Writer’s Commentary: Cavan Scott on ‘Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor’ Issue #4
Writer Cavan Scott continues his commentary on the five issue mini series Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor with his notes on issue #4, exclusive to ComicsAlliance. Last time around, the Doctor truly came face-to-face with the mysterious Unon, and Jack and Rose found themselves in the wrong place during a supernova. Grab your copy of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #4 and read along as the story heads towards its thrilling conclusion. Over to you, Cavan.
SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ DOCTOR WHO: THE NINTH DOCTOR #4, THIS COMMENTARY WILL SPOIL YOU!
Page 1: We start the issue with Rose reaching out for a hand, this time Jack’s. It’s something that’s become a bit of a theme in the mini-series to foreshadow Rose’s eventual separation from the Doctor. And this time the opening is from Jack’s POV. I love writing Captain Harkness. He’s so much fun, especially before he becomes all doom laden in Torchwood.
Pages 2 & 3: This is our lead artist Blair Shedd’s favourite drawing of the Unon and it’s easy to see why. A quite note on the hooves: Sometimes the Unon have horse like-hooves, while in other shots they have claws outstretched. That isn’t a continuity error. Most of the time they sheathe them, but not Borga. She likes to be intimidating!
Oh, and Jack flirts with the TARDIS. Well, he’s a 51st Century guy - why wouldn’t he?
Page 4: I love how Blair has based the Lect’s architecture on the design of their ships. Talk about seeing a style through.
Page 5: And Rose lets rip and fires off a few continuity references too. The Slitheen? She met those flatulent horrors in Aliens of London and World War Three. The Daleks? Well, surely they need no introduction. But the Shadeys may need a little explanation if you aren’t a line-term reader of Doctor Who Magazine’s strip? The Shadeys were extra-dimensional nasties who crossed swords with the Ninth Doctor and Rose in A Groatsworth of Wit, a 2005 Doctor Who Magazine comic strip by Gareth Roberts and Mike Collins.
Page 6: Right from the off, Blair worked out exactly how the Lect armour was going to open. The interior was based on a deep-sea diving bell, with an added comfy chair, although it would still be a bit of a squeeze in there!
I hope the creature’s reveal was a surprise to many readers. I lot of people have been describing the Lect as mere robots, but there’s a clue in issue one that there’s more to them that meets the eye, with the Doctor asking to have a look beneath the armour. But, does anyone recognise who that wizened little alien is?
Page 7: The design behind the Doctor comes from a Viking medallion. Blair says: “I wasn't sure what would be coming in future issues as far as interior design, so I added this background as if the Doctor were making the call to the TARDIS from inside the Unon council chamber.” You can see the background more clearly on the first panel of the next page.
Page 8: Welcome to the Perpetual City. In the script, I described the city as a mass of Asgardian-esque towers and temples resting on an inverted pyramid. The reference to Asgard is a hangover to the fact that the Unon were originally going to be Valkyries, a notion that was nixed due to the then-upcoming appearance of vikings in The Girl Who Died. Blair researched portrayals of Asgard through the years from classic paintings to the Thor movies, with a bit of Jack Kirby and Mass Effect thrown in for good measure. He also added those little floating pods, imagining them to be the shield generators that give the City an atmosphere while inside the time vortex.
Page 9: I would just like to make it clear that I love Roger Moore’s James Bond. The Doctor obviously doesn’t have any taste.
Page 10: Over to Blair again: “Evja's face is roughly based on Dame Helen Mirren. I wasn't going for an exact likeness, but she's who I had in mind. I do that with all characters, whether I'm doing a likeness or not, as it keeps their look consistent in my mind.”
Page 11: By the same token, Blair based Arnora on Gwyneth Paltrow, and Borga on Arrow’s Katrina Law. As for the only male Unon? Well, that’s, um, me! Blair told me that he was making me an alien when we were doing our signing at San Diego Comic Con! I’m a Doctor Who alien! Finally!
The pre-Time War Unon clothes hark back to their Norse origins – but things don’t end well for my alien counterpart! Apparently, that’s my skull lying there. Shudder!
Page 12: I love the little scarf that Blair wraps around the Unon seers, including the armored Evja.
Page 13: Telosian Cybermen! Sontarans! We had fun with this page. To bring out the Unon’s pious nature I asked for panel four to show an Unon in a St. George pose, spearing its own lovecraftian dragon.
The spaceships were designed by Blair’s 10-year old son, Devon, obviously gearing up to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Spaceships designed by Blair’s son, Devon.
Page 14: I was fascinated to hear how Blair created Traxis. First he imported a photo of planetary terrain into Photoshop. After recoloring the image, he molded the continents using flame-shaped brushes. Then he added the cloud cover and got busy with Photoshop’s 3D filters to create the realistic globe. And that was his first attempt at the method too! Impressive.
Page 15: That robot makes me laugh. It’s a decapitated H.E.R.B.I.E from the Fantastic Four cartoons flipped upside down and given a skull-like face. As for the temporal stabilizer, it was supposed to look like a cross between a spear and a hypodermic needle. Blair added a Gallifreyan symbol at the top which reads: ‘this way up!’
Page 16: The first of two references to Wizard of Oz by Jack on this spread. Jack, of course, isn’t just a Friend of Dorothy. He’s also a friend of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and probably the Cowardly Lion too! You’ve gotta love the 51st Century.
Page 17: When planning this mini-series, I found a partial pitch document I wrote for Big Finish back in 2001. Time Quake saw the Sixth Doctor and Mel trapped on a planet where time-zones are crashing together. The pitch was abandoned in favour of another project, but I’d always liked the idea of time fissures, so here they are, 14 years later. Ideas never go away, they just become something new.
Before we turn over, keep an eye out for the medieval warrior. Blair serves up an armoured brawler based on Dirk the Daring from the ‘Dragon’s Lair’ video game. There’s also a pterosaur in the sky. I lost the dinosaurs from issue one, so wanted to get a prehistoric beastie in somewhere.
Page 18: Blair adds another little Easter Egg here – an EVA suit from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Page 19: The description for panel 2 reads: ‘Kneeling on one knee, the Doctor slams the stabiliser into a crack in the street, like Doctor Donald Blake slamming his walking stick against the ground to become Thor!’ Blair delivered an homage to Jim Mooney’s Blake trigger the transformation.
Page 20: I’ve talked about Blair’s attention to detail before, but I love the fact that our extra tall alien means that the hover-cars need to have a bulbous roof so they don’t get a crick in the neck while driving.
Page 21: Poor Blair had created a crazily detailed Lect ship for issue one, and now I gave him a fleet of them! I would like to publically apologise for this right here and now!
Page 22: In the original outline, Jack had gone off with the Lect and ended up holding the Doctor at gunpoint for the cliff-hanger. After discussing the scene with editor Andrew James, we decided that it would have more impact if Rose was the one wielding the gun. This meant that Rose was absent for the majority of the issue, but hopefully the cliff-hanger makes all that worthwhile. Plus, it’s good to see the Doctor and Jack working together, something we may see more of in future…
Cavan Scott is the writer of Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor for Titan Comics. Issue #5 is in stores now.