Interview: Daryl Joyce

Daryl Joyce is a freelance illustrator and designer who tackles a wide variety of media, from video sleeves and magazine articles to books. He also has a fantastic portfolio of work on Doctor Who. His work has graced Doctor Who Magazine, Big Finish and of course for BBCi with the Lungbarrow ebook gallery being particularly noteworthy.

Daryl, what first got you interested in art, when did you realize that this was the type of career you wished to pursue?

It was really the only thing I had much interest in at school. It comes down to genetic heritage I suppose: my Dad was an illustrator and sometime editor on the magazine Look and Learn, so whilst I was being bombarded by imaginative things like Doctor Who with it’s Drashigs and Draconians on TV I was also seeing a lot of fantastic illustration from the likes of Frank Bellamy, Don Lawrence, Wilf Hardy and Ron Embleton – a great combination of elements to fire the imagination. I was well beyond my teens before I even considered it as a career and soon discovered illustration is not an easy thing to break into – it’s very competitive and whilst I tried to get agency work back in the 1980’s I didn’t have much success as magazine art was going out of fashion. It took me a long time to pursue it as a career again and I feel that’s it’s only in the last five or six years that I can call it my profession.

What courses/qualifications did you undertake and at which university?

In art I got an O level at school, and then an A level at college. And that’s about it. Later I took a HNC Graphic Design course at the Banbury School of Art and Design. I’m also now a member of the ABCEEA, but I better not go into details, it’s a bit saucy. 😉

What was your first artistic job upon leaving university or college?

My first artistic job was a drawing of a bug for Rentacure, followed by some display stands and props for the launch of a children’s television series called Trap Door.

What are your influences, artistically and generally?

In art film is a big influence, and I’ll often listen to film soundtracks whilst painting. It gears you up for the drama you’re trying to depict. When I say soundtracks, I mean real soundtracks, Williams, Goldsmith or Zimmer, or Barry Gray of course, that sort of thing. Other influences are too numerous to go into, almost anything can trigger your imagination if you’re in the right mood. Beyond art a drummer called Simon Phillips has an attitude and level of professionalism I have always admired hugely – I will never get bored of listening to the Mike Oldfield Crises album that he plays on.

How did you secure your first brief for Doctor Who, how did it come about?

On spec, I sent some comic strip mock-ups to Doctor Who Magazine. Alan Barnes (now editor of 2000AD) had just become editor of DWM and the magazine had moved into full colour so there were more opportunities for art within it pages. When Alan saw my painting of Azal he thought I’d be suited to illustrating the Marc Platt interview in DWMs Virgin NA anniversary special.

I’ve particularly enjoyed your Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Genesis of the Daleks Illustrated comic strips. Where do you get your ideas for the compositions and angles used within the illustration?

I based those very much on the style of The Trigan Empire, a comic strip from the 1960’s and 70’s that appeared in the aforementioned Look and Learn. It had quite a filmic look about it and I just wondered what you could do with some of the classics of Doctor Who totally unrestricted by budget. The Trafalgar Square layout is I suppose the ‘big money shot’ that Invasion of the Dinosaurs never had.

What’s your favourite Who related piece?

My own or another Who artist? I love the Frank Bellamy Day of the Daleks Radio Times cover, and the Chris Achilleos’ Dinosaur Invasion for Target. Alistair Pearson’s Tenth Planet and Robot covers are lovely too. Of my own my current favourite is the one I‘m doing now – which is a picture of Jo Grant finding the wreck of the Thal spaceship in the jungle from Planet of the Daleks.

Did you have a favourite story or villain or particular character you admired? Similarly who couldn’t you stand?

Always loved the Ice Warriors in their chunky knit jumpers, and the Zygons are a fantastic design. I like a lot of the earlier companions, particularly Ian and Barbara. I think most of the later companions were annoying and badly conceived, but Nicola Bryant is pleasing on the eye. Ooh.. sexist.

Did you have any particular trouble drawing a particular character or element that you can remember?

The brigadier for a DWM cover didn’t work first time. 24 hours before I had to get it in the post I decided to start the whole thing anew and fortunately it worked out better second time around. Generally the biggest problem can be finding reference. It took me an age to find a decent picture of Richard E. Grant for The Feast of the Stone, and I never did find a good enough picture of Sophie Okonedo, so wasn’t too happy about that. The easiest Doctors to draw are Troughton and Pertwee – Delgado too. You can’t really fail with such character. Peter Davison and Colin Baker are the most taxing but often because of the lack of any decent atmospheric reference pics rather than the fact that they don’t have the chiseled features of the earlier Doctors.

Which current Doctor Who works do you currently find inspire you to get to work?

There’s an awful lot of great fan art, including digital renders which are amazing, and it all makes you want to up your game. Too many people to name check really, I like all the regular artists in Doctor Who Magazine but often what inspires me to paint a Who image is something totally unrelated, like an amazing photograph in an ancient National Geographic magazine, or something obtuse like that that sparks you into thinking ‘The Aztecs or ‘The Face of Evil’ and off you go.

You are building a strong reputation for your work, what are your targets and do you plan to tackle any new mediums within your work?

I’m tackling an extremely large oil painting at the moment which is not my medium at all. As an illustrator my choice is gouache, because it’s fast. My targets are just to create ever better things that people enjoy looking at – and with Doctor Who to add touches that go beyond what was achievable on screen. As I said, there are no budgetary restrictions in illustration and I think it’s a nice positive way of reappraising some of the stories that visually haven’t held up quite so well.

Do you have any Who-related image in your head that you have been unable to realize?

Not really. I suppose one thing I’d like to do is redesign the Cybership from Revenge of the Cybermen, it just looks a little too Flash Gordon to me. Same with the Draconian ship in Frontier in Space, it doesn’t look elegant enough. But trying to rework these yet remain faithful to them is a real swine. If I actually sat down and tried I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult though.

What did you think when the show ended in 1989 and did you worry that it might effect your work with the show?

My first piece of Who work was in 2001 so I had nothing to worry about in 1989. As to my views on the cancellation – well I know there was an improvement in atmosphere in the last year but I’m with Verity Lambert on this one – I found it depressing. I think it had lost a lot of its coherence and was alienating its audience. There were a lot of reasons why it was failing, mostly within its production but also the scheduling was bad. I wasn’t really surprised it ended when it did. I cared about it though, so much so that in 1988 I wrote a pleading letter to the then Head of BBC Drama to do something with the series before it descended into an unsalvageable self parody– this was around the time of the Kandyman so I think I was quite justified. I even wrote a script for what I thought Doctor Who should be and a couple of paintings on my site dating back to 1990 represent that script – with David Troughton as the Doctor. Clutching at straws – but, you know, the folly of youth.

Which artist do you currently admire and what was the last piece of work you saw that inspired you to work?

I recently discovered an artist called Giovanna Casotto, who does ero art, (so don’t Google it if you’re easily offended), but it’s beautifully realized. In a similar vein Paulo Serpieri’s Drunna graphic novels are brilliantly drawn. The last piece of work that inspired me was a Dan Varner folder of prehistoric sea creatures, very moody and dramatic.

What was the last Doctor Who project you worked on?

Apart from a small review piece for the The Algebra of Ice for DWM, the last major project was the ebook of The Scales of Injustice for BBCi

What are your expectations of the new series and what do you think of the casting choices?

I’m avoiding spoilers and I don’t want to get caught up in the hype because that might lead to disappointment. My hopes are already high, because like us all, I care deeply that Doctor Who should be on telly and that it should be good. TV has become drab and derivative and what it needs is some entertaining escapism. I believe the role model for the series is the Hinchcliffe era. If they come close to that then I’m expecting it to be better than it was in the eighties but the single episode format seems kind of short for those intricate Genesis/Inferno stories that were plotted so well. It may well be an entirely different type of animal I just hope a creepy atmosphere hasn’t been undermined by its faster pace. Generally I think the casting choices are good, though I think I’d rather there were a few less familiar faces in supporting roles – but then we don’t have a film industry with scores of worthy – yet hard to name – jobbing character actors like we used to.

Do you think the new series should retain continuity from the show or shy away as much as possible?

A degree of continuity yes, I’d like to think that Eccleston’s Doc is the same two-hearted Timelord who fought Sea Devils and Yeti, even if it’s not implicitly referenced. What they shouldn’t do is get bogged down in cannon that the general audience isn’t going to give two hoots for. Even well established stuff like separate Dalek factions going at one another is something best dropped in my opinion. The important elements in Who are fairly simple – Man, companion, Time machine – they end up in scary situations and use their wits to win the day – anything else we should learn anew through getting to know the character again.

What direction do you expect your career to develop in? Do you expect to be associated with Doctor Who in the future?

For the next few months I’ll be working abroad, I won’t even see Doctor Who live unfortunately and I’ll be doing art as far removed from the Whoniverse as it’s possible to be. In the future – I’d hope to get more Dr Who work and if there’s any chance of design for series two I’d leap at it of course. Everyone’s saying that aren’t they?

A lot of what I have done up till now has come about because of a need to bring fresh visual slants to a subject that has been devoid of new photographic imagery for years: articles in DWM that have speculated upon Doctor Who films; serialized ebooks; Big Finish reviews. That’s going to change now. There will be lots of new photographs to feed the machine, so where I find Who work will almost certainly change.

Do you expect contact over the glut of new Doctor Who merchandise that will undoubtedly follow the new series? 🙂

No. I’ll probably be doing the chasing.

To find out more about Daryls work you can visit his website here

You can view the Lungbarrow ebook gallery by Daryl by clicking here.

We’d like to take the opportunity here at Kasterborous to thank Daryl for his time and views and wish him the best for the future.



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