The First Female “Doctor Who” Appeared in Comics back in 1989 – Sort Of!

A panel from Incredible Hulk Presents #9 - Doctor Who - Who's That Girl
A panel from Incredible Hulk Presents #9 – “Doctor Who – Who’s That Girl”

While the news of the latest Doctor Who casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, Britain’s national media went a bit crazy, fans were divided – while some Marvel UK comic fans simply shrugged, because they’d seen it coming – back in 1989, thanks to Simon Furman, artists John Marshall and Stephen Baskerville, in a short-lived anthology title published by Marvel UK.

The Incredible Hulk Presents #1The Incredible Hulk Presents was an anthology comic fronted by one of Marvel’s best-known heroes, but the line-up was an odd mix that also included new Doctor Who comic strips. Initially, management’s plan was that to save some money, these new strips would also run in Doctor Who Magazine – but I’m afraid I rather stamped my feet at that idea as the editor of that title when I found out. Especially as some of the strips had already been commissioned for IHP and were specifically aimed at younger teen readers.

I confess, I rather shouted a lot that it simply wasn’t going to happen. The strips were, after all, mostly one-off stories aimed at a different audience to DWM buyers and had been commissioned on that basis.

In the end, only “Hunger from the Ends of Time” by Dan Abnett and John Ridgway and “Doctor Conkeror” – a strip intended for Incredible Hulk Presents, written by Ian Rimmer and drawn by Mike Collins, appeared in DWM, simply because it had no other home when the junior anthology was cancelled.

This isn’t too say the strips that appeared in Incredible Hulk Presents, which ran for just 12 issues, weren’t great fun. I wrote a couple myself and “A Stitch in Time”, drawn by Geoff Senior is still one of my favourite shorter comic stories I’ve written to date, simply because it was utterly bonkers.

But for true kudos, you have to read “Who’s That Girl” by Simon Furman, drawn by John Marshall and inked by Stephen Baskerville which ran in IHP • 8 and 9 – because it initially appeared to feature female Doctor.

In the two-part story, an intergalactic treaty is about to be signed which will give Frovians free access to the Kollian Dimension. The Doctor arrives in support of one of the signatories, the Frovian Prince Luj. But why is the Doctor now a woman? And just how much can the Doctor trust his royal friend?

The first female 'Doctor' makes her debut in A panel from Incredible Hulk Presents #8, back in 1989
The first female ‘Doctor’ makes her debut in A panel from Incredible Hulk Presents #8, back in 1989

The strip appears as part of the Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks collection, published by Panini UK.

Asked if Simon had a particular actress in mind in terms of the look of this “Doctor Who”, the veteran comics and animation writer, doesn’t recall suggesting any particular actress or singer, although the title suggests a nod to either Madonna or Annie Lennox.

“The title is punny, with a definitive ! rather than a ?,” Simon notes over on Twitter.

“There’s a bit of various Doctors in her outfit,” Simon also notes and indeed there is. This new ‘Doctor’ includes her dressing in the Third Doctor’s frilly shirt, the Fourth Doctor’s scarf, the Fifth Doctor’s coat, the Sixth Doctor’s trousers and the Seventh Doctor’s pullover.

Let’s hope that’s not what the Thirteenth Doctor appears in, hmm?

Today Simon continues to break new ground with his many projects, which include To The Death with Geoff Senior, with whom he co-created Marvel’s original and most enduring incarnation of Death’s Head, the robot bounty hunter – 30 years ago.

Buy Doctor Who: Nemesis of the Daleks from amazon.co.uk

• Find Simon Furman online at simonfurman.wordpress.com | Follow him on Twitter @SimonFurman3

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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