British comic creators are heavily involved in US publisher IDW’s Doctor Who at 50 celebrations for their ‘Prisoners of Time’ maxi series, which will feature every incarnation of the Doctor, as well as a long list of villains, some new, some old.
Kev Hopgood is the latest Brit to join the project, who started his comics career back in the mid-1980s working for Marvel UK (including a Seventh Doctor strip, Claws of the Klathi for Doctor Who Magazine) and then 2000AD. Following this he had a three year stint as the penciller on Iron Man, where he co-created War Machine. Since then he’s been working mostly in children’s and educational publishing for publishers like Oxford University Press, Macmillan and Pearson.
He recently finished a graphic novel for Franklin Watts called Switch Face , which launches in October.
downthetubes: How did you gain the commission to draw the seventh issue of Prisoners of Time?
Kev Hopgood: Denton Tipton, the editor, e-mailed me and asked me! IDW have coloured and reprinted the Doctor Who strips I did for Marvel UK back in the day, so I’m assuming they liked the way they turned out and thought they’d get me to do a new one.
downthetubes: This isn’t your first Doctor Who project but you’ve been busy with many other projects, so what drew you back (no puns intended) to the Time Lord?
Kev: What’s not to like about Doctor Who! I haven’t drawn any comics for comics publishers for ages, so I was very pleased to be asked to get back in the saddle.
downthetubes: IDW are keeping their cards close to their chest about the story, but given the Seventh Doctor’s capacity for mind games, does he get more of a handle on his companion-stealing enemy in this issue, especially now Frobisher is working behind the scenes against the kidnapper?
Kev: We don’t find out much more about the mysterious hooded figure this issue, but we do see a lot of a very popular Doctor Who villain from times past.
downthetubes: You’re best known, perhaps, for your superhero work in comics and can draw equally well in several styles – do you have a specific approach to drawing a Doctor Who story, does SF call for particular storytelling techniques?
Kev: When I was drawing Iron Man I thought of it as a SF story rather than superhero book. I really enjoyed drawing all the hardware. The Doctor Who story I’ve just finished is set in an 18th Century Scottish castle, so it’s more of an historical story with SF elements thrown into the mix. The Claws of the Klaathi story I drew was also set in the Victorian era. I really enjoy doing all the research for stories set in the past.
downthetubes: A project like this inevitably attracts comments over likenesses, do you find that limiting given the freedom you have on other projects?
Kev: That’s the challenge of a Doctor Who story! I found all the DVDs available now to be a godsend. When I drew Sylvester McCoy back in the Eighties all I had was a few fairly ropey photos and a battered VHS I taped off the telly!
downthetubes: Will you be doing more Doctor Who projects after this one?
Kev: I certainly hope so!
downthetubes: Has the way you draw comics changed since you first drew Doctor Who and if so, what’s the biggest change?
Kev: I ink digitally now which has been a big change. Also, being able to e-mail artwork has speeded up the whole process. The Fed-Ex bill for posting artwork back in the day must have been enormous. There’s also so much reference available online now. I used to have a filing cabinet full of pictures I’d clipped out of magazines . Now I’ve just got “Google”.
downthetubes: 50 years of Doctor Who – what do you think is the key ingredient that’s given it such longevity?
Kev: I think the ability to “re-generate” and get a new lead actor involved every couple of years means the show’s got longevity built in.
downthetubes: What’s your next project?
Kev: One of my ongoing gigs is drawing a series of “cutaway” style illustrations for the Marvel Fact Files that Eaglemoss publish. The next one I have to do is a Sentinel, one of those Jack Kirby “cosmic god” characters. I’m also doing an illustrated version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray for publishers called Real Reads.
downthetubes: Above anything else, what one piece of advice would you offer aspiring comic artists?
Kev: Diversify! I had about ten years drawing nothing but comic books, but since I got out of the game following the comic crash of the mid-nineties I’ve found there are so many places that people with our kind of skills can find work.
Print editions of the IDW Doctor Who titles are not officially on sale in the UK but you can purchase the digital editions. #7 also includes a feature on the Seventh Doctor in comics by John Freeman.
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. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 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.