The Hardy Boys and Star Trek?

A mash-up of galactic proportions.


I see things… Differently. It’s a part of my nature.

This time, the different thing that I saw turned into a funny thing, that turned into a project thing, that turned into a meme thing, that turned into an entire website and upcoming series of short stories… Thing. Go big or go home.

Hardy Boys Tower Treasure Scan copyI was looking at the cover of the iconic Hardy Boys Number one. You know, Frank and Joe in imminent danger? Even if it doesn’t hit you right away, here’s a picture. I’m certain you’ll have a certain spark of recognition:

So, I was staring at it, and a funny thought hit me. You see Frank, there? He’s the one with the dark hair. The older brother. He’s wearing that blue 1960’s sweater. Joe, he’s the younger one. The blondish one. The one with the 60’s clean-cut hair, parted down the side. Not unlike a young… William Shatner. Do you see it? Remember the Twilight Zone on the plane? How about the one where the couple is sitting in the diner, getting fortunes from the machine at the table? William Shatner. Strapping young Kirk with his sometimes blond, sometimes brown hair. Yup. Joe is William Shatner in another life. An alternate one.

And if Joe is William Shatner. Frank could be considered – Leonard Nimoy. Go ahead, take a closer look. Now, imagine that hair isn’t parted down the side at all. Imagine it running straight across his forehead. There you go. He’s even wearing Science Officer blue. Dammit, Jim, that’s a young Spock!

Now I had an image in my head, and I just couldn’t shake it. There they are, Kirk and Spock. Solving mysteries like a strange, 1960’s sic-fi Scooby-Doo gang. “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling futuristic kids!”

Now, let’s say I could figure out how to do this – I have a few problems. Hairstyles aside, my alternate time-line Kirk is wearing “Ensign Red-Shirt” clothes. He’s dead, Jim. I’d have to fix that. THEN there’s the text – My vision can’t be the Tower Treasure with Kirk and Spock – That’s just wasn’t enough. If it’s going to be funny, It has to ring true of the original, yet totally fit my perceived image. It can’t be the Tower Treasure. It could be a treasure, but it needs to be more Trek. Trek Treasure. Hmm… Then, that hit me as well.

IMG_0452And I laughed. I grabbed my iPad, downloaded the first picture of the Tower Treasure I could find, which was a small, rather crappy scan, and did the following:

I even stuck a phaser in there for good measure. After all, Joe’s hand was out there, it might as well be doing something. While the above would not be suitable for posting, at least, not by my standards, it helped me figure out a few problems. I scanned a full version of the book cover from my own collection and moved it onto my iPad. After a lot of trial and error, the finished product came out pretty darn good.

The first problem was the text. From what I’ve seen on the internet, A lesser person just looking for a quick laugh, would probably slap a dark colored block over the picture and place the text over it. But that hardly fit my needs: To me the goal would be making it picture perfect, from the text to the cover painting, to the damage on my old copy.

I use ArtStudio on the iPad. It is very Photoshop-Like, in fact I think it out-classes Photoshop’s own mobile offerings. It’s been around almost since the iPad’s introduction, and is updated regularly. I took the scan of the book, placed a layer over the top, and started painting:

IMG_4762 IMG_4763

I used a dry brush setting, clicked the Eyedropper tool to match color next to the letter, then painted from the background into the letter. Basically, I was trying to re-create the portions of the painting covered by the text. You may notice that you can still make out the original letters if you look carefully. Since new text was going over the old in the exact same place, I figured this would be a non-issue. After taking care of the title and also removing the fictional Franklin W. Dixon byline at the bottom, I had the left-hand image below. I’ve placed my finished product next to it, so you can see my handiwork:

TrekMysteries-Compare

Much of the detail work in the final adjustments to Frank and Joe were simply overpainting, adding hair to frank for the Spock-like bowl-cut, and painting out the traditional shirt collars for the Trek standard uniform attire. As mentioned above, the Joe/Kirk shirt did pose some trouble, since it had to be completely re-colored, while keeping the original artists shading and cloth folds. Also troublesome was putting the phaser in his hand. I had to cut out the fingers and re-adjust them to a more proper flex around the handgrip. The phaser came from a picture of an original Star Trek prop, as did the Klingon ship, so I had to do a little de-focusing and overpainting to lose the photo-quality.

The last things I did might be considered a bit overboard, but I wanted to really sell the image. If you will look carefully above, I actually added the book damage to my additions. I painted over my paint-over, re-continuing the thirty-plus years of scratches, indents and marring of my original copy of the book into my new elements. Did you know that the front used for the titles on the original book is called Weiss? Well, Will Oxford does. His wonderful website, Hardy Boys Online is chock-full of information like that. Weiss is not only a professional font from back in the the day, but it is still in use today and copyrighted. Yup, I bought the darn font to make my version of the cover. Look at the way the ‘u’ is shaped, or the odd, upside-down quality of the ‘s’. Some of the more readily-available basic fonts look similar, but by the time I got to this level of detail, they just didn’t make the grade.

So, why go through all this trouble for a silly book cover? I could have stopped with my quick and dirty first iPad sketch, posted it, and that would be that. Ha. Ha. Funny mash-up – Scroll down to the next cat video. Are we done, now?

TrekMysteries.netNope. From this concept and first cover, Trek Mysteries was born. The Klingon Treasure is not just a funny cover, but an actual short story, written in the same style as an actual Hardy Boys mystery, with Kirk, Spock and all of the crew joining in. A totally impossible, utterly implausible, yet oddly engaging adventure, complete with wonderful line art by Jill Lorraine Turpin. It’s created with love and honor to two institutions that were a large part of our childhoods. Mashing together 60’s Star Trek with the 60’s version of the Hardy’s actually seems so obvious now, that I can’t imagine it not being done sooner. While we were working on it, I kept searching the internet: Surely SOMEONE had also made this connection, and would beat us to the punch.

Luckily, no one did. Maybe I think of things that are a little TOO strange – But so far people seem to be enjoying it. The website gets hits, and the fan page gets likes. I don’t know if we’ve struck a cord, yet. It’s not exactly an overnight sensation, but the wave is building. I hope you’ll take some time to head over to TrekMysteries.net and check it out for yourself.

Because I keep working on stories… And covers…

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