The Doctor is back, and not just in television. Prominent comics writer Andy Diggle and artist Mark Buckingham are teaming up for a new era in comics with an all-new Doctor Who series from IDW.Scheduled to launch this coming Wednesday October 3, 2012 this new Doctor Who comic series is planned to work in tandem with the concurrent television series, with Diggle acting as the main series writer and the series architect, similar to Joss Whedon on Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 comics. But the potential here isn’t just limited to vampires and the supernatural, as Diggle has a host of adventures for the gang to go on – beginning with the legendary 1851 Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park. But what the Doctor and crew will find is not just an exhibition of earthly wonders but also gateways into other, hypothetical worlds.
Newsarama spoke with Diggle about this new series, finding out the big plans he has for the over-arching story-arc and the big problem the Doctor, Amy and Rory will have to face in the form of the Hypothetical Gentleman.
Newsarama: First thing’s first – how’d you land the gig of doing Doctor Who?
Andy Diggle: Pretty simple, really - I asked! I'd expressed an interest in Doctor Who on Twitter, and Tony Lee dropped me a line to say he was going to be leaving the series soon, and that IDW would be looking for a new writer. I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I contacted IDW’s Editor-In-Chief Chris Ryall and Doctor Who editor Denton Tipton to ask if they'd be interested. As luck would have it, they were.Nrama: In the solicitations for Doctor Who #1, you’re described as “series architect”, and I see you’re writing the first two issues with Brandon Seifert doing #3. Can you explain your role exactly?
Diggle: I'm basically the "head writer" who works out the overall shape of the series. I'm writing the beginning, middle and end stories, with other writers like Brandon Seifert creating the narrative connecting tissue in between.
Nrama: What can you tell us about your first story-arc, and this man called the Hypothetical Gentleman?
Diggle: The Doctor takes Amy and Rory off to the Great Exhibition of 1851. It's famously one of his favorite places, and he wants to give them a treat for their wedding anniversary. He doesn't realize that they're feeling a little jaded, and aren't 100% sure they still want to be travelling with him. Things take a turn for the weird when the Doctor comes across a wildly anachronistic device in the Philosophical Instruments Gallery, which was built by a young Victorian couple after what they believed to be an angelic visitation. It's a Quantum Resonator, which can open a window onto hypothetical worlds that *might* have been. But of course the scary thing about windows is, what if something climbs through...?Nrama: Speaking of companions, joining you for the first two-issue arc is Mark Buckingham. I believe this is your first time writing for him, but I think you edited him when you were editor at 2000AD. Is that right?
Diggle: Yeah, Mark drew a Future Shock or two under my editorship. We've been talking about working together for years, so it's a real pleasure to be able to collaborate on such a popular and iconic character as the Doctor.
Nrama: So what’s it like getting together with Mark to kick off your run on Doctor Who?
Diggle: I couldn't be happier. Whenever you're dealing with a licensed property, there are all kinds of approvals to deal with, and sometimes a license-holder might care more about capturing the likeness of the actors than they do about the artist expressing his own visual style. Fortunately, with Mark you get the best of both worlds. His work is pure comics, wonderfully dynamic, yet he still manages to capture the subtle nuances of these characters we know and love. It's a real treat seeing it come to life.Nrama: And as series architect, what would you say your larger plans are for the series? You don’t have to give us three key words like Sherlock, but you can if you want.
Diggle: "Quantum. Starship. Sky." That's not much to go on, is it? I want the two-part stories to work on their own, with a minimum of ongoing continuity, but at the same time there will be these little threads that carry over from one story to the next. I don't want to spoil it, obviously, but those threads will all tie together in the final four-issue story where it all comes to a head in fairly spectacular fashion. That one's going to have some pretty amazing visuals.
Nrama: This new series is coming out in conjunction with the new Doctor Who television series. How does this comic and the television show connect up, in terms of continuity and doctors and companions and so forth?
Diggle: The idea is that the comic and the TV show will run parallel to each other. You can view either in isolation and it'll still make sense, but if you follow both then you'll hopefully see how some of the character stuff ties together, particularly with Amy and Rory.Nrama: I’m trying not to assume you’re a Doctor Who just because your British, so tell me – were you a fan of Doctor Who growing up?
Diggle: I think pretty much every child in the UK was a fan of Doctor Who growing up! The show is a national treasure. Tom Baker was always my Doctor, but I became aware of the wider world of Who through reading the Target novelizations - I'd buy stacks of second hand copies at jumble sales. The great thing about reading those novels was that the production values and special effects always looked amazing in my head! Of course, effects have advanced so far they can now put all that spectacle right up on the screen with a TV budget.
Nrama: Did you ever dream up your own ideas for Doctor Who stories before you got this comic, or before you were a professional writer? If so, what’s it like to have all that daydreaming turn out to be proper research?Diggle: Funnily enough I wrote and directed a Doctor Who radio play as part of my Media degree. A Cyberman story. It was a bit rough and ready, though - I didn't really know what the hell I was doing back then. Scary to think that was half my lifetime ago! I don't think there's anything in it that I'd want to salvage for the new series, though. Better to keep it fresh.
Nrama: Someone on twitter mentioned that, unfortunately, IDW isn’t licensed to sell its Doctor Who comics in the UK. IDW told me just before this interview that while they can’t sell these print comics in the UK, they do have the rights to sell them digitally. How do you feel about that?
Diggle: Some of my friends are big Who fans and I feel a bit guilty that they can't get hold of the issues in print. I’m glad it'll be available digitally. If they don’t want to go that route, they'll just have to buy me a pint and I'll tell them the story down at the pub!