'Doctor Who' Comic Writers Discuss Plans for 'The Eleventh Doctor'
"2000AD" veterans Al Ewing and Rob Williams talk about their plans for the new comic book series starring the Eleventh incarnation of the BBC's long-lived time-traveling hero.
Beginning this July, Doctor Who is back — in comics, at least (The television series won’t return until the fall), with two new series following the Tenth and Eleventh incarnations of the long-running science fiction character being launched by U.K.-based publisher Titan Comics.
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor comes from the creative team of Rob Williams, Al Ewing and Simon Fraser, all stalwarts of classic British anthology comic 2000AD. Both Ewing and Williams have experience working on Judge Dredd, and as Ewing told THR, “It’s a little strange to be working on figures that are so important in the U.K. pop-culture landscape — they’re both important to me, too. I feel like I’ve kind of lived the dream now, I can cross those off the bucket list.”
Ask Ewing — who is also currently writing Loki and Mighty Avengers for Marvel — how important Doctor Who is to him, and he’ll explain that it’s not “one show — it's ten different shows and a movie and what that means for you is affected by how old you were for each Doctor, each massively different TV show with the same name, and where it stood in the culture at the time… Doctor Who is so deeply entrenched in the culture that you can't actually dig it out or say what it is, because Doctor Who is everything.”
He’s not alone in having a close connection with the series; Williams said that his personal relationship with Doctor Who has “increased a lot in recent year simply because my son is a big Who fan. We sit down and watch it together and it feels like an event in the house.” That familial connection “really brings home to me the generational appeal of the show,” he explained, emphasizing “that we should be writing comics that all Who fans can enjoy.”
Ewing said that a Doctor Who comic “should be neither cruel nor cowardly, to quote [celebrated Who writer] Terrance Dicks. I think beyond that, you can go in any direction you like.” Williams said that he and Ewing are “very aware of the comics format and are constantly trying to come up with inventive ways to use that. If it's a Doctor Who comic rather than a TV show or audio adventure or novel then we should make it a vital thing that pushes the medium,” pointing to a new character in the series that “the TV show would really struggle to do” as evidence.
“Of course, we know [the Eleventh] Doctor's ultimate fate, and a comic featuring adventures of [former companions] Rory and Amy would only offer so much in terms of drama,” he continued. “But we're giving you three brand new companions here, with their own arcs, their own unknown fates. If we do our jobs well you'll care about these characters and you don't know if they're all making it out alive, physically or emotionally. So, I like to think we're offering more than 'another' Who comic.”
The time period for Ewing and Williams’ stories — co-plotted by both, with “some issues written individually by Al, some by me, and some by both of us,” Williams explained — falls between the fifth and sixth seasons of the BBC series (Matt Smith’s first and second years, for those who go by the Doctors rather than specific season numbers), which have been established as a time when the Doctor left Amy and Rory to enjoy their honeymoon. “ I think he's been alone too long and is looking for a new 'friend,’” Williams said. “We're going to give him three of them.”
Teasing what lies ahead in the new series, Williams promised “a mysterious, very pivotal figure from the Doctor’s past,” as well as “space battles, blues music, a big alien dog, time doing things it shouldn't, teaching someone how to live. Oh, and monsters and running away from monsters. Obviously.” Ewing was more succinct: “New friends, new enemies, new aliens — but the same action and adventure!” he hyperbolized. “Read it from behind your sofa, Who Believers!”
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor will be released digitally and in print July 23.