Eruditorum Press

Less concerned with who’s first up against the wall than with how to decorate it

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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.

29 Comments

  1. Iain Coleman
    February 6, 2012 @ 4:40 am

    Of the stories you've mentioned, The End of the Line is the one I most vividly remember. The ending had a big impact.

    I can't agree with your assessment of Steve Parkhouse. Through the Fifth and Sixth Doctor eras, I felt that the comic strips were doing Doctor Who far better, on the whole, than the TV show, to the extent that I avidly followed the comics and saw the TV version as a bit of a pale imitation.

    In particular, Parkhouse had a strong sense of the strengths of the leading characters, and was able to deploy them far more effectively than Saward could do on-screen. The Parkhouse Fifth Doctor had a polite but steely courage and determination that could never be confused with weakness, and his Sixth Doctor's intelligence, flamboyance and compassion in a world of playful grotesquery are everything season 23 should have been. If Colin Baker had been given some scripts like Voyager, his time on the show might be more warmly remembered.

    Reply

  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 6, 2012 @ 5:04 am

    Well, we'll see about his Davison and Baker scripts when we get to those posts, I suppose. That said, End of the Line, while memorable – the ending stands out for me better than most of the block of comics I read – is also very, very weak storytelling. I was so struck by the ending I went back and reread it, because I felt like I must have been only half paying attention to see such a kick in the teeth ending come after such a flaccid story. But no, it's pages of cod-2000 AD rubbish with no pacing or plotting that happens to culminate in a sharp scene. I can find very, very little good before the last page.

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  3. Iain Coleman
    February 6, 2012 @ 5:45 am

    You may well be quite right about The End of the Line. I don't think I've read it since I was eight years old.

    But no love for Junkyard Demon? That's a charming little tale, with splendid artwork. And I guess The Freefall Warriors is probably tosh, but to eight-year-old me it was fantastic.

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  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 6, 2012 @ 5:51 am

    Junkyard Demon is pretty good. Though I'll still take any of the Cybermen stories penned by someone with the surname Moore from the same general period over it.

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  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 6, 2012 @ 5:57 am

    Actually, it just occurred to me to look at Junkyard Demon in a scan of the original instead of the colorized version made by IDW. Part of what had irritated me about the original was the art, but as I compare the pages the problem is that I really dislike the coloring job done on IDW, which excessively exaggerates McMahon's angular tendencies with very sharp, geometrically drawn shadows that make the art look much more like stained glass than the original. Where Gibbons's art is usually improved by the color, McMahon's suffered badly. So yeah, I'll grant that one as pretty good.

    I still think, by and large, the Steve Moore strips are wildly under-appreciated, however.

    Reply

  6. elvwood
    February 6, 2012 @ 6:15 am

    I've not read many of the Fourth Doctor comics. Although I'm British my first exposure was a coloured reprint of The Spider God in the back of an American comic – Starlord, IIRC – and I remember thinking it was an effective little story.

    Now you're making me want to go out and find some more…

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  7. Stephen
    February 6, 2012 @ 7:01 am

    Calling this "the pinnacle of Doctor Who in comic form" is somewhat brave. The two eras where the DWM strip really developed its own identity (the sixth and eighth Doctor eras) probably have a stronger claim to that title. I wouldn't rate Steve Moore's strips higher than Voyager (to pick the first example that comes to mind.)

    Oh, and you really should read the black and white strips in black and white. They were intended to be read that way, and if the colourist isn't in tune with the penciller's/inker's intentions, it really can sour your opinion. Heck, sometimes even stuff that was intended to be in colour looks better in black and white.

    Reply

  8. occono
    February 6, 2012 @ 7:45 am

    Sorry to ask, but what happened to your Amazon Affialite Links?

    Reply

  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 6, 2012 @ 7:51 am

    Connecticut changed its tax law to require sales tax on Affiliate links on the grounds that they were now doing business in Connecticut. Amazon's usual hardline anti-tax position played in and they disabled the affiliate accounts of anyone in Connecticut.

    Reply

  10. Martin Porter
    February 6, 2012 @ 7:56 am

    Whenever I see comedy cybermen exploding 'because of love' or whatever, I always think – why not just do Kroton's story?

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  11. John Callaghan
    February 6, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

    I like the version of the fourth Doctor portrayed in the DWW comics – a goofy intergalactic tourist, "just having fun", who inadvertently gets dragged into bizarre peril on the way to a holiday in Benidorm with his robot dog.

    The I-thought-it-was-quite-good-actually-but-what-do-I-know City Of The Damned was re-titled City Of The Cursed in the US. That reminds of the story about the US radio announcer who called the city "Amsterdarn" and 'titbits' becoming 'tidbits' etc.

    Reply

  12. Dan
    February 7, 2012 @ 12:51 am

    I liked City of the Damned too. Of course the way ideas play when you're eight is different from now, but it's still very cool I think.

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  13. Matthew Blanchette
    February 7, 2012 @ 6:48 am

    What, even Watchmen?

    Reply

  14. BerserkRL
    February 7, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    John Callaghan,

    'titbits' becoming 'tidbits' etc.

    But "tidbits" is the older spelling, at least according to the OED.

    Reply

  15. BerserkRL
    February 7, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    Philip,

    The title for your "Keeper of Traken" post still says "Jackanape" instead of "Jackanapes."

    Reply

  16. inkdestroyedmybrush
    February 7, 2012 @ 9:28 am

    I too would agree that the comics never got the Tom Baker version. They just didn't get stories that met with Baker's personality. Now Davison's doctor, thats a different story. Gibbons' the Stars fell over Stockbridge and the longer one with the Shade… those were better than anything on TV with Davison other than Kinda and Snakedance and Caves.

    The best comics, however, are the the Voyager issues with Colin drawn by the esteemed John Ridgeway. Grant Morrison also has a great two parter that ties the Cybermen up with Voord and even fills a great continuity hole from the Invasion. Nicely done! By far better than anything Colin got until Big Finish.

    Reply

  17. John Callaghan
    February 7, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    Oh, really? Fair enough. I can't help thinking that prudishness turned 'cockerel' into 'rooster' though. But what do I know? I liked City Of The Damned. And Wonderful Christmas Time'.

    Reply

  18. John Callaghan
    February 7, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    For me, the comics fourth Doctor is exactly how he should be.

    Reply

  19. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 7, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    I thought City of the Damned was one of the better Wagner/Mills stories. I think The Star Beast was probably slightly better, but City of the Damned has some charming moments, particularly the ending.

    Reply

  20. John Callaghan
    February 7, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    Sombrero and all! It's only a matter of time before Matt Smith gets his head in one…

    Reply

  21. BerserkRL
    February 7, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    Although "tidbits" is older, it's still possible that its prevalence over "titbits" in the u.s. is due to prudishness rather than historical continuity.

    Reply

  22. Stephen
    February 7, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    You mean that Watchmen was intended as a black and white strip? That's something I didn't know.

    Reply

  23. Stephen
    February 7, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

    Voyager's good, but there are definitely some sixth Doctor novels from before the Big Finish era that are in the same ballpark quality-wise. I'm particularly thinking of Millennial Rites and Killing Ground. One's a brilliant epic that's the only really effective use of the Valeyard. The other's the best Cyberman story that isn't Spare Parts.

    Reply

  24. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 7, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    Not to be overly puckish, but both are also from the Virgin era, not the Big Finish era. 🙂

    Reply

  25. BerserkRL
    February 7, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    both are also from the Virgin era, not the Big Finish era

    Isn't that what Stephen said? He referred to "some sixth Doctor novels from BEFORE the Big Finish era …."

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Sandifer
    February 7, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    Bah. Apparently not to be literate either.

    Reply

  27. Adam Riggio
    February 7, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

    Iain, you make an interesting point about what kind of aesthetic the Colin Baker era was going for, which I'm not sure that I really understood until recently. The AV Club (whose post on The Mind Robber first led me here) just did a writeup on Vengeance on Varos, and complained of two major problems with the story.

    1) It was an entire world of irredeemable assholes. 2) The Doctor and Peri didn't even really do anything to save the day in a broad sense; they just bought time for the least corrupt Varosians to survive until the deus ex machina arrived in the form of Sil's offscreen bosses with the corporate battle fleet.

    I recently started to have serious doubts about my favourite of Colin Baker's audios, The Holy Terror, in the light of what I've read at the Eruditorum. The Doctor doesn't save anyone there. He just has a chilling adventure while he and Frobisher learn a few ethical lessons.

    But the plots of Vengeance on Varos, The Holy Terror, and Revelation of the Daleks are all making sense now that I understand them through Iain's interpretation. The Doctor lands in a grotesque world, whose madness is a varying combination of humour and terror, and is a beacon of dignified hope in an otherwise hopeless dystopia.

    I wonder how Phil thinks this fits into the narrative of Doctor Who he's building? Does it work for the character/show, or is it another thematic violation like the John Wiles season? I will patiently wait for what I estimate will be early summer to find out.

    Reply

  28. John Toon
    February 8, 2012 @ 12:03 am

    Another vote here for Steve Parkhouse. It's the Parkhouse/Ridgway Sixth Doctor strips all the way for me – for pretty much exactly the reasons already given – followed by the Barnes/Gray/Geraghty Eighth Doctors and the Parkhouse/Gibbons Fifths. Moore/Gibbons, less so.

    Reply

  29. Matthew Kilburn
    February 8, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    You are a little too dismissive of the UK comics scene in 1979. Alongside 2000AD at this point, IPC were publishing Battle Action, which amalgamated the mid-1970s revisionist war title Battle Picture Weekly with what was left of Action (about which much has been written) after the Mills-Wagner team lost one round of the boys' culture wars inside IPC's youth division, with their enemies riding the crest of Mary Whitehouse's puritan wave… IPC's traditional boys' title Tiger, launched in the 1950s, was still selling too, and IPC launched as many short-lived weeklies (like Speed) which ended up being incorporated into Tiger as were folded into 2000AD. To the British 9-year-old picking up Doctor Who Weekly for the first time, it seemed triangulated between 2000AD, Star Wars Weekly (Marvel UK's black-and-white reprint of US material led by the licensed Star Wars strip) and Look-In, which Independent Television Publications had been publishing since 1970 as a combination of one- and two-page picture strips and features derived from ITV programmes. As someone who had been doggedly following the last eighteen months of the Doctor's adventures in TV Comic until they petered out in May 1979, Doctor Who Weekly's treatment of the strip was a revelation, and the integrity of the Mills-Wagner-Gibbons vision of the character was one which I don't think was equalled until the eighth Doctor strips.

    Reply

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