This year we observe the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, and for almost as long, Star Trek has been appearing on trading cards. Gene Roddenberry’s legacy has included several television shows and motion pictures, and by nature, the images on the cards have almost always been photographs. But one artist, Juan Ortiz, has re-imagined the classic TV episodes into something very different.
The Puerto Rican born artist moved to New York as a youth and attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He did illustration for Disney and Warner Brothers, as well as for DC and created his own comic, Silver Comics. But it was with Star Trek he found his true niche. A longtime fan of Star Trek, Ortiz liked the positive image of what the future could be. “I was always inspired by Star Trek and the contemporary world Gene Roddenberry was trying to escape from,” he said in an interview for CO. Design. Ortiz imagined the episodes of the classic Original Series portrayed in poster form, as if each was a separate movie shown in a theater. Using his unique retro-style, which is reminiscent of movie posters and advertising art seen in the 1960s, he created a poster for each of the Original Series episodes, carefully crafting an image to match the theme of the story. The Star Trek Poster project was well received by critics. In 2013, Titan Books published Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, a large coffee table type book. Ortiz’s website www.juanortiz.org, also lists posters, T-shirts, glasses, and calendars among other products, all with Trek poster images. The natural follow-up for Ortiz’s success was Star Trek: The Next Generation, which would become a much larger project. Among those who took notice of Ortiz’s art was Steve Charendoff, President of Rittenhouse Archives, who says, “I had seen Juan’s work, and immediately thought that the episode art he had done for The Original Series was perfect for a card set. I instantly was drawn to Juan’s artwork, it looked very different than what we typically see from Star Trek artists, and it showed a clever understanding of TOS and, later, TNG.”
The end result was Rittenhouse’s 2014 release, Star Trek the Original Series Portfolio Prints Trading Cards, featuring a beautiful base set of poster art. Charendoff adds, “It became apparent to me that if the TOS art worked well, we could do something similar for TNG, even if it meant splitting it into two sets.” This led to 2015’s Star Trek the Next Generation Portfolio Prints Part 1 Trading Cards, with 89 base cards done by Ortiz, the first part of the 177 card set. This summer, Rittenhouse will release part 2 of the series, with more stunning Ortiz art, and loads of cool chase and inserts.
The 88 base cards with even numbers, will go with the odd numbered first set to provide an artistic catalog of Next Generation, from “Incident at Farpoint” to “All Good Things.” There will be some unique parallel cards; each box will contain a Gold facsimile autograph of Juan Ortiz, and every other box will include a parallel base card hand signed by Ortiz.
A number of chase sets will be included, most of them continuations from the first set, such as the nine Universe Gallery Cards, featuring stylized portraits of Next Generation characters, at one per box. Look for a 40-card TNG Comics, with art from the 1989 DC series, also at one per box. There will also be 40 TNG Comics Archive Cuts, with original comic book panels, at 1:48 packs. Also at 1:48, nine Ships of the Line cards, with exciting action images of the Enterprise and other Federation craft.
A little harder to find (okay, at one per case, a lot harder
to find) will be 10 Next Generation Metal cards, with either
a beautiful Silhouette Gallery Portrait of a major cast member
or TNG Rendered Art cards, photo quality art of the
main bridge crew.
Rittenhouse has always delivered when it comes to autographs,
and this set will be no exception. Collectors will
find three autos in each box, with over 50 signers. Four of
the main crew are signing the black background Silver Signature
cards: Patrick Stewart, Gates McFadden, Michael
Dorn, and Denise Crosby. Expect these to be very limited.
The rest will be in Next Generation style, and include
both new and returning signers. Look for stars such as Samantha
Eggar as Marie Picard, Stephanie Beacham as Regina
Bartholemew, Mitchell Ryan as Kyle Riker, and many
more. Charendoff says, “Personally, I was really excited to
get Mick Fleetwood on board. It’s always a lot of fun to get
someone famous in another realm of celebrity to sign our
Star Trek cards. We’ve had a handful of people like that
over the years, so it’s always fun. We are not likely ever to
make cards for Fleetwood Mac, so it adds some extra fun
and excitement to collecting our cards. Aside from Fleetwood,
there are quite a number of first-time signers, so it’s
exciting to continue adding to what is an already expansive
list of autograph signers.”
There will be one final hit found in packs, at one per case, hand
drawn color sketches by some of today’s top artists. For those buying
cases, there will be some enticing incentives as well.
Charendoff promises more Trek sets in the immediate
future. He says, “We are planning another Star Trek 50th
anniversary set for the end of this year, and that set will
feature all of the various Star Trek TV series, and the classic
movies. Lots of cool features in that set, so stay tuned!”
He adds, “In 2017, we will certainly have a set of cards
for the upcoming movie — Star Trek Beyond — which will
likely also have elements from the two previous Star Trek
films, directed by J.J. Abrams. We also have plans for a second
series of Women of Star Trek cards, as well as Deep
Space Nine Heroes & Villains, and more. As details become
available for the new Star Trek TV series that debuts in
early 2017, we will roll out plans for that, too. So lots more
Trek cards on the horizon!!”
Charendoff is open to more Portfolio Prints sets if Ortiz
does more paintings. Star Trek the Next Generation Portfolio
Prints Part 2 Trading Cards is set for release on July 27.