Image: Devastator Press
In 1990, Joshua Chapman was an 11 years old with some homework to do. He had to complete a creative writing project for school. For inspiration, he turned on the television.
"I decided to write a guide to all the aliens on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation," he explained to his teacher in the introduction (in cursive!). "I think that this is the best show on TV." He was not wrong. TNG was wrapping up its third season at the time. But Joshua started from the beginning.
The kid had taped all the episodes. He paused the video whenever an alien popped up and took a Polaroid of the screen. With a pen, paper and his pics, Joshua put together a zine for the entire first season. He did not hold back his opinions in his assessments of the various aliens in the Star Trek universe.
"I don't get these aliens at all," he wrote of Ferengi. "They seem really dumb, and all they care about is making money." He had a pretty hot take on Klingons, too. "Worf is okay, but most of these aliens seem like jerks," he mused.
Joshua did not stop with the first season. The following year, he put together a guide to season two. He worked his way through the entire series, wrapping up with a zine covering six and seven in 1995. By then, he was 16 years old. His writing — well, typing at this point — had become… well, a little more R-rated.
In other words, reading through this boy's zines, you grow up with him. And we know this because someone found all his old childhood zines in a garage sale.
Now, these delightful, oddly touching works have been collected in the book A Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently published by Devastator Press ($15). Editor Zachary Auburn tracked down Joshua, and interviews him about the pet project of his youth.
"Does it help at all to know that twenty years later, people are still enjoying these zines," Auburn asks.
"Yeah, I'm real happy they are getting a kick out of my s***y childhood and how sad I was all the time," Chapman says sarcastically.
We can't recommend the book enough to any Trekker or Trekkie. The original zines are reproduced on glossy paper, enhancing your enjoyment of lines like, "These aliens are giant balls of gas, which is lame." (So he says of the Calamarians.)
His drawings are even more amusing. Pick it up now.