If you’re a regular listener you’ll know all the Women at Warp hosts are big fans of cats. So we were really excited to get the chance to interview artist Jenny Parks, creator of the new book Star Trek Cats (Chronicle Books, 2017).
W@W: Can you tell us a little about your history of Star Trek?
Jenny Parks: I was introduced to Star Trek through my mom, who used to be a huge Trekkie. Watching episodes of TNG was just part of my childhood, and I remember pictures of my mom and brother in Trek uniforms from a Star Trek convention back in the 90’s. I didn’t watch as much of the original series, but I do remember having this old computer screen saver that was TOS themed. The sound effects and pixilated graphics from that screen saver have stuck with me.
What made you decide to release your Trek art in book form?
The book actually came about because the publisher, Chronicle Books, approached me at San Diego Comic Con in 2015 and expressed interest in doing a book together. We didn’t even know what it would be at first, we just knew it would be with cats. We decided on Star Trek because of the huge loyal fan base, my own interest, and the fact that Chronicle Books already had a good relationship with CBS.
Was there any member of the crew that you had particular difficulty finding a cat-counterpart for?
Most of the crew didn’t take me too long to pick breeds for. Scotty as a Scottish Fold, Chekov as a Russian Blue, those were the obvious choices. I think it took a little longer to figure out McCoy, oddly enough. I eventually decided on a sort of scruffy gray and white longhair for him.
How did you choose which episodes or scenes to re-create?
This part was tough. I relied mostly on what I remembered from the series at first, like which scenes stuck the most in my mind. After that I had to go back and re-watch all of the episodes to get an idea of what scenes might work best if a cat were plopped down in place of a human. I did try to include a lot of scenes that made it easy to display cat-like behavior, though some scenes were stuck in there just because they were so iconic, like Kirk covered in tribbles.
Do you have a favorite scene in the book? Or was there anything you wanted to include that you had to cut?
I have a few scenes I’m particularly pleased with, though I always go back to the page of Scotty licking the bottle of “Scotch Milk.” I still like how that one came out, plus it just still makes me laugh.
Do you have any advice for other fan artists?
The following is mostly for those who want to make a career off of drawing fan art: First off, don’t be discouraged by people who claim fan art isn’t worth pursuing. DO be aware of not stepping on the original IP’s toes (if you are making products that seem like official merch you could get into trouble) and also stay away from properties that have explicitly told people to NOT sell fan art of their IP (this goes mostly for independent creators, like Welcome to Night Vale and Homestuck), but if you are largely just selling prints at cons, I have found that plenty of companies will hire artists based on their fan art. In fact I have a lot of friends who got their start this way! Related to that point: Originality counts a LOT. If you have a new twist to your art or style no one has seen before, you will get noticed a lot quicker.
What are you working on now? Will we being seeing Star Trek Cats: The Next Generation anytime soon?
I have a couple of ideas on my next pieces, but right now I am knee deep working on my next book! If you can wait until Spring 2018, I think TNG fans will be very happy!
Find Jenny online at jennyparks.com, on Twitter @jennyparksillus, or on Facebook at Jenny Parks Illustration. You can pick up Star Trek Cats now on Amazon (in Kindle or Hardcover edition) or at your local retailer.