Doctor Who Weekly Issue One - The Iron Legion SNIP

First ever Doctor Who Weekly strips head to audio adaptations by Big Finish

The opening page of "The Iron Legion" from Doctor Who Weekly Issue One, published in 1979
The opening page of “The Iron Legion” from Doctor Who Weekly Issue One, published in 1979

Two new audio adventures based on two much-loved Doctor Who Weekly comic strips – “The Iron Legion” and “The Star Beast” – stories originally written by Pat Mills and John Wagner and drawn by Dave Gibbons – are being released for the bohemian Fourth Doctor.

Already recorded, Doctor Who: The Comic Strip Adaptations will be released in March 2019 comprising two stories, Doctor Who and the Iron Legion, and Doctor Who and the Star Beast adapted by Alan Barnes.

downthetubes understands that neither Pat Mills or John Wagner were involved in the productions.

In these two adventures, we find the Fourth Doctor travelling solo at first, with his famed elongated technicolour scarf for company. He’ll encounter the Iron Legion, one of the most reprinted Doctor Who strips ever, an army of robotic Roman legionnaires, and in Doctor Who and the Star Beast, encounters one of the deadliest and most adorable villains ever – Beep the Meep.

Although I wasn’t involved in this project, it turns out the idea to adapt the adventures sprang from a very quick discussion I had with Nicholas Briggs, director of the Fourth Doctor audio adventures during recording of the Dan Dare Audio Adventures – although that chat was suggested adapting two entirely different comics properties – Roy of the Rovers and Striker.

“These Fourth Doctor comic strip adaptations have a whole different feel to them,” says Briggs. “It’s like they’re from a parallel universe vision of Doctor Who. Tom Baker spotted it straight away, emailing me the moment he’d read ‘The Iron Legion’, commenting that this was ‘a bit DIFFERENT’ – actually typing ‘different’ in capitals! But he rose manfully to the challenge and entered into the spirit of it all wonderfully. And that spirit is that they are, essentially, wackier.

“There’s a feeling of ‘we could do anything because there are no budget restrictions’ in the original comic strips, and our adaptor, Alan Barnes, has captured this perfectly. Crazy characters, extravagant action sequences. And Alistair Lock has done a superb job with his sound design and music.

Doctor Who - Beep the Meep
Beep the Meep

“The Star Beast”, written by Pat Mills (although Pat Mills and John Wagner were jointly credited, they took turns to write the scripts and this story was written by Pat) is a landmark story, not only for its memorable “cuddly” villain Meep the Beep, but its for its debut of Sharon as a non-Caucasian continuous companion of the Doctor, predating Mickey Smith and Martha Jones on the TV show by more than a quarter of a century.

“The Star Beast has a slightly different feel,”says Briggs. “The alien monster craziness is contrasted sharply with a dash of kitchen sink drama and a touch of Grange Hill, which predated the TV series exploring more domestic settings. It’s interesting how the brilliant comics writer of these strips, Pat Mills, kind of anticipated this. Alan has a great love for Pat’s work, and he was absolutely the right fit to adapt these beautiful, bonkers adventures of an extra-eccentric Fourth Doctor.”

Doctor Who: The Comic Strip Adaptations will be released in March 2019 as a 5-disc CD box set for £23 or on download at £20 from www.bigfinish.com. The special offers only last until 23:59 UK time 15th August 2018, so don’t miss out!

Both “The Iron Legion” and “The Star Beast” feature in The Iron Legion, published by Panini in 2013

• Check out this wonderful background feature on “The Iron Legion” by Zaranyzerak

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John Freeman

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.

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