The brilliant writing team behind the new adventures of the Eleventh Doctor, Al Ewing and Rob Williams, have very generously taken some time from their hectic schedules to answer a few questions for us. In the past they have both written for 2000a.d., as well as other excellent projects such as Cla$$war and Jennifer Blood. But now they are collaborating on Doctor Who for Titan Comics.
MJ: Thank you very much for taking the time to have a few words with our readers. We’ve really been enjoying the continuing adventures of the Eleventh Doctor.
Your collaborative trading-off of writing detail is something I’ve never seen before. Do you sometimes find yourselves quibbling over who gets to tell which stories?
RW: No, it’s all very structured. Structure’s vital in writing and that makes co-writing possible. Al & I batter out the series A plot between us, then we have 15 issues in a ‘season’ and we split them in half. Some issues are co-written, some are two-parters with each of us taking one half. But we both have our bits to write, then they get passed back and fore so we can edit a wee bit. And certain issues were just done in the structure as ‘Al issue’ or ‘Rob issue’, and then it’s up to us to pitch individually. The structure makes it work, then you fit the ideas within that.
AE: We pretty much decided who does what issues from the off, so it all fits in relatively easily. We’ve got a pretty good idea of where we’re starting and ending each issue, and what needs to go in in terms of the larger plot, and how it all works out. And we have regular meet-ups and Skype chats to make sure errant bits of plot aren’t getting away from us, and we’re on course to finish things up properly. There was a lot of planning and thinking that went in early on which means that now, coming to the end of the ‘season’, we just have to make smallish adjustments where necessary.
MJ: Issue 6 gave us a brilliant bit of “timey-wimey” in Doctor Who meets Momento. Can we look forward to more “timey-wimey” adventures in future issues?
RW: Al’s done something very ambitious and structurally interesting with #11, which is on a par with #6. I think that’s one thing we can be a bit proud of with this series of Doctor Who. You can’t accuse us of just banging out licenses comics. We’ve tried to play with the comics form, push strange ideas. #6, for instance, telling a comic in reverse, so the opening page is the end and The Doctor is the only one who realises time is reversing… That’s a bugger to write, very complex to make work. But hopefully the end comic is something adventurous and has some energy about it. We wanted to make these comics feel vital. Hopefully we’ve achieved that.
AE: My #11 is a little more ‘spacey-wacey’ than ‘timey-wimey’, but I definitely ended up making it a response to #6 – I figured it was too good an issue not to have another like it! I won’t spoil the mechanics, but it’s been heavily influenced by other artistic experiments in licensed comics – there’s a particular issue of Futurama that leant some DNA to the mix. It’s going to be fascinating seeing what people make of it.
MJ: Are there any monsters from the Eleventh Doctor’s run that you would like to see make a return during your tenure?
RW: From the TV show? Erm, keep watching the skies and you might get a classic Who baddy popping up, in a fashion. I don’t know – I like the fact that we set out to try and create our own monsters, for the most part. And sometimes, in the most recent two-parter in #9–#10, that may even be The Doctor himself… But it would be nice to have a crack at the Daleks at some point. Who wouldn’t want to write the Daleks?
AE: The Dream Lord might be an interesting villain to bring back, but in a way, we already have – the CEO functions as a kind of ‘evil Doctor’, so bringing back another sinister version of the Doctor on top of that might be too much of a good thing. In terms of classic series villains – I do have a fondness for Salamander, and for quite a while at the very start of the process I was wanting to bring him back. Matt Smith versus Patrick Troughton! Can you imagine? If I don’t end up doing that, I hope someone does.
MJ: David Tennant and Matt Smith had great chemistry together in “The Day of the Doctor”. And their respective Doctors seemed to really enjoy each others’ company, an oddity in Doctor Who mythology. Do you think there might be a crossover to reunite these two Doctors in the future?
RW: I believe that’s on the way soon, in a Titan Comics crossover written by Paul Cornell, who wrote several of the TV shows, including the well regarded “Human Nature”. Oh, and Neil Edwards is drawing it, and Neil’s very good.
AE: Yep – Paul’s handling that one, and frankly I can’t wait to see his take on our companions. And I love Neil’s stuff – we worked together on an Iron Man digital comic, Fatal Frontier, where he was an absolute lifesaver with some utterly wonderful work, so I can’t wait to see how he handles whatever Paul’s cooking up.
MJ: Al, we’ve seen some rather inventive alternate history tales in your Pax Britannia novel series. Are there any plans for alternate histories in your run on Doctor Who?
AE: Not as yet! It’s a nice thought, though. Although I suppose most historicals in Doctor Who end up being alternate histories – there weren’t really volcano aliens in Pompeii, for example, or invisible beasties menacing Van Gogh. So that kind of ‘what if’ is already in place, to an extent.
MJ: Rob, with Cla$$war, we saw your infusion of political satire with science fantasy. Is there any chance, we will get to see some of that in your run on Doctor Who?
RW: Oh I’m sure you already have. In #1, for instance, where we decided to drop a giant misery-quaffing alien dog in the middle of the House of Commons to chase the Prime Minister around. Being thoroughly annoyed with politicians is never far away for me.
Thank you again, Rob and Al, for your time and insight. Readers, as always we welcome your comments. Feel free to take a moment and enter them below.