Titan Comics have been taking the Tenth Doctor on new adventures for almost a year now, so we caught up with scriptwriter Nick Abadzis to find out how he feels about this milestone, and what’s in store for the David Tennant-resembling version of our favourite Time Lord in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor.
K: The series is gathering pace towards the 12th issue mark. Do you have any plans for a celebratory issue?
NICK: We publish fifteen issues a year, so #15 is the big finale. In terms of it being a celebration – I’m not sure that it will be for the Doctor, Gabby and their friends! But it’ll certainly be something memorable, you can count on that.
K: You must have been working on the series for over a year, from script to page. How has this time with the Tenth Doctor changed your attitude towards him?
NICK: Yes, #14 and #15 (which I’m writing now) mark almost the end of a year and half of working on these Doctor Who comics and I still feel like I’m only just getting started. Still got a lot of ideas to play out. I’ve got to know the Tenth Doctor better, but I’m not sure my attitude to him has changed exactly – I probably like him even more than I did before.
Writing him is a mixture of intentions and feelings – it’s a privilege to write Doctor Who, a childhood dream come true, and it’s also a reason to delve into what you hope are the very best parts of yourself and bring these to the characterisation. Equally, the Doctor’s no angel, not exactly, so you bring all the mysterious aspects and hints of darkness to it too. It’s all wrapped up in what I hope is a good, Tennant-like delivery. Part of that “performance” is dependent on Elena’s Casagrande’s fine artwork, of course, so it’s a collaboration.
K: What scope do you have for taking the Doctor on new adventures and in new directions? Are you tied to the tone of the TV show?
NICK: Yes and no. We want to recapture some of the essential spirit of the Tenth Doctor’s era, certainly – I think that’s important. It’s a beloved period of the show, so it does set a standard and you take that as a starting point. But we can riff on that, go in all sorts of unexpected directions, and we’ve got a certain latitude to do that. You have to respect what’s gone before, absolutely, but you want to keep things interesting and unexpected for the reader – we want them to have as much fun as we all do, working on this.
K: Set shortly after the events of The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End, the comic has paired the Time Lord with a new companion, Gabby Gonzalez. Where do you start from when creating a new companion? How do you make her sufficiently different, yet interesting?
NICK: I strive to make all the characters I write quirky but credible. A lot of what drives Doctor Who these days (on TV and all spin-off media) is good, involving characterisation – that’s always what appeals to me whether it’s TV, movies, comics or books. It’s about whether you, the reader, care about the characters. So I attempt to imbue a companion with something that will make him or her appealing, yet credible as a travelling companion of the Doctor’s. It’s not just picking a set of characteristics though; it’s about making a character come alive with the words you give them, making their behaviour recognisable, believable.
K: Which is best, creating a new companion, or a new enemy?
NICK: It’s a different set of requirements. Companions have to work long-term; they’re in every adventure along with the Doctor so they have to be fully-fleshed out.
A new enemy has to be believable too – their motivations, their physical and mental traits, their reasons for doing what they do. But you can of course, get a bit more fantastical – this is Doctor Who, after all. As long as they’re threatening , every enemy can have very different motivations from each other – some might believe that what they’re doing is right and have quite a complex morality, some might just be straightforwadly evil, some might be driven by revenge or some other emotion. So, slightly different disciplines, but both elements that it’s necessary to get right and weave together with all the others to create good Doctor Who.
And The Tenth Doctor series is certainly good Doctor Who! Thanks very much, Nick.
Revolutions of Terror, a graphic novel collecting together the first five issues, is out now. The Tenth Doctor #9 is out now, written by Robbie Morrison, but Abadzis picks up the reins again with next month’s Free Comic Book Day Doctor Who comic, available from 2nd May at participating stores.