Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Two Thirteenth Doctor comics by women: A New Beginning and Hidden Human History

The creators of Doctor Who comics were for a long time the most male of the various parts of the Whoniverse. I noted in a history of the 1964-79 strips that the first mention of women in a creative capacity was on page 570 of a 603-page book, on work done in the 1990s. The first woman credited in the main Doctor Who Magazine comics series was Annie Halfacree (now Annie Parkhouse), who did lettering for the Sixth Doctor strips starting in 1984. The first woman to write a Doctor Who comic appears to have been Kate Orman, with a Third Doctor adventure, "Change of Mind", published in Doctor Who Magazine in 1994. Her novel, The Left-Handed Hummingbird, published the previous year, was the first original Doctor Who novel by a woman.

By contrast, the first show-runner of the TV show was a woman, Verity Lambert, the first woman director was Paddy Russell for the 1966 story we now call The Massacre, and the first credited woman writer was Leslie Scott, for the following story which we now call The Ark - though it is disputed as to whether she actually worked on the script, whose other credited writer was her husband Paul Erickson. The next credited woman, adn the first with a solo credit, to write for the TV show was Barbara Clegg, for Enlightenment in 1983, and nobody disputes that. (She will turn 95 this year.)

(I did a complete roundup of women who had written for Who in 2012; if I updated it now, I think the list would be a good deal longer. NB that a couple of earlier stories which I classified there as comics are more properly described as illustrated prose.)

Anyway, it's not exactly premature and entirely appropriate that Titan have commissioned an all-woman team for their current run of Thirteenth Doctor comics, written by Jody Houser with art by Rachael Stott, Roberta Ingranata, Giorgia Sposito and Enrica Aren Angiolini. I have not seen the publishers make a big thing about this, but the connoisseur will spot it quickly if they don't already know, and the casual buyer probably won't care.

Second frame of third part of A New Beginning:

The art in both books is gorgeous, and the brisk and charming script captures the nuances of the four lead characters rather well, especially Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. The story of A New Beginning is frankly a bit dull. It follows on from incidents in earlier Titan comics which I haven't read, with the TARDIS crew pursing a mysterious portal from which a hand emerges, beckoning. We get from A to B to C with some time-travelling incidental characters. More or less satisfying, but not very deep. I wondereed if the team's creativity was a bit stifled by having to round off an existing platline. Anyway, you can get it here.

Second frame of the third part of Hidden Human History:

The second volume, on the other hand, I thought a lot better. The companions are given a bit more inner life than usual, as it turns out that they are all fans of a podcast about obscure historical events (which sound plausible, though I have not checked to see how many of them are real). The alien enemy becomes humanised through contact with the Doctor, and we end up with a story where everyone wins, told across a set of neatly portrayed historical scenes. To be honest, I'd recommend starting with this one. You can get it here.

These both bubbled successively to the top of my pile of unread comics in English, one towards the end of last month and the other earlier this month, so I'm giving this post two bookblog year tags. The next is volume 3 in the series, Old Friends.
Tags: bookblog 2020, bookblog 2021, doctor who, doctor who: 13, doctor who: comics, writer: jody houser

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