Our big question today: Who was Yeoman Leslie Thompson?
Star Trek: The Original Series showed us she was a member of Captain Kirk’s away team and was killed when transformed into a dehydrated porous cuboctahedron solid—in other words, she was turned into a crumbly rock—and crushed. But instead of remembering her death alone, how about looking at how she lived her life and what she did during her Starfleet career? That’s what writer Sam Maggs and artist Rachael Stott have done with their short story “Legacy” in Star Trek: Waypoint #2 from IDW Publishing.
The comic is Maggs’ first. She’s written non-fiction books (read our review of her recent release, Wonder Women) and is currently employed as a writer at BioWare, so she’s not new to storytelling. She explained that comics offer something other mediums don’t. “I’ve always been a huge fan of comics,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite mediums for telling stories, because unlike with television or video games, you’re not limited by that budget in the same way. Whatever you dream up, you can put onto the page. I think that’s a really cool concept and something unique to comics, so I’ve always loved that world.”
Maggs was asked by IDW editor Sarah Gaydos to pitch a story for the anthology comic Waypoint—they’re publishing it to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Maggs knew what she wanted the focus to be immediately: “It was really important to me to make a Star Trek story for women, about women, by women. She [Gaydos] was super into the idea, and so we went from there and brought Rachael Stott on board as the artist. She’s worked on Star Trek previously and currently does The Twelfth Doctor comics for Titan Comics. The three of us got to make a cool comic about women in the Trek universe, and that was really exciting to me because I’m super passionate about that.”
When Maggs looked through the history of female characters in Star Trek that didn’t get their due, she came across Leslie: the only female red shirt that died in the original series. Maggs said, “I thought to myself, ‘It’d be so interesting to know how she got onto the Enterprise, what her story was, why she would’ve felt like the sacrifice that she made for the Federation was necessary or important.’ I was like, ‘I’m going to tell that story.’ Sarah was very generous and let me come up with whatever I wanted. I was able to tell a queer narrative, which was very exciting for me. Now, I hope that more people know about her.”
As mentioned, the story focuses what Leslie did as a member of Starfleet rather than her unfortunate ending. It’s an important perspective. Maggs told me, “So often, our narrative is decided by other people because we are perceived as victims or we have been through something horrible, and that’s what defines us. I think that doesn’t have to be what defines us as people. We should have the ability to write our own stories and to be the center of our own narrative and not to be the supporting member of someone else’s story. That’s what I wanted to do for Leslie, and I think that, especially right now, it’s so important.”
To illustrate what Leslie accomplished, Maggs went through the Star Trek: TOS catalog and looked for opportunities to ask where Leslie would have been. “How would she have helped? More than just the five people that we see in the episodes of the television shows or on this ship are making this stuff happen. We kind of forget about the other guys,” she said.
Maggs and Stott’s story claims about 10 pages in the issue, and they load it with emotion. Stott brought it. Maggs enthused, “I feel so fortunate that we were able to work with Rachael on this story because it was my first time writing a real comic. I gave it my best guess, but I love that collaboration in comics where the writer can be like, ‘And then this happens,’ and the artist takes that and extrapolates it into something beautiful and incredible and better than I ever could have imagined that it would be, which is absolutely what Rachael did in this circumstance. It’s so good and her facial expressions are so on the level. I know Rachael was really excited to draw a queer relationship, which was really cool, so we had some synergy on that. It was such a fun collaboration.”
Besides seeing Leslie Take Care of Business, the comic gives us a taste of her joyful family life with her wife and kid. Maggs said she was a little worried about including it because working with a licensed property can sometimes be tricky, but she said she shouldn’t have been concerned: “I wrote it in and never heard a thing about it, so it’s really cool. I think that just proves that, really, Star Trek is one of those properties, like I said, that has always been so progressive, so cool about this kind of stuff, which is awesome for people who need to see themselves represented in a positive light. I think it’s really important.”
Maggs has books and a comic under her belt, and as far as what’s next, she can’t say a ton yet. “I’m working full time for BioWare, so I’m not working on Dragon Age or Mass Effect but actually on their new IP, which I can’t really talk too much about yet–but I’m writing for that game,” she said.
Star Trek: Waypoint #2 is available at your local comic shop and on comiXology on November 16.
Images: IDW Publishing
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