Friday, 8 July 2011

Sixteen Candles

Issue 16 helped to mark the 40th anniversary of the series Doctor Who by presenting a celebratory comic in Japanese - a decision made by writer/editor Alexander Ballingall for the sheer hell of it. As a concession to those not able to read Japanese script, a translation was provided.

Fandom in the year of the big Four-O

Most of you will be up with the play by now. Doctor Who is on the way back to our screens in a new series. What does this mean for fandom? Can fandom survive the series becoming a popular, talked about public item once more?

I am reminded of the fandom of The X Files where, once the series became of hot item at the conclusion of the second season (1995), there was suddenly a lot of grumbling from those fans who had been loyal viewers from the start about these newbies who were lowering the whole tone of being an X Files fan.

The reason I point this out is because, even without a new series to talk about yet, the older hands on the Outpost Gallifrey message boards are already attacking (a pre-emptive strike if you will) the idiot 'flash-in-the-pan' fans who are lowering the tone of being a Doctor Who fan with their posts on BBCi.

Will new fans with a genuine interest in the show be put off by such an aggressive attitude from the already established fanbase, who have built for themselves a cosy 'us and them' attitude with reference to the series and the public at large.

Love them or hate them the series will always have its professional fans and its uberfans, but in the last fourteen years the general fanbase has shrunk (the Christchurch chapter itself has gone from meetings involving forty-to-sixty people every two months in 1989/90 to eight-to-ten people every three months this year).

It can be argued that fandom desperately needs an injection of new fans into its aging demographic, ones who will carry the torch, so-to-speak, for the series once we, the older fans, are all too senile to appreciate it any more. And while a new series will create such loyal fans who will eventually take our places, there is another group of new fans coming.

On top of all this, can the old guard handle people who will only be fans (ephemeral fans) as long as the series remains popular and who will move on once it drops out of public view again? To again use The X Files example, many fans (cult fans) of the first two seasons moved on to new ground once the show became a popular hit with the general public, unable to remain a fan now that the show was no longer 'something special' for a small, select group of TV watchers. Both of these groups, the cult fans and the ephemeral fans, will help to initially swell the fanbase of Doctor Who, but once the series becomes a hit (and lets face it, it may not) the cult fans will move on and once some other show becomes a hit the ephemeral fans too will move on to pastures greener.

Can fandom, once the increase and then decrease in fans following a new series occurs, and again made up of only loyal fans (that includes those created via the new series), remain a single entity?

Already fandom has split along the lines of those who follow the EDAs/Big Finish audios, and those who don't. Can fandom handle another split like that of Star Trek where fandom has split into 'New Trek' (those who dislike the original series for being too quaint and for having dated SFX) and 'Old Trek' (those who still like the original series)? Would Doctor Who fandom split into newcomers who only watch the new stuff (the older stuff we like being too 'crap') and us, the older fans who retain an appreciation for the older material? Which would DWM place an emphasis on? Which group would the BBC focus more attention on in terms of marketing the series?

But for now at least, us fans can kick back an enjoy both the anniversary that is upon us but also the knowledge that some people somewhere are trying to make a reality the prospect of a new series on our TV sets in 2005.
- Alexander Ballingall
Star Wars - Episode VII: Guff

Published: November 2003
Doctor Who Fanzine launched by Matt Kamstra & Wade Campbell in October 1997
Editor: Alexander Ballingall
RTP! Logo Design: Peter & Bridget Adamson
Front Cover: Garry Jackson
Back Cover: David Ronayne
Internal Artwork: Peter Adamson, Alexander Ballingall, Gary Jackson, David Ronayne
Letters: Peter Adamson, Jamas Enright, James Gould, Matt Kamstra, Thad Richards [AKA Jamas Enright], Sal Yardley [AKA David Ronayne]
Page Count: 52
Print Run: 25
Price: NZ$3.50

  • [01] COVER
  • [02] CONTENTS
  • [03] The FIRST LAW of TIME
  • [04] The TARDIS Manual [Contact/Submission Information]
  • [05] The BOOTCUPBOARD [Letters]
  • [09] ARTICLE: Fanboy Confidential - Throwing Everything into the Mix
  • [16] Comic Translation
  • [19] COMIC: "Tomodachi"
  • [35] FICTION: "The Masters of Luxor" [part 2 of 6]
  • [48] ARTICLE: The Doctor's Cat
  • [49] Herr Josheff Z's - Ze Shell-out Tour
  • [50] REVIEW: Seeing the Unknown
  • [52] COVER

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