should have some experience or in depth knowldge of writing or publishing.
I presume RA was asked to examine the things for accuracy to the canonical Trek universe, choice of logo and whether images of the Enterprise were right side up or not, not to comment upon grammar, size of font or length of chapters. Certainly, at conventions RA has spoken at, he has given many examples of the types of bizarre little errors that he caught between 1986 and 1991, that no one else (ie. professional writers, marketing people, artists, editors, proofreaders, designers, etc) had noticed. I know there were a few times where he recommended that certain stories might work better with cover art that ascertained the TOS era being featured.

Not too different to being a "beta reader" for a media tie-in. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable fans are often given that gig. (I've been asked three times now.) No training necessary, just knowledge of aspects of "Star Trek".
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