Writer’s Commentary: Cavan Scott on ‘Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor’ Issue #3
With the fourth issue of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor arriving in stores today, writer Cavan Scott continues his commentary on the five issue mini series with his notes on issue #3, exclusive to ComicsAlliance. Last time we met Glom the space octopus, visited the Temporal Bazaar with Captain Jack, and left the Doctor at the mercy of the Lect. Grab your copy of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #3 and read along as the story continues! Over to you, Cavan!
SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR #3, THIS COMMENTARY WILL SPOIL YOU!
Page 1: We’re back in the Fluren Temporal Bazaar, with the Doctor, Rose and Jack surrounded – and another easter egg for eagle-eyed Doctor Who fans. Sakkrat? That’s the mythical planet from The Highest Science, Gareth Robert’s first Doctor Who novel published back in 1993 and adapted for audio in 2014 by Big Finish around the time I was writing this issue.
Page 2: As I mentioned in my issue one commentary, I gave each issue individual titles, just for my own amusement. Issue two was ‘Arms Trade’ and this one is ‘Doctors and Nurses’.
Page 3: There was much discussion about the liquids that spill out of the Lect as it’s bisected here. We talked about milky Aliens-esque android blood, but its was deemed too unintentionally icky by editor Andrew James, so artist Blair went for black instead.
Page 4 and 5: In the original outline, it’s only Doctor and Jack on Fluren, with Rose the prisoner of the Unon, who rather pretentiously call themselves the ‘Sisters of Eternity’. Think that description got through to an early draft of the script, but I soon deleted it, thankfully. Sounds like an awful goth band. (Note to self: include a goth band called Sisters of Eternity in a future story.)
Page 6: I’m showing my age with the Champion the Wonder Horse reference. This was a 1955 black and white Western series called The Adventures of Champion in the U.S. It was repeated continually in the UK during the 70s under the title of Champion the Wonder Horse and was a particular favorite of mine as a kid.
Page 7: There were a couple of art team changes with this issue. To help lighten Blair’s workload, coloring duties were passed onto Anang Setyawan, with Blair giving everything a final pass to ensure that the styles remained consistent between issues. Rachael Stott also came on board to give Blair a hand, providing the art for a number of pages. This is the first, although I think Blair and Rachael’s styles are similar enough that you can’t tell who drew what at first glance. As Rachael said to me at the time: “Blair and I are like stylistic cousins.”
This page also saw me cut some dialogue on my final pass of the lettered pages. Panel three had the Doctor saying: “Especially as I’ve just got her attention.” In the next panel, Rose responded with ‘“Her?” Figures’. I like Rose’s ever-so-slightly jealous aside, but felt we were blowing the big reveal on page 14.
Page 8 & 9: I do so like blowing up the Doctor half way through an issue, although this sequence never appeared in the original pitch to Titan. It was Rose’s German friend Dieter who got blasted by the Unon, sending him back to his rightful place in space and time. This version is better!
Page 10: In the script, Borga blasted the guard behind Rose with an energy bolt from her spear. Blair changed this to Unon throwing her entire sword, which goes spinning back to her hand after dispatching the poor guard a-la Thor and Mjolnir. More dramatic by half.
Page 11: Another page from Rachael. I first met Rachael at the London Super Comic Con after falling in love with her work on IDW/Boom’s Star Trek / Planet of the Apes crossover. I said there and then that I wanted to work with her, and was pleased as punch to do so on this issue and also Titan’s SDCC Doctor Who exclusive comic.
Page 12: We’re back with Blair as the Doctor appears in the void. Originally, I’d envisioned the void as being purely white, as if the Doctor was floating across a blank page. However, on writing the pages, I started to worry that white would be dull, so suggested the shifting washes of pastel colors in the background.
Page 13: The Doctor mentions of the Rani and the Corsair concerned me more than they should have. On television, the Ninth Doctor very rarely referenced his past, not even naming Davros when talking about the creator of the Daleks. I almost took them out, but after running the page past a couple of trusted writers and fans, was persuaded to keep the name-checks in. I think they’re fun.
Page 14: And here we have the reveal of the Unon. From day one, they were always going to be a matriarchal race, clad head-to-toe in armor. At first, they were Valkyries, fuelled by my on-going Viking obsession, but soon evolved into Spartan-like centaurs. Here’s how Arnora’s face is described in the script:
“CU of Arnora’s face. The mask/helmet fades away revealing her true face, proud, noble and beautiful. Her skin is like marble, exotic and alien, but utterly captivating, her gaze strong and sure.’
Page 15: The Unon’s marble-like skin was directly influenced by my love of Guillermo del Toro’s films. The director’s creations often have cracked alabaster skin, such as Nuada and Naula in Hellboy II: The Golden Army and the vampiric Jesús Gris in Cronos. If you’ve never read it, I heartily recommend his Cabinet of Curiosities book.
Page 16: I couldn’t resist this page. Yes, we wanted to keep the Ninth Doctor authentically of his era, but there’s nothing to say we couldn’t play with some of elements from Day of the Doctor. Plus, I knew which Doctor would star in the next mini-series from Titan Comics! Kudos to Blair for the art, which is now my iMac desktop. Even though he’d stepped back from coloring the issue, Blair did this one himself.
Page 17: Back with Rachael, who told me that she loved drawing Rose yelling at the Lect. And doesn’t it show? Jackie Tyler would be proud.
Page 18: Sometimes it’s only when you’ve written something that you notice a big glaring error. I finished the first draft for issue three and dutifully sent it into Andrew. Feeling pleased with myself I popped out for a coffee and my heart sank. On this page I’d sent Jack and Rose off to the TARDIS, but needed the pair separated for the next issues. What an idiot! So, I abandoned the coffee run and went back to rewrite the last few pages of the issue.
Here’s how they originally ran. On page 18, we have the same set up, until the other Jack shouts ‘Get a move on you two!’ The first Jack tells Rose to hold on, as tight as she likes and presses the Vortex Manipulator.
Incidentally, in the very first outline, it was the Doctor who pulled the Vortex Manipulator trick, not Jack.
Page 19: This page is pretty similar in draft one, with the addition of Rose hanging onto Jack as they blast through the vortex, Jack yelling at her to ‘Hold onto your internal organs’. Rachael does a phenomenal job realizing Jack breaking and entering the TARDIS. I love this page.
Page 20: So, on this page we had Rose and Jack landing in the Console Room, Rose gagging with a most unladylike ‘hurgh’ and Jack saying, ‘Careful, you’ve just asked me on a date in Slarvian.’ The Slarvians were a race of giant cybernetic snails that Mark Wright and I created for Big Finish.
Page 21: In the original draft, Rose and Jack are still in the TARDIS console room when the supernova is about to strike, realizing that neither of them know how to make the TARDIS dematerialize. The countdown wasn’t there either. I went back and starting it on page 18 to literally add a ticking clock.
Page 22: The cliffhanger was the same in both issues, although Arnora’s dialogue changed slightly from the original: ‘The Time Lord leaves his friends to burn, over and over again!’
Cavan Scott is the writer of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor for Titan Comics. Issue #4 is in stores now.