WANDERING STARMedium: Comic books
Published by: Pen & Ink Comics
First Appeared: 1993
Creator: Teri Sue Wood
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The 1980s distribution revolution in comic books enabled creators with individual visions to put comics such as Cerebus and Elfquest before readers, and as the '90s got started, the Direct Market was still making it possible for many cartoonists to find an audience without having to fit their work into a big corporation's ideas of what can be published. Even, in some cases, very young and inexperienced cartoonists. Even if they work in a genre generally considered
difficult for those corporations to sell, such as science fiction. Even if, after all these years, they still call themselves only "semi-professional."
Teri Sue Wood contributed to fanzines before making the transition out of amateur status about 1988, with her cartoon series lampooning the comics industry itself, The Cartoonist. A few years later, she completed the first issue of Wandering Star, which she self-published under the imprint "Pen and Ink Comics." The cover date of the first issue was May, 1993.
The story was about a young woman just embarking on the serious business of life. The daughter of the head of a future United Nations, Cassandra, became the first human accepted into the Galactic Academy. It wasn't exactly Galaxy High School. Cassandra ran into anti-Earth prejudice people of varying alien species who thought Earth was barbarous, warlike, and technologically backward; and Cassandra herself was nothing but a dressed-up savage.
She took refuge among the less popular students, near-outcasts such as herself. One day they were taking their spaceship, The Wandering Star, out for a joyride, when they were attacked by The Bono Kiro, a race of hostile aliens bent on conquest. There followed an extended story of battles, intrigues and high adventure.
It was originally intended as a 12-issue story, but started getting bigger right away. By the 11th issue (January, 1996), the story was only about half done, but Wood's comics career was expanding. She began illustrating Rhudiprrt, Prince of Fur for Mu Press (Keif Llama, The Desert Peach), just as Sirius Entertainment (Scary Godmother, Akiko on the Planet Smoo) was taking over the mundane details of publishing Wandering Star. Sirius's first issue was dated May, 1996.
The story wound up lasting 21 issues. When it ended (as of its February, 1997 issue), it came out in graphic novel form, in three volumes. The books are still in print. Wood went on to do Darklight and a couple of other minor comics series, but hasn't made a career in the field. Wandering Star remains her most celebrated work.