Artist Pete Wallbank, who cut his teeth in the world of professional illustration on Doctor Who Magazine, has returned to the Time Lord’s adventures with a stunning cover for an upcoming issue of Infinity magazine, delivering a stunning montage focusing on the Fourth Doctor story, Pyramids of Mars.
First aired in 1975, Pyramids of Mars sees the Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith battle the powerful alien, Sutekh, the inspiration for the Egyptian god Set, after his prison is unearthed by the archaeology professor Marcus Scarman in 1911. Alive but immobilised, Sutekh seeks his freedom by using Professor Scarman as his servant to destroy the jewel on a pyramid on Mars which is keeping him prisoner. It’s a story very firmly homaging Hammer Films, as did many Doctor Who stories of the time, which proved a huge hit with the show’s audience, despite campaigners arguing it was too frightening for children.
“As a kid I loved TV, and two shows in particular,” says Pete – “ The Six Million Dollar Man and, of course, Doctor Who.
“As a young aspiring artist, I would bore my long-suffering school friends, who had no interest in Doctor Who whatsoever, with my constant rather ham-fisted attempts at artwork featuring the good Doctor.
“I can only apologise now to my old mates for what must have felt like torture,” he laughs.
“My interest in creating illustration for Doctor Who continued after college and right into the early part of my professional career which lead to me working on and creating covers for many a commercial product.
“It doesn’t seem five minutes since I pitched up at a Marvel Comics workshop at Birmingham’s premier comic shop Nostalgia and Comics, to present my unfeasibly heavy art portfolio to the then Doctor Who Magazine editor-in-chief John Freeman in the hope of blagging some work,” he recalls.
“John was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to persevere further with what I was attempting to do and I’m pleased to say that to this day, he remains an ever supportive person not only to me but to many others too.”
Perseverance and hard work paid off and I commissioned Pete to create the cover of Doctor Who Magazine Issue 172, published in March 1991, featuring the Fifth Doctor to promote the issue’s “Archive” feature focusing on another pseudo-historical story, The Awakening. It was one of the first Peter Davison to be archived by Andrew Pixley, and although a fairly ‘recent’ story, I can recall reception to the article being very positive.
Pete went on to create other Doctor Who work, including the cover of The Pescatons for Target Books, published later in 1991, and the cover of the first VHS release of Arc of Infinity in 1994.
“Work wise and particularly as a freelancer you rarely stay in one position and it was no difference in regard to Doctor Who and my own work,” says Pete. “I left it behind and established myself in other areas but Doctor Who being Doctor Who, once you’re involved you’re always involved and never forgotten. I’m sure anyone will tell you the same who have been involved in some way or another with the show!”
A regular cover artist for Infinity, Pete’s Pyramids of Mars cover will feature on the cover of Issue 21, on sale later this month, a return to the field of ‘classic’ Doctor Who art for the first time in 13 years.
“My return might be only brief, but I’ve enjoyed the visit,” he notes.
“I’m truly no expert when it comes to this kind of work, so I’ll rightly dedicate this to the very talented and inspiring individuals out there whose Doctor Who art continues to shine – Chris Achilleos, Jeff Cummins, Carolyn Edwards, JL Fletcher, Colin Howard, Alister Pearson, Nick Spender, Richard Young and of course ‘The Guv’nor’ – Andrew Skilleter, who fired my young interest in all things Doctor Who art!”
• Infinity Magazine is online at infinitymagazine.co.uk