Do not adjust your set – normal service is resumed at the SQ Vault with this third in a series of vintage articles exploring the origins of SeaQuest DSV directly from series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon.

The November 1993 Special Edition of very short-lived publication Not Of this Earth features a piece by Mark A. Altman (click for larger) contains a few more revelations about the show’s influences (citing the Hunt For Red October) and declares O’Bannon had already departed for ‘personal reasons’, which, in the fullness of time would be fully explored (in a future post!)

For all the great ideas about the future as depicted in 2018 and the courageous rejection of a dystopian vision, its seems apparent even at this point in time (midway through Season 1’s run) many of these concepts still to be fully explored and were off and running with only the ‘three sentence idea’ as outlined.  Among the casualties discussed here was ‘Earthnet’, the mock news TV channel intended to provide insight into world affairs.

While its easy to see how the subject matter lent itself so readily to Television, one can’t help but think that the movie as originally planned by Spielberg rather than a series of self-contained adventures may have been the voyage to a new frontier audiences would have craved…



Motion Sense…

“Being a good artist does not make you a good storyboard artist.  Drawing a pretty picture does not necessarily make motion sense.  Being able to carry a story visually is totally different than drawing a realistic Apple.  Its getting the idea across, more than the art itself which makes a storyboard successful..”

And speaking of success, almost 24 years later the originator of the above quote went on to apply this philosophy to a body of work so significant he is now considered the Godfather of Storyboarding.

Mark Simon may be notable for his current duties on The Walking Dead for AMC, but ask him what his favourite assignment was from the 4,500 productions he is credited with and he maintains it was one of his first, an ambitious Sci-Fi TV show produced by Steven Spielberg.

Indeed the young artist’s enthusiasm is evident in the superb piece by Bill Wilson taken from the pages of Starlog Science-Fiction Explorer circa 1995, where its clear that, while enjoying the creative freedom that can only be provided by a fantastical theme, there is much more to storytelling than mere imagery.  This became the basis of his first book Storyboards: Motion In Art and culminating in his own company Storyboards and Animatics. Inc.

Although referred to as ‘storyboard artist’ for SeaQuest DSV’s second season, his formidable experience accrued already in the field meant his collaboration with Production Designer Vaughn Edwards went beyond sequential art into concept illustration and eventually, second-unit direction (on the episode ‘Playtime’.) and would leave a legacy of illustrations for the show that still resonate today.

So it is with considerable pleasure that the SeaQuest Vault smashes the champagne bottle on the Mark Simon Portfolio – a permanent page not only featuring galleries of his work but a world-exclusive all-new audio interview where we catch up with Mark himself as he recalls his experiences on the show.   His candid recollections are in turn fascinating, insightful  and surprisingly poignant.  Be sure to read the above interview carefully and then jump to over two decades later here – its essential listening for ‘Questie’s and sci-fi fans alike..!



The Trials Of Rockne Part ll…

For a writer trying to avoid comparisons with Star Trek, Rockne S. O’Bannon’s original vision to have Darwin the Dolphin already established on the SeaQuest like ‘Spock on the Enterprise’ doesn’t seem to help the cause.

In the continuation of Joe Nazzaro’s conversation with the SeaQuest creator in Starburst #188 however, we learn this was the least of his problems back in the day, and that many of his ideas went adrift thanks to studio nervousness and the inevitable pressure caused by maintaining the quality of a ‘Television Event’.

Indeed, O’Bannon’s insights about TV series slow-burn popularity is still as valid today as it ever was, and the burden of expectation generated by the name ‘Spielberg’ had made it nigh-on impossible to overcome (just as it had with his small screen debut Amazing Stories years earlier. )

Apart from the further explorations of the characters, however, its interesting to read the original plans for what became the isolated episode ‘The Stinger’ where O’Bannon confirms the intention was to have the ‘undersea motorcycles’ deployed like the Colonial Vipers in Battlestar Galactica (a concept later resurrected as the Specter Squadron in SeaQuest 2032).

Whatever grand ambitions O’Bannon had for the future of the show were swallowed by the knee-jerk reaction to ratings and the ushering in of new producers to fix what probably wasn’t broken.  The audience was not to be fooled, however, and in a useful comparison to Star Trek, (for once) pointed out the Next Generation’s first season was inconsistent at best and that patience could be rewarded.  As if that wasn’t enough, William Shatner himself would guest star in the first season episode ‘Hide & Seek’ (bottom pic) only further highlighting the similarities.

With O’ Bannon’s premature departure SeaQuest was deprived of its creative source way too early and soon meandered off course as a consequence.   Far from ‘letting imaginations run wild’ as advised, ‘unfulfilled potential’ would become words that were not only synonymous with SeaQuest at the time, but would sadly define it for decades to follow…