This coming Saturday, July 9, is the third annual Doctor Who Comics Day. Libraries, comic book stores, and other venues around the globe will take part in celebration by hosting readings, signings and other activities themed around the comic book exploits of everyone’s favorite Time Lord.
Back in April, Titan Comics announced that Ninth Doctor ongoing series writer Cavan Scott would join forces with Eighth Doctor series scribe George Mann on a 5-issue limited series starring the Cybermen to celebrate the day. Yesterday that title, Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen, was released. We talked with Scott about how it felt to turn his attention to other Doctors, how he solves writing conflicts, and his first contact with the sinister Cybermen.
Edie Nugent: So this is the 50th anniversary of the Cybermen. What’s your first memory of the classic cyborg villains?
Cavan Scott: It was Earthshock, with that quite literal shock of their return. I’d seen pictures of the silver giants in books but was far too young (!) to have seen them first hand. Suddenly they were there on screen and boy did they look good!
Nugent: That’s a doozy of story arc to encounter them!
Scott: Oh yes. And then we were treated to them in The Five Doctors too. Including the first glimpse of Cyber-vomit!
Nugent: Which we’d all been waiting for, of course.
Scott: Obviously. Hey, as a ten year old boy, I lived for gross-out moments like that in Who!
Nugent: You’ve been writing the Ninth Doctor and his companions in their ongoing series, what were your first thoughts when you began to plan a story that sees them intersect with future doctor’s and their companions?
Scott: I’d been planning to have him up against the Cybermen for a while, so it was good to get the chance. And of course the opportunity to see him against his future selves was too good to miss – even though the different Doctors don’t actually physically meet in the story…
Nugent: SPOILERS, Cavan!
Scott: Well, it’s something we’ve said from the beginning so it’s not that much of a spoiler. One of the briefs was that the Doctors shouldn’t meet, otherwise the Titan event will turn into the annual Doctors get-together. We were asked to come up with a story where the four Doctors were experiencing things at different times but at the same time, if you catch my meaning.
Nugent: So what was most exciting about taking on writing the voices of Doctors other than your usual?
Scott: I think it was tackling Ten. My only experience of writing him was for a six page strip in Doctor Who Adventures [a UK based magazine for younger readers], so here I could explore the aspects of his personality that aren’t perhaps so kid-friendly.
Nugent: Also the parts of him that many older fans favor, his darker side?
Scott: Yes. The angry Tenth Doctor. Dare I say, the selfish Tenth Doctor.
Nugent: That’s very interesting to explore. Because in many ways Ten seems like a teddy bear full of razor blades…deceptively cuddly.
Scott: That’s a great way to describe him. He’s still a very angry, and often self-important, man. It isn’t until Eleven that we start to see a Doctor at peace with the universe. And even then he has his moments!
Nugent: You’ve written Doctor/companion dynamics that have the benefit of the series to draw from, but this story sees you penning teams that only exist in the world of the comics. What was your process like to connect with those relationships?
Scott: It was pretty much the same really, George and I went to the source material and looked at how they worked on the printed page. We were lucky to have the work of Nick Abadzis, Rob Williams, Si Spurrier and Al Ewing showing us the way! It’s the same as writing for audio-only companions. You look at what’s gone before and see where you can take it.
Nugent: You’ve written in the Whoniverse both with and without a writing partner. Does that affect the way you think through a story?
Scott: It’s great to be able to bounce ideas when you’re working with someone – although to be honest George and I bounce a lot of our solo projects around too. It’s always good to have a sounding board when you’re stuck. Sometimes even describing the plot out loud is enough to get you past a plot problem.
Nugent: Did you talk to yourself out loud a lot in writing this?
Scott: Well thankfully I was in the same room as George, so I didn’t appear too mad. With this project we actually decided to literally write it together. I went to his place, and he came to mine and we sat there writing alternate issues and then swapping them for editing.
Nugent: Oh that’s interesting. Is that how you usually do it, or did you team up in a special way for this co-writing project?
Scott: It was just for this project. Even though we had a pretty solid outline, we knew it was going to be a challenge to keep track of the different strands. By being together, we could check with each other, and also brainstorm ideas. There’s a character in issue two that wasn’t in the outline, but came out of a conversation in my local coffee shop as we wrote the scenes.
Nugent: That’s interesting, a benefit of this tag-team writing scheme. How do you resolve conflicts when working with writing partners, say if one person is committed to an idea the other is unsure of?
Scott: We arm wrestle.
Nugent: And who usually wins?
Scott: Me obviously (George isn’t here is he?) Usually I’ve found that if you get to loggerheads and start talking around the situation, a solution is found that is better than either previous options, if you know what I mean.
Nugent: So do you find the doctors still live in your head now? Do you find them talking to you still, even when you aren’t writing them?
Scott: Edie, the Doctor’s been talking me for over 40 years. That’s normal, isn’t it?
Nugent: Among the people reading this interview, I’m sure it is. Whatever comfort that provides.
Scott: It’s good to be among friends
Nugent: Going back to the point you made before, the brief about the doctors not actually physically meeting–will the story explore how the Doctor can communicate with his multiple selves to problem solve? In that his regenerations aren’t tied to a linear timeline in way humans experience, as we saw in the 50th anniversary special?
Scott: Spoilers. I can’t explain everything can I?
Nugent: Do I have to arm wrestle you for it?
Scott: BRING. IT. ON.
Nugent: Spoilers: I will lose. Any final thoughts?
Scott: Just to keep a look out for special one-page vignettes in the regular Titan Who titles. It’s not just Doctors Nine – Twelve who are having trouble with the Cybermen.
Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen is a five part series, with issue one currently in stores. Doctor Who Comics Day will be celebrated internationally on Saturday, July 9. You can meet some of the creatives behind your favorite Doctor Who comics, a full list of signings locations is here.
Doctor Who comic artist Simon Fraser will be appearing at 6pm on 7/9 at The Way Station in Brooklyn as part of a Doctor Who pub trivia night to celebrate Doctor Who Comics Day, hosted by Beat staffer Edie Nugent.