With almost monthly regularity, our blessed podKast listener is
treated condemned to the excruciatingly tedious exchange between our (still-current) editor Christian Cawley and Brian “I Cosplay As Ten” Terranova concerning their barely-read-and-ignored-by-DWM-despite-several-begging-emails Time Leech comic strip from 2008 and the similarities with Steven Moffat’s The Wedding of River Song in 2011.
You may know that The Editor (as we don’t refer to him) is taking a few days leave after recent events (think A Clockwork Orange and you’ll get the idea of the type of treatment he’s been subjected to, poor b&$%ard) so it falls to me, part-time cook and full-time comedy anarchist Mick Karma to return to the hallowed pages of Outpost Gallifrey after a 5 year absence to examine whether or not there is any truth in the similarities or if they’re both mental (I think we know part of the answer to that already).
(What? Are you sure? Didn’t they change their name or something a couple of years ago? Oh. But “Gallifrey Base” is such a terrible name! So this isn’t Outpost Gallifrey? Right, if you say so.)
Just having a chat with our other editor Phil there (he’s the talented one who doesn’t inflame fandom and the BBC with his opinions), who tells me that this is Kasterborous. Apologies for the confusion.
So, The Wedding of River Song. Where do we start? Well, with the truth, I guess. Until this morning I’d never seen it. I’m a purely old school fan, 1967-1981 is my era, and I’ve only seen a few nuWhos since Eccleston left, so I’m coming to this blind, really.
Skimming through it at first on the iPad, it did seem a little… similar. Of course, these coincidences were just that, but I’m contractually obliged to list the similarities here for you now, in full.
Fortunately (?) I was aware of Time Leech as every contributor EVER on this site has been sent a copy. (At least once).
As I understand it, the plot is all Terranova’s, and looking at his various fan films, that wouldn’t be a surprise as he’s a creative fella. The dialogue on the other hand is Cawley’s. Less said about that the better, except that it was considerably polished up by John Freeman, I’m told, former Doctor Who Magazine editor and all-round champion of British comics. The whole project was partially his idea, too, to wit the site (Kasterborous, I’m reminded) held a competition to find a talented-but-unpublished comic book artist and somehow uncovered the ridiculously clever Justin Abbot.
To be honest, this story owes everything to that guy. It’s a stunning debut. I’ve long said that the greatest debut album in rock history is Guns’n’Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. In comic book terms, Justin’s debut comic strip is the equivalent of this.
Where is he now?!
Familiarity with the comic book aside, it was a while since I’d read it, so I loaded up one of the seven PDFs in my inbox and readied my iPad. I then switched to Amazon Instant Video to watch The Wedding of River Song.
Well I *say* “watch”, I think what I did really was eat some chilli-coated peanuts, drink some Black Beer and generally marvel at Karen Gillan while trying to work out what in the name of Satan’s black hole was going on.
It seemed to be some sort of jaunty timey-wimey romp with all of time in one place, which is either completely bloody ridiculous or absolutely right, depending on whether you prefer the text-book approach of Brian Cox (not that one) or the more cutting edge approach (albeit formulated in 1908) that time is in fact an illusory concept of Eternalism, so basically everything that is and will be exists concurrently. (This is a very basic summary, please see JME McTaggart’s The Unreality of Time if you can find a copy for genuine detail on it. Not to be confused with The Unreliability of Time, which is set to be introduced in First Capital Connect’s policy document shortly as the main reason for delays between Cambridge and King’s Cross at rush hour.)
So, to Time Leech!
I could already see where this was going, to be honest, having heard a couple of podKasts in my time and having just sat through The Wedding of River Song, which rang a few bells for me early on (although I’d forgotten about it completely once La Gillan appeared). Skimming through it at first on the iPad, it did seem a little… similar. Of course, these coincidences (because, let’s face it, the idea that Steven Moffat read this shit is even more laughable than if he’d read it, lifted the setting and some memorable scenes and even the idea of various epochs all occurring at the same time, right?) were just that, but I’m contractually obliged to list the similarities here for you now, in full.
Tedious I know, but I’m owed a night out from Cawley if I do this, so…
1. Modern-Day London
Not entirely sure about this one. I wouldn’t like to say I’ve been fed this list, but look, it’s tenuous. Both stories take place in contemporary London… and feature major landmarks (Time Leech: Westminster Abbey, messed up by eras colliding. The Wedding of River Song: Buckingham Palace, The Gherkin, the London skyline). I suppose London in the middle of some time-colliding situation is more of a solid comparison.
This is where similarities get a little more compelling. In Time Leech, pterodactyls – those vast, winged dinosaurs that glide but don’t flap – are used to advertise businesses. In The Wedding of River Song, they’re considered vermin and children and park goers are encouraged not to feed them. (This seems a mite cruel.)
3. Winston Churchill
Great Britain’s famous wartime Prime Minister features in both stories. In the former, he is notable by his presence on posters urging voters to support his election. The Wedding of River Song memorably features Churchill as a key character who has an errant soothsayer locked up in the Tower of London.
4. Silurians Integrated With Humans
The second page of Time Leech features Silurian (classic era) wandering through a medieval-style street in modern London among people dressed from all eras back to the 11th century (beneath those posters for Churchill). Meanwhile, in The Wedding of River Song, Steven Moffat includes a Silurian physician for Churchill.
5. Steam Punk Technology
Both stories feature steam-driven technology (a train on Metropolis-style suspended rails in The Wedding of River Song and a stream-powered bus in Time Leech) and balloons for transport. In Time Leech, airships are in use, while in The Wedding of River Song, balloons transport cars across London in what would surely be the most perilous commute ever (I reckon quicker than Cambridge to Kings Cross, though).
What About The Humans Who Don’t Know They’re Daleks?
So there you have it, the five similarities between the two stories.
For me, however, the thing that stands out isn’t Time Leech but its sequel (part two of the Time Leech trilogy) Hellstar. This features a prison ship that features humans who don’t know that they’re Daleks – until they change, much as with Asylum of the Daleks and the more recent The Time of the Doctor.
It’s a funny thing, writing. So many people pull similar ideas out of the big, bubbling mass of creative energy that exists just up and to the left. Some work, others don’t, not until they’re attempted again, at least.
I was cruel earlier. (It’s a thing I do for comedic effect.) Time Leech is a superb storyline, and Terranova and Cawley did a great job – with the help of Justin Abbott (and Rick Lundeen on part 3) – and it’s probably my favourite non-licensed “amateur” comic strip.
After all, who would have thought that the editor of this website – whatever it’s called – could be as creative as Steven “The Moff” Moffat?