Franz Joseph (artist)

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Franz Joseph (born Franz Anton Joseph Schnaubelt; June 29, 1914 – June 2, 1994) was an artist and author loosely associated with the 1960s American television show Star Trek.


Born in Illinois, Franz is perhaps best known for his 1973 Star Trek Blueprints (ISBN 0-345-25821-5), to date the only set of blueprints of the original Starship Enterprise ever officially endorsed by Paramount Pictures, owners of the licensing rights to all things Star Trek.

In the purest sense, the blueprints are not particularly accurate, as there are dozens of discrepancies between Franz's plans and the filming miniatures used in the show. Franz himself has stated that his intention in drawing the plans was to flesh out the ship's design rather than to accurately depict what viewers saw on-screen. Nonetheless, the drawings sparked a wave of fan-designed (that is, unofficial) blueprints of other invented spacecraft intended to fit into the Star Trek idiom. Although the blueprints were published after the original show's cancellation, portions have been used for on-screen displays in the Star Trek films and later television series, elevating them to the level of "canon" in some fans' eyes. The Booklet of General Plans, as the blueprints are perhaps more properly known (the title "Star Trek Blueprints" appears only on the outer sleeve), is not currently in print.

Franz is also the author and illustrator of The Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual (ISBN 0-345-34074-4), a book further fleshing out the Enterprise as well as a handful of spacecraft invented by Joseph. The book contains information about uniforms (complete with sewing patterns), furniture, weapons, devices, protocols, and other minutiae from Franz's take on the Star Trek universe. Similar complaints of inaccuracy were made regarding the Technical Manual, but Franz's own recollections and explanations (at conventions in the years prior to his death in 1994) cite the errors as being the result of the source material he was forced to use: individual frames from the shows themselves. He had no access whatsoever to any of the production notes or diagrams, such as those by Wah Chang, Dick Datin, Walter Matt Jeffries or Irving Feinberg.[citation needed] Joseph did, however, acknowledge the help of some of these individuals in the frontispiece of the Technical Manual.

Lou Zocchi designed and published a set of miniatures rules called the Star Fleet Battle Manual (1977), which he licensed from Franz Joseph.[1] Although Joseph was initially very reluctant because of the violence implicit in a starship combat game, Stephen V. Cole eventually convinced Franz to write a license for Task Force Games to publish Star Fleet Battles (1979).[1]

Unlike the Booklet of General Plans, the Technical Manual has enjoyed several reprints, and when available is still a high-volume seller.

As an unexpected legacy, Franz Joseph's blueprint and book are responsible for beginning the subgenre revolving around the blueprints and schematics of fictional vehicles and locations from Star Trek.[citation needed]

He is survived by his daughter, Karen Schnaubelt Turner Dick.

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  1. ^ a b Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 

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