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29 April 2017 @ 12:14 pm
Random Doctor Who Picture from the 1978 Annual  

Doctor Who annuals, necessarily constrained to telling very short stories aimed primarily at 10 year olds often written by people who have never seen the show, have a tendency towards the bland and a bit rubbish, occasionally enlivened with stuff that is a bit bonkers. The annuals in the late 1970s went for the bonkers end of the spectrum with enthusiasm which these days makes them far more interesting than many of the others. As a child I recall just being very bemused by both the story-telling and the artwork which seemed to bear relatively little relation to the show I loved.

I recall the above panel clearly. The Doctor has helped a group of apparently very nice men escape from a planet on which they were trapped, only for it to be revealed that once outside the special atmosphere of the planet they revert to psychotic monsters. This panel reveals them in their monstrous state (their psychosis is never actually shown to us, were are simply told they are also psychotic). The Doctor tricks them back down onto the planet by pretending to be stranded and, despite being (allegedly) psychotically evil, they return because of the debt they owe him. They are not happy to find themselves trapped once more and the Doctor (in a detail I missed as a child) weeps as he abandons them.

It's a difficult story. Even as a child I was concerned that the Doctor accepted so easily that these creatures must be evil and I do wonder if its trying to say something about assumptions that to be ugly is the same as to be evil (a message Doctor Who occasionally strays into, much as it also has stories that assert the opposite). Given the Doctor's tears at the end I wonder if the artist also had doubts about the message the story seemed to be conveying.

All that said, it has the merit of not being remotely bland.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/444266.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on April 29th, 2017 10:17 pm (UTC)
The eighties annuals apparently had some fan involvement and boringly became a bit more like the TV series. One fifth Doctor story has the Master hijack a plane and is probably written by someone who saw Time-Flight, although why he decided it was worth plagiarizing it is harder to explain.
louisedennislouisedennis on April 30th, 2017 04:30 pm (UTC)
I've just flicked through various articles on the annuals (the introduction to Paul Magrs' book and a series of articles in DWM 211-215) and can't find any mention of fan involvement (though it's clear Magrs isn't terribly interested in the details of interaction between then BBC and Worldwide after about 1980).

It's plausible, though one suspects it may have had more to do with JNT's keener brand awareness than had been possessed by previous producers.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on April 30th, 2017 05:48 pm (UTC)
I'm fairly sure that one or two Big Name Fans from the DWAS wrote a couple of stories in the eighties, although I forget who. I think there's also a theory that David Whitaker was involved in the first annual or two. I suspect parrot_knight might know if I've dreamt all this up out of nowhere!