Out in June in hardback from Obverse Books, with cover art and internal illustrations by Adam Bullock, and commentary on every single story from Paul Magrs, author of Doctor Who fiction for Big Finish, the BBC and AudioGo, The Annual Years is the celebration that is long overdue – a serious and detailed look at that most maligned of Doctor Who storytelling, the World Distribution annuals.
Down the years, the annuals offered an occasionally unique take on the world of Doctor Who, and the 1970s annuals are, perhaps, some of the craziest of them all, featuring distinctive pop art styled art that gave them a unique and memorable feel.
“These extraordinary books are like weird, grotesque shadow-versions of the Show we recognise, says Paul Magrs in his introduction. “They are mutations haunting the wilderness between the domed, protected cities of Canonicity. The world of the Annuals is odder, darker, madder, more psychedelic and surreal. These are adventures in a wilder, destabilized universe. The cosiness of what we recognise as Doctor Who has gone.”
The Annual Years continues Obverse Books recent tradition of doing Doctor Who titles. From 1965 to 1986, from William Hartnell to Colin Baker, the annuals were weird and witty and wonderful, a big brother to TV Comic and second cousin to Doctor Who Discovers… – and they all the more beloved by fans because of that.
The hardback edition of the 270-plus page book, priced £16.85, is strictly limited to 100 copies, with a paperback edition to follow after that.
Oh, and for those of you perhaps put off by the cover – clearly done in a style to emulate the often weird and wonderful artwork of the annuals themselves! – don’t be.
“Having read the manuscript , the insides are really rather good,” says author Paul Scoones, whose credits include the excellent The Comic Strip Companion: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who in Comics: 1964 – 1979. “As you’d expect from Paul Magrs, of course.”
“Paul’s comments on some of my stories (which of course were the first bits I read) made me laugh out loud,” enthuses Mike Wild, one of the contributors to the original annuals. “A labour of love, this. Great stuff.”
Paul Magrs is a full-time author and former Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he began work in 2004. He also formerly taught at the University of East Anglia and did his PhD at the University of Lancaster.
As well as his Doctor Who work, he’s written a number of novels starring his character Iris Wildthyme, the Darlington-based driver of a celestial double-decker bus, who was first introduced in a Doctor Who audio story, but subsequently began to pop up in her own short stories and novels.
His other works include the tales of Brenda and Effie, Brenda being the mysterious owner of a Whitby B&B while her pal Effie is the junk shop proprietor. Paul says he clearly remembers dreaming up the characters in the garden of his Manchester home, and immediately knowing they would make a series. (I’m still hoping someone will turn them into a a series of graphic novels, because they deserve to be).
• Paul Magrs blog is at: http://lifeonmagrs.blogspot.co.uk
• Adam Bullock is at: http://adambullock.com/cms
• Obverse Books: http://obversebooks.co.uk