Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fanzines Reviewing Fanzines - RTP! #28

RTP! #28 has been reviewed by Alistair Hughes over at ZeusBlog. Read it here.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Men at Work

Progress, Sir! It's all in the name of progress!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

RTP! - The Little Fanzine that Could

Coming up in the next issue of Reverse the Polarity!

#28 is a comic strip special as we look between the panels at the Doctor's illustrated adventures...

In this issue:
  • There's part two of The Tower of Angum by Alex Ballingall and Garry Jackson
  • Peter Adamson catches up with ex-Time/Space Visualiser comics artist Paul Potiki and talks cartoons, comic strips, animation and motion pictures.
  • We visit Weirdsville, UK - the fictional village of Stockbridge, mapping its layout and profiling the inhabitants of the comic strip Doctor's favourite home from home.
  • We talk to DWM comics writer Dan McDaid about the town of Stockbridge.
  • Subsidence is Golden! Erato tells another lost tale of Pex and Krang as the Tractators invade Paradise Towers.
  • RTP! talks to comics historian and NZ fan Paul Scoones about the early days of the Doctor in comics
  • Jamas Enright asks: Who'd have Sonic? and ponders unsung rivers...
  • David Ronayne pens part of a new work of fiction, Weapon of Choice
  • All this plus our regular Letters page, Fanboy Confidential, and an Editorial all nestled in an exclusive full-colour cover.
Reverse the Polarity! #28 - out now

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Fiction - A Tale of a Second City

"A Tale of a Second City"
by David Ronayne

He pushed his way through the queue rapidly growing by the counter and carefully carried the two trays to where the others were waiting. Despite Doris' protests he had been able to order using broken Russian and various esoteric hand signals, and was now carefully picking his way through the crowds that milled though the busy restaurant. The Doctor's new companion, what was it, Cwej, gleefully pounced on his meal, as Benton had done many years (was it really only a few weeks ago) before. Everything had changed, the world, his life, Benton (did he really buy a used car off that man), even the mad changes that affected the Doctor now seemed more frantic
and rushed. He was as he had last seen him, although the impish face and quiet Scottish voice seemed to have hardened and creased. He looked over as his old friend sat hunched over a thickshake, staring intently at the contents with a look of concern on his face. He had made a point not to ask him about Ace.

"I would have thought this place would have quietened down by now, it's been here long enough," he ventured, looking over the packed chairs and tables at the bustling throng outside. "Stalin, Mao, Ronald, people flock to each new thing. It'll be tri-VR next, either that or the panEuro league."

The little man looked up from his cup. "The more things change the more they stay the same Alistair."

"And despite our thankless efforts?"

"Of mice and men Brigadier," he paused briefly. "No offence intended."

"Sorry I can't agree with that." The old man lent forward in his chair, "You once told me one of the only constants in the universe was change. Ten years ago the idea of a plastic blow-up clown eyeing up the Kremlin would've been unthinkable. The wheel turns. Damn it Doctor, do you realise that I was at Kathy Jones' fifteenth birthday before we left on this trip!"

The Time Lord blinked back at him, surprised by his sudden outburst.

'There are wheels within wheels, basic patterns recur over and over again."

"But there has got to be more to it than that!" The old solider yelled surprising himself with his tone which caused many of the local Muscovites to tum. For a moment he was back in his old office staring down the latest lab requisition order. The black alien eyes stared back at him. He had never noticed how alien they had seemed before.

"There must be more to it than that, if not why do we bother? Why not just roll over and let the Autons and Cybermen take us. Things must get better, then we have something to work for." The Doctor stared back at him as his eyebrows creased. Briefly, just briefly, Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart saw a flash of recognition in the deep eyes, as his friend's used to look several lifetimes ago.

"I'm sorry Brigadier," he said rubbing his brow, "things have been a little hectic lately."


"Well, I turned 975 yesterday," the Time Lord said matter-of-factly.

"Happy Birthday Doctor."

"Thank you, Brigadier."

14 May 1996.


Sunday, 12 April 2009

If - "Song of the Space Whale"

Another instalment of "If" from Peter Adamson. This entry is posted to tie in with the announcement that Big Finish are adapting some tales from the abandoned Season 23. This "If" comes from the second series of "If" where, instead of examining what impact the story would have had on the series had it been made, it asks what medium would it be best adapted to today (in part already possibly answered by the Big Finish announcement!).

The Fifth Doctor adventure: The Song of the Space Whale/[The] Space-Whale

Writers: Pat Mills [and John Wagner]
Characters: Fourth Doctor/ Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough / Sixth Doctor [and Peri?]
Episodes: Four (according to a 1980 scene breakdown)
Pitched: 1978 (to Anthony Read), 1980 (the Christopher Bidmead), thereafter to Eric saward
Scheduled: Season Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two (as story 6V)
Final Stage: Abandoned after negotiations between Mills and Saward broke down

Scenario: The TARDIS arrives aboard the Orkas, Multi-Global’s industrial whaling space ship, hunting a Ghaleen, the titular creature. Inside the Ghaleen the Doctor and Nyssa meet a community of humans, among them a recent arrival, the male Turlough. In an attempt to rescue the time-traveling creature’s slaughter they also discover the Ghaleen’s ancestral hunter, the humanoid Thuthon, Krakos. Fleeing time damage from the crippled creature, the Doctor aids in the overthrow of the ship’s corrupt captain and ultimately the Ghaleen’s survival and reunion with its pod. The colony leave the creature, and a restless Turlough asks to join the TARDIS crew.

‘Death is instant. Product loss minimal. Everything will be used’
‘-Everything but the song.’

The story ...

This is it - the mother lode of early '80s unmade-Whodom. A story so far reaching that it reverberated in succeeding years in multimedia, from a punningly-titled d├ębut from proto-Big Finishers AudioVisuals, to yet another of Mike Tucker's endless visual frippery, a TARDIS-Cam Easter egg for, of all things, the Talons of Weng-Chiang DVD. Even in more recent years DWM's eighth Doctor strip has given it a passing nod, in Scott Gray's Leviathan, set inside a giant snake-shaped organic space vessel. In the curious tale that rides this Whale, it would seem that of all the unmade stories, this has made it or at least inspired the most varied incarnations without ever fully being made.

It's a simple idea - a colony of Jonahs in a whale, in space, which is among a species being hunted to extinction by ruthless pirates. If any of this sounds ... I don't know, derivative and heavy-handed, then it may comes as no surprise to some readers that one of its creators was Pat Mills of UK comics fame. I don't mean to sound entirely disingenuous - on paper Space Whale is a gem of an idea - wonderful images that could have been at least as technically challenging as a Wembley-sized stadium filled with extras dressed as cats. It also boasted some intriguing characters and ideas, many of which reappear in Mills' non-Who work; Mills himself being something of a recycler.

This thing may well be though, that as much as it would have liked to have been one, Space Whale isn't really a Doctor Who story, and may not have originated as one either, given the enormous output of both Mills and John (Judge Dredd) Wagner in the late 1970s. The idea that Turlough may have originated from a community living inside a giant space creature just jars with what we know of his character - even if he had been planted there by the Black Guardian (oddly, putting him in an English public school enhances his alienness, although presumably this was deliberate).

The story itself is fine, if a little by-the-numbers. Mills is a great concepts man, capable of some stunning conceits (outside of 2000AD he is perhaps best known for ultra-violent anti-superhero series Marshal Law), but his plots don't always challenge the reader, and of the two, Wagner is very much the master story teller, actually getting better yet as the ages condemn. Perhaps the first sign that this Whale was to be harpooned was when Wagner went overboard and left the project. The rest can probably be summed up in shorthand thus: Mills, deadlines, Saward, the end. Mills himself has a reputation for being proprietary with his creations, and has clashed with editors, having been one himself. He is fiercely protective of his creations, reserving the right to combine their histories into a vague and vast Mills-verse (in 2000AD a wobbly line of continuity can be drawn from prehistoric dino-hunting ripper Flesh through twenty-seconds in the future urban warfare thriller Invasion 1999 (later Savage), through robot trouble-shooters Ro-Busters, through 'mek-nificent seven on Mars' ABC Warriors, through Judge Dredd, and more recently but probably not last, future Earth alien inquisition parable Nemesis the Warlock). One can only imagine a writer with this level of propriety clashing with the likes of Eric Saward and, God help him, JN-T
The conclusion was perhaps more inevitable than anyone imagined - Space-Whale would never work for television.

‘Look at it, Nyssa. A miracle of nature. It took the best brains on Gallifrey a millennium to develop time technology. The Ghaleen has succeeded on its own.’

As ... a comic strip?

So why not take it back to its roots as a comic strip? Let Mills develop it in the medium to which he clearly relates and work best in, edit the script of course, have a sure voice of Who-continuity nearby and assign an artist up to the challenge of realising Mill' vision. And staying faithful to the likenesses of Season Twenty's regulars, of course.

But there's a further tragedy that has yet to be revealed. This almost happened, although without the Who element. In the early 90s Mills in fact attempted to work up a Doctor-less version of the story and failed each time. Lack of interest from a fickle US market and the collapse of adult comic title Toxic! which began but never completed the story's last incarnation, saw the demise of the story's last incarnation, the oddly-titled space biker yarn Mutomaniac. This was to be illustrated by 2000AD (and DWM) alumnus Mike McMahon, but slow progress in this area (only 30 pages were completed for the comic’s limited run of seven issues) combined with a tight schedule meant a cancelled strip.

In an ideal world though, the comic strip is where Song of the Space Whale should be sung. Let Scott Gray rein its writer in, and Martin Geraghty (doing his best Dave Gibbons imitation) bring it to visual life. I'd buy it.

- Peter Adamson

References: Doctor Who Magazine

Monday, 16 March 2009

Phillip J Gray

Phillip Gray was one of those canvassed for material when RTP! was first mooted, being a resident of Christchurch like the editors. Unlike most of those approached, Phillip didn't contribute anything to the first issue — nor any issue after that either. As a result the editors made numerous references to Phillip, culminating with the above picture in issue 5 illustrated by Garry Jackson to accompany Wade Campbell's opinion page.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Fanzines Reviewing Fanzines - RTP! #27 Part 2

Thanks to Peter for pointing out another review of the most recent issue.