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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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…
• 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!
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!
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.