Review: Star Trek: The Art of Neville Page
Do you know who Neville Page is? You should, as his artwork has been a driving force of modern Star Trek designs for almost 15 years. From J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek feature film to Star Trek: Picard, his work on creatures and characters has been a pillar of the franchise. It’s fun to consider Page’s designs must have influenced why newer fans of the franchise have joined the club. An artist with that kind of portfolio deserves a showcase, and that’s what fans are getting with Titan Books’ Star Trek: The Art of Neville Page. As it turns out, Page should be proud of this publication, as it appropriately showcases his fantastic designs in a visually pleasing layout.
In the same vein as Star Trek: The Artistry of Dan Curry, which we loved and can’t recommend enough, The Art of Neville Page is a coffee-table book that focuses on cramming as much eye candy onto the pages as possible. We are happy that’s the case because Page’s work in large part constitutes the overall visual design of current-day Star Trek. Franchise historians might especially enjoy this book, as it paints a vivid picture of the work needed to not only bring Star Trek back to the zeitgeist following Enterprise’s cancelation but return the franchise to the major standing in the entertainment industry we see today.
Many artists can draw interesting aliens, but few can draw them while understanding the practicalities of latex, paint, and application time over a ten-hour shoot day… The truest creators understand that connection and still find a way to enable brillance. That’s Neville.”– Star Trek franchise head Alex Kurtzman, in the book’s forward.
The book is divided into chapters dedicated to each phase of Page’s work: the Kelvin Timeline Star Trek films get their own chapter, then the four seasons of Discovery get their own chapters, and finally Picard gets its time in the spotlight. It’s quite the breadth of content. Not only are there designs for aliens never seen in the franchise until Page’s work, such as the ice world monster Hengraggi from Star Trek (2009) and Molly, the endangered animal from Star Trek: Discovery, but fresh designs on old enemies, like the Klingons for Discovery season one, and the Borg for Star Trek: Picard. We were especially thankful for the insight into Discovery’s Klingon redesign, as the distinctive look of those aliens was a staple of Star Trek’s relaunched presence on TV, and a subject of some controversy continuing even today. It’s easy to forget how much design work must go into movie-quality science-fiction television nowadays, but studying Page’s designs and reading his anecdotes really brings home the skill and dedication brought to this work.
The only critique worth leveling at this book is how there isn’t a handy info card for each alien design. For example, do you remember Rhomsew from Star Trek: Picard? We certainly didn’t, and the only reason we know this alien is from that series at all is because it’s in the corresponding section of this book. (Thanks to Memory Alpha, we know now this character was a Starfleet officer seen in “Maps and Legends.”) Listing basic facts like when a character appeared, and perhaps who played the character, would have been a welcome addition to this otherwise insightful book. Case in point, we know Rhomsew was Page’s tribute to Star Trek legend Michael Westmore, as “Rhomsew” is just “Westmore” phonetically in reverse.
Simply put, if you are someone who appreciates Star Trek’s intriguing designs, this book is for you. This isn’t just a look at final products, but a journey through the creative process. Preliminary sketches, rejected designs, 3D models, and behind-the-scenes photographs pepper the pages, offering readers an intimate look into Page’s mind and the challenges faced in manifesting his visions. This is a book you’ll flip through for a while.
Star Trek: The Art of Neville Page is available on Amazon.
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