By Ani Bundel
When the BBC introduced the Thirteenth Doctor, it sent a seismic shockwave throughout the Whovian fandom. Nevermind that the original canon claimed there were only 12 regenerations; now she was a played by a woman. But while a certain segment of the fandom kicked and screamed, for those who are part of the greater Whoniverse, this was a golden opportunity to go in a completely new direction. This was especially true in the comic universe, where a whole slew of new titles arrived after Jodie Whittaker was announced in the role.
At the Titan Comics panel, “Doctor Who: Creating Thirteenth Doctor Comics,” authors Jody Houser and Richard Dinnick reflected on how fun writing the new Doctor was. When asked by moderator David Leach, the editor of Titan Comics, how they first imagined her, both admitted they weren’t given much to go on. Houser had partial scripts to work from, while Dinnick said he latched onto those closing moments in the “Last Christmas” episode.
The positive vibes he’d gotten from Whittaker’s performance carried him through: “That sort of sunny optimism just seemed like the thing to focus on. And I wasn’t far wrong!”
Leach asked Houser how it was dealing with such a crowded house of a TARDIS with three companions, the most the Doctor’s traveled with since the early 1980s. She responded that it gave the stories a whole new flavor. With so many residents in the TARDIS, it gave the entire thing a more “family-oriented” dynamic. The companions don’t get in the Doctor’s way, either, she reasoned.
“The Doctor loves explaining things. This just gives her a bigger audience,” she said.
Dinnick and Houser are longtime fans of the show. Houser is firmly New Who. (Her first Doctor was Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor movie that aired in the states.) Dinnick, meanwhile, is far more old school, naming Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor as the first one he remembers watching. He called Doctor Who a “Saturday Tea-Time Ritual” when he was growing up. He apparently did watch it even earlier than Pertwee, with the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton, but he was too young to remember it.
Houser is still writing the ongoing Thirteenth Doctor comic series, which means she couldn’t answer specific questions about classic or new monsters, lest she give away a spoiler. Dinnick, as author of The Many Lives of Doctor Who, was freer to talk about some of his favorites. His focus, though, was less about favoritism than representation. His goal with the comic was to condense nearly 55 years of fandom history into 70-odd pages, after all.
Houser’s titles And Introducing…, A New Beginning, and Hidden Human History were all for sale at the Titan Comics booth (#5537) at SDCC this year. As an exclusive, fans who visited the Titan booth also got an exclusive SDCC cover of Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #9 with art by Klebs Junior. Dinnick’s The Many Lives of Doctor Who was also available.
At the panel’s end, Houser added fuel to the ever-growing rumor that 2019 will see a Christmas special by hinting her next title is “Happy Christmas.” So even if a new episode doesn’t air this Dec. 25, fans will at least have an adventure to read.