UK based Titan Comics brought plenty of Doctor Who comic news across the pond for their appearance at SDCC. In addition to assembling some of the artists and writers behind their SDCC 2015 exclusive story and upcoming four Doctor crossover, panel moderator and Executive Editor Andrew James announced a new mini-series and holiday special both coming this Fall.
The panel kicked off with Senior Editor Steve White leading the room in singing Happy Birthday to Ninth Doctor series writer George Mann before James took the podium to premiere a teaser trailer for the forthcoming four Doctor crossover as series writer Paul Cornell looked on. Fans got a taste of never before seen artwork from series artist Neil Edwards, including an image of Doctors Ten, Eleven and Twelve gathered around the TARDIS console with companions Gabby, Alice and Clara. A title card proclaimed the crossover would feature four companions, which begs the question of who the fourth might be.
The crossover hits stores August 12 to coincide with the second annual Doctor Who comics day the following Saturday, August 15. The celebration will feature appearances from Doctor Who comics creators “at over 2,000 stores and libraries world-wide,” according to James.
“This all comes about because Clara Oswald desperately tries to prevent what she refers to as ‘some kind of multi-Doctor event’ which she doesn’t want to happen,” said Cornell, describing the basic premise of the series. “Thankfully, she fails to do that completely.” As with any multi-Doctor tale, from early seventies television serial “The Three Doctors” on down through 2013’s “Day of the Doctor,” disagreements and power struggles between the iterations take center stage.
“Ten and Twelve really don’t see eye to eye. Twelve can’t explain how he’s even alive to the other two,” Cornell said, noting that the story takes place before Doctors Ten and Eleven meet up in “Day of the Doctor.” He acknowledged that how the pair don’t remember this earlier encounter is one of the main points his series will have to explain.
“Ten thinks Twelve must have done something diabolical to even exist, he calls him an ‘abomination.’ And Twelve says, ‘Abomination? Dalek word. Nice.'” Cornell’s take on the Twelfth Doctor includes further witticisms such as his referring to Doctors Ten and Eleven as “Manic Pixie Dream Doctors,” leaving the Eleventh Doctor in the unenviable position of trying to help the other two manage to get along. He promised that the story, which he said was “all about a photograph, the nature of which means the end of the universe,” would feature some compelling cliffhangers, lots of old monsters and some surprise cameos.
Cornell wrapped up by saying: “All the Doctor Who titles are coming to a halt to clear the way for this for five weeks, and then they’ll all be relaunched again with any survivors.”
One of those titles is the recently launched Ninth Doctor comic series. To the right of Cornell on the panel was Cavan Scott and Blair Shedd, respectively the writer and artist behind the series. Scott remarked that he couldn’t quite believe he was writing for a Doctor that had already reached the 10th anniversary of their appearance and then death.
“We wanted to do a big event to celebrate that,” Scott said, “and wanted to do things we hadn’t seen the Doctor do very often in that year.” He said that Nine is still dealing with the Time War, leaving him a “very, very raw, a man who’s remembering how to be the Doctor.” Scott felt the TARDIS team of Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness helped the Doctor with that, saying he loved the brilliant way that group interacted. He also noted the flirting between Jack and the Doctor and Rose, which he likened to a love triangle that was perpetually spinning.
In terms of story, Scott explained that annihilation of the Time Lords left a “vacuum of power” that two warring factions are vying to fill. This leads the Ninth Doctor, Scott said, “to come face to face with people who are saying, ‘We are the new champions of Time’ and he might not like that.”
Scott added another Doctor to the growing roster of Time Lords he’s written for when he paired with Mann on writing duties for the SDCC exclusive story “Selfie.” James explained that the origins of the Con-centric story, which he described as a “delight” to work on, lay truly with the writers as his brief for the tale only asked that they do a story set in San Diego with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara.
“We spent an evening on Skype arguing, basically,” said Mann, who elaborated that the loose brief from James gave them the freedom to go anywhere in the city, but that both writers agreed they wanted to do a story at the convention center which they saw as “the heart of comics.” This was why the story opens with the TARDIS landing in the middle of the convention’s main floor, in a full-page shot that James explained took artist Rachael Stott weeks to complete as she kept adding detail and costumes for con goers that referenced a variety of fandoms.
Scott said he and Mann asked themselves what summed up a convention these days and decided it was the many selfies taken by attendees. This led to the concept of an alien that could only be seen in selfies, and what endgame such a creature would have. “So if you look on your phones and see this,” Scott intoned in an ominous voice, gesturing to a slide showing a panel of the alien, “run.”
James segued into the announcement portion of the panel by saying that the Titan editors so loved Stott’s work on “Selfie” that she was the first artist invited to work on year two of the Twelfth Doctor series. Stott will support returning writer Robbie Morrison. “Selfie” writing team Scott and Mann will also return to a Twelfth Doctor story in a holiday special due out in early December. “Doctor Who is synonymous with Christmas back in the UK and around the world,” James said, “but we’re going to go slightly more international with the holiday.”
The other big announcement from the panel was the release of a new mini-series featuring the Eighth Doctor. James showed a slide of the series’ issue one cover by Alice X. Zhang, whose oil painting-style imagery depicts actor Paul McGann. McGann’s brief on-screen tenure as the Doctor only included one ill-fated TV movie, meant to test the waters for a possible BBC series collaboration with Fox. Though the film is much maligned, fans largely agree McGann himself shined in the role.
Due out October 28, the new series will be written by Mann with art by Emma Vieceli. “It’s a different format to the mini-series you’ve seen before,” Mann said, explaining that this was a later version of the Eighth Doctor, as seen just prior to “Night of the Doctor.” That television short, which served as a prequel to “Day of the Doctor,” was well-received by fans and may have paved the way for Titan to feature him in comic form.
Mann himself stated the short had personally made him want a season’s worth of Eighth Doctor stories. As a result, he wrote each issue as it’s own “episode” and “separate adventure.” Issue one will deal with a “village under siege set in the modern day,” but the issues will also see the Doctor travel to distant worlds and introduce new villains. Mann also said that we’ll meet a new companion named “Josie” who will be central to the stories, calling her “the backbone of the series.”
The Eleventh Doctor year two sees the introduction of a new writer to pair with Robbie Williams, Si Spurrier, who sent a video greeting to play to the panel introducing himself. Artist Simon Fraser returns, joined by newcomer Warren Pleece. The Tenth Doctor year two brings back Nick Abadzis on writing, while returning artist Elena Casagrande will be joined by Eleonora Carlini.
Check out some of the upcoming covers from Tenth and Eleventh Doctor year two, upcoming Twelfth Doctor and new Eighth Doctor covers below!