By Ani Bundel

Doctor Who fandom is hardcore. It has to be since the show disappears from TV without warning. Between changing lead actors, casts, showrunners, and in the latest shift, production companies, there are years where there are no new stories for the fandom to devour that don’t come from comics and novels. Thankfully, in the long wait between Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor’s exit and Ncuti Gatwa’s arrival as the Fourteenth Doctor, there’s a new release, A World of Demons: The Villains of Doctor Who.

A World of Demons: The Villains of Doctor Who

A world of demons: the villains of Doctor Who

As the one and only Doctor Who panel in the whole New York Comic-Con 2022 lineup, the panel for A World of Demons was packed, despite being hidden in the bowels of the Javits at 8:15 p.m. on a Friday. Contributing authors Hannah Friedman and Jan Fennick joined the book’s editors, David Bushman and Barnaby Edwards, to discuss how the collection came about. 

After knowing each other for a decade, Bushman and Edwards were inspired to create a collection of essays on the most famous villains in the Whoniverse. They felt it was essential to make this “Not your father’s Doctor Who collection.” There’s a diversity of voices across the 18 essays, including one connecting Doctor Who villains to January 6th. Another digs into sizeism on British television. One tiny error, though – in picking pitches, they accidentally forgot to greenlight one on The Master, and the editors had to write it last minute.

Accidentally forgetting The Master in favor of the invisible villain from the standalone Tenth Doctor story “Midnight” was only one of the issues. They got many pitches from writers who wanted to write about the same villains. Since they were only doing one book, they had to pick and choose, so there will be villains left out. (The audience all asked about Volume 2.)

Jan Fennick also said the ongoing revivals of older villains had tripped some of the writers up. For her essay, Silurians, Sea Devils, and Zygons, Oh My! she had to request an extension and wait for the easter special, Legend of The Sea Devils, to air so she could include them in her essay. Friedman, a Modern Who fan, focused more on the reboot’s villains and colonialism’s legacy embedded in the story. (They settled on Modern Who since “New Who” seems silly for a series reaching 20 years on the air.)

That idea created the most controversial essays in the whole volume, written by moderator Ken Deep, which posits the Doctor as the biggest unwitting villain of the show. Upon bringing that up, the audience began peppering him with questions until the hour became people debating which version of the Doctor was the most ruthless and the biggest villain.

Considering how much people talk about the Daleks, the big complaint in the modern show is how much older villains have become silly. Friedman brought up the reboot’s roots in how it brought back the Daleks, where Eccleston played the experience of seeing a Dalek again like a Holocaust survivor flashing back to the trauma of Auschwitz and how powerful that was. The hope, the panel agreed, was that with Russell T. Davies returning, they would return to being terrifying. 

Meanwhile, cover illustrator Arlen Schumer the process of fitting 18 villains on a book cover (including The Master, twice). He did a wrap-around cover, with the biggest ones on the front: Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermen, Time Lords, Missy, Davos, Zygons, the Vashta Nerada, and the Silence. 

A World of Demons: The Villains of Doctor Who is on sale starting Tuesday, November 8, 2022, for $19.99. 

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