Writer and artist David Reddick created an original Star Trek comic strip for Paramount Pictures/CBS Studios and STARTREK.COM. He's both a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars and embraces so many elements and things within nerd culture. Currently, he's working on a new comic strip, in newspapers nationwide, that takes a look at daily geek culture called "The Intelligent Life." Reddick answered a few of our questions about the strip and his life as a nerd.
COMIC VINE: What is your upcoming comic strip "Intelligent Life" about?
DAVID REDDICK: Intelligent Life is about being a geek. It centers around 4 characters, all different types of geeks in some way. We're ALL geeks... whether we're comic geeks, video game geeks, sports geeks, tv geeks, workout geeks, food geeks... the list goes on. Intelligent Life CELEBRATES being a geek and the fanaticism that comes with it, based on the person *I* have always been, and my experiences in the geek realm, from being the nerd in the corner in school making comics and feeling like an awkward outsider to working in an official capacity within the genre of comics, sci-fi and geekdom (STARTREK.COM, RODDENBERRY.COM, GARFIELD, etc.) to rubbing elbows with Star Trek and sci-fi stars at conventions around the country.
CV: What can you tell us about the four main characters in this strip?
DR: The four main characters are Skip, Gwen, Mike and Barry.
Skip is, in many ways, me... Gwen, Mike and Barry are also facets of me in varied ways, and/or representations of people I've known and interacted with as well.
Skip is a self-proclaimed geek who has a healthy (ahem) obsession with his hobbies. He lives for video games, comic books and sci-fi/fantasy movies and doesn’t see anything wrong with that. Through his eyes (and the eyes of his slightly-weirder best friend, Mike) we glimpse the world of the geek/pop culture enthusiast. He’s intelligent and friendly, and although he can be lovably dorky, no one would call him a loser.
Skip works as an account rep at Finch Marketing where he clashes with Barry and crushes on Gwen.
He’s resigned to keeping his feelings for Gwen a secret after making fast friends with her – but that doesn’t mean his angst about that crush won’t provide plenty of funny fodder.
Gwen is adventurous and strong-willed – you better believe she won’t be trampled on. But she’s also artsy and whimsical, and deep. She’s okay with the fact that she might have a little “geek” in her. She obsesses over her blog and social media, and has a sharp eye and a fine-tuned ear for pop culture.
Gwen works in the front office of Finch Marketing, where she was transferred from the California office. She took the transfer in an effort to switch up her life and find herself. She’s had lousy luck in relationships, and probably doesn’t realize that her new friend Skip might be just the one for her. Until that day comes (if ever), she’ll remain amused by him.
Mike is Skip’s best friend since childhood. He shares Skip’s enthusiasm for all things geek/pop culture – video games, comic books, sci-fi/fantasy. But Mike takes his fanatic fandom to an even higher level. Mike is the uber-fanatic, and can sometimes seem from another planet (actually, he might be).
Mike is highly intelligent and wonderfully imaginative. He has a great job as a computer programmer, makes really good money, but still lives with his mom – in his mind, it’s completely illogical to pay rent or a mortgage, or even cook your own meals when your mom is delighted to continue doting on you.
Barry is Skip’s foil. He loves his sports, and he loves impressing the ladies. However, the way Barry obsesses over his sports and fantasy leagues shows awfully ironic amount of “geeky” behavior. Barry can spout sports standings and valuable draft picks the way Skip can rattleoff the Marvel universe of superhero characters.
Barry is the top-selling rep at Finch Marketing, and he’ll be the first to tell you that. He and Skip are polar opposites in so many ways, but it’s clear they share a mutual amusement with one another – actually more like an other-worldly curiosity for one another.
CV: What inspired you to do this series?
DR: My own lifelong love and LIVING of the geek life. I was the nerd kid sitting in the corner playing D&D or drawing comics or reading comic books or absorbing every sci-fi movie and fantasy movie and book about space and art and fantastical things I could get my hands on. As a child of the 80's, I LIVED Saturday morning cartoons, action figures, comic books, drawing, writing, creating my own worlds, debating with my friends whether Marvel or DC was better... I lived in my own little universe in many ways, much as I do now. Intelligent Life embodies that for me. Intelligent Life IS that for me. Its very "atmosphere" is everything that inspired, fed and molded me, and continues to do so today, and always will. I know all the facets of being "different," not fitting in, of being a geeky kid (and adult) who lives on the periphery of the mainstream culture... but then, to see MY world, the geeky fantasy worlds I've held so dear for so long BECOMING the mainstream now, well... that is a glorious thing to behold. The playing field has changed and is changing further, and Intelligent Life, synonymous with and a direct reflection of who and what I am, celebrates and embraces this.
CV: More than anything, this strip is about fanaticism than nerds or comic readers. What makes fanaticism a more interesting topic of ridicule?
DR: One thing I want to make mention of right away is that Intelligent Life NEVER ridicules fanaticism or the geek life, in whatever genre. It CELEBRATES it in all its layers. Intelligent Life takes a very humorous look at it, but only with loving and understanding eyes. I know this world intimately! It IS my world, and my life. Skip is mostly me in many ways... Mike is what I CAN be at times, and have been at times (and sometimes wish I was more of, such as in his extreme freedom of spirit), and Mike also represents some of my own friends who I admire for their intense devotion to the things they love. Gwen embodies those things I admire so much in a person... uniqueness.... individuality... strength of will and intelligence in the things they know and love, and she brings a sort of balance to Skip and to this world, as often the voice of reason. And the fact she's a pretty girl compounds the compelling qualities she possesses, because she doesn't throw it around. She would rather you see her for her mind. That's attractive to Skip, very much so.
Barry has the same intensity of my own geeky fanaticism, but he represents the deep sports culture that is beloved in the area where I've lived my whole life (Indianapolis). I, like Skip, lack a true understanding of the sports culture that I grew up with, but I couldn't help but note the similarities in level of geekiness. Skip (and I) can quote every Locutus line from the TNG episode, "Best of Both Worlds," and Barry (and several of my sports fan friends) can quote every stat from the 1978 Super Bowl. In the strip, Barry and Skip often try to connect through their passions, and just as often, they end up scratching their heads at each other, even more mystified than before.
These funny similarities between two totally fan-driven cultures feed Skip and Barry's dynamic, a dynamic I have lived my whole life and have learned to embrace and enjoy and appreciate. Barry also teaches me things... I was always drawing my own little Ninja Comics in gym class as a kid and not listening (or caring) about how best to get the ball from point A to point B. Barry now allows me to seek out information, pose questions to my sports-minded friends, and get to appreciate HIS interests far more as well. It is worth noting I did indeed play sports in school, lettering and winning some trophies, so I am no stranger to Barry's viewpoint, even if I was the kid who spent more mental energy on his D&D original red box in the bottom of the gym bag. ;-)
CV: Is there anything you'd consider yourself a fanboy of?
DR: Ohhhhh yes. Star Trek particularly. And Star Wars. Comic books. Comic strips, especially classic strips. Some of my favorites were Polly & her Pals, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Krazy Kat, etc. I grew up in an antique shop, so I had quite a bit of exposure to old Sunday Comics as a kid, and old books... LOTS of books. Most of them were Science Fiction, even BAD scifi! I love a good (or bad) Roger Corman flick. And Fantasy. Gaming. (I have done work in the gaming industry, doing art on a card game called “RedShirts,” which can be found at ThinkGeek.com) And of course anything ART. Basically, if it lives within the "nerdy/geeky" realm, I am a fanboy of it. I love the environment of these things. I love conventions. I've been to MANY around the country, usually as a guest for my Star Trek work or my sci-fi and webcomics work. There's a camaraderie in the geek realm that is addictive. It's a sense of acceptance, belonging and family. Growing up, I typically felt I was all alone in the universe with the things that I immersed my mind in and loved. Nowadays, one discovers that you are part of a greater collective, and it is AWESOME.
CV: Do these strips come from real dialogues or situations you've encountered?
DR: Both. They're all rooted in not only my interests but also in situations and actual dialogues I've had and continue to have with friends and online acquaintances regarding the "universe" that our mutual geekery occupies. Everything that is Intelligent Life is based on my own little world that I proudly and vocally live every day.
CV: What's the weirdest moment you've had at either a convention or in an encounter with another person of the nerd persuasion?
DR: Weirdest encounter... hm... there have been many, some in which *I* was the culprit of the weird! Haha. I will defer to one where I was the weirdo... at a convention in Orlando about 5 years back, I was a guest of the con for my official Star Trek work*, along with varied other Trek and scifi stars, including Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker on TNG), a SUPER guy. Jonathan, Erick Avari (Stargate), the convention promoters, and I were all at a Denny's for breakfast. (Yes, I get to do things like have breakfast at Denny's with Commander Riker, which makes me jump up and down like a fanboy on the inside, but I manage to keep cool on the outside, lol.) I started to mix some creamer into my coffee and thought I'd try to make Jonathan laugh by being a total idiot. So I added Splenda to my cup of coffee... then I added some ketchup... then some mustard... some salsa... some pepper... salt... maple syrup... hot sauce... did I mention I threw the actual Splenda packets in WHOLE, paper and all after I ripped em open? I just kept adding all this stuff... everyone was laughing their butts off except Jonathan. Then I drank it. He looked like he was going to be sick. He asked one of the promoters if I had a mental problem. They told him "No, he's a cartoonist." Jonathan then, of course, had a good laugh and asked me if I wanted some more salsa with my coffee. I, of course, responded with a "Yes, please." Is that weird enough for you? (You never said *I* couldn't be the "weird moment!!") ;-)
CV: Where will people be able to find this new strip?
DR: In newspapers nationwide, expanding worldwide over time, and online every single day at www.IntelligentLifeComics.com. Also, Intelligent Life has a growing social media reach, all of which I run and interact with personally every single day. Like the Eye of Sauron, I see EVERYTHING in all Intelligent Life social media!!
Interact with Intelligent Life at:
Thanks a lot to David Reddick for answering our questions and make sure to check out THE INTELLIGENT LIFE on their website, listed above.