When writer and editor Jason Quinn dropped me a line to let me know about Panini UK’s acquisition of the licence to publish Doctor Who Adventures, previously published by Immediate Media, I had little inkling just how much interest there would be in our “Sneak Peek” at work in progress on the title. It turns out I wasn’t the only one in the dark about the change of publisher and with interest running high, so I’m delighted Jason has had time to answer some of my questions about the new look Doctor Who comic…
Over an extensive career, Jason has progressed from comic writer to editor, to TV and back to comics. He’s a man whose carved himself a steady creative career, 10 years of that based in Spain. When we last interviewed him in 2013, he was in Delhi, India, where he worked as Creative Content Head at Campfire Graphic Novels, who had published his award-winning biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs: Genius by Design. Now he’s back in the UK, and busy working on Doctor Who Adventures…
DownTheTubes: How did the switch from Immediate Media to Panini UK come about for Doctor Who Adventures? Was it down to licensing renewals?
Jason Quinn: Who can say what goes on in the dark corridors of power at Panini or Immediate? I’m sure one day the story will be told, although whether anyone will listen to it is another thing. No, all I can say is that it is a title which we at Panini have wanted for a long time and so we are delighted to have it at last.
DownTheTubes: When did you start work on the new title?
Jason: I began working on it as soon as I heard the first rumours. At that stage we didn’t have a green light but I couldn’t help myself. Then when the word came through in mid January it was full steam ahead.
DownTheTubes: Are you excited to be working on Doctor Who?
Jason: Are you kidding? It’s a dream job. I think the great thing about Doctor Who is that everyone on this magazine is thrilled to be working on it. For me it doesn’t get better than Doctor Who. The only thing for me that comes close is James Bond.
DownTheTubes: What will make Panini’s Doctor Who Adventures distinct from the Immediate Media incarnation?
Jason: We have a new look and a new focus. While we still want the title to appeal to a young audience we want it to be like the show too… entertainment for everyone. All the best kids stuff appeals to people of all ages: look at Harry Potter or Dr. Seuss or Winnie the Pooh, they’re all great and they aren’t patronising. We’ll be focussing on the fictional side of Doctor Who, presenting the Doctor and his adventures as real, so we won’t be going behind the scenes, we’ll be immersing ourselves in the Doctor’s world or worlds.
DownTheTubes: How did you choose Russ Leach to work on the strip as artist and will he be the regular artist, like John Ross was for the previous edition?
Russ was my first choice to work on this. I had worked with him a few years back on one of his first comic books, coincidentally, it was an adaptation of HG Wells short story The Chronic Argonauts, all about a time traveller, for New Baby Productions. He did a great job on it. When I came back to Panini, Russ did a few sample pages on another title which we didn’t produce but everyone was knocked out by his pencils and so when Doctor Who Adventures came along he really was the first choice and yes, I’m happy to say he will be the regular artist on the title. I’m also thrilled to welcome John Burns back to Panini. John’s colouring has always been incredible. I remember back in the 90s always looking forward to seeing what he would do with the covers we would send him and being wowed each time, so I was so excited when he agreed to do the colouring on DWA.
DownTheTubes: Did you look at a lot of artists before making your choice?
Jason: Well, you always have artists in mind, and there were one or two others that I was thinking about but Russ was the first choice and the enthusiasm he has brought to it has been great too. It’s like he’s having a party with every page.
DownTheTubes: Will the Panini incarnation be aimed at a slightly older age group? Immediate Media re-branded their version at one point for a younger audience, presumably to make it distinct from Doctor Who Magazine and in response to sales data?
Jason: Well, we want youngsters to pick up the magazine but we don’t want to alienate older kids. My view is, if its exciting it will appeal to everyone. The TV series manages to do that. So should our magazine. Sure, people will have their favourite parts of the magazine and parts they aren’t so keen on. But really, when Doctor Who Weekly first came out back in 1979, the readers were kids and yet a lot of the content was pretty sophisticated. I’ve always thought that Doctor Who fans are pretty intelligent whatever their age, so they aren’t afraid of words.
Yes, of course it’s not Doctor Who Magazine – but at the same time it will take you more than seven minutes to read.
DownTheTubes: Will the fiction focus on the current Doctor and new monsters?
Jason: At the moment, we will be focusing pretty much on the current Doctor and mainly on new monsters too. While we want older readers to enjoy the magazine, we know that the majority of readers will be younger and we want to give them their Doctor.
DownTheTubes: Will the text stories be written by a variety of writers and will the illustrations?
Jason: The illustrations are being done by Russ and I’ll always welcome writers to pitch ideas and outlines for the strip and the text stories. I’m happy with the text story angle. I want the new fiction to be the real heart of the magazine. And text stories give us another dimension to explore.
DownTheTubes: Panini has made a huge success of Doctor Who Magazine, and Doctor Who Adventures is a very different title – but I imagine you must consider Titan Comics Doctor Who Comic something of a rival? Do you think there’s a danger of there being too many Doctor Who titles on the news stand, taking in the occasional part works too?
Jason: Well, I hope not. I hope there is room for all of us. I mean Doctor Who Magazine stands apart from everything. In a way, so does Titan’s title. Doctor Who Adventures still manages to offer something different.
DownTheTubes: Do you think there would be interest from readers in stories featuring older Doctors? Say a supplement or occasional free gift that re-presented the pre Marvel UK Doctor Who stories from Countdown that Panini holds rights to?
Jason: That’s definitely worth thinking about. I know it interests me, but we’ll have to wait and see.
DownTheTubes: Will there be a new web site for the comic – will you continue the digital edition and take over subscriptions?
Jason: At the moment we haven’t got subs but we’ll see…
DownTheTubes: Jason, thanks very much for your time and best of luck with the new title.
• Doctor Who Adventures Issue One from Panini UK is on sale from 23rd April 2015 in all good newsagents across the UK. Panini UK’s web site is at: www.paninicomics.co.uk