A little research showed that a few people had made starts at such a project over the years, and at one point the Star Trek comics published by DC Comics included their own time line, putting their stories in order.
As the work on the book progressed I took more and more notes, and with the aid of my wife Gill, made an attempt at compiling what I felt was the first comprehensive Star Trek comics time line covering all the comics issued between 1967 and 2007 (i.e. from Gold Key to TokyoPop).
Unfortunately while the completed timeline was in the final draft submitted, it had to be dropped from the final printed version of the book due to space and cost limitations (adding the time line section would have meant adding more pages than had already been allocated, with a subsequent increase in cover price - not something we wanted to do.)
But rather than just have that work sit on my laptop hard drive I have decided to present it here on my blog over the coming weeks and months.
And as I don't have any print space restrictions I'll be presenting an expanded version with cover art and synopsis of key stories.
To kick things off here's the Introduction to the timeline section as it would have appeared in the book.
STAR TREK COMICS - A Time Line
Given that almost every Star Trek story opens with a narrated Captain’s Log entry with an associated Stardate, it seems natural to try to put the various stories into some sort of chronological sequence. At first it would seem that the most logical way to do that would be to order the various adventures by the given Stardate. However, many of the published stories have no corresponding Stardate attached, and those that do use inconsitent methods. The problem is further complicated by the fact that even the official Stardate convention is confusing and inconsistent (see below for more on Stardates).
Since we know that most of the Star Trek stories take place in the 23rd and 24th centuries, the next obvious approach would be to list the stories in chronoligcal order based on conventional dates—in effect, to build a timeline. A timeline for the Star Trek prose novels has already been published in the excellent Voyages of the Imagination, and several of the people behind that project have made inroads into combining some of the comics stories into that timeline. In this chapter we have published what we hope is the first comphrensive timelime of Star Trek comics series, combining the stories from all the publishers listed in the previous chapters. The time line is based on chronological dates and, as far as possible, fitting the stories in with known established points in the history of the Star Trek universe. Of course with any fictional universe with input form a large number of creators inconsitencies are inevitable.
The official definition of a Stardate is that it is intended to be a comprehensive calendar system used across the United Federation of Planets. Some other races and intergalactic organizations have also adopted the Stardate system. The system is designed to provide a unifed way of expressing time between locations which may be light-years apart and onboard ships that travel at relativistic speeds.
From a practical storytelling perspective, no one has ever officially (i.e. on screen) explained just how the system works. Stardates are simply made up by the creators of the TV shows, movies, novels and comics.
Bob Greenberger explained that in the early days of his tenure as editor of the Star Trek books at DC Comics the creative teams “did what we could to follow the lead of the film or episodes depending upon where our stories fell.” As a back up they used previously published sources if possible. Howard Weinstein concurred: “hey had to fit in with what the TV shows and movies established. “Once I decided where my stories fit into the TREK timeline, I'd base my stardates on ‘official’ dates used in the TV episodes and films.”
In ST:TOS, Stardates were generally four digits long. When ST:TNG aired, the show’s producers settled on a five-digit standard. The first digit was a 4 (because the show was set in the 24th century), the second digit signified which season of the show the episode was from, and the remaining digits increased as the season progressed. So a Stardate of 42002.9 would be early in the second season of ST:TNG, while a Stardate of 45998.2 would be late in the fifth season. The ST:TNG format was also carried over to ST:DS9 and ST:VOY.
In the main body of the book, I have quoted various Stardates exactly as they appeared in print in the original stories. However, for purposes of indexing, I have converted them to a standard four- or five-digit date followed by a decimal. For instance, in issue #10 of the Gold Key series, the Stardate is given as 12:48.6, while in the sixth UK story arc the Stardate is shown as 48.12.46. In this list they are shown as 1248.6. and 4812.46, respectively.
If a story has more than two Stardates shown, I have tried to use the Stardate in which the majority of the action occurs. If the story uses flashbacks, I have used the Stardate when the story starts.
Stories Listed Chronologically (Timeline)
Constructing an accurate calendar-based timeline for the Star Trek comics will be an ongoing process. Presented here is an initial attempt. The following criteria have been used in developing this timeline.
Where possible, events have been assigned a calendar date (or an approximate range of dates) based on references to other events where dates have already been established, continuity considerations, visual clues such as uniform styles, crew rosters, and the like.
This timeline was compiled by Alan J. Porter and Gillian J. Porter, building on work previously done by Bob Greenberger, Win Scott Eckert, and James McCain. (Off course any errors, omissions, bad guesses and outright mistakes are totally mine, and corrections, suggestions are welcome.)
The first Star Trek Comics Timeline entry will be posted soon.