Thursday, August 9, 2007

Reprint This! 7. Doctor Who Adventures

Reprint This! is a periodic feature where I talk about some out-of-print comic book gems that are not available in collected form for readers to enjoy. This is hoping to let rights owners know that, yes, readers are out here, and we'd like to buy the things we can't get at this time!

Despite such an enormous variety of books available these days, and genuine efforts to present the material in reasonably-priced, archival volumes, there are still countless fabulous series from the US, Britain and Japan which are overdue for new editions. I've selected two dozen titles which should be on bookshelves, but at this time are not.

One missing gem is DOCTOR WHO ADVENTURES by writers including Alan Barnes, with art principally by John Ross. Well, I suppose "missing" is not the right word. This is a very new comic, and the editors may well have plans for collected editions, but for now it's disagreeably difficult and expensive to get in the US, and I'm selfish and impatient.

Doctor Who has a long history in comics. He had a strip running in the pages of TV Comic in 1964, and the Daleks were popular enough to have their own back-page series with art by Ron Turner. In the 1970s, the feature moved to Countdown for a time, and eventually the Doctor got his own Marvel magazine. Doctor Who Weekly was aimed at kids, with contests, games and pinups, and featured two or three serialized comics in each issue. The main feature was initially written by Pat Mills and John Wagner, and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Backup stories featured tales of the monsters and aliens, with early work by everyone from Steve Dillon to Alan Moore.

Many of these Doctor Who comics are available in some amazing collected editions by Panini, the current publisher of the magazine, which has long since lost its remit as a children's purchase. It's now aimed at adult readers, in part a nostalgic and very intricate study of how television shows are created and in part a celebration of the current show. The still-popular comic is the only holdover from the old days.

Seeing a gap in the market, the BBC launched Doctor Who Adventures for young readers. This biweekly magazine features larger font size for easier reading, pinups, free gifts, Moxx of Balhoun masks, Daleks and Cybermen posters, "secret facts about the Slitheen" articles, and a really, really fun comic, told in serialized six-page episodes. That's not to dismiss the comic in the Panini magazine, which is still pretty entertaining, but the one in the BBC comic is a lot more manic, in keeping with David Tennant's Doctor, and I just love John Ross's expressive, imaginative artwork, vividly colored by veteran Adrian Salmon.

The problem is that Doctor Who Adventures is practically impossible to find in the US, and the price tag when it does show up is pretty steep for a kids' magazine. It's a lot to pay for six pages of comics, which is why the BBC needs to follow Panini's lead and start collecting them on nice paper with a big, thick page count. The 35th issue of the magazine is out now, which, assuming it's appeared in each issue (The Hipster Kids and I only have five of them) totals up to 210 pages of comics. If the BBC's editorial team gets working on it now, they could have a very nice package of these great stories out in time for Christmas, and what a nice present that would make... so how about it, BBC?

(Originally posted August 09, 2007, 07:24 at hipsterdad's livejournal.)

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