Interview: Ron Randall on Dark Horse’s Trekker: Rites of Passage

Trekker: Rites of Passage

Trekker: Rites of Passage

Creator Ron Randall is known for the work he’s done in numerous comics including Justice League Europe, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – Evolution, Star Trek Unlimited, Warlord, and many more. His best known work, however, is on his creator-owned series, Trekker. Mercy St. Clair returns with the original graphic novel, Trekker: Rites of Passage. Randall tells Westfield’s Roger Ash more about this upcoming story.

Westfield: For those unfamiliar with Trekker, who is she?

Ron Randall: Trekker is a coming-of-age story that’s disguised as a series of sci-fi action adventures. Mercy St. Clair is a complex, volatile and gifted bounty hunter in the 23rd century. (A “trekker” is a licensed, sanctioned bounty hunter in this future.) As Mercy’s adventures unfold, she gets drawn into larger and more complicated stories and the world becomes more complex as well. And over time, we get the sense that Mercy might have a larger role to play in it all, whether she likes it or not. I built the series so that I could put into it everything I love about science fiction adventure. There’s elements of Flash Gordon swash-buckling adventure, Star Wars space opera, Blade Runner crime noir, Firefly western, and the visionary scale of novels like Dune. And at the center of it all, holding the tales together, is Mercy’s personal journey.

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 1

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 1

Westfield: Is Rites of Passage new reader friendly?

Randall: Absolutely. It’s important to me that each Trekker story works as a stand-alone tale. Rites opens in the familiar setting of the streets of New Gelaph, Mercy’s home town. We are quickly introduced to Mercy and we see her in typical break-neck action right away. I also introduce most of the other significant characters in her life early on. So we set a good  context and “baseline” for the adventure to grow out from. I want anyone who picks up the book to have all the information they need to move into the new adventure right away.

Westfield: What can you tell us about Trekker: Rites of Passage and who are some of the other characters we’ll meet?

Randall: Rites of Passage is a crucial story in the series. It’s more ambitious is scale and scope than any of the stories that have come before it, and it points the way to everything that will follow. Mercy is forced off of her familiar ground of being a tough-as-nails bounty hunter bounty as she becomes a reluctant bodyguard for a young woman from another world who is on a dangerous mission. We move from a shootout with cyborg assassins, to a deadly chase through the stars, to a climax in the heart of an alien civilization. By the end, Mercy is changed as a person in ways that will echo throughout the rest of the series. And this story sets her, without knowing it, on a path to a larger stage where she’s destined to become a more significant player in the forces that shape the her world.

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 2

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 2

Besides Mercy, we’ll meet the young woman Jekka, who is at the heart of the matter. At first, she seems like quiet kid, a mere pawn in way over her head and surrounded by serious and intimidating “grown-ups”. But as the story unfolds, she comes out of her shell and into her own, standing up to even Mercy before it’s all over. And in doing so teaches the bounty hunter something about being alive.

We’ll meet Jason Bolt, a character that Mercy has had dealings with before. He’s an agent from an elusive, idealistic resistance movement Rigel. Bolt keeps popping up in Mercy’s life, exasperating her while also roping her into whatever task he is on. We’ll get some answers as to why that is. Answers that just point us to bigger questions.

We’ll meet Mercy’s uncle, Alex St. Clair, who is a police lieutenant. Alex does his best to run interference for Mercy since the cops in general are not happy with the presence of bounty hunters.

And then there’s Molly Sundowner, Mercy’s best friend. Molly owns a local music shop. She’s is bright, cheerful and charming– in many ways Mercy’s direct opposite. They have a powerful connection that faces a dramatic challenge in this story.

And we’ll also come across the aforementioned cyborg-assassins, swamp creatures, and a mysterious alien guide. We’ll have shoot outs, knife fights, space ship explosions and crash landings, and a climax that will change the course of a civilization. Like I said, it’s a big story.

Westfield: Why did you decide to do this as a graphic novel instead of as a miniseries?

Randall: I like the flexibility of size that a graphic novel gives for a story like this. I felt free to tell the story in whatever amount of space seems most effective. Rites of Passage is 76 pages long. And I felt I needed each of those pages to achieve the particular impact I wanted. The graphic novel also let me include a few fun extra goodies including some “behind the scenes” character designs and a handful of terrific tribute drawings of Mercy by the likes of Joélle Jones, Leila DelDuca, Drew Johnson and Benjamin Dewey.

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 3

Trekker: Rites of Passage preview page 3

Westfield: You’ve been writing and drawing Trekker for a number of years. What is her enduring appeal for you?

Randall: I love characters. I love them when they are complicated, believable, sympathetic, flawed and idealistic or heroic despite themselves. I love characters who have an “arc” to their journey. With Mercy, I built a character who starts in one place and will end up in quite another. From the beginning I approached the series like a very long-form novel, where we start off with small-scale adventures and gradually expand and explore the scope of her world and the depths of her character. Mercy has a long way to go on her “real” journey (I called it Trekker for more than one reason, you see), and I’m very passionate about telling the rest of this young woman’s story and exploring a lot of what it means to be a human being along the way.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Randall: I have never been more excited or felt more fulfilled in my life than I am to be telling Mercy’s story. And I’m amazingly grateful that so many readers are finding Trekker and embracing the series in a landscape that’s so full of really good comics being done. Mercy’s journey is just now getting to the biggest and best parts. These are stories I’ve been planning for years. To finally be in a place where I can get it all down in print and share it with the readers is the biggest thrill I can imagine. I’ll do everything I can to keep the ride as exciting, moving and rewarding for the readers as it always is for me.


Trekker: Rites of Passage


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