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Michael Minor

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Michael "Mike" Minor (25 September 19404 May 1987; age 46) was a conceptual and production illustrator on Star Trek: Phase II, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the art director for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Minor, along with Joe Jennings, Andrew Probert, Douglas Trumbull and Harold Michelson, co-designed the refit USS Enterprise for Star Trek: Phase II, based on the preliminary re-design work TOS series art director Matt Jefferies' did on his original USS Enterprise design for the television series, which in turn became the basis for the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Enterprise. Minor did not get any legal credit for the design from the US Patent and Trademark Office, however, since Andrew Probert is listed as the sole "inventor" of the look of the refitted Enterprise on the design patent issued for it. However, Minor did receive credit as an inventor on the issued design patents for both the USS Reliant and the photon torpedo casing. In both instances he shared the credit with Joe Jennings. The bulk of his work he did on Phase II and The Motion Picture projects however, consisted of the interior redesign of the refit Enterprise before he was superseded by Probert.

Mostly recognized for his contributions to the above-mentioned productions, Minor had actually already contributed to Star Trek: The Original Series. He had been a fan of The Original Series since its original airing and was inspired by it to design and create wardrobes, creatures, watercolors of landscapes, and artifacts in his spare time for the series. He managed to arrange a meeting with Gene Roddenberry, who agreed to take a look at his portfolio. "Gene liked the artwork, and had me show it to the art director, Matt Jefferies. Jefferies bought about twenty pieces to use as art objects around the ship. Some of the critters were hanging in McCoy's office and cabin during the third season. A creature head I did in latex became the Melkot in "Spectre of the Gun". I later discovered that in my ignorance, I had stumbled upon the only route by which I could have sold to the bringing art in on spec [rem: for free]. Union regulations prevented the production company from commissioning work from an outside contractor, but they could buy existing material.", Minor remembered. (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 59)

His most notable (un-credited) contribution to the Original Series however, was the realization of the Tholian web as it appeared on screen in the episode with the same name. Minor also worked with William Ware Theiss by manufacturing the space suit helmets for the episode. Other contributions of Minor to the series' third season were the creation of the Beta XII-A entity in "Day of the Dove" and some of the overhead graphics on the bridge of the Enterprise. (Starlog, issue 25, pp. 35, 61)

Minor enjoyed a close and enduring working relationship with Joe Jennings, who arranged one of his first jobs on Gunsmoke, and had him brought in on the Phase II project and its follow-up. "We worked together like Rogers [sic.] and Hammerstein.", Minor further said. (Cinefantastique, issue 44, Vol 12 #5/6, p. 58)

Minor won an Emmy Award nomination for his visual effects work on the acclaimed 1983 mini-series The Winds of War. He also received an Emmy nomination in Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special for the same program. Minor's other credits include visual effects work on Flesh Gordon (1974, working with Greg Jein), the 1982 cult fantasy film The Beastmaster and art direction for the films The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981) and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985, starring Joel Grey, Patrick Kilpatrick and Kate Mulgrew), as well as model designer and matte painter for Fukkatsu no hi (1980, again with Jein).

Minor died due to complications from AIDS in Los Angeles, California.

Star Trek credits

Further reading

  • "Mike Minor: Illustrating the Future", David Hutchison, Starlog, issue 25, August 1979, pp. 32-35, 61
  • "Interview: Mike Minor - From The Cage to Wrath of Khan", James Van Hise, Enterprise Incidents, issue 14, February 1984

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