The Zine: Vworp Vworp!, named after the TARDIS sound effect created for Doctor Who Monthly/Magazine, is an irregular fanzine celebrating Doctor Who in comic strip form, as well as Doctor Who artwork in general, and the history of Doctor Who Magazine. New issues materialise once every blue moon, but trust us, they are well worth the wait and the latest – Issue Four – focuses, largely on the Doctor Who strips published in TV Comic, Countdown and TV Action, along with a lead feature on the much-loved Doctor Who and the Daleks Omnibus published in 1976 by Artus Publishing Limited, for Marks and Spencer.
The Review: Coming in at just over 170 pages, exhaustively researched, beautifully designed, the only thing that distinguishes Vworp Vworp Issue Four from a professionally-published magazine and its fanzine status is the simple fact that the last issue came out in 2017. Just like this issue, that was brilliant, too, and just like previous issues, edited by Colin Brockhurst, published by Gareth Kavanagh, the latter the brains behind Cutaway Comics, Issue Four may have been a long time coming, but Jumping Jehoshaphat, it was worth the wait.
Where do you start, and where do you finish, heaping praise on Colin’s dedication putting this fan-published Bookazine together? Just the very act of tracking down the original creators involved in the fondly-remembered strips, books and comics covered, including the elusive artist Harry Lindfield, whose work graced Joe 90: Top Secret as well as Countdown and much more, is an incredible achievement in itself.
Then there are the interviews or features teased from respectful, gentle probing of family members and friends of those no longer with us, for their memories of their talented parents, such as Christopher Ryland, the stepson of artist Neville Main, and fellow artist Diana Morris, who Neville befriended, that shine a light on a rare, individual talent whose work launched the “Doctor Who” strip in TV Comic, back in 1964. Or artist Paul Vyse’s marvellous tribute to John Canning, who not only drew “Doctor Who” for the weekly title, but many others, too, including “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
While the Doctor Who comics of TV Publications and Polystyle Publications may in the main be its focus – a subject also covered in Paul Scoones also-recommended The Comic Strip Companion: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who in Comics: 1964 – 1979 (who also writes for this issue) and Steve Holland’s Countdown to TV Action – Vworp Vworp also touches on the wider history of British comics, and it’s great to see that artists are not only interviewed for their Doctor Who work, but on their wider career, including girls comics and the very mechanics of comic creation in the decades before email, TIFFs and InDesign. This is never more evident than when we come to an short but telling item written by one of the comic’s elusive writers, David Motton, previously interviewed about his “Dan Dare” work here on downthetubes. In this short item, David is characteristically candid about the economics of comics publishing, something fans of the strips may find uncomfortable reading, but reflecting the wider precarious nature of creative industry (all the more precarious in our modern age).
There is just so much about Vworp Vworp Issue Four to admire, from its variant covers – deserving of availability as prints, perhaps, should time and energy permit – through to its huge variety of features and interviews, including a look at Doctor Who Magazine’s landmark comic strip tribute to the era in the Eight Doctor strip “The Land of Happy Endings”, published back in 2003. We even get some balloon-bursting comic strips, too, poking affectionate but at the same time occasionally barbed fun at the whole concept of “Doctor Who” and his time-travelling grandchildren, John and Gillian, a game continued in an the accompanying free gift of a “Sugar Pats” cereal, complete with its “Build a Super Trod” guide.
The joyous work of a huge number of contributors, crammed with wonderful artwork homages as well as articles, quite frankly, you really do not want to miss out.
I’ve said before that every issue of Vworp Vworp! is a labour of love, and Issue Four, so long “in the works”, is, I am very happy to confirm, no exception. It was well worth the wait. If you read TV Comic as a child, or discovered the “Doctor Who” strips of Countdown and TV Action through Marvel UK’s Doctor Who Classic Comics title, then Vworp Vworp Issue Four is an unmissable treat.
I’ve said it before, and I’m more than happy to say it again…If you’re a Doctor Who comics fan, then this is fanzine for you. Buy a copy now, grab a back issue while you are there, follow the title on social media, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
If you’re a fan of Doctor Who comics there is, simply, no good reason why you would not want this on your shelf. You do not want to miss out.
• In addition to the current issue, limited copies of Issue Three are available, and Volume One and Volume Two are available as a reprint compendium, offering updated and new editorial. Why are you still here?
• The Comic Strip Companion: the Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who in Comics: 1964 – 1979 by Paul Scoones is available from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
• Steve Holland’s Countdown to TV Action is available from Steve direct