Paul Crompton’s 1978 Doctor Who annual art materialises on eBay

Paul Crompton’s eye-catching art for the 1978 Doctor Who annual is currently being offered on eBay, with bids now at over £1200.

Doctor Who Annual 1978 cover art by Paul Crompton
Doctor Who Annual 1978 cover art by Paul Crompton

Offered as “a must have for the serious Doctor Who collector”, this is the original art for the cover painted in gouache on board for the annual published by Manchester-based World Distributors.

“In the 1980s, publisher World Distributors were moving from their Manchester premises and decided to discard years of artwork from their archives,” says graphic artist Neil Capper, who has had the art in his studio and this preserved it well for 45 years.

“Luckily, this piece by their most talented artist, Paul Crompton was rescued by fellow artist John Millington [who] gave it to me. We both thought it was a superb portrait of Tom Baker and too good to throw away. Back then, original work was not valued once the book was printed.”

Now he’s retired, Neil feels it’s time the picture went to someone else to appreciate it.

Thousands of copies of the original 1978 Doctor Who annual are still around, but Neil hopes this cover – one of a few artworks from the annual known to have survived – will go to a real enthusiast who will treasure it as much as he has.

Paul Crompton’s art for a “Race Against Time” game featured in the 1978 Doctor Who annual as also survived. From the collection of Matt Carter
Paul Crompton’s art for a “Race Against Time” game featured in the 1978 Doctor Who annual as also survived. From the collection of Matt Carter

British illustrator Paul Crompton specialism is in realistic art, primarily for advertising, books, portraits, and comic strips. He joined World Distributors in 1973 aged just 15, and was part of an eight person team of in-house artists and illustrators (which included John Millington, perhaps best known for his work on the company’s Enid Blyton annuals).

The team worked across the board on the company’s many annuals, but Paul is widely acknowledged for giving the titles he worked on a distinctive, near surreal look that has a fond following to this day. He often delivered art in different art styles, as he was experimenting with various techniques – anecdotally fuelled by a passion for real ale!

For the 1979 annual it’s noted in this article on the annuals on tetrap,com that Paul took over some of the writing on this annual. He penned both comic strip stories, and by doing so was able to create his images then write a story around them, the reverse of the normal process of comic strip creation.

Some original art from the 1978 Dalek Annual by Paul, for the story “The Castaway” was sold at Bonhams in 2013.

Doctor Who jigsaw puzzles produced by Whitman. Via eBay
Doctor Who jigsaw puzzles produced by Whitman. Via eBay

Paul also contributed to several Doctor Who colouring books and jigsaws during the 1970s.

Paul became a freelance illustrator in 1981 and worked continuously for a wide variety of clients including Marvel, Oxford University Press, Heinemann Educational Books, Egmont Books Ltd., Raven Books, Heron Books, ADA Advertising, Warner Brothers, and Ron van der Meer Publishing Ltd.

View the Doctor Who Annual 1978 cover artwork here on eBay

Iranian book of French short stories featuring Doctor Who cover art by Paul Crompton

• Cover Trivia: Doctor Who archivist Jon Preddle notes the portrait of Tom on the back appeared on the cover of an Iranian edition of a book of French short stories!

Paul Crompton: Agent’s Profile

Art by Paul Crompton on ComicArtFans

• Find a copy of the Doctor Who Annual 1978 on eBay or AmazonUK

UPDATE, Sunday 21st February 2021: The art sold for 2276

With thanks to Mike Tucker for spotting this artwork

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. 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 "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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