Rivers of London: A Web Interview with Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel and Lee SullivanBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 25 May 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Rivers Of London: Issue Two (Credit: Titan Comics)


Doctorwhonews.net was given the combined pleasure and honour of having an in-depth chat over the internet to these 3 imaginative and uniquely skilful individuals, who combine skill with words and pictures to tell spellbinding stories, based on Ben Aaronovitch's original book series 'Rivers of  London'. (A list of the novels follows at the end of this article).

The hope with the comics of 'Rivers' was to 'move the franchise a bit sideways' according to Ben  and '[have] a chance to get pictures drawn. The whole adventure of fun stuff. Comics are a lot of fun.'

Jokingly, and warmly Ben pointed out the sheer hard work Lee Sullivan puts into his visual, to which his response was "No I don't  think of [those] fondly at all [tricky] cafe scenes at the moment. Or don't do any [art] set in a fair ground."

Andrew Cartmel then elaborated on the aims and hopes further: "Ben always wanted to write comics because he kept having  these great comic ideas that he'd tell me. [And was especially keen to do Batman]".

That turned the conversation into which comic franchises and authors were favourites with Ben and Andrew:

Ben stated how he was '[an] agnostic in comics' and that he 'read ones that [he likes with no] favourite universe. "I like Alan Moore."

Andrew seconded this opinion: "You can put me down for that too. Alan Moore is the greatest comic writer who ever lived...[and] a huge influence on me as a writer".

I then queried Ben on the influence of London itself, asking how it generated ideas for stories, for characters, and social commentary:

 "[Based on my home city being London I choose to set the story [there]. I am blessed that [my home town] London is the greatest city in the world, and the most interesting. Apart from that it is mainly because I am a Londoner. Andrew is just stuck with it!

Some concurrence from Andrew: '[I was born in London myself]..and I do love London it is very true.'

I then turned to the topic of successfully balancing humour and drama; which to my mind, as a child of the McCoy era, was one of the biggest pluses of that period in Doctor Who history.

Andrew put it as such "When you are writing it has got to be a mountain range and not a plateau, or a prairie. It has got to have variation. Humour is a brilliant way of alternating with the drama; hence the term 'comic relief'. [If something is relentless drama] then you understand the desperate need for variation."

Ben agreed with his long-time colleague and friend: "What he said."

Characterisation and having believable villains was the next topic for debate with my interviewees:

Andrew believes that an 'interesting [villain] is the crucial thing', more so than how they might be relatable to a given reader.

Ben elaborated on the aim of a "realistic thing in quite a realistic world." and also how "[antagonists] have that kind of balance. We don't have super villains....We don't really have bad people."

Andrew then gave further elaboration "What Ben calls moustache twirlers [or]  melodramatic, one-dimensional villain[s]"


We then had a bit more of a chat on characterisation in general:

Andrew emphasised how "with character development, unless you create likeable [and] interesting characters, then all the stuff that happens to them is just irrelevant."

Ben then tied this to the central character of 'Rivers of London' - Peter Grant - being a detective and how he fulfilled a given 'function' in this kind of 'detective genre':

"If you think about the [most popular/ well-known] detectives like [Inspector] Morse, [Miss] Marple .. [and] Sherlock Holmes they are, what happens to other people to develop their characters...[thus] you don't need to worry quite so much with detectives. So [regarding overall characterization] it's organic, and [how much a given character grows depends] on what [those characters] want to do usually."

Then talk by Andrew over how the basic foundation of good character elements will allow a strong story to unfold overall  "[as a budding writer one finds] that other characters tend to take over [and the story writes itself] It's wonderful when that  happens, which it does if you just persist."

This then led to Lee sharing some of his own thoughts on how enjoyment can be found in giving visual interpretation  to characters: "Nightingale is the one that fascinated me most.. because he is a guy out of time [and..] quite a bit older  than he looks. So it's fun [making] him look a bit stiff and slightly ill at ease with today."

 Ben than showed his appreciation for Lee's work, adding to his statement into just how much work goes into the  characters being drawn:

 "The quality work you get with Lee [is considerable]. He does not just go [in kamikaze] with his artwork] ... None of the  [other artists Andrew and I were to work with before the Rivers series got off the ground] were not a patch on Lee, who is amazing."

 Having read and enjoyed the premiere issue of 'Rivers': Nightwitch and noticed its globe trotting aspects I decided to ask if  travel to other capital cities had inspired Lee in terms of his approach to comics' art and the portrayal of various things?

Lee stated how "Every city has got a good feel to it.. the impressive ones are [those with] most contrast to where you come from, I guess. Tokyo [stands out despite being] nearly 30 years ago... The western bits they bolted on top of their culture are very recognisable but then you realise that at home you don't put your washing machine outside of your house. That is a cultural difference and you can do that [there] because they are made of plastic. Because they are plastic, they can be made in all candy colours. And so these kind of things are wonderful without having to go somewhere different."

I then enquired about comic book storytelling as a specific storytelling framework, and how it can be used to try and get perhaps a less than realistic reflection on our world [on occasion]. Andrew responded "in terms of art.. Ben does something called an 'art shift', where we might move from he realistic to the cartoony."

Ben then backed this up stating "What I like about writing the comics is that you have access to all sorts of techniques you can't use in a book. and now we have acquired someone of} Lee's capabilities [to portray all these characters, and visual elements].."

Andrew gave a hint of an upcoming Rivers issue later on in the new Nightwitch run:  "he has just done a fantastic [art] piece that looks like a Russian icon, and is absolutely gorgeous I have to say." 

Ben again spoke of the storytelling techniques: "[with our] comic book storytelling techniques.. the people are more realistic, but not so much the settings or the things that happens to them."

I then queried how the comics and the ongoing novel series interlink with one another and Ben put across how he treats them all as the same thing. "Some are comics and some are books. I don't really think of [the two as separate entities]. They are all part of the same universe, and so all are equally important. I have a very playful attitude to my universe. I am not too po-faced about it. I have put as much creative energy into the comics [for [ the characters, the new things and the ideas. And I know that Andrew does. I don't have a hierarchy of canon."

I then asked Andrew how a climax or cliffhanger is shaped in the storytelling he and Ben serve up with each issue:

"We do put a lot of thought into what is a left hand page, and what is a right one, as that [is crucial in determining] what is a surprise to the reader. You wait for them to turn the page over and reveal something."

Unfortunately time was finite for us, even if the Doctor knows a way round that issue, so the interview did draw to a close, but a lot of laughter and amusement that (often) embodies a harmonious working unit was clearly evident, over the Skype internet connection that I had, with the talented triumvirate.

Please have a look at the full interview in the review section later this week, which includes further chat on Lee's illustrious back catalogue of work, and how he goes about realising his creative vision as an artist.



                                                                            Ben's published Rivers of London book series to date:


                                                                             1) Rivers of London

                                                                             2) Moon over Soho

                                                                             3) Whispers Underground

                                                                             4) Broken Homes

                                                                             5) Foxglove Summer

                                                                             6) The Hanging Tree


Interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman (Berlin, 17th July 2015)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 23 July 2015 - Reviewed by Pascal Salzmann

Peter, being a die-hard Doctor Who fan yourself, were you nervous about living up to the huge expectations of the fans?
Peter: I was very nervous about playing the part, but I didn’t really think about the expectations of the fans. Because that’s not very useful. It would make me just more nervous. I just tried to think about playing the part as best I could.
Does it take guts to alter this much-loved character?
Peter: I don’t think he has altered much. I just felt very privileged to play the role. But it was frightening and is frightening, but luckily Jenna has been a fabulous support, help and friend to me and I was very lucky that she was playing the role when I arrived. She made it a very enjoyable experience as well as a challenging one.
So what was it like to see the TARDIS for the first time?
Peter: I saw the TARDIS once while David Tennant was the Doctor in an episode called Fires of Pompeii. I thought this would be my only involvement with Doctor Who. So I was very pleased that they asked me to be the Doctor. With Fires of Pompeii they offered me the part and I didn’t even read the script and said that I just want to do this. But my wife said “No, you mustn’t. You are a professional actor. You have to read the script and see what it’s like.” David was great. He showed me the TARDIS which I found quite moving at the time but I didn’t realise that a few years later I would be “driving” it myself. It is a very wonderful place to be. And also I am realising how popular the show is growing around the world and it’s interesting to go and meet the fans to see how it’s going down in other countries.

Jenna, how would you characterise your relationship with the Doctor?
Jenna: I think Clara is his conscience and his moral compass. Perhaps even his school-teacher in his social skills, teaching him how to interact with humans. I think Peter’s Doctor is a lot more Alien than the Doctors we’ve seen before. Clara helps to integrate him. There is a lot of history between them. She is the companion who has been there throughout all of his regenerations. So she is the long-standing friend.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from Clara Oswald, the impossible girl, to the school-teacher?
Jenna: With the impossible girl we didn’t really know Clara like we know her now. She had to be kept a mystery from the audience and from the Doctor, so we couldn’t really get to close to her. Series 8 allowed us more freedom to see more of her life, her home and what she does away from the Doctor. Also to see her struggle with and enjoying the two different lives she leads. We could finally explore her domestic life a little bit more, whereas we are a lot more space-bound in the upcoming Series 9. It is a lot more about life in the TARDIS and visiting as many planets and places as they can to have reckless adventures.
Jenna and Peter, which characteristic of your roles do you like and which do you dislike?
Jenna: I kinda like my bad qualities. Clara is really flawed. Egotistical and stubborn. A control-freak. And at the same time she is kind, brave, adventurous and romantic. But I like the fact that she is totally flawed.
Peter: I don’t dislike any qualities of the Doctor. I like everything that he does. I like the fact that he is tricky and distant. Sometimes friendly, sometimes clumsy, sometimes arrogant. I like all of it. And all of them.
Were you certain that an older, darker Doctor would work from the beginning or were there doubts?
Peter: No. I had no idea. You can’t second-guess the audience. You can’t try to come up with a version of the Doctor that is just good for marketing. You have to find out how you feel as an actor about this role and try to be true to that. While at the same time, playing the role that Steven [Moffat] writes. Matt, who I absolutely loved, was a very accessible and friendly Doctor, so we automatically tried to be a little less of that. But I think that’s all right. I didn’t want to seek the audience’s approval. I think it’s important not to ask the audience to love you. They must find out for themselves whether they like you or not.
The show has grown in popularity all over the world. Do you think it has something to do with changed viewing habits and new ways to watch TV like online streaming?
Peter: Yes, the way that people watch television is very different now. They can have access to all kind of programmes through different platforms and can watch whenever and wherever they like. So that helps a programme like ours, which is to some extend a kind of “cult”. People tend to discover Doctor Who and it’s a quiet, private thing and they don’t necessarily want it to become a big fan-thing that other people know about. Especially because in its history a lot of the time the show has been under-the-radar and people have loved it without being validated. There were times when you felt like being rebellious for being into it or you were not one of the cool kids for being a fan. Now it’s really cool, which is nice!
What do you think is the main difference between the new and the old show? Are the scripts today better than they used to be?
Peter: Part of the joy of it is that we make a programme that has the spirit of the old series but has the technical prowess of the modern, digital age. We have CGI and wonderful make-up and costumes. You couldn’t do the show today as it used to be done back in the days. The old show was only ever meant to be watched when it was transmitted. That was it. There wasn’t even a video industry and the show wasn’t expected to be examined in detail. An episode just existed for 25 minutes on a Saturday night. I get annoyed when some people say unkind things about some of the production values. The early show didn’t have much money and the makers didn’t have much time. But they had huge imagination. And it was the imagination and the images that the show triggered in children that was special. I was a child when Doctor Who began and it fired my imagination.
Can you tell us some secrets of the upcoming Series?
Jenna: Vikings!
Peter: Yes, Vikings. Very good!
Jenna: Our secret number one.
Peter: They are real Vikings! They are not Robot-Vikings or Space-Vikings.
Jenna: Actual Vikings!
Peter: In Viking times on Earth. Which is great. And that’s when we meet…erm….some more Vikings. [Jenna and Peter laughing]
How scary is it for an actor to suddenly be the face of such a phenomenon?
Jenna: I remember that Matt described it to me like a freight-train that you jump on. And that’s what happens. As soon as you start filming, you end up enjoying the job so much and that you are going to work every day and the storytelling is so dynamic. It’s almost too much fun. The filming part just takes over.
Peter: I just sort of try not to look down. If I become over-conscious of the scale and interest in the show it would probably make me a difficult person to live with. I don’t think it’s a very natural situation to be so recognised. I asked David Tennant about what is going to change for me. He told me that I will become incredibly visible. At home, in the Uk, that means when you go to the Grocery Store or wherever you look like the Doctor, so people will look at you all the time. But it’s fine. You receive a lot of affection.
You have been to Comic Con, doing conventions and promotion, now you are here in Germany. How do you keep your energy up? Is this side of your job still exciting or is it stressful?
Jenna: We drink a lot of coffee.
Peter: We do. And we are looked after by our wonderful team from BBC Worldwide. To be honest, we are in the middle of filming episode eleven right now. The production team has now been off on holidays for two weeks. And we have gone to Comic Con and to L.A. and now to Berlin. We don’t actually do that much. It takes nine months to film the show, so that’s what we spend all our time on. But you are right, this here is a different energy and a different way of being, that we have to get used to, too. But I think it keeps you young. When I started the job I thought I will get me an exercise bike, but it soon became clear that I didn’t need to do any exercise. Working from 7 a.m. in the morning to 7 p.m. at night is better than going to the gym.
Jenna, which Doctor would you like to hang out with at a pub?
Jenna: I’m happy doing that with my current Doctor. But if I had a TARDIS I would not go to the pub. I’d be on some other planet somewhere. If you got all of time and space, I definitely wouldn’t be in a pub.
Can you tell us about your sweetest gift by a fan or a fan encounter?
Jenna: I had very recently gotten a little box from Rome and it was a wooden box with Clara’s leaf from Series 7 carved into it. I thought it was really extraordinary.
Peter: I popped into the Doctor Who Experience once. I had this Saturday off and I thought of what I could do this day. So I decided it is going to be Doctor Who at the Doctor Who Experience. My wife actually persuaded me to do it. She said “you are going to make a lot of people very happy”. And I did. But they made me so happy, just by their affection. There were hundreds of fans and more kept on coming. I was kneeling down because I had my photograph taken with some children and suddenly this little girl screamed “Doctor Who”. And she came running and threw her arms around my neck. She was very small and she totally believed in Doctor Who. It was absolutely lovely. That was a wonderful experience. You are at the centre of a child’s utter believe in the magic of this character.
Jenna: The day before I started filming – no one knew I was a companion yet – I was walking around in London and suddenly heard the word “Cardiff”. I turned around and saw this little boy, fully dressed up as the Doctor with his Sonic Screwdriver. The chances of this happening, a day before filming… That was very sweet.
Have you taken any props from the set which no one knows about?
Jenna: I’ve been trying for so long.
Peter: She is always trying to steal stuff.
Jenna: I haven’t taken anything. But I want to. I want to steal some stuff.
Peter: I don’t take anything. Well, they need it.
Jenna: [laughs] Some bits from the TARDIS. I usually ask if there are any replacements before I try to steal them. There isn’t, so I cannot do it.
Peter, does your Doctor develop a catchphrase this series?
Peter: Catchphrase? I’m not interested in catchphrases. The Doctor never used to have a catchphrase. That is a fairly new development.
Jenna: “Shut up”?
Peter: Shut up?
Jenna: Someone was asking you to write that down recently.
Peter: Oh, yeah. But I don’t need a catchphrase.
There is a big discussion going on about budget cuts at the BBC. Do you think this will have any impact on Doctor Who?
Peter: Probably, at some point. It’s all in such a state of flux. The thing about Doctor Who is, it is a very powerful money-maker for the BBC. So hopefully it will be looked after. It would be silly to reduce the quality of what we are making. It is bringing so much more money back in and all that money is used to make other programmes. Not Doctor Who. [laughs]
So what do you both watch on TV?
Jenna: We watch…
Peter: Not together….
Jenna: No, not together. Game of Thrones. Mad Men. I really like Black Mirror and Inside No 9. Masters of Sex.
Was there a moment when you thought the Doctor and Clara found their groove?
Jenna: I think at the end of episode one. Not found our groove, but for me there was a moment of something different and new. We connected.
Peter: I felt very connected to Jenna right from the start because she made me feel so welcome. She looked after me. The nice thing is, we were both very conscious of not getting into a groove. We wanted to explore these characters as thoroughly as we could, so we were trying to not go to a place where we would feel too comfortable. That was the point of their story. They get to know each other as we were.
Will Series 9 continue to focus on the characters like Series 8 did? Last year we had the Doctor finding himself and Clara finally becoming a well-rounded character.
Jenna: They are a lot more united now and just enjoy the moment and the adventure. We are doing two-parter episodes as well this year, which is new. So we can have cliffhangers and explore the stories, the places and the characters for longer. I feel like we definitely moved into a different place this year.
Peter: I think they are much more bonded. The Doctor wants to enjoy himself with his wonderful friend. The thing that is tricky about the Doctor and his relationship with companions… You know, Christopher Eccleston says in his first episode “I can see…everything. All there has ever been and all there ever will be. And that drives me mad”. So in a way, the Doctor knows the fate of all of his companions. That makes it…difficult. But in this instance he is deliberately enjoying the relationship and this great toybox of time and space that they can explore together. But of course, as it’s Doctor Who, there is an ever deepening shadow pursuing them.
Will you both be back for Series 10?
Jenna: We haven’t read the script to episode 12 yet.
Peter: No, we haven’t got to the end of this series. So we don’t know yet what happens to us.
Thank you very much for the interview!


Full Interview With Cavan ScottBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Cavan Scott

Which other sci-fi or fantasy shows do you regard in the same league as Doctor Who and why?

That’s a tough question. For sheer longevity, I guess you have to talk about Star Trek, which re-invents itself for each passing generation.


For engaging characters, it’s Buffy and Angel, even after all this time.


But there’s nothing like Who. The old cliché about the format being infinitely flexible is only a cliché because it works. Nothing is as adaptable as Doctor Who. Nothing at all.

What has made you such a huge fan and eventual contributor to the comic strip medium? 

The comics actually helped me become a fan of Doctor Who. I'd watched the show since Tom Baker was the Doctor but started to read Doctor Who Monthly around the time of the Fifth Doctor. I immediately fell in love with the strip, an obsession that only grew during the Sixth Doctor's tenure. I adored the Sixth Doctor's comic run. Frobisher. Voyager. Sheer brilliance. I was already a comic fan, so they really helped cement my love for Who. And then there was the Marvel US reprints of the Four Doctor strips. I became obsessed with collecting back issues, which lead me into the wonderful world of Doctor Who merchandise and books and underpants and... Basically I was doomed.


As soon as I started to write Doctor Who professionally, I knew I wanted to write Who comics, and eventually I've got there.

How did you get involved in this mini-series project for Titan?

I was working with Titan on Adventure Time strips for their UK comic when the news came through that they'd won the licence, so I started asking around until I got hold of Andrew James the editor. He'd read Who-ology so we got talking and it went from there.

What do you regard as the Ninth Doctor's 3 biggest strengths?


Renewed hope.


And his 3 biggest weaknesses?

His temper.

Intolerance, at times.

Women (seriously, he is such a flirt)

When Doctor Who was first brought back in 2005 could you really have imagined what a colossal hit it has gone on to become?

I hoped, but had no idea it would be so popular. But I'm very glad it is. One of the best moments of 2005 was doing a signing and seeing so many children at the event. Finally, Doctor Who was back and where it belonged - in the heart of families!

Does the Ninth Doctor regard Rose as anymore than a really close friend - (the TV show could be quite ambiguous at times)?

That's a good question. I think he desperately needed someone like Rose, someone to hold his hand and run. She reminded him of what it was like before the Time War, and I think that, yes, there was something more there, but he was wary of letting himself get too close. And then of course, he regenerated into someone who suited her more, changing himself to become something that might be more appealing to her. How many of us have done that for someone we fancy?

You have Captain Jack on the TARDIS crew in your story. Do you enjoy the slightly uneasy relationship that he has had with the Doctor, and why do you think the tension is there?

I love it! I think Jack and the Doctor see much of themselves in each other. That's why there's so much teasing and banter. They're slightly jealous of each other, not so much over Rose, but about who the other person is.

What was the main inspiration for the mini-series (apart from the lone TV season that featured Christopher Eccleston)?

The Time War. Ever since the show’s return I wondered why no one tried to fill the Time Lords shows. Nature abhors a vacuum and all that. This is the story of someone who tries - and what happens when the Doctor crosses their path.

Why do you think Doctor Who has endured for over half a century, and what makes it so suitable for other mediums than just the television?

It’s the flexibility I mentioned earlier. It can be hard science fiction one minute, whimsy the next. Horror? No problem. Comedy? All in a day’s work. If you don't like stories set in the Victorian age, don’t worry, the TARDIS will be in space next week. Want a silly runaround? An intense character piece? A farce? A thriller? Doctor Who can be all these things and more.

Are the Daleks your favourite monsters, and if not which are// and if so why (delete as applicable)

They are. I know, I know, how predictable, right? It’s because they're the ultimate foil for the Doctor. He's about freedom and self-destiny, they're about control and domination.


But the Zygons come a close second in my eyes, because, well, they're awesome. I mean look at them. Suckers. Teeth. Control panels that look like pizza toppings.

Apart from your considerable fictional body of work, you have done some non-fiction. Which of these projects has been the most rewarding for you?

Fiction and non-fiction are different kinds of story-telling. Your job is to take the reader or viewer on a journey, to hook them in, whether its fact or fiction. Working on both keeps me fresh, I hope! 



Interview with Nick AbadzisBookmark and Share

Monday, 30 March 2015 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Nick Abadzis

Nick Abadzis  works on the ongoing Tenth Doctor series from Titan Comics. He recently gave an interview to Martin Hudecek of Doctor Who News


How exciting is it knowing that there is a couple of other regular series being made with the Tenth Doctor's successors at the same time?

It’s nice to know you’re in such good and esteemed company. I talk to Robbie Morrison and Cavan Scott a fair bit and I admire Al and Rob’s work very much, so there’s a sense that we’re all “keeping the flame.” Apart from the TV show, and all the other spin-off media, I’ve read Doctor Who comics since I was a little kid, so it’s an amazing thing for me to be a part of this.

Where is the 10th doctor at in his timeline? And what impact does this have on the friendship with Gabriella - the new companion you have introduced?

These stories take place after Donna Noble left the TARDIS. They’re how the TV show might’ve continued on TV for a fourth full season of David Tennant in the role of the tenth Doctor. After what happened to Donna, he’s in quite a dark place and very, very cautious about taking on any other long term travelling companions. He doesn’t want to endanger anybody else and that does have a bearing on how he deals with Gabby at first. She has to win his trust, but also his willingness to even see her as a potential friend, because he’s very much aware that just by being with him, she’s in a dangerous position. Initially at least, he doesn’t really trust himself to look after anyone, so any potential companion has to be able to take care of herself.

Did you try and recapture David Tennant's sheer zest, and match it with the type of stories you tell?

To a certain extent, just the enormous energy and joie de vivre David Tennant brought to the role of the tenth Doctor propels a story with its own momentum, because you’re writing for that same character, that same spirit. Any Doctor has his own particular cadences and mannerisms, but you can’t just repeat what you heard him say on TV, because the way he speaks must continue to evolve and be responsive to the situation he finds himself in. While it isn’t exactly easy, I have a good time writing him, because I am very fond of that particular Doctor. Equally, you’re trying to recapture a general sense of the RTD era, of its many layers, without trying to be slavish about it; to continue it and reveal hidden new depths to it. I want to generate new kinds of chemistry for him, with new characters and unfold wholly unexpected directions and mythology.

Of course, any Doctor lives longer and in a more labyrinthine fashion than any of us mere mortals are privy to, but the aim is to shed some light on these hidden moments in the tenth Doctor’s timeline.  As far as I’m concerned he is still very much a living, breathing character and I try to invest in him all that nuance, pathos and fun that David Tennant gave him onscreen, and I am very lucky to have my scripts drawn by Elena Casagrande, who I know loves him even more than I do.


Which time zone(s) have you set these stories in and why?

Why, all of time and space of course! Without being facetious, it’s GMT+5 – the east coast of the USA. Gabby Gonzalez is a Mexican-American from Brooklyn, New York City, where the Doctor first meets her. Like Rose, Martha and Donna before her, this means to a certain extent she has a tie to her hometown, so there’ll be a few return journeys to the Big Apple. I’m writing our first “season finale” at the moment, much of which is set there, and it’s epic. 

Are the 'cliffhangers' a big focus for you in the creative process of writing serialised Doctor Who?

I do love a good cliffhanger, probably because I was brought up on them with the classic show. You always try and write in a good reason to make a reader want to pick up the next installment, of course, it’s part of the tradition. 

Are there clear heroes and villains in your stories and why?

My first set of villains are very clearly bad guys, quite singular in their intentions and nastiness, although they are not really responsible for being that way – they were created with a very specific set of traits in mind, to be an invasion force. The villains in the next story are a rather more surreal pair, who came into being entirely by accident, through sheer force of creativity. I’m writing a “big bad” for the final arc this year at the moment who is an entirely different beast again, who is not even a villain precisely. He’s something of a sleeping giant, someone who was best left asleep. He’s quite grumpy when his “alarm clock” wakes him, and he decides he needs the Doctor’s help – help that the Doctor is disinclined to give. From small misunderstandings and demands, drama and a lot of heartache ensues. I like to give all my villains some tiny element of sympathy, so their darkness holds an understandable allure.

Is there a preference for having the Doctor or the companion drive the narrative in the stories?

There are different ways of telling stories, and I try to mix it up so it isn’t all one perspective or another. Sometimes, it’s from the Doctor’s point of view, sometimes the companion’s, sometimes another character’s, even the villain’s. In comics, you do have that luxury, and it isn’t always as jarring a switch as it might be in another medium like TV or the written word, because you float a lot of those changes on the visuals and the pacing. Comics is a language, and a far, far more sophisticated one than some people give it credit for, but as we now live in a world where comics grammar is used on a daily basis, where it’s colonized smartphones and desktop computing, I’d say we were ahead of the game.

Which other tv /film comic books have you done or might do one day?

I’m probably best known for a graphic novel called LAIKA, in the UK for my work on Deadline and a character called Hugo Tate (for readers of a certain age). As well as Doctor Who, I'm also currently working on a project for First Second, the same publisher as LAIKA. It's called Pigs Might Fly and yes, it's about flying pigs. You can stay tuned to my Twitter feed or Tumblr for updates on all my upcoming projects, including the good Doctor. 

What are your all time favourite comic stories or graphic novels? (e.g top 3, top 5)?

This changes all the time. Among perrenial favourites, I’d list:

The Incal – Moebius and Jodorowsky

The Love Bunglers – Jaime Hernandez

Hergé – Tintin in Tibet

Alan Moore and David Lloyd – V for Vendetta

Jack Kirby – 2001 A Space Odyssey

What would you say is the highlight of your comic book career so far?

Winning an Eisner award for LAIKA, and the various other international storytelling awards that came with publication of various foreign editions. Getting to write Doctor Who ain’t bad, either.

Historical fiction has been important in your writing career thus far. If you had a working TARDIS to hand, which past events would you want to visit and why?

“You can’t change history – not one line,” isn’t that right? I suppose I should say that I’d rescue the eponymous central character of my book LAIKA. If I was being a little more self-indulgent, I’d go and see David Bowie live as the Thin White Duke on the European leg of his Station to Station tour in 1976. Maybe nip forward a year and see Iggy Pop on The Idiot tour too, with Bowie on keyboards.

Have you used your own experiences of life in the USA to give life to your stories' characters and surroundings?

Yes. Any storyteller worth their salt uses their own experiences and observations  to bring their characters to life. They say write what you know, extrapolate from what you know and even the strongest flights of fancy, the best imaginative works have to be written so that a character and therefore the reader believes in them. It’s not so much about making it realistic, but making it believable.

Doctor Who: Tenth Vol. 1 hits comic stores on March 25 and books stores on March 31.


Amazon UK Link

Anazon US Link


FILTER: - Comic - Interview

Tom Baker at 80Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 7 December 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Tom Baker at 80

Tom Baker
Interviewed by: Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish Productions 2014
Available from Amazon
Although I first encountered Doctor Who with Sylvester McCoy as the lead, it was Tom Baker's electric portrayal of the Time Lord which made the biggest impression on me ultimately. Such is the amazing legacy of the bohemian, scarf-wearing Fourth official incarnation that he had an extra (and original) cameo in the Day of the Doctor anniversary special. In a scant few seconds of screen time a vaguely-named gentleman - maybe the Doctor, maybe Tom Baker himself - utterly stole the show.
Now Tom has reached his own milestone of 80 years living on this curious old world of ours, and what an eventful life he certainly has had. And he would appear to have only further gained in wisdom and self-awareness with age; a commendably thoughtful and intellectual artist of his craft.

This release - available since mid-autumn - is a chance for Nick Briggs to try and uncover further memories and defining events from Baker's past. The interviewee is more than responsive, helped in no small part to the pair's collaboration on documentaries specially released (when VHS was still the mainstream video format), and of course the 21st century Big Finish productions of 'missing stories' co-starring Louise Jameson and the late Mary Tamm.

The format is one that leads to casual, but not overly lightweight discussion. Recorded back in March of 2014 a lot of material was edited down into the 2 hours plus that fill this double CD release. Although Briggs is an unquestionable expert on Doctor Who, he chooses to play down his role and knowledge, therefore allowing Baker to speak at great length at all sorts of topics and to often throw in a great deal of spontaneous wit.

Some visitors to this site will know a good amount about how Baker fared during his time in Doctor Who, and this production does not retread too much material which is readily available elsewhere in various media. Consequently the listener is able to learn a little more of Tom's thoughts on his Catholic faith growing up, family life in Liverpool, and the status of being poor and unable to live as certain more fortunate individuals could. Discussion involves his markedly different job roles as a monk-in-training, army medic and building site labourer (with emphasis on tea-making over heavy lifting!).

There is also some welcome discussion of three major TV projects - 'Medics', 'Randall and Hopkirk Deceased' (where he was able to assist fellow ghost Vic Reeves) and 'Monarch of the Glen'. And of course Baker was able to use his fine vocals on the narration of 'Little Britain', which elicits his charmingly satisfied observation that the children who grew up with his Doctor in the 70s ended up giving him new work once they were established in the industry themselves.

Perhaps one nit-pick would be that the lack of a robust structure does sometimes lead to certain stream-of-consciousness material which gets in the way of further elaboration on topics that are quite fascinating. Yet Tom Baker is one of those people I would genuinely tolerate reading out endless definitions from a dictionary. His amazing voice is not the only selling point here either. He is warm, humble and supremely spontaneous and witty. There is the often observed point that Baker simply played himself as the Doctor, and he himself seems to go along with this line-of-reasoning. But Doctor Who would have hardly been as iconic and have such a legacy had not such a major charismatic star been involved.

A rather edgy aspect of the interview is Baker's sharp awareness of death and mortality - both his own and peoples in general. But rather than being maudlin he expands on this to explain how he has mellowed and tries to make the most of his time in a positive fashion. Baker also briefly illuminates his deep thoughts on his major romantic partners in life. Thankfully there is no 'Piers Morgan' style push for gossip from Briggs, who knows full well that despite apparent extrovert qualities, Tom Baker is in various aspects quite a private person.

Sometimes the small scale projects with a basic one-to-one dynamic can be as illuminating as a full scale documentary. This is one such example. Considering the many interviews available on the market this stands tall and is a great way to spend a spare afternoon, whether at home or on the go. If you are stuck for ideas this time of year then look no further for this interview as a small gift.

FILTER: - Big Finish - Fourth Doctor - Interview

When Julia Met The DoctorBookmark and Share

Thursday, 21 August 2014 - Reviewed by Tim Hunter
On the whirlwind visit to Sydney as part of the Doctor Who World Tour, Peter Capaldi made time for a chat with Julia Zemiro for ABC TV, and When Julia Met The Doctor, which aired in Australia Wednesday 20 August, was the result.

Just quickly, Julia Zemiro is an Australian TV presenter, known for Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery series of interviews with local comedians on ABC TV, and as a co-presenter of Australia’s Eurovision Song Contest broadcast for SBS TV. She’s an intelligent, relaxed presenter with a good eye for the absurd and camp, and a good choice to interview Capaldi.

She immediately puts Peter at ease as she ushers him into a big room with a view of Sydney Harbour, and manages to engage him in some fun, frank and often irreverent chat. And it is a chat, rather than a formal interview. They chat about his early years as a Doctor Who fan, his childhood in Glasgow, his time in a punk rock band, a stab at stand-up comedy, the short film he directed, the Oscar he won for that, and of course his casting in Local Hero and The Thick of It. She even manages to unearth some previously unknown stories of Peter putting on puppet shows in primary school, which he seems surprised and somewhat embarrassed about her revealing. But then he follows up with a story about making a model TV studio out of a shoe box for cut-out Beatles to perform in, which is just one of a number of lovely moments.

When he gets to talking about being cast as the Doctor, nearly 20 minutes in to the show, he’s hit his stride, and in amongst the candid observations, the now-common anecdote about his first day of shooting in the TARDIS prop comes out, not any less funny, of course. His dry humour and self-deprecating demeanour is lovely to watch, and his passion for the Doctor and the responsibility he’s taking on is intense and a little bit fierce – a hint of what the Twelfth Doctor will actually be like.

Peter also has some interesting insights into Clara as his companion, and then when Julia asks if he can still hear the voice of young Peter Capaldi in his head when he’s on set, he stops to really think before answering, and when he does, he talks about how he knows who the Doctor is, and uses that knowledge rather than any acting ability to inform his performance. And in that moment, we see a lovely emotional and slightly vulnerable side to Peter, and how much playing the Doctor means to him.

The interview is only 25 minutes long, but thanks to Zemiro’s disarming charm and interviewing skills, we get a really solid understanding of who Peter Capaldi is, and what he’ll bring to Doctor Who. And I for one can’t wait to see.

FILTER: - Twelfth Doctor - Interview