Thursday, 30 August 2007

Exit, Stage Left

And so Wade left ...

Between issues 4 and 5 Wade Campbell (co-founder of RTP!) chose to bow out as co-editor of the fanzine, Alexander Ballingall taking his place after stepping up from Assistant Editor. The cause of Wade's decision to leave the fanzine remains unexplained to this day, with the most notable effect of Wade walking away being a discontinuation of material appearing in the fanzine from the pen of Wade.

Even with Wade leaving, this left the editorship of the fanzine split between two and the new arrangement had the added issue of geography since Alexander didn't (and currently still doesn't) live in the same city as co-editor Matt Kamstra. This would continue to give the fanzine a slightly skitzo feel in terms of style and content for each issue (many readers noting that the fanzine has become easily more consistent and streamlined since it has been run by only one editor).

Wade wasn't the only editor to leave and we'll look at Matt's later ...

Monday, 20 August 2007

Flashback - Day Old Christmas Pudding (RTP! #6)

My primary memories with respect to issue 6 revolve around the comic Myrrh, much of which was written on holiday in Wanganui where I was visiting some family. I have a feeling that Matt Kamstra had more to do with putting together the issue that I did, most of it probably happening during the time I was away in the North Island. This might explain why Part One of Jeff Stone's The Red Menace fanfic is missing the end of the installment. I don't know who is to blame for the picture of Ace on the back cover, but I think the burden of guilt falls on Garry Jackson and Matt. Meanwhile Graham Muir reviewed The Feast of Steven (The Daleks' Master Plan Episode 7), which in retrospect was Graham already becoming bored with the repetitive nature of the Birdy comics. He'd only do one further adventure (in issue 7) with Birdy flying solo, Saucer returning with the comic in issue 11.

Issue 6 was another of those 'gear change' issues that happen every now and then, as after this point I would have more input into each issue than I had had for issues 4 through 6.

Friday, 17 August 2007

The Christchurch Chapter

The above illustration from Garry Jackson (published in RTP! #2, December 1997) depicts the recently reborn Christchurch Chapter as it was at that point in time. Starting clockwise from the top right are; Garry Jackson (at that point living in Queenstown and thus not-quite-yet a member of the Chapter, although within a year or so he would be), Alexander Ballingall (current editor of RTP!), Jonathan Park (editor of the defunct Telos fanzine and co-editor of the fanzine/blog Zeus Plug/Zeus Blog), Hayden Edwards, James Gibbons, Wade Campbell (co-founder of RTP!), Matt Kamstra (co-founder of RTP!), Philip J Gray, and Graham Muir (creator of the TARDIS Tales).

The start of the newly regenerated Chapter is described here, the local Chapter seemingly dying away around 1993/94 and the mini-con CyberCon. Thus the new Chapter officially turned ten last year in May! Since then people have come and gone, the Chapter remaining roughly at the same number of people this entire decade of time (hovering as it does at meetings between six to fifteen people attending). And the format had remained equally the same as well, following the usual pattern of:

Junk food & carbonated drinks
DVDs are put on that nobody watches (unless there is something to laugh at!)
Long and loud conversations about anything and everything
An outing to a local shopping mall

In the end the meetings of the Christchurch Chapter are more a social occasion than anything else, although the advent of the new series has meant that things may change a little due to the arrival of new, younger fans (the average of the Chapter today, excluding new, younger fans fans is around 27 years of age) who are more interested in simply watching the new episodes than gas-bagging.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

If - "The Herdsmen of Venus"

The first of Peter Adamson's articles on the impact some unmade Who might have had, if they had been made ...
The Herdsmen Of Venus
by Donald Cotton

Donald Cotton's last submission before leaving Doctor Who was Season Six's The Herdsmen Of Venus, sometimes referred to by him as The Herdsmen Of Aquarius. It is the former title which appeals more at the moment, for reasons which will be explained later. All that is known for the time being is that the story was based around the revelation that the famous Loch Ness Monster was one of many 'cattle' of Venusian farmers. Sound familiar at all?
Cotton's input into the series is generally recognised as being on the more humorous side - The Myth Makers has its moments, but these days is nearly known entirely for its overambitious episode title "Is There A Doctor In The Horse?. He was also responsible for The Gunfighters, a comedy which has only recently been defended by some in the fan community after decades of scorn. Against these stories then, "Herdsmen" must be a significant departure. There is possible humour in the revelatory aspect of the monster, but more significant is the possibility Spooner intended the story to be set in space. 'Space' in the Hartnell Era of course means 'the future'; rocket ships and British astronauts. This is just conjecture of course, the Loch Ness Monster's first recorded sighting took place somewhere around the Eighth century AD, so it's possible the story might well have been a third historical for Spooner. Returning to trends of the Hartnell Era however, pseudo-historical adventures with any aliens short of the Doctor, Susan and the Meddling Monk running around simply aren't a feature. The educational bent of the series may have been thrown out of the window by Terry Nation's monster creations, but even by Season Six the idea of a Davisonesque 'aliens in the olde days' romp seems a bit at odds.
The monster-as-cattle idea of course finally found its place in Robert Banks Stewart's Terror Of The Zygons (working title The Secret Of Loch Ness), though it was Robert Holmes who suggested the idea of fitting a story around Nessie in the first place. The rest is history, and it's intriguing that in the realised story the 'cattle' metaphor is worked as far as the purpose of the Skarasen's lactic secretions—'milk' for the Zygons. We can't of course assume that Cotton's story would have taken the same form; being a writer versed more in comedy the Herdsmen themselves could have been most un-Zygon in motivation. The whole concept, an escaped space cow let loose in a (Mediaeval?) Scottish loch could quite well have been the set up for a wonderfully mad cap Hartnell story. Admittedly already the scope is very large setting-wise. Much of Zygon's Highland action was cut to save on location shooting, and perhaps it was for similar over-ambitious writing that Gerry Davis rejected Herdsmen. The mind rebels against any envisaged 1966 BBC attempt at reproducing a working Nessie model. The Skarasen is not remembered fondly, and equally the glove puppets of Who's other Loch Ness story, Timelash.
And so to Venus, for surely if there's anything a Who fan loves as much as yet another version of the 'invaders from Mars' story, it's a mention of Venus. Paul Leonard's Missing Adventure notwithstanding, Venus is never seen in the series, though it is mentioned a fair bit. Indeed, previously the first Doctor and Susan list it as one of their visits made before picking up Ian and Barbara; and of course the third Doctor's more memorable anecdotes included, variously, Venusian Aikido (he is the only biped to have mastered it - another challenge for the BBC costume department?), lullabies, Shanghorns, perigosto sticks, and hopscotch. Interestingly, of those elements only the multi-limbed natives and the hopscotch made it into Leonard's book, though in the series Susan's memories (The Sensorites) also include seas of iron, the element which according to Leonard, was fatal to a Venusian. Tellingly, Leonard has the Venusians being extinct by the Twentieth century, their world finally resembling the hellish planet of boiling acid we know it to be in 'real life'; if Spooner's story was to have been set in the future, then we might have expected an updated version of the model of civilisations hidden under thick Venusian cloud, as in Edgar Rice Burrough's Venus books.
Had the story been made as The Herdsmen Of Aquarius, then naturally we'd have less call for inspection. Like many unmade stories, Herdsmen's exclusion inadvertently allowed Zygon's creation, and as the 'class of 4G' showed in a recent DWM article, the latter story continues to have significant appeal - there's even been a prequel written for BBC Books. No other unmade story comes to mind for whose exclusion would have had effects so far reaching as spanning three seasons. Of course, it's entirely possible that had Herdsmen seen production we might still remember an unchanged Zygons today; it's entirely in the nature of Doctor Who to repeat ideas, reinterpret them and stuff up continuity, and in fact it's what much of the series is all about. To this mind, might I add that even in 1998 we really could do with more space cows?

- Peter Adamson

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Fanzines Reviewing Fanzines - TSV #52

Another review of TSV from the pages of RTP!:
I like it. TSV #52 is a vast improvement on past issues which I might have been a bit derogatory towards. Paul's editorial is very similar to one of our own articles, some some interesting comparisons can be drawn between the two. The Gary Gillatt interview revealed some interesting facts about the nature of the DWM editor and his 'story' contrasts with Gary Russell's from the previous issue nicely. How young is he again?

All 132 changes to The Five Doctors are listed! And at alst the comic strip has a plot, although some of the ideas are a tad unoriginal—eg. 'and much, much more'. "Galaxy Who" was kind of pointless, but so is our fanzine, so we can't talk! "Doctor's Dilemma" returns with the new "Rantings from the Padded Cell" and Bob Beechey couldn't convince me that "Patrick Troughton is the Doctor". Sorry ...

- Wade Campbell

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Pulp Who - The T-shirt

The above picture comes from issue 3 (March 1998) and helps to illustrate this post. Which is about a one-off T-shirt. Wade Campbell came to me around mid-1998 (his first year at university) and wanted a T-shirt based on Pulp Who. The result was a white t-shirt with a picture of the Master on the front pointing his TCE and exclaiming that he was 'The Time F**king Master!' Unfortunately the passage of time has meant that the t-shirt has long since fallen apart and the master copy of my illustration has gone missing. Still, for a brief while, Pulp Who was more than a cheap rip-off of a film, but also a t-shirt!

Saturday, 4 August 2007

RTP! #25 Status Report No. 2

Things are moving along slowly for the next issue. Of the material promised in the previous status report, the TARDIS Tales article is ready to go and a couple of letters for the letters page have been submitted. Peter Adamson assures me that Cydonia is still on track despite Real Life™ issues. The interview is in the drafting stages as I've seen an early draft, so that looks on target to appear as well.

Just a reminder for people that the deadline for issue 25 was August 1st and those with bit & pieces they'd like to submit should do so ASAP.