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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

27 Comments

  1. Stuart Ian Burns
    August 10, 2012 @ 12:07 am

    Although interestingly the Eighth Doctor comics were almost to feature the regeneration into Ninth as their last gasp, pages drawn and everything (see the graphic novel) but they decided to keep their work as self contained as the novels, apart from Destrii's leather jacket in the final story being the leather jacket Ninth's wearing on television.

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  2. Grant, the Hipster Dad
    August 10, 2012 @ 1:01 am

    You can add my report to the others you've heard about the quality of the Eighth Doctor comics. After enjoying maybe two BBC novels and one Big Finish, I quit throwing good money after bad and stuck with the comics, which are consistently entertaining, surprising, ahead of their time, and feature some tremendously good cliffhangers. That's the life and the story of the Eighth Doctor prior to the Time War. And, collected in just four $22 graphic novels, it's a heck of a lot cheaper to follow than the other lines.

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  3. elvwood
    August 10, 2012 @ 1:10 am

    Regarding Doctor Conkerer!, there's a reason it doesn't fit. It was never intended for DWM in the first place, having been produced for The Incredible Hulk Presents – which was aimed at a different audience – and it only got moved when TIHP was cancelled. So yes, it is an odd exception – but explicably odd.

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  4. Ununnilium
    August 10, 2012 @ 2:48 am

    "I point this out not out of some investment in getting all of the continuity right, but rather to note the deep and abiding cynicism involved in doing a story that trades on the apparent reappearance of a bunch of companions while paying no attention to the details."

    If I may take a tangent here…

    To me, this is why continuity matters. Simply put: If you're going to reference the past in a story – and all stories in a serial work reference the past, at least to the extent of "there is a status quo" – you should get that past right. Otherwise, it'll blunt the effect – whether emotional ("the death of my friends was my responsibility, and my failure weighs on me – except, um, I didn't fail these people") or cerebral ("Both I and the audience know you're a fake, because you only knew me as 'Colonel'!" "Hey, this is the audience; you're thinking of the wrong dude"). Simply put, continuity matters because it's a storytelling element like all the others.

    (Which is not to say you can't consciously play with it, changing the past, ignoring bits, or just being loose with your references – but you should be doing it consciously, not just because of lazy, sloppy apathy.)

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  5. Ununnilium
    August 10, 2012 @ 2:48 am

    And as for the comics themselves…

    So where have these ones been collected, again? >.> <.<

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  6. Cameron Dixon
    August 10, 2012 @ 3:17 am

    Re: "Planet of the Dead" — actually, Jamie had died in an earlier Sixth Doctor comic strip, "The World Shapers," and I believe the Doctor did call out Peri for not actually being dead, which turned out to be a clue that his "dead companions" weren't what they seemed.

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  7. ferret
    August 10, 2012 @ 4:02 am

    A young British fans perspective again, One thing that should be noted is that DWM as a monthly purchase was relatively cheap, well within the price-range of many a young fan. At this point – about 13 years old – I suddenly discovered DWM, and it was a saviour in this time of no-Doctor-Who-on-TV. I purchased as many back-issues from the back room of the local Newsagency as were available (and quickly realised that was indeed a backwards step as far as the comic strip went) but for many young fans in the UK the comic strip was still a major source of Doctor Who adventures, if not the only source within regular financial grasp.

    To say the comics faded into the background is to make some huge assumptions about the demographics of the native audience at the time. I don't know if you'll mention the period between the 7th and 8th Doctors comic strip adventures where new stories featuring past Doctors were the norm, but to my young self this was more significant than the "5 Faces of Doctor Who" repeats period that I was a dash to young to appreciate.

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  8. Sean Daugherty
    August 10, 2012 @ 4:29 am

    To be fair, "Planet of the Dead" only got Peri's death wrong, presumably by ignoring the last part of "The Trial of a Time Lord" (and who, really, can blame them). Jamie's death is likely a reference to Grant Morrison's "The World Shapers" comic strip, which reintroduced the character and promptly killed him off. The idea of comic-exclusive continuity wasn't unusual, even then.

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  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 10, 2012 @ 5:35 am

    The Doctor doesn't quite call Peri out, but yes, good point on Jamie. I'd forgotten, having decided to hold the Grant Morrison comics until I deal with The Invisibles off near some Lawrence Miles stuff. Entry corrected.

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  10. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 10, 2012 @ 5:40 am

    The first chunk are in IDW's Doctor Who Classic Volume 7, but IDW has jumped back to Sixth Doctor comics since then, and many of these are, at least in the US, not reprinted. Unfortunately, the point where IDW left off coincides almost perfectly with when the comics started getting good.

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  11. Stephen
    August 10, 2012 @ 7:18 am

    There are licensing issues at work here. IDW only have the rights to reprint stories that have already been reprinted by Panini. And the Panini graphic novels were put on hiatus for a couple of years soon after they published the first volume of Seventh Doctor stories. Which means there won't be any more seventh Doctor reprints until they've caught up with new series ones.

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  12. Cameron Dixon
    August 10, 2012 @ 8:17 am

    Ah, details… 🙂 Okay, I'm actually looking at the strip now, and when the Doctor first sees Peri, he asks, "How did you get here? I left you on Thoros Beta with Yrcanos!" Then later, when Peri accuses him: "You never wanted it, but we died anyway," Sara Kingdom turns on her: "Idiot. You didn't die. Another mistake like that and he'll abandon all of us!" So, yes: I think that the continuity in the strip is better than you're giving it credit for.

    Except… then Frobisher shows up on the next page, and he definitely hadn't died. So your point may still stand with a bit of tweaking.

    On the other hand, however: given that the "dead companions" turn out to be evil shape-shifters who are trying to trick the Doctor into taking them away from the planet, it was never really necessary for the actual companions they were impersonating to be dead. Frobisher's appearance may therefore not make much sense in terms of the plot, but since he is himself a shape-shifter, the writer may have chosen to use him as a hint towards the real nature of the enemy. So again, maybe there was more thought put into this than is immediately apparent.

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  13. Ununnilium
    August 10, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    Ahhhh, sadly makes sense.

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  14. Stephen
    August 10, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    Which reminds me that the shape-shifters in "Planet of the Dead" are also an import from the rest of Marvel UK. And, like Death's Head, they originated in Transformers (which was probably their second most successful title ever). However, whilst Death's Head started out as a character in the main strip, the Gwanzulum were originally from Combat Colin – a humorous strip cartoon by Lew Stringer.

    I'm not sure if this says anything about their respective DWM stories though. Well, apart from the obvious fact that seeing a certain Freelance Peacekeeping Agent face off against the Doctor was fun, yes?

    (and, yes, I was a Transformers fan before I was a Doctor Who one).

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  15. Dougie
    August 10, 2012 @ 10:02 am

    I was also a big fan of the DWM Eighth Doctor strips. They were consistently more enjoyable in the late 90s- early 00s than the EDAs with the tedious Exiled on Earth and Sabbath arcs. Izzy was a much more accessible companion than dreary fun-vacuum Anji too.

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  16. encyclops
    August 10, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    I couldn't agree more about continuity. I understand why we as fans decide that caring about continuity is impractical and futile, since there are so many people and so many years and so many media involved that the odds are against it working in the long run. But I don't understand why continuity WITHIN a self-contained story is taken for granted as part of solid craft, and continuity BETWEEN stories is something only contemptible geeks should ever care about.

    As for the comics: I've never seen any Doctor Who comics I felt were worth my money, including the Mandragora one (which I did pay money for), and I'm glad to hear that for the most part I was right. I have a few individual issues featuring "the Fifth Doctor" that are crushingly, depressingly awful.

    That said, whenever I read the word "backwater" I always picture a Draconian with an impressive sword hissing, "Your fame has sssspread even to thissss galactic backwater!" So that's got to count for something.

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  17. Symphonic5
    August 10, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

    There was a collection of 7th Doctor strips published in the early '90's that collected Train-Flight through Mark of Mandragora. Take a look for the "Mark of Mandragora" graphic novel.

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  18. Ununnilium
    August 10, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

    Ooooh, looks like there's a couple copies on abebooks.com…

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  19. Ununnilium
    August 10, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    It's interesting that, for Transformers, the comics – and specifically, the UK comics – were where the vast majority of the quality ended up. I very much doubt it's on Dr. Sandifer's radar, but a Pop Between Realities to Transformers: Beast Wars would make an odd kind of sense – a point where the quality of the spin-off material was imported to the "main" line, giving it a future it didn't otherwise have. (Of course, that future lead to the Michael Bay movies, but still.)

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  20. John Freeman
    August 10, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    Fascinating article, speaking as someone who was there at the time. If you're intrigued in any way by the history of Doctor Who comic strips then you should track down Vworp Vworp magazine, which covers them in great detail, including interviews with all involved.

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  21. John Freeman
    August 10, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

    Planet of the Dead was conceived as an anniversary story employing the shape-shifting Gwanzulum (creatures I came up with and Richard Starkings decided to feature across every comic he edited in one month, including Combat Colin, Ghostbusters, Thundercats etc – good luck trying to chase them all down). The Gwanzulum were drawing on the Doctor's memories to try and trick him: and because he began to doubt what he was seeing, inevitably their illusion began to fail and they started to make mistakes, like one of them appearing as Frobisher, who wasn't dead. That's my excuse for any continuity glitch trying to homage what was then 25 years of Doctor Who history into 14 pages of strip and I'm sticking to it! 🙂

    As for the wider issue of comic strips in the Magazine, I didn't take over the editing of the strip as soon as I became the Magazine's editor: I think Richard wanted

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  22. John Freeman
    August 10, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

    (sorry, Blogger being a pain to post to this morning)… Richard Starkings the editor of the strip wanted to do out there stories, perhaps more atuned to TV Comic but with more thought. He was also working in the knowledge that he couldn't commission longform tales which he and I loved like Steve Parkhouse had written, because the threat of the magazine's cancellation or a decision to lose the costly comic strip from the Magazine was always on his mind. He couldn't commission epics. By the time I came on board to edit the strip the Magazine's situation had improved thanks to increased sell through despite their being no tv show to support it. I wanted to do stories with more nods to the show but we still had to pay for the use of companions (Equity rules) and TV monsters – so they have to be used sparingly. Daleks are particularly expensive. But it sounds from the above that many of you enjoyed the ride. The current stories in the Magazine, though, knock most of the onesI edited into a cocked hat – it's the only part of DWM I read religiously these days and am very glad there still is a Doctor Who comic strip in the title. Thank you for reaading…

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  23. Stephen
    August 10, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

    When it comes to the Transformers franchise, the term spin-off is almost impossible to define. The Marvel comic came first – it was, in fact, Marvel who came up with the characters and the backstory. So it is arguable that the cartoon was actually the spin-off. And in the UK, the comic probably had a bigger following than the cartoon. It was certainly a lot easier to get hold of for the vast majority of its run.

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  24. Ununnilium
    August 11, 2012 @ 8:49 am

    True; one could argue that the primary medium is, in fact, the toys. That said, with the UK run, we're talking about stories literally meant to run in the gaps between US stories.

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  25. Ununnilium
    August 11, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

    Pretty awesome!

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  26. Kit
    August 13, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    It's also worth noting that (at least in their floppies – I've not seen any collected volumes, but presumably the same files are used) IDW's DWM reprints are close to unreadable, given the shrunken pages, appalling line repro, and ugly, clashing colourisation. The Panini volumes are probably cheaper on Book Depository, anyway.

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  27. GarrettCRW
    December 27, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

    Budiansky was given charge to name characters and create personalities, but as with G.I. Joe, Sunbow (or, more accurately for the first two seasons of The Transformers, Marvel Productions) was just as free to ignore the frankly stupid shit that was conceived for the Hasbro tie-in comics, with the animated ads for the comic and the toys themselves serving as a more effective tool in advertising the cartoons than the comics. It came to a head with The Visionaries, where G.I. Joe comic writer Larry Hama was blasted in the form of the wizard Falkhama by Sunbow staffers.

    I'd also argue that the UK Transformers comics weren't a matter of talent so much as dedication. Simon Furman was and is more dedicated to Transformers than Budiansky or the pre-movie writing staff (save for David Wise and Earl Kress), but if you claim that Furman is a better writer than the Transformers Season 3 writing staff (with story editing by Flint Dille, Marv Wolfman, and Steve Gerber, and scripts by Dille, Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Paul Dini, Michael Reaves, and Mary Skrenes), you're facing an uphill battle.

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