Thank You, Doctor Who (Magazine) – You Kickstarted My Comics Career

Doctor Who Weekly #1 - Doctor Who Magazine Supplement 500

Doctor Who Magazine, the longest running TV-tie in magazine in the world, as recognised by Guinness World Records, reaches its 500th issue today, Thursday 26th May 2016… And I’m proud to have been one of its many editors.

A panel from Doctor Who: The Iron Legion by Pat Mills and John Wagner, first published in Doctor Who Weekly #1. Art by Dave Gibbons.

A panel from “The Iron Legion” by Pat Mills and John Wagner, first published in Doctor Who Weekly #1. Art by Dave Gibbons.

Back in October 1979, when Dez Skinn at Marvel UK launched as Doctor Who Weekly, I had no idea, of course, as a humble reader enthralled by “The Iron Legion” comic strip that, thanks to good fortune and good friends (thank you, Richard Starkings, a Marvel UK editor who knew me as an upstart ‘zine editor), I would get the chance to first design and then edit  Doctor Who Magazine. For this, I owe much to the tutelage of designer and ace (and Ace) photographer  Steve Cook and the no-nonsense direction of the brilliant Sheila Cranna, who ran Marvel UK’s Magazines Department, aided by Louise Cassell.

But design and edit the DWM I did, learning the ropes of magazine production on the job, and comic editing and writing, too. It was a baptism of fire – but I’m very proud of a lot of what I inflicted on an unsuspecting news stand back then.

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 137 - Cover

I started work on DWM as a designer with Issue 130 but Issue 137 was my first issue as editor

It was the first professional editor’s post I held, and I loved almost every minute of it. Yes, there were the boring bits (paperwork in a time before there were computers, until I went out and bought my own Amstrad for the office, to speed that bit up – and cut the typesetting bill).

Me, at my desk in the Marvel UK offices on the top floor of Arundel House in the early 1990s. You're marvelling at the slick modern technology on my desk, aren't you? Thank you, Lord Sugar. Photo: Jon Preddle

Me, at my desk in the Marvel UK offices on the top floor of Arundel House in the early 1990s. You’re marvelling at the slick modern technology on my desk, aren’t you? Thank you, Lord Sugar. Photo: Jon Preddle

But the dull parts were far outweighed by the opportunities to work with so many talented folk on the title – such as, to name but a very few, feature writers Marcus Hearn, David Howe, Andrew Lane, Dominic May, John McLay, Patrick Mulkearn, Andrew Pixley (whose research was integral to the Magazine’s core features), Justin Richards, David Richardson, Liam Rudden, Gary Russell (who took on the role of editor after me, and was thrown straight in the deep end) and Stephen James Walker.

Then there were the comic creators and illustrators – so many wonderful folk and impossible to list them all here… Dan Abnett, Colin Andrew, Andrew Cartmel, Mike Collins, Paul Cornell, Vincent Danks, Gerry Dolan, Simon Furman, Scott Gray, John Higgins, Kev Hopgood, Colin Howard, Dicky Howett, Nick Miller, Steve Noble, Tim Quinn, Alister Pearson, Richard Piers Rayner, John Ridgway, Richard Starkings, Lee Sullivan, Kev F. Sutherland, John Tomlinson, Pete Wallbank, Brian Williamson, Paul Vyse – these are just a few names, but I owe so many so much for their work.

And, of course, there were all those who worked on the Doctor Who TV show itself who helped make DWM such a success through their support, not least producer John Nathan-Turner but actors who helped it zing, some no longer with us, such as Nicholas Courtney, Jon Pertwee (with whom I had an unforgettable breakfast at a US convention to broker a deal on picture use!) and Elisabeth Sladen, who would occasionally phone for advice on whether or not to attend some event or other. Actors Sylvester McCoy – then the incumbent Doctor! – and Sophie Aldred went out of their way to support DWM, as did production staff current and past, such as Mike Tucker, Raymond Cusick and Barry Newberry (again, to name only a few).

Heather Allen, me and Sophie Aldred as the 'Blues Brothers' at FALCON convention in Bath in the early 1990s. Yes, that's Paul Cornell in the background. Photo: Jean Riddler

Heather Allen, me and Sophie Aldred as the ‘Blues Brothers’ at FALCON convention in Bath in the early 1990s. Yes, that’s Paul Cornell in the background. Photo: Jean Riddler

So yes – happy times and places, thanks to DWM, and its amazing, loyal readers, who were and remain consistent in their ability to have a few on every aspect of the TV show, and the Magazine. I’m sorry that even today, you shudder at the memory of one of my then all too numerous appearances at many a Doctor Who convention to plug the thing, in the days long before social media and the magazine’s own fanzine, Vworp! Vworp!

Thank you, all. I owe you, big time.

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 500 - on sale now in all good newsagents (and some run by Zygons)

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 500 – on sale now in all good newsagents (and some run by Zygons)

So now – get out there and celebrate a landmark event by buying Issue 500 of Doctor Who Magazine,  an essential read for die-hard Doctor Who fans and general viewers alike, because the current editorial team, led by Tom Spilsbury, have bust a gut to bring you an amazing edition that is well worth the higher cover price.

(Longtime readers will tell you I am the last person to moan about higher DWM cover prices, given the number of times it went up under my tenure…)

The highly collectable Issue 500 comes packaged in a striking card envelope, and is a bumper 116-pages long…

Highlights include:

• Exclusive interviews with: the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi; the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker; and showrunner, Steven Moffat, about the future of the show

• A message to readers from new companion Pearl Mackie

• A letter from the Doctor, homaging the original Doctor Who Weekly editorials, a gimmick now used in Doctor Who Adventures

• Peter Capaldi answers questions once put to William Hartnell

• The biggest-ever comic strip the magazine has ever published: a glorious 20-page adventure, illustrated by a host of returning artists from Doctor Who Magazine’s past

• An in-depth feature on the story that fans voted the best Doctor Who story of all time: the 2013 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor

• An article celebrating the most memorable moments from 500 issues of Doctor Who Magazine

• A look at how Doctor Who might have returned to TV in 2001, as imagined by award-winning writer Mark Gatiss

• Competitions to win huge prizes, including over £500 of DVDs and Blu-rays!

• Plus News, Reviews, Coming Soon, Wotcha and lots of surprises!
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Doctor Who Magazine Issue 500 - Doctor Who Magazine Supplement

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 500 – Doctor Who Magazine Supplement

Issue 500 is also accompanied by a wealth of extra goodies:

• An additional 116-page magazine, charting the history of magazine and containing images of every single cover, from Issue One to the present day, with a fascinating commentary from the magazine’s past editors and designers

• A sticker sheet featuring memorable images from DWM’s 500 issues

• A double-sided A1 poster

• The first in a series of nine collectable art cards

Doctor Who Magazine is on sale today in all good newsagents and comic shops price £9.99. What are you waiting for? Go!

Find back issues of Doctor Who Magazine for sale on amazon.co.uk

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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, Featured, SF Comics

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4 replies

  1. Great article. I’ve been penning a post for my blog about DWM, which has given me cause to reflect on the various eras of the magazine and I have to tip my hat to you for bringing Andrew Pixley into the fold. DWM without Andrew Pixley scarcely bears thinking about ….

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