the course of our regular work at The
Digital Bits, we run into all kinds of interesting
characters who work in and around the DVD industry. None of these
has had quite as fascinating and wide-ranging a career as Andy
Mangels. Not only has Andy written scores of film-related books,
comic books and magazine articles in his day, he was also arguably
the single most prolific DVD producer of 2006, having crafted great
special features for BCI/Eclipse's many Filmmation catalog releases,
including such classics as He-Man and
the Masters of the Universe, Dungeons
and Dragons, She-Ra,
the Flash Gordon animated
series, Groovy Goolies, Space
Academy and Ark II,
to name but a few.
We invited Andy to participate in our annual Digital
Bits DVD producers panel at Comic-Con last summer, and he
was such a hit with the audience that we thought it might be fun to
sit down with him here for a more in-depth discussion of his work
and experiences. So here's the result (you'll find an excerpted
version of this in this month's issue of
as well). We hope you enjoy it.
Hugs and kisses,
Bill & Todd
Todd: Alright, I'd like to ask
the first question.
Bill: Go for it.
Todd: Hey Andy, as someone who
hasn't been name-checked in one of your books, I was wondering
what does it take to get name-checked in one of your books?
You have to start by talking his ear off about how badly the last
episode of Star Trek: Enterprise
You know, usually, once a year I do a charity auction and auction
off what's called a "tuckerism." I'm not sure why it's
called a tuckerism, other than that I suppose the first person who
did this was named Tucker. But that's when an author writes a real
person into a book. And so because there's a lot of Star
Trek fans, and they tend to be fairly generous with
charitable organizations, I will auction off walk-on roles in the
Star Trek books that I've
written. So they've all had a couple of tuckerisms. And sometimes
they're auction winners, and sometimes they're friends and sometimes
acquaintances. Every now and then the names are kind of a mash-up.
I'll be sitting at my desk and I'll need to name a character and
I'll kind of look around at all my stuff
and you know, pull the first name of the
creator of Wonder Woman and combine it with the last name of some
music artist I happen to be listening to at the moment or something.
And that will be the name of a new character.
I should mention that this comes up because Andy 'tuckered' me in
the new Star Trek: Enterprise
book he's co-written (with Michael A. Martin) for Simon and
Schuster, The Good That Men Do
-- which is the first book of the Enterprise
Andy: Correct, yeah. When we
got the assignment to do that book
let's put it this way. It's
kind of a combination re-write of the final episode of the series -
the end of the series - and also the launch of what would be season
five if the show had continued, as far as the books are concerned.
So it's not technically a relaunch as much as it is, okay
here's season five. And it repairs a lot of the damage done by
as the fans call it, 'The Thing That is TATV'
which was the
series finale, These Are the Voyages
The so-called finale.
Andy: Right. It was such an
abomination in the eyes of God, Man and nearly every fan in the
galaxy, that Paramount agreed to allow us to write a story that kind
of makes sense out of it.
It's actually really impressive, because as bad as that final
episode was, you guys made it look brilliant. You guys made it into
the granny pitch before a gimmie home run. (Andy
laughs) I was really surprised, because I was one of those
people who loved the show but hated that last episode with a
passion. And for any fans out there who might be in that same boat,
you should read this book. I think you'll really enjoy it. You can
breathe a sigh of relief after you flip that last page.
Andy: Well, I don't think I'll
ever get to work with (Enterprise
producers) Rick Berman or Brannon Braga after this, after I've
slagged off their horrid, horrid finale
Bill: That's probably a good
Andy: You know,
(chuckles) I think I'll be able to
live with myself.
Bill: Anyway, knowing how much
I hated that last episode, Andy actually named a childhood friend of
Trip Tucker after me, which I'm quite honored and thrilled about. As
my wife can attest, I damn near fell over laughing when I saw that.
Andy: It was actually a test
to see if you'd read the book.
Well, I haven't read a Star Trek
book in many, many years - since I was a teenager, I think - but you
hooked me with all the talk of a build-up to the Romulan War that we
never got to see on the show, and the promise of a fix for that
final episode. If the future Enterprise
books are as good and as epic as this one, I'll certainly keep
reading. And not just to find out if Bill Hunt ever joined Starfleet
Todd: Yeah, and what Todd
Doogan might be up to in the 22nd century
Bill: Since we're talking
about the books that you've done, you've had a really wide-ranging
career in the media so far. Tell us about your background and some
of the different projects you've been involved with.
Andy: And how it all led me to
Todd: Sure. Books, comic-books
you've done a whole range of things.
Andy: Well, I actually
originally wanted to work in the comic book field as a kid. I
developed some pretty decent art skills in high school and I got an
associate of arts degree in graphic design in college. And so I
started out with the intention of becoming a comic book artist. But
by my third year of college, I was really hating the idea of doing
art on demand. It became clear that that wasn't really for me.
Luckily, I was involved in an APA, an Amateur Press or Publishing
Association, which was kind of a precursor to web pages and blogs,
but it was published in print. It was forty or fifty members of a
fan club, and they would write or draw something and send it in to
someone called a central mailer, who would collate everybody's work
together into something that resembled a small phone book, and then
send it out every month or two. So I was in one called Titan
Talk, which was a Teen Titans
APA, with Rob Liefeld and Hank Kanalz. Hank now, I believe, is
working back at D.C. Comics. He's been on and off there. He was at
Malibu Comics for a while. And in talking with them, I heard about a
book that Fantagraphics was doing called Focus
on George Perez. George was somebody whose work I really
closely followed. So I approached Fantagraphics and said, "Hey,
can I interview George, can I do something?" And they basically
told me that I had absolutely no credits, and they had no clue who I
Bill: The classic new writer
Andy: Yeah. But I offered to
do the checklist in the back of the book - kind of a trivia page.
And that became my first published work. Shortly thereafter, I was
hired to write a bunch of articles for Amazing
Heroes magazine, and I continued to write for that for
another hundred and something issues all the way up until its end,
and then jumped to other magazines.
In the course of all that, my mutual interest in comic books and
Hollywood gelled together, and I started doing a lot of movie star,
director and writer interviews. And I ended up doing that for a
column in Amazing Heroes
called Andy Mangels Backstage.
It kind of alternated between an interview column and a
news/rumors/reviews column. Years later I would find out that Harry
Knowles had actually said it was one of the things that inspired
Ain't it Cool News. I've
actually heard that from quite a number of people who run movie and
Todd: Damn you!
when they talk to
me they all say, "You know, I read you when I was younger!"
And I've run into movie executives and other people who all say
that. Of course makes me feel really old, because I've only just
difference was that I started writing when in this field when I was
very young. So when they say that they read me when they were
younger, and in some cases they're not even younger than me
strikes me as funny and strange at the same time.
the magazine work led to comic book work, because I got to know
various editors and writers and artists. Unfortunately, comic book
work kind of dried up in the mid-nineties, but I had just done some
comics for Topps, who also did trading cards. And Topps was going to
be doing a Star Wars magazine.
And I begged and pleaded with the editors to let me do something for
them. So they assigned me an Everything
You Ever Wanted to Know About Boba Fett article. And
after I turned it in, the editor called me up and said that
Lucasfilm had called him and wanted me to contact them
Andy: Yeah, I was terrified.
But forty-five minutes later, I had my first book contract to write
The Essential Guide to Characters.
Bill: For the Star
Yes. Because they had been looking for somebody who could write
something fairly encyclopedic, and who was also a good writer and
knew the material. And it just happened that I turned in my Boba
Fett article on a day that they were looking for a writer to do
exactly that type of thing. So I got my first Star
Wars book contact out of that.
Bill: And that's how you got
into tie-in work?
Andy: Actual books, yeah. And
I was later writing a news column for another magazine called Marvel
Vision, which was their in-house news magazine at the
time, and I asked the editor if he had any fill-in comic book work
that I could do. And it turned out that he was editing the Star
Trek comic line for Marvel, so he gave me a one-shot
fill-in issue. So I brought in my co-writer, Mike Martin. We had
never worked together at that point, but I knew that he wanted to
break in as a writer and that he was also a walking encyclopedia of
Star Trek lore. And while I'm
a fan of Star Trek, I can't
quote how many times Spock as raised his eyebrow.
Todd: Shame on you.
Bill: Yeah, that would seem to
be critical knowledge for any writer in the Trek
Yes. And Mike can do that. So we turned in this fill-in issue, and
it got the fastest approval in Paramount history. In less than an
hour, the story was approved. And Paramount told the editors to let
the other writers of the book go, because they wanted us to write
the book from then on.
Bill: Nice. How many issues
did you end up doing?
Andy: Only six, because then
Marvel cancelled the line. (laughs)
Todd: Of course.
Andy: So we did like six
issues of that, and we did some other fill-ins. We actually had
three other Star Trek comic
series in development for Marvel when the axe fell, one of which the
first issue was completely drawn. After that, we kicked around doing
more Star Trek stuff for
various licensees, and then Paramount pushed us towards Pocket. And
we've been doing Star Trek
tie-in books for them ever since.
Bill: And you did the Titan
books, which follow Riker and Troi after they leave the Enterprise
post-Nemesis, is that right?
Andy: Yeah, we did two Titan
books, we've done Deep Space Nine
and Next Generation. The only
we haven't done a Voyager
book and we haven't done anything really with The
Original Series. Although we've done Captain Sulu books,
which are set just after The Original
Bill: And now you've done the
first Enterprise book, and
you're doing the next one too.
Andy: Actually we've written
two Enterprise books so far
now, Last Full Measure and
The Good That Men Do. And then
we're going to do the third one - the second book of the Enterprise
relaunch - which is called Kobayashi Maru.
That will really start the build-up to the Earth/Romulan war that
was referenced in The Original Series.
We'll be writing that this summer.
Todd: So how did all of that
work in comic and tie-in books lead you into DVD?
Andy: Well, in the midst of
doing all the Star Trek work,
I wanted to continue pursuing my own material. And I had an idea to
do a book called Animation on DVD: The
Ultimate Guide. I got this insane idea that if I put out
this phone book-sized guide to every animated DVD released to that
point, with pictures and reviews and stuff like that, that that
would be a really cool project. It was insane, because there were
like sixteen hundred or so - there was just an immense amount of
animated DVDs out there. It was a huge book. And it was supposed to
be the first of a whole line. We were going to do horror on DVD, gay
films on DVD, action/adventure, comedy. We were going to do a whole
line of books like that. But the animation book didn't sell very
well, so the company decided not to continue it.
That sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it Todd?
Todd: It sure does.
Bill: We wrote a Digital
Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD and it sold extremely well
for about three months, and then fell off the radar. Writing guide
books is unfortunately not the way to corner the publishing market.
Todd: There's no getting rich
in it, that's for sure.
Yeah, but it really surprised me. There's so many animation and
specifically anime fans out there, and there's not a lot of really
good, all-inclusive books that cover everything. We had every title
covered up until about three months before we published, because we
were adding things right up until the very end to keep it fresh.
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