Past Comic Pitches: Reviving “The Daleks” from TV Century 21

Following up my item on an unrealised Doctor Who newspaper strip earlier this week, here’s another item from my archives – an outline for a continuation of the strip known today as “The Dalek Chronicles“, pitched to Doctor Who Classic Comics back in the 1990s.

The first episode of "The Daleks" published in TV Century 21
The first episode of “The Daleks” published in TV Century 21

The pitch to continue the strip that initially appeared as “The Daleks” in TV Century 21 back in the 1960s – running for 104 episodes – was no more than that. No art was created, and has since in part been superseded (although not insurmountably) by the continuation of “The Daleks” by John Lawrence and Ron Turner, published in Doctor Who Magazine Issues 249 – 254, and a second story initiated at the same time, cut short with Ron’s passing, since published in Vworp! Vworp! Issue 3, drawn by Lee Sullivan.

For those unfamiliar, “The Daleks” was one of the strips that featured in early issues of the ground-breaking TV Century 21, which launched in January 1965, a weekly comic that was led by strips based on the Supermarionation shows created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, including Fireball XL5 and Stingray. (Thunderbirds followed later).

After TV Century 21‘s publisher City Magazines obtained licensing rights to publish “The Daleks”, Doctor Who Script Editor David Whitaker with the approval of Dalek creator Terry Nation began to write the scripts for a strip that would run for 104 issues published from 1965 to 1967. Art of the strip was provided by Richard Jennings,  Eric Eden , both best known for their work for Eagle, and Ron Turner, whose wide-ranging career also encompassed magazine and book cover illustration as well as comics.

After that initial run in full colour – with cover mentions for the strip on numerous occasions – “The Daleks” was retroactively re-named The Dalek Chronicles and reprinted several times in Doctor Who Magazine, initially as “The Dalek Tapes” in later issues of the same title when it was known as Doctor Who Weekly. Marvel UK released in full colour a re-print of The Dalek Chronicles in 1994, edited by Gary Russell, with an additional article and a a new cover by Ron Turner.

The cover of The Dalek Chronicles published by Marvel UK in 1994
The cover of The Dalek Chronicles published by Marvel UK in 1994

The collection was part of a wider reprinting of Doctor Who comic strips from the titles TV Comic, Countdown and TV Action, rights by then owned by Marvel UK, that were also being published in Doctor Who Classic Comics, a companion title to Doctor Who Magazine.

At some point during that title’s run, I pitched my “The Daleks” proposal, but unfortunately any correspondence I may have relating to it is locked on Amstrad disks I cannot currently access with any technology available to me!

After Ron Turner’s retirement in 1984, his agent, John Lawrence, and colleague Philip Harbottle, brought him back to professional work with new projects which Philip often wrote and Lawrence edited.

In 1997, Doctor Who Magazine published “Return of the Elders” by John Lawrence and Ron Turner, running in Issues 249 to 254, picking up from where the TV Century 21 strip finished, with the Daleks heading to Earth intent on invasion.

The first episode of "The Daleks - Return of the Elders" from Doctor Who Magazine Issue 249, by John Lawrence and Ron Turner
The first episode of “The Daleks – Return of the Elders” from Doctor Who Magazine Issue 249, by John Lawrence and Ron Turner

A subsequent Dalek Chronicles story which Lawrence also wrote, “Deadline to Doomsday“, was left unfinished at the time of Ron Turner’s death in 1998. The two unlettered pages Ron had drawn were published with an article Lawrence wrote for Issue 276 of Doctor Who Magazine about Ron Turner’s career.

The art for the first page of "The Daleks - Deadline to Doomsday", one of two pages for the story painted by Ron Turner completed before his death in 1998
The art for the first page of “The Daleks – Deadline to Doomsday”, one of two pages for the story painted by Ron Turner completed before his death in 1998
The opening page of "The Daleks - Deadline to Doomsday", written by John Lawrence, art by Ron Turner, lettered for publication in Vworp! Vworp!
The opening page of “The Daleks – Deadline to Doomsday”, written by John Lawrence, art by Ron Turner, lettered for publication in Vworp! Vworp!

Following Ron’s death any continuation of “The Daleks” remained fallow, until the team at the Vworp! Vworp! zine took up the challenged and delivered more of “Deadline to Doomsday” in Issue Three. Artist Lee Sullivan, well known for his brilliant depiction of the Daleks in DWM strips such as “Nemesis of the Daleks” and “Emperor of the Daleks“, not only redrew the first two pages of the story in his own style, but happily pitted the pepperpot perils against a new menace in further pages.

A page of Lee Sullivan's art for "The Daleks - Deadline to Doomsday", written by John Lawrence
A page of Lee Sullivan’s art for “The Daleks – Deadline to Doomsday”, written by John Lawrence

There have been numerous attempts to reprint The Dalek Chronicles, and I remain hopeful that this will happen.

Over the past few years, I have been in contact with a number of publishers who have attempted to publish one, so it’s still a definite possibility!

Here is the outline, as pitched. I have added some notes in italics as to how the plot as envisaged might incorporate the continuations published in Doctor Who Magazine and Vworp! Vworp!

I hope you like it!

John Freeman

The Daleks - art by Ron Turner
The Daleks – art by Ron Turner

THE DALEKS – A CONTINUATION

Series proposal – for Doctor Who Classic Comics by John Freeman

Stories would be 6 (preferably 6) – 7 episodes in length, for easy splitting with cliffhanger at the end of each page.

FIRST ARC

Part One

Following the momentous events in the last TV21 strips, the Daleks mass their fleet to attack Earth in “the next universe but one”… some Daleks of course left behind. But as the fleet moves into uncharted space it is enveloped by a warp field – causing fleet wide disruption on a massive scale!

Given the continuation of the strip in DWM, I’d adapt this episode to pick up where “The Elders” left off and have it focus on two surviving ships from the Elders attack fleeing to Skaro, the crew recapping recent events, separate to the Emperor’s ship seen in “Deadline to Doomsday” – a new Dalek leader installed

Part Two

Battered from the effects of the warp field, the Dalek fleet finds itself in unknown space with no point of reference and no way of returning to or contacting Skaro. His numbers quartered, the Emperor has no choice but to find a new base of operations – and scouts search, one landing on a planet watched by unseen aliens…

This part would be adapted with the new Dalek leader in action, rather than the Emperor…

Part Three

Watched by unseen aliens, the Daleks prepare to set up base and call the fleet, thinking the planet ideal. But then one of their number is captured by robotic slaves (of suitable Ron Turner design), answering to the orders of an unseen alien… the Daleks will become slaves to the H’ronda!

Part Four

Investigating the disappearance of one of their number, the Daleks locate the entrance to a massive alien catacomb – and find themselves in combat with the robots. They are surrounded… and face total destruction!

Part Five

One of the Daleks makes a suicide attack on one of the robots and the resulting explosion clears the way for the remaining Daleks to locate their missing scout. They penetrate deeper into the catacombs, finding their scout dismantled – and a secret chamber is revealed, revealing a semi-humanoid creature who orders their execution!

Part Six

Unimpressed by the order, the Daleks open fire… but the alien is protected by a force field. Some of the Daleks are cut down by auto-defenses and then the remaining Daleks vary the wavelength of their lasers, cutting through the field. At that moment, the alien disintegrates – it has been dead for millennia, the computers acting on ancient programs. The planet (and technology) is for the taking… a new Skaro!

SECOND ARC

The Daleks set up shop – and it’s clear that the technology of the ancient H’rondha is most impressive. I’d like to establish here that the Daleks don’t know the full extent of the catacombs or the true nature of some of the technology – but they do know enough to put it to good use. This story involves something that will destroy the Daleks and retreat to the shadows – and the Emperor realises that there are hidden dangers on this planet… but they will defeat them all!

At this point, to incorporate both “The Elders” and “Deadline to Doomsday“, I’d add in the reunification of Dalek forces, the Emperor arriving on “New Skaro” and reassert his authority – the only way Daleks do! This could allude to Dalek divisions seen on TV

THIRD ARC (Can swap these round)

Exploring the planets in the same system as the new Skaro, the Daleks begin mining operations for elements vital to continued develpment… and find themselves in confrontation with the robotic scouts of the ancient H’ronda that have developed their own culture. The war begins with the first round to the Daleks!

FOURTH ARC

Capturing a lost space liner, Dalek scientists discover the humans aboard are organic – like the Daleks’ own ancestors! This suggests new lines of research… perhaps new types of Dalek could be created. The humans manage to escape however and most are destroyed when the liner self-destructs. But the information will produce new lines of research… perhaps some of the humans escape to the mountains to organise their own defence.

FIFTH ARC

Searching to improve the abilities of the Daleks, H’ronda technology is installed in a small number of Daleks – who promptly go on the rampage, destroying much of the new city. The Emperor is unconcerned… he knows that they can improve on their basic design –­ and orders the research speeded up!

SIXTH ARC

Having conquered much of this solar system, the Daleks find themselves in final battle with the H’ronda robot race – and with their defeat comes access to a huge space station and space maps providing the means to access other universes… and, perhaps, a way to finally reach the Earth!

SEVENTH ARC

Using the maps of the H’ronda, the Daleks send out scouts to make contact with the Old Skaro – but cannot find it. (They won’t find this out yet, but the warp field not only moved them in space but time as well, well into the future and beyond dated Dalek chronology and all that Doctor Who nonsense). In fact, it seems to have been destroyed. The scouts barely manage to escape defeat at the hands of human-controlled space warship and return to their home.

EIGHTH ARC

Following the attack, the daleks investigate the Earth Solar system with stealth scouts, discovering that their long term goal for invading the Earth is not going to be as easy as they suspected. The tables have been turned – the Earth is more dangerous than they believed! One scout Dalek patrol reaches Earth Solar System to find it heavily guarded – and during all-out battle the Daleks discover the humans have been waiting for such an attack… and have already defeated the Daleks once before (the Daleks left behind on Skaro). Indications that the Daleks have been fought before (i.e. known Dalek chronology). Emperor decides on a policy of invasion by stealth.

NINTH ARC

A colony planet in Andromeda is attacked by Dalek forces and the Earth government fear an ancient enemy has somehow revived. In response, the Earth Federation (undated) activates the new, souped up Mechanoids to find the Dalek home world. The first attack sees the Mechanoids roundly defeated – but the Emperor knows the Mechanoids will learn from their mistakes and next time the battle will not be as easy.

TENTH ARC

Investigating the still extensive alien catacombs, the Daleks run into the beastie we threw into Arc Two… a matter-eating construct originally designed as an advanced ‘cleaner’ that is still running on a huge program to keep the place spick and span. Its total lack of appreciation for the existence of the Daleks firepower really annoys the Emperor. They manage to finish it off by feeding it more energy than it can safely handle, and it blows up – but not without cost in Dalek lives.

ELEVENTH ARC

On routine scouting, a Dalek hoverbout is almost vaporised by the arrival of a strange ship – a time craft of unknown origin! The occupants are dead, burnt to a crisp, but now the Daleks will conquer all time and space!

Art from a page from "The Daleks" story now known as "Plague of Death" by Richard Jennings, from TV Century 21 Issue 37, published in 1965. The original artwork has previously been on display in the Cartoon Museum, London
Art from a page from “The Daleks” story now known as “Plague of Death” by Richard Jennings, from TV Century 21 Issue 37, published in 1965. The original artwork has previously been on display in the Cartoon Museum, London

• The Doctor Who comics strips and their creators are celebrated on Facebook in the Doctor Who Comics: A Voyage group

• Vworp! Vworp! Issue Three is still available to buy

Artwork from “The Daleks” has previously been displayed at the Cartoon Museum in London and there is an article here on the strip, including an outline of the story and accepted story titles

Doctor Who © BBC | The Daleks © BBC/ Terry Nation

“The Daleks” Continuation Outline © John Freeman

Avatar

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, Doctor Who, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, My Comics Projects, Other Worlds, SF Comics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. PLEASE, let these stories and the unpublished newspaper strip see the light of day and make an old man very happy!

  2. Many of us have been after a deluxe edition of all the Daleks strips for many years. But, now – these unpublished stories take precedence! Could perhaps an unofficial digital fanzine be a way of getting them out here?

  3. I have the original Daleks Chronicles from 1994, but I’ve read it so much the cover is coming loose, so yes a hardback re-issue is due. Would be nice to include the follow-up stories including the Lee Sullivan strip if possible, but this has to happen, and hardback only. Would look nice on the shelf alongside the Dan Dare collections and the recent Trigan Empire collection.

Let us know what you think about this story

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: