Thursday, August 29, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Doctor Who Magazine Comic Strip

Doctor Who:
The Doctor Who Magazine Comic Strip

Since 1979 one thing that has been consistent and that thing is the comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine.  While the magazine itself has changed over the years with constant makeovers to keep it fresh, especially during The Wilderness Years, the only changes the strip made was a new Doctor or artist or writer from time to time.  For the most part the comic strip has been a constant fixture in the magazine and I for one love reading it every month and I will touch on some of my favorites.

My all-time favorite comic strip run happens to be the Dave Gibbons run that ran through Doctor Who Weekly 1 to Doctor Who Monthly 69.  Dave Gibbons is well known for being the artist for Alan Moore’s Watchmen series and he did the art for the first 69 issues with the exception on The Junkyard Demon which he did not do but did do the cover for the reprint for Marvel Comics Doctor Who Comic Book in the 80’s.  The Tom Baker stories where fun to read and was simple in plot and Dave Gibbons art was really great.  But it would be when he was paired with Steve Parkhouse where it really took off.

The Tides of Time is my favorite Doctor Who Comic strip of all time. It is just a magnificent story that spans many issues and is like a quest as the Doctor makes many stops on his way to confronting Melanicus which is the type of story that I like.  It has a couple of the coolest charecters of all time.  First it has the mysterious and pretty cool Shayde who is an instrument of the Matrix Lords and is forced on The Doctor to help him in stopping Melanicus from taking over the universe.  The other is Sir Justin who appears through a time rift while jousting and crashes into the TARDIS in Stockbridge.  The Doctor then takes Sir Justin to Gallifrey and the adventure begins for the noble knight he makes the ultimate sacrifice to save all of time and space.

The Tides of Time is the first of the big multi stories as with the Tom Baker stories they were mainly contained to a few issues and with the magazine coming out every week there was a quick turnaround where the once a month they were able to plan the story better. The Tides of Time is the precursor of what the strip is now but with really good art and better story telling which seems to be have been lacking in later years.  Plus it has one of the best splash pages and one of the rare times color has been used in the comic strip at this time since the strip was in black and white in the early days.   I cannot give this 5th Doctor strip any justice by talking about it so you need to read it for yourself as has been collected in several forms in trade edition. 

Another one from Steve Parkhouse that I dearly love and if it wasn’t for The Tides of Time would be my favorite is the Voyager storyline.  This is a 6th Doctor story and pits The Doctor and Forbisher against Astrolabus who has stolen the star charts from Voyager who is a mystical figure of the Universe.  The story is a bit of a chase as it takes place through three different stories.  It is a fun romp and Astrolabus was a pretty good antagonist who unfortunately gets what is coming to him as Voyager rips his skin off him as he tattooed the star charts onto his body.   What makes this story really great is the art of John Ridgeway.  It was during the 6th Doctor comic strip that I became a huge fan of his work and his is some of the best in the history of the comic strip.   In fact during the 6th Doctor era there have been some really good stories that deserve to be read again and luckily for us they are collected in trades.

The Seventh Doctor story Emperor of the Daleks! Brings back popular Dalek hunter Abslom Daak and sees The Doctor and Benny facing off against Davros  and the Daleks.  What is pretty cool about this story is that it is a prequel to Remembrance of the Daleks and we see how Davros becomes the Emperor Dalek.   The story is written by Doctor Who new series writer Paul Cornell and drwn by Lee Sullivan who has drawn so many comic strips for Doctor Who Magazine.  Paul Cornell gives us a clever story about the Daleks that also has a cameo of the 6th Doctor and Peri and plus lots of Daleks getting demolished by Daak’s chainsaw sword.

There have been many wonderful stories through the years and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip has a place in the 50th anniversary. It is going pretty strong today with the new series Doctors and the 11th Doctor even had an adventure with Ian and Barbara the original companions for this 50th anniversary year.  The Comic strip has a been a good source for Doctor Who entertainment especially during The Wilderness Years that it just seems to be an extension of the TV show.  It is a fun way to enjoy Doctor Who and to get another aspect on The Doctor and different worlds without the constraints of a budget.  So hear is to the Doctor Who Magazine Comic strip still going strong after all these years.

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