Strange New Worlds Issue 8 - Apr/May 1993
Doctor Who Classic Comics:
Becomes New Again
by Tom Beck
Among the most interesting and useful of the new "Doctor Who" material
now flooding the market is Doctor Who Classic Comics. This monthly from Marvel
Comics plans to reprint every "Doctor Who" comic strip story from the 1960s and
1970s. Many of these strips have not been seen in print for over twenty years.
Artists have been rendering "Doctor Who" in comic-strip-style art since the
shows inception on the BBC in 1963. After the airing of the second full episode,
Terry Nations The Daleks, the Doctor became such a sensation that British
children clamored for more and more "Doctor Who." Britain had a similar
tradition to ours, of turning TV shows into comic books. Unlike in America, where a show
might have its own comic book, Britain had more general TV-based comic books that
contained strips for several shows in each issue. It was in these multi-media comics that
the "Doctor Who" strips ran and from which the new Doctor Who Classic Comics
Following upon the success of the "New Adventures" novels, Marvel UK began to
look for additional "Doctor Who"-based products to tap into the growing market [
See "New Adventures At Last!" in issue #7 for a discussion of the
New Adventures novels]. Marvel wanted a title to complement their excellent
monthly Doctor Who Magazine. Six issues of Doctor Who Classic Comics are
available in the United States. All are definitely worth collecting, not only as prime
"Doctor Who" memorabilia, but also as highly entertaining reads.
Doctor Who Classic Comics draws from several sources for their comic strip
adventures. Original adventures reprinted from the British publication TV Comic
feature various Doctors (especially the First, Third, and Fourth). TV Comic, a
publication aimed at young children, turned many popular programs on British television
into comic strips. TV Comic first began running "Doctor Who" in November
1964. Doctor Who Classic Comics also reprints from another British magazine,
Countdown, created in 1971 for older readers. Countdown later became TV
Action + Countdown and issued lengthier adventures starring the Third Doctor. It
ceased publication in 1973 and the "Doctor Who" strips returned to TV Comic.
These strips often have the Doctor accompanied by companions that never appeared in any
televised adventures. In the strips, the First Doctor had two human grandchildren, much
like Peter Cushings Doctor in the two awful movies from the 1960s. The Fourth
Doctor, though, has been accompanied by Sarah Jane Smith in some of his comic strip
stories. A series of strips reprinted from TV Century 21 features those most
popular "Doctor Who" monsters, the Daleks.
Doctor Who Classic Comics are available in the United States at specialty comic
shops or by subscription. Each issue contains one or more pull-out posters (often a
giant-sized one) and a comprehensive continuing history of "Doctor Who" by
British writer John Ainsworth.
Doctor Who Classic Comics is one of the finest collectibles Ive seen in a
long time. The strips are of varying interest; some of the artwork is excellent,
especially for the Third and Fourth Doctor strips. Unfortunately, too many of the original
comics were geared toward children. Then, and now, people responsible for Doctor Who
make the mistake of pretending it is a show only children watch. Even so, the covers of Doctor
Who Classic Comics are terrific, John Ainsworths history is great reading, and
enough of the strips and stories are satisfying to make this a must-buy for Who
Many American Whovians choose one or two Doctors (usually the Fourth, sometimes the
Third) as their favorites and ignore all others. Some American fans have never seen the
early Doctors, since many PBS stations will not broadcast the early black-and-white
adventures. (The show was produced in black-and-white until 1970.) Only six episodes of
Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, are still completely held by the BBC there
was an infamous "purge" of their tape library in 1972. As a result, large
numbers of American "Doctor Who" fans do not know or care much about the
shows early history. Doctor Who Classic Comics gives us a sense of the
earliest days, not only of "Doctor Who" but also of its fandom.
Doctor Who Classic Comics is the literary equivalent of a TARDIS, allowing us to
travel back in time to revisit the genesis of the Who universe. For anyone with an
interest in what our favorite show and the universe it created used to be like, Doctor
Who Classic Comics belongs in your library.
My next column will be about the lunatic cult British science fiction comedy series
"Red Dwarf" and the many collectibles it is now
inspiring. Smoke me a kipper, and see you in the next issue!