Interviews

Martin Geraghty has been thrilling us with his artwork in Doctor Who magazine for the last 15 years. He was the main contributor to the range during the ground breaking eighth Doctor strips and saw us through the introduction and departure of Izzy, her transformation into Destrii, the death of Ace and has brought such vivid characters as Majenta, Kroton, Fey and Shayde to life with consummate skill. He has taken his pencil to short character tales, horrors, comedies, SF epics, historicals and even heartbreaking trips back to the time of John and Gillian. To say he is a giant in the world of Doctor Who comics is a huge understatement and his work continues to be enjoyed to this day.

Martin, thank you for your time.

What first prompted to you to move into the worlds of graphic artistry? Were you a fan of comics yourself when you grew up? Did you have any particular favourites? Did you base your style on a mixture of others artists work that you admire?

My older brother is a professional artist and as a callow youth I was always to be found with a pencil in hand, drawing on any scrap of paper available, so an artistic vein seems to run through my family at some level. I'd always read comics as a kid- Monster Fun and Shiver and Shake were childhood staples before the arrival of ACTION-Which was basically every X-rated film of the time adapted into comic strip anthology form- and then, of course, 2000AD which is probably my principle influence. McMahon, Bolland, Gibson, Gibbons-these guys were the giants of my youth, and if I could be said to have any style at all it'd be down to this solid, 70's-era storytelling. But it wasn't until well into my Advertising career as a storyboard artist that I seriously started pursuing drawing comics as a sideline. I'd made a lot of like-minded friends at Art School and gradually we started putting together a portfolio of comic strip work and going to the annual UK Comic Art Convention in London to try and flog our wares. It was always held over the road from where the TARDIS arrives in The War Machines, I seem to recall.

Do you remember your first Doctor Who strip? Tell us something about how you got the gig at DWM? Were you a regular artist at the time or did you work on various magazines/comics at the time? Were you a fan of Doctor Who or did you come to the show fresh when you started working on it?

John Freeman gave me my first break into comics in the early 90's having seen my portfolio, sending me a Paul Cornell script for a short-lived Marvel UK comic called Overkill- Unfortunately it never saw the light of day as the title folded shortly after I'd sent the work in! I went down to their offices in London for John's leaving do and head honcho Paul Neary introduced me to Gary Russell who very kindly offered me a Troughton/Dalek story for that years summer special.

This was Bringer of Darkness, and was the start of a long working relationship I have to this day with it's writer Scott Gray-I recently dug out the original pages and was gob-smacked at the amount of work in it-all that Letratone!, plus at the start of my comics career I did all the inking too so I've no idea how long it took to do-I'm amazed I had the patience!

It was the best possible start to my life as a comic artist though- I get Doctor Who, I know what it's point is. So a short, self-contained Dalek story by a writer who has subsequently proved time and again that he knows his way round a Who script was just a joy to be involved in.

It's almost a cliche to say it now, but my earliest TV memory is of Doctor Who and I fell in love with the show from that first moment-It was an omnibus screening of The Sea Devils and I vividly remember the Sea Devil appearing in the naval base and pointing it's gun at Jon Pertwee. I'd have to say the Letts/Dicks era has probably informed my taste in TV and literature more than any other factor I can think of. I'll take the season 11 opening titles to the grave with me, along with more iconic images than you can shake a stick at: The POV of a Giant Maggot as it crawls towards an unsuspecting Jo Grant, the first reveal of a Sontaran Officer, (a scene which genuinely did send me scurrying under my dads armchair) A bestial, bellowing stone statue materialising in a fury of fiery smoke, a chained Tyrannosaur being woken by the flash of a journalist's camera. F*** The Wire, this is what TV was invented for, surely? I also count myself lucky for being born at precisely the right time to fully appreciate the genius of the Holmes/Hincliffe era, which I genuinely think is the show at it's absolute peak. Would you like some Hammer Horror with those fish-finger butties, Martin?

Was it exciting to be working on the eighth Doctor strips from the beginning? You drew a number of the greats Doctor Who monsters in your time (the Daleks, Cybermen, the Celestial Toymaker, the Master). Which gave you the most scope and did you find most enjoyable to bring to life on the page?
Well, I have to admit I'm no fan of drawing Daleks, tbh- I find vehicles of any description immensely boring to draw and I put the Daleks into that bracket-I'm in no rush to draw them again although I'd imagine the new design being easier to draw than previous versions. Lee Sullivan is the definitive Dalek artist for me, and has shown time and again how to make them look good on the printed page. No, give me tentacles, suppurating flesh and goo any day of the week. There's a reason The Seeds of Doom is my all-time favourite story.

Obviously,The Flood was a fantastic piece of work to be involved in- It ticked every box as far as I was concerned but it was a hell of a lot of hard work at the time. I'm chuffed it rates so highly with fans, and it has become almost the template of invasion Earth stories-The Graeme Harper, Cast-of-Thousands stories that the DWM team like to save me for! They keep promising me a story set in a white void but it's yet to appear in my in-box. I think they're having me on.

Alan Barnes and Scott Gray wrote the scripts for the majority of the eighth Doctor stories. Can you tell me something about how far in advance you have to draw the strips and if you find yourself excited as you read the scripts at the thought of bringing these mad and wonderful stories to life? Or do you sink under the duvet thinking ‘How on Earth am I going to do that?’ Can you give me an example of both these that made it to print? How much involvement do the various editors have in the artwork? How much of a collaboration is the artwork? Do you simply hand over the images and they are inked and coloured or is there much more of a marriage of talent all pitching in with ideas?
I'm always excited to see what each new strip entails, the start of that journey. I love Alans unique take on Who, my favourite strip of his being Tooth and Claw-I think I got what he was after with that comic straight away. I love period setting and I love horror- like Alan, I'm a huge fan of Hammer so T&C is a real high-point of that era for me. I tend to think I let him down a bit with The Final Chapter-When you look at something like The Crimson Hand, for example, I think I could nail the scale and scope of that story now, but I think it was a bit too ambitious for the fledgling Geraghty of the mid-90's. Although to be brutally honest, every 8th Doctor strip would be massively improved if they were all re-done now! I'd love to re-do Beautiful Freak, for instance, now I've got a better (meaning simpler) understanding of black and white. There are occasional pages where I'm happy with what I produced but with the exception of Bad Blood and Eights swan-song I find myself increasingly self-critical of the work I did on that run. I'm trying to pare down my work now- Concentrating on economy of line, intelligent use of solid black, cutting the clutter. For too long I hid bad drawing behind a flurry of cross-hatching. The calling card of the lazy artist.

I'd definitely say the first instance of a sleepless night was with the latter stages of The Flood where crowds of people were being herded around London by invading Cybermen. Yeah, that was scary. The deadlines are always pretty terrifying but I'm a wholly freelance artist now since 2006 which means I can invest more time in the strip than when I started. Back in the 90's I was doing the whole 9-5 thing then doing the strip from 7pm to 1or 2am every night. I'm not keen to go back to that in a hurry.

As for collaboration, yeah, it's a two-way street for sure. My pencils are emailed to the DWM team for their comments and then Scott gets back to me with any amends that are needed. Then I post them off to David to ink (who lives within shouting distance of Donna Nobles house, fact-fans) who then scans and mails those to James to colour. Unless I'm after something specific that's integral to my vision for the page I leave the colouring to the experts. It's always a thrill getting emailed the coloured pages sans word balloons.

Looking back at your work over the past decade do you have any strips that you are especially proud of and any that you wish you could go back and have another stab at?

Ah, I pre-empted this question in my last response!- I'd love a stab at Final Chapter again- I feel I could make it much bigger and-more importantly, I think- much weirder than I managed first time round- Plus I'm not happy with any of the design work I did in that story. I tried to achieve the Gallifrey that Dave Gibbons gave us in Tides but failed badly because he's Dave Gibbons and I'm not.

Road to Hell would definitely get a make-over likewise. Scott and I were going for a scratchy, Kojima pencil style originally (Kojima being the artist of The Lone Wolf and Cub Manga series) but I don't think we let Robin Smith in on the joke so it came out looking rushed not stylised. Seriously, you've just prompted me to look at the strip again and it's utterly hideous. Hands-down the worst strip I've ever done- I'd throw it through that damn crack in time if I could. What also goes against it was the lack of decent visual reference to use - nowadays, I'd dig out my Kurasowa DVD's and type 'Samurai' into Google Images- Back then Ade Salmon came to the rescue with some photocopied pages from a book on feudal Japan he had lying around and that was your lot.

You pencilled both The Glorious Dead and The Flood, the two longest and most visually stunning comic strips yet to appear in DWM. The two story’s stretch to 18 parts in total – how did you survive such a challenge? The two are quite interesting to compare because one is a black and white outer space adventure and the other an all colour Earth invasion story. Do you think colour added or detracted to the strip? And what is your favourite kind of genre to draw for?

Glorious Dead justifies it's length by having a weaving and ducking plotine that takes you everywhere-I mean look at the cliffhanger to Part 3 and then see where Part 4 takes up the story- It's akin to the story jump that Steven Moffatt gave us after the Silence in the Library cliffhanger.And then you've got the out-and-out madness that is Part 5. With TGD it sometimes felt like we were doing a new story every month. I thought it was tremendously experimental really. He's clever, is Scott.

The Flood is probably the strip I'm most proud of- It has the DNA of TV Doctor Who running right through it but with a Hollywood budget. And it got the Cybermen dead right, which the TV show hasn't since The Tenth Planet.It just worked, that story, on every level.

My favourite genre would be Period Horror without a doubt- Scripts like T&C, Bad Blood and The First tend to see me raise my game and I think it shows (Road to Hell notwithstanding) -I love researching history and trying to get the details right and they educate me at the same time-I knew the year of The Battle of The Little Bighorn in the pub quiz thanks to Scott.

I would love, more than anything in the strip, to do a pure historical- no monsters, no robots. Located in rural England, maybe a Civil War setting? Political machinations, skulduggery but no panto villains, evil being done because people think they're Doing The Right Thing, which is the scariest evil going. Meticulously researched, a grown-up comic strip in the vein of The Massacre could be a very special thing indeed. Start a petition.

And I like colour- it's to the strip what music is to the series.

Moving onto the new series, do you feel the re-appearance of Doctor Who on the telly has helped or hindered the strip? How did you find bringing the real life actresses who played Rose, Martha and Donna to life after being given a free reign with Izzy, Fey, etc? You had quite a break after writing The Flood, was there a reason for that?
I think with a new series it was just felt that the strip should get a new lick of paint too so I was more than happy to see Mike take up the reins. After The Flood finished I felt like I'd been airlifted out of 'Nam. Well, not really, but I did need to lie down in a darkened room for a while and it was nice to read the strip as a consumer once more and not a contributor! It's no great revelation to say that I think the 9th Docs run in comics is patchy- the strip was treading new, corporate ground and I'd imagine there were no-go areas so the freedom previously granted was compromised to a degree. Have you seen how many people smoke in the 8th Doctors run? Have you seen the gallons of blood spattered around proceedings in Tooth and Claw? Those days were over, that's for sure. Nines comic era looks fantastic and The Cruel Sea and Groatsworth are both exceptional but it's not firing on all cylinders yet, that came gradually with Ten's arrival, I think.
I only had one stab at Rose, but I think I got away with it- Martha was far easier to do because she's generically good-looking which is the default setting for comic artists when drawing women. It's a real shame Donna only had a couple of stories to her name in DWM, she was such a fantastic character on TV. She was difficult to capture tbh. Catherine, in her day job, is a master of character acting and can look different in every photo. She's attractive but not conventionally good-looking and it's difficult to capture that. Well, it was to me, Rob Davis made it look ridiculously easy the following month.

Can you give us the rundown on the latest Eleventh Doctor strips? Is working in collaboration with Jonathan Morris as fun as I imagine it would be?

Well, I've just finished the last part of the Axon story The Golden Ones- which I loved doing, what did I tell you about tentacles and goo?- then I'm taking a break for a while, I think the plan is to be back for the culmination of the story arc that Johnny's set in motion but I'll find out for sure nearer the time. I think this is the first multi-part story I've drawn for JM and he certainly wrote around some iconic cliffhangers. Here's another writer who get's Who-I'm incredibly lucky that every author I've worked for has an intrinsic understanding of the shows' form - Comedy, Horror, quintessentially British Sci-fi- it's not something easily achieved. There's no 'Die, hideous creature, die!' dialogue to be found in todays strips!
So, I'm back to the advertising day job for the time being so do forgive me for losing the will to live. You'll be surprised to learn I never get asked to draw aliens masquerading as Japanese tower blocks in that sector of my profession. Their loss.

What do you think stands up as the best overall comic strip in the last decade?

It's been the small one-parters that have impressed me the most, funnily enough- something like Beautiful Freak is an immensely adult story to have inbetween all the SF and technobabble that is usually found in your average Doctor Who story.

I think The Land of Happy Endings is a masterpiece in conception and a love-letter to the Who comic and it was lovely to contribute to it-The Time of My Life is just sublime too. All three heart-tugging, breath-taking stuff. And I have to mention The Flood too, really, which sounds big-headed except that it would've been the definitive Cyberstory whoever drew it.

And what is on the horizon?

Well, I was quite happily drawing up an unpublished Abslom Daak story that Steve Moore wrote for Doctor Who Monthly back in the day-It's to be included in the 2nd volume of the rather wonderful and utterly professional fanzine Vwoorp-Vwoorp, (which no self-respecting Who comics fan should be without) and my old stable-mate Ade Salmon is on colouring duties-Unfortunately I'd done 3 of the 5 pages when The Golden Ones script pinged up in my in-box, onerous deadline an' all, and I had to shelve it so it's back to that. Luckily the chaps at VV have indulged my shocking tardiness for which they have my sincere thanks.

I'm doing it, guys-I'm doing it now!

Martin, thank you so much for taking part.

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Mike Collins brings a lot of kudos to the DWM strip thanks to his extensive and fascinating career in comic artistry. He has tackled everything from modern day adventures, historicals, stories set on far flung worlds and even Roy of the Rovers spoofs! His artwork is detailed, sweeping and his reaction shots are second to none.

Mike, thank you very much for your time.

What first prompted to you to move into the worlds of graphic artistry? Were you a fan of comics yourself when you grew up?
As a kid I loved comics, and still do even though I work in the medium every day. It’s a brilliant, accessible, unlimited style of storytelling. You don’t have to worry about CGI or extras or location shooting- you can tell that sprawling epic story with a pencil on a piece of paper.
I grew up on the UK weeklies of the early 70s- TV21, Countdown, and Look-In, with artists like Frank Bellamy and John M.Burns who would do these amazing double page spreads every week, usually on strips based around my favourite TV shows—the Gerry Anderson puppet shows, or The Tomorrow People. I was always amazed how –in the comics- they just made everything seem bigger and more dramatic. Gerry Haylock I remember drawing Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who in Countdown, and again, separate from the budgetary restraints of the TV show, creating some amazing visuals.

Did you have any particular favourites? Did you base your style on a mixture of others artists work that you admire?
In the mid-late 70s, I got into the US comics particularly Marvel, and got to love the whole drama/soap opera/epic tragedy set up that Stan Lee created. DC never really engaged me as much, they always seemed ‘safe’- Marvel characters had real problems (well, when you’re 13 you respond as though they are) and the stakes were always high—personal lives at the brink because of galaxy shaping events. That mix of the grand and the intimate suckered me in. The art was pretty jaw-dropping too. John Buscema, Gil Kane John Byrne and Jim Starlin were my big heroes, but biggest of all was Neal Adams- he just made the characters seem real, three dimensional. My art was inspired by all those guys. Later on I got into European artists, Bilal and Moebius who had this ragged, hypnotically detailed work which opened my eyes past the very slick American work I’d admired.
I’d say my style is a mix of Adams, Kane, Starlin and Bilal, with the storytelling of John Buscema underpinning it all.

Can you tell us a little about your career before you worked on Doctor Who magazine?
I always drew comics—whether it was strips featuring school teachers as super villains, or my own versions of Marvel’s cosmic heroes like Captain Marvel and Warlock. I always thought I’d draw comics at some point but it always seemed to be a pipe dream. I grew up in West Bromwich and the only thing famous that came from that town were the football team, the Albion, and Wyatt Earp’s parents. It wasn’t ‘til I discovered that John Byrne –a favourite Marvel artist of mine at the time- was actually born in the same town that I thought –hang on, maybe it is possible! I went to University to study Law – my folks wisely reckoning that I stood a better chance of a career in a ‘real’ job, but while at Uni I decided that I didn’t want to be a Barrister who drew Spider-Man on his off days, I just wanted to draw Spider-Man full time.
I used to visit Marvel UK and 2000AD who were both still based in London in the mid-80s, gradually wearing them down and finally got work in the business, writing and/or drawing Spider-Man and Transformers for Marvel, and Slaine and Judge Dredd for 2000AD.

Tell us something about how you got the gig at DWM?
Nightmare Game was my third Who strip as artist. I’d drawn the 7th Doctor and Ace Cyberman story ‘A Good Soldier’ and the long reviled ‘Doctor Conkerer’ for Marvel UK’s younger-readers Hulk comic. I’d also written Profits of Doom featuring Colin Baker, with a fabulous John Ridgway art job.
After Good Soldier I was supposed to do more Who comics but was lured away by DC Comics to write and draw a revival of a old Charlton Comics character ‘Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt’ (In Watchmen his equivalent character is Ozymandias).
I stayed working for the US at Marvel and DC for more than a decade. In 2002-3, my mate David Roach contacted me, wondering if I wanted to take over illustrating the spot illos in DWM which he’d been doing up to that point. I loved the idea, and jumped in- so every four weeks, I do a pic featuring an old Doctor. Good fun. Then, out of the blue, I had a call from Scott Gray asking if I was interested in football. I said ‘not really’ then Scott countered with- ‘how about a Doctor Who story, set in the 70s, where he meets Roy of the Rovers?’. The script was witty, smart and gave me an opportunity to indulge my love of research—sweet-wrappers, billboards, clothing- I spent far too long in books and on the net getting images together. I think it went down well- Clay and Scott wanted me to do more, so that’s a positive.


Were you a fan of Doctor Who or did you come to the show fresh when you started working on it?
I adore Doctor Who, always have. Getting to draw the strip (and write it) is a dream come true. My very first memory of TV is Doctor Who- I can clearly remember seeing a giant William Hartnell head with tiny figures standing in front of him. I was maybe two or three!

How did you find bringing the tricky ninth Doctor to life? There seemed to be a couple of stories where the strip wobbled when the new series kicked in, would you agree with that description or did you taking over as the chief artist on the strip a doddle?
I knew Martin Geragthy wanted a break after his amazing run on the 8th Doctor stories, especially The Flood which stands as one of the best Who stories in any medium, so shameless petitioned Clay and Scott to let me have a crack at the new guy. It was completely bizarre finding out that New Who was going to be based in Cardiff, as I’ve lived here for over two decades! It seemed a natural then that the strip should originate in the same city as the show. I wore Clay and Scott down, and they gave me the opportunity of a lifetime- to draw the adventures of a re-born British institution. I was ridiculously excited at the prospect.
Things were tricky though, because we had the spotlight of the BBC on us- the straightforward we’ll-just-get-on-with-it attitude that had prevailed on the magazine through the wilderness years had gone. Doctor Who coming back was a BIG deal. Previously the magazine just assigned the artists, now –quite rightly- the BBC wanted to make sure the strip reflected well on the new approach the show was taking. Also, actors now had approval on likenesses, so I had to ‘audition’ for Chris and Billie. (As I’ve done for the subsequent Doctors and assistants). Billie was happy right off, but Chris had a problem—I’d drawn him too handsome! All those years drawing for Marvel and DC, I suppose I defaulted to ‘heroic’. With that in mind, I went for a rangier, skinnier look which –yes, I accept- took a couple of issues to settle down-. I think that the final 9th Doctor story, by Gareth Roberts, A Groatsworth of Wit, I had him pretty nailed.

Having drawn and scripted Art Attack do you have to put on two different heads to look at the story from a writer and an artists point of view?.
On Art Attack, I’d only seen Rose and End Of The World, so wanted to emulate that ‘breathless’ story in the style of Russell’s scripts—a story that’s immediate, that actually takes place over those 40 minutes you’re watchingI wanted something that looked big and strange, so not just an art gallery, but an art gallery in a tesseract. I had to submit full script, so yes, Worzel put on his writin’ head, and when I came to draw it I muttered dark thoughts towards the writer, giving me all that complicated stuff to pencil.
A side note there, I introduced the idea of Rose having snuck off a school trip to the Louvre to go visit Parc Asterix. In his Rose timeline in one of the annuals, Russell included this as a detail, so I contributed to the canon, even in a small way.

You tackled five strips in a row for over twelve months. Did you enjoy being the sole artist on the Doctor Who strips or did you sigh with relief when Roger Langridge showed up to pencil The Green-Eyed Monster? I personally found the consistently good artwork and storytelling a real highlight of tenth Doctor’s initial strips. Because of the nature of the television series leading where these characters were going did you find there was a lot of freedom in drawing ‘extra’ adventures or constrained by what you couldn’t do?
I loved the idea of having a run on the strip- it was made new each time by having a fresh writer come on board. I don’t think there’s a bad story in there—each one gave me new tests, new challenges to draw. Having Roger do a fill-in was fine, the story was great, and something I couldn’t have drawn a tenth as well as he did, but I didn’t actually take a break, just shot straight on to the next strip!

You were the first person to give us a peek at what a Sontarans looks like underneath their armour. Was it a thrill to bring such a vivid Doctor Who monster to life in such an epic adventure? You also capture the Tenth Doctor and Rose beautifully, are there plenty of stills to base your drawings on or do you work with what you see on the TV?
I was so happy to draw the Sontarans- they were one of the aliens I used to doodle as a kid! We were able to expand on what we know (very little) of the Sontarans, (the world wasn’t even called Sontar until we mentioned it in the story) and John and Nick’s brilliant idea that if you have a clone society then it makes sense that you’d get defective clones and take it on from there. Thanks for the complements about the likenesses- I only really had the Children in Need skit as reference. I had several episodes of Billie Piper I could get screen grabs of, but for David Tennant it was just that five minute section. I’d bought the Casanova and Blackpool DVDs thinking that’d be good ref but he’s a wholly different person as The Doctor, a total transformation. Quite amazing.

Taking my personal favourite strip that you have pencilled and written, The Futurists can you take us through the typical execution of a Doctor Who comic strip? Are the new series scripts okayed by the production team
Thanks for that- The Futurists was a story idea I’d been percolating for ages, well several ideas really—I felt that –as I’m based in Wales, just like the production- it’d be great to do a proper Welsh Who story; and I’d also gotten fascinated by the Futurist Movement in Italy. Tying these together, I’d long had this idea that there were ‘regulators’ in the Who universe who set things pretty much back on track after the Doctor had screwed up the timeline- (and I’d submitted this plot before Paul Cornell’s Fathers Day story with the Reavers had aired) so what became of them when the Time Lords went away? The Futurists were from Italy, so linking them with the Roman Occupation of Wales was a straight line, if not a chronological one. I pitched it to Scott and Clay who liked the idea- I did a couple of revisions to the outline, and resubmitted. The key to me for the story was Valente, the African Roman Auxiliary who had come to believe wholly in the noble ideal or Rome. It’s his humanity that drives the story and the way Althea struggles with her love for the morally compromised Giovanni, himself as much of a true believer as Valente. I wanted to get some of that cosmic/interpersonal conflict I’d loved in my 70s Marvel comics across here. I’d also mapped out whole sequences with the Silures that wouldn’t fit for time and space considerations- where you’d have found that the tribe was actually led by Mererid who –with Rose- leads the fightback against the Romans in the third episode.
DHM then sent the revised outline on to Russell who gave us the thumbs up, and then I got on with scripting the first episode. When that was approved by all, I started drawing it –at the same time, getting on with the script to part two. So for a couple of months I bounced between writer and artist, sometimes on the same day.

How much involvement do the various editors have in the artwork? How much of collaboration is the artwork? Do you simply hand over the images and they are inked and coloured or is there much more of a marriage of talent all pitching in with ideas?
The team is hands on—I submit thumbnails of each page and Scott will get back with tweaks and changes he feels will punch up the art, give it more impact; I then do full pencils, and submit them for approval. Occasionally there are changes at this stage too but usually it’s just making sure the likenesses are consistent and the story reads well. The inks on Doctor Who are done by David Roach who I’ve worked with for over twenty years, so we’ve developed a shorthand for working. The colours are by James Offredi who is hands-down one of the best I’ve ever worked with. When David and I got offered A Christmas Carol I ‘took’ James with me, I rate him so highly.

Your artwork on The Woman Who Sold the World was astonishingly detailed and vivid. How long do you get to work on a script that is so packed with vibrant ideas?
Not long enough? Rob Davis had written with such an √©lan and a visual clarity (he’s also an artist) that I took the ball and ran with it. Really, I should have thought through how I designed the buildings in that city, realizing I’d have to keep re-drawing them. I have shelves of reference, books on Greek and Roman architecture, and I’d recently visited Paris and was awed by the scale and scope of the buildings there. I wanted to get across that alien-baroque feel that Rob’s script called for.

Looking back at your work over the past decade do you have any strips that you are especially proud of and any that you wish you could go back and have another stab at?
The Cruel Sea remains my favourite New Who story. I adored Rob’s script, and the way –particularly in the last chapter- he played with levels of reality using comic conventions –going from realistic, to animated style, to out and out cartoony, was just genius. It was the first time working with James and he did a dazzling job. David’s inks are also top-of-his-game. Scriptwise I think A Groatsworth of Wit is the best written, and gave me opportunities to draw some brilliant sequences, but Cruel Sea is my favourite. Dunno if there’s one I’d go back and re-do, I think they all have strengths. My one regret is we never got to ‘break’ my Thomas More in Space story. It went through several revisions, initially a Martha story, then a Donna one, but me, Clay and Scott just couldn’t get it to work. A pity, as there are some great set pieces in there, and some funny lines... but if the story doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.


You dip into the comic strips now maybe once a year. Was that a conscious decision?
I think I was giving Clay and Scott heart palpitations every month as I used up all the deadline time to get the best work out there. At the same time, I’d had offers to do other projects which I couldn’t take in all conscience without screwing up Who schedules. This happily coincided with Scott and Clay and Tom deciding that, after having many writers and one art team, they wanted to mix up the art styles, and go with one writer and many artists. And hopefully easy the deadline rush each issue!
Since coming off Doctor Who regularly, I’ve worked on A Christmas Carol, TV storyboarding, a series of Norwegian graphic novels, Judge Dredd for 2000AD and other side projects. I still get a kick out of drawing Who, and am more than happy to pencil strips that they think I’ll suit. I was thrilled be asked to draw Matt Smith’s first adventure for the magazine. At the same time, I was drawing Only Good Dalek for BBC Books, so I was working full time on Doctor Who for two publishers at once earlier this year!

Of all the various Doctors and companions you have gorgeously brought to life which would be your favourite in each camp?
I think Matt Smith looks brilliant- as a comic artist, his face is a gift. I enjoyed drawing David Tennant though the problem I had with him is, he’s too pretty! You can’t put too many lines on his face, as you age him too much. Eccleston was great when I got him sorted. A couple of times Clay would ring up and point out when my likenesses were off – I remember one shot of the 9th that looked like Bruce Forsythe, and one of Tennant early on that looked more like Willie Carson!
For the assistants- well, they’re all great (although I missed the chance of drawing Donna) but my favourite is Rose. Billie Piper has a gorgeous face to draw. Easiest to draw is Amy, as she looks a hell of a lot like my youngest daughter.

Mike, thank you ever so much for your time.
My pleasure! x