I was shameless. Absolutely shameless.
I remember ringing Tom Splisbury in the middle of 2015, to gossip about this and that – but in truth the purpose was to make it clear I really wanted to have something in DWM #500. It meant a lot to me. Even then, I didn’t think that something would also include my own illustration…
As it happened, I’d been on the trail of the story of Clayton Hickman, Gareth Roberts and Mark Gatiss’ 2001 pitch for Doctor Who for ages. I certainly recall approaching them in 2010 about it, but at that stage, they weren’t keen. In truth, I can’t remember what changed this time around, but all three were hugely helpful, cooperative and very patient. Clayton in particular, who reconstructed their original pitch document (languishing in bits, in defunct format types, on various computers) just for my benefit.
It was he who suggested I illustrated the piece myself. The thought hadn’t occurred, even though I’d been doing so for Neil Perryman’s ongoing The Wife in Space series of books.
Clayton and I had fun looking through various picture libraries, ‘casting’ the companions Holly and Dan (my art skills, you might already have concluded, are limited, and I need photographic references for everything), although he remained adamant that this Doctor should remain mostly hidden from us. Which made sense. It would be a little crass to give him the likeness of some actor who’d been mentioned in passing 15 years ago and knew nothing about it.
Above are the pencils. And then, below, the first pass at inks and basic colours…You might notice the chap in the middle has shifted backwards. This was because, in short, I was out of my depth (no pun). He was supposed to be leaning in, but I couldn’t ever get him to feel as if he was on the same plane as everyone else. So in the end, I drew a new Dan.
Last thing, at Clay’s suggestion, I lined up books written by him, Gareth and Mark in the shop window.This is no false modesty – I don’t have the ability of the ‘proper’ artists DWM employs. Hah! You might say I’m also lacking on the writing front. It means I doubt I’ll be back again anytime soon in this capacity. But, hey, at least I was there. And in issue 500 to boot. Still means a lot.