If you would like to buy either SOMETHING FAST or BURKE & HARE but are worried about using credit cards or PayPal, please email wfpickering@yahoo.com for alternative payment instructions.

This is my public access blog. Friends can find more private musings at pickeringscorner.blogspot.co.uk

31.10.11

Agents of TIME

This is my strip from 24 Hour Comic Day 2011, written and drawn at Plan B Books in Glasgow between 3pm on Friday 30th September and 2pm on Saturday 1st October. Thanks to Tom and Pete for the coffee and to Garry McLaughlin of Cosmic Designs for organising things. If I'd tried to do this at home alone I'd have given up halfway through!






















15.9.11

Where I Have Been. What I Have Been Doing.

It's been an interesting summer.

The Glasgow Comic Festival went very well, and Burke & Hare won two of the inaugural Scottish Independent Comicbook Awards (Best Writer and Best Graphic Novel). I did my first convention panels, alongside the likes of David Lloyd, Jon Haward and Frank Plowright, and the whole thing ended up with a rather marvellous party and the artistic desecration of some game young ladies' alabaster epidermes. Only the following morning did anyone sober up enough to think that maybe water-based ink, rather than Sharpie marker, might have been a kinder medium for that...

The con's organisers are also behind Black Hearted Press, a new comics publisher with several titles on the slate. Black Maria and Laptop Guy have had debut issues out already, and School of the Damned #1 is back from the printers and ready to ship. Next up after that, though, is Black Hearted Love, a romance anthology with a twist for which I've drawn a couple of pages - more info on release dates when I have it.

I landed some work as an extra on World War Z, about which all I'm allowed to say is that it involved a lot of running. Really, a lot. It's a good job I've lost weight this year, because six months ago I wouldn't have made it through the first day. Great fun though. The film comes out in December 2012, just in time for no-one to see it because the world's ended.

The same day as my costume fitting for that, I attended the crew screening of another movie I'm in: Electric Man, a low-budget heist comedy about comic collectors in Edinburgh. A whole bunch of Scottish comics people appear as background, mostly in the convention scene, although Gaf Austin of Deadhead Comics has the best cameo of all.

Bad news: Wasted magazine has gone onto an online-only hiatus for what appear to mostly financial reasons, so it looks unlikely I'll be drawing any more any more of Alan Grant's It Came From Outer... Spaced! any time soon. SICBA Best Artist Alex Ronald's Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht is also temporarily homeless, but I gather he has plans afoot for it.

These things happen, as we know. The good news: Burke & Hare has a new publisher! The first edition will continue to be available in the UK direct from the website while stocks last, but Gary Reed, formerly of Caliber Press, is now handling international orders through his Transfuzion imprint - the new edition appears in this month's Diamond Previews under order code SEP11 1245 for distribution in November. Gary also published Martin's and my first collaboration, an issue of the spooky-detective series Raven Chronicles, more years ago than I care to consider, and it's a pleasure to be working with him again. The new front cover is once again by the redoubtable Rian Hughes, and looks (of course) great. If we're very lucky we might have a few collector's-item import copies for sale at Thought Bubble, but it depends on the timing.

Right now I'm juggling half a dozen projects at once, and looking forward to 24 Hour Comic Day at the end of the month. Life is pretty good.

15.6.11

It's Back!

The SOMETHING FAST COLLECTED EDITION is back in stock - it just arrived from the printers. Huzzah! I'll have copies with me at the Glasgow Comic Con on Saturday, priced at a tenner so I don't have to faff about with change - or you can purchase it direct from the link in the sidebar here at cover price.



184 pages of snappy dialogue, over-the-top action, weirdass conspiracy theories and psychic hoodoo; plus of course my usual impeccable period detail based on extensive research - I was in the nineties for ten years, how's that for dedication? All digitally remastered, as they used to say in the Old Times.









"Something Fast was the first small press comic I ever read. I remember reading it back in the day and thinking "I wanna do this"… It was pure genius."
– Jim (Ganjaman) Stewart

11.4.11

What Cebulski Didn't See

It's a pity Marvel talent scout CB Cebulski had to cancel his portfolio review session at the London Cartoon Museum on Friday. Oh well, maybe next year. At least I was spending the rest of the weekend at Kapow! anyway, so my disappointment was less acute than some people's.

Most of the stuff I had to show was my general portfolio, but I did knock out a couple of pages specially...


Even I'm surprised how strongly the influence of John Romita Senior shows through, but those were the Spider-Man comics I read as a kid and his character likenesses are still definitive for me. I'm also pleased that the scenario I came up with gave me an excuse to get the classic half-mask effect in there!

31.3.11

21.3.11

Talking About Comics at the Glasgow Film Festival

ON WRITING:

Mark Millar is the best-selling author of Kick-Ass, Wanted, The Ultimates and more. After a few early flops, he reinvigorated his career in the 199os with a period as kid sidekick to the mighty Grant Morrison, before going on to eclipse his mentor with a less cerebral, more populist style of writing that left fewer readers scratching their heads in confusion and so lent itself readily to translation for the big screen. A master self-publicist as well as an unstoppable character factory, he probably has a stronger claim than anyone to being the Stan Lee of the 21st Century.


ON DRAWING:

Frank Quitely is the artist of The Greens, WE3, Flex Mentallo, and well-regarded runs on New X-Men and Batman and Robin, amongst other things. By his own admission not the most punctual scribbler in the business, with a tendency to overthink composition at the expense of actually drawing (hmm, sounds familiar), he keeps getting work anyway because he's just so damn good.


ON INTERACTIVITY:

Mika Stoyanova is an American academic working with the concept of heterotopia, or playspace, and the ways in which people - particularly gamers - interact with fictional worlds. One of her themes is that postmodern critical theorists have underestimated the interactivity of traditional artforms, and that narrative media such as comics and film offer a route to rediscovering the transformative rather than purely decorative role of art in human personal development.

All sketches drawn at A7 size with 0.2mm Unipin fineliner, February 2011.

27.1.11

An Adaptation Experiment

The first episode of one of the great "lost" Doctor Who stories, broken down into comic panels from the original TV script. As a 22-pager, it averages about 8-9 panels a page, which sounds pretty cramped but is actually normal for European, rather than American, comics. And that's with virtually no editing of dialogue: this is a talky 1960s teleplay, the intro to a six-part story, and a lot of that panel count comes from conversation and inset detail rather than spectacular action. Episode 6, which would likely feature at least one full-page splash, might prove harder to squeeze into the format. It's interesting to compare the differing parameters of the two media though.

THE POWER OF THE DALEKS
EPISODE 1
Written by DAVID WHITAKER
Adapted for Comics by WILL PICKERING

Page 1

Panel 1
Half page splash to include title and credits. Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor is regenerating. He lies prone in the foreground, his face obscured by a transformative glow as Ben and Polly watch in amazement from further back
POLLY : Hey Ben, look!

Panel 2
Closeup on the Doctor’s new face, peacefully asleep.

Panel 3
Ben crouches over the Doctor, but appears distracted.
BEN : He's breathing, and the TARDIS seems to be normal.

Panel 4
Wider shot. Ben has stood up again.
POLLY : Ben, what are we going to do? We can't just leave the Doctor there.
BEN : What, him? The Doctor?

Panel 5
Polly and Ben, large midshot so we can see both their faces with plenty of room for dialogue.
POLLY : Well that's who came through the doors - there was no one else outside. Ben, do you remember what he said in the tracking room? Something about 'This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.'
BEN : So he gets himself a new one?
POLLY : Well, yes.
BEN : Do me a favour!
POLLY : Then whatever happened, happened in here.
BEN : But it's impossible!

Panel 8
Closeup on Polly.
POLLY : Not so long ago we'd have been saying that about a lot of things.

Page 2

Panel 1
The stranger on the floor moans. Ben and Polly look down, and notice that the stranger is slowly opening his eyes.

Panel 2-3
The small man struggles to sit up, but immediately clasps his head as he is inflicted by a searing pain.

Panel 4
The stranger looks at Ben and Polly, but his vision is distorted from the effect of his transformation.

Panel 5
Continuing to hold his throbbing head, the stranger begins to mutter.
DOCTOR : Slower. Slower. Concentrate on one thing. One thing.

Panels 6-7
The Doctor peers in concentration at the TARDIS console. Gradually, the panel of knobs, dials and levers focus clearly in his eyes.

Panel 8
Relieved, the Doctor smiles broadly.
DOCTOR : It's over. Hmm, hmm, hmm. It's over.

Panel 9
The Doctor staggers to his feet, and grabs hold of the TARDIS console to steady himself. He operates a number of controls. Ben and Polly hear the familiar sound of dematerialisation.
BEN : Doctor?


Page 3

Panels 1-2
The Doctor staggers against the console a second time, causing his ring to fall from his finger. It clatters on to the floor.

Panel 3
Completely ignoring the ring, the Doctor removes his predecessor's cloak, revealing an assortment of oversized clothes (giving the Doctor a very tramp-like appearance). He hobbles over to a storage chest in the corner.
DOCTOR : (muttering to himself) The muscles are still a bit tight.

Panel 4
Ben and Polly watch in confusion as the Doctor pokes his head into the chest, and begins to rummage through the contents.
BEN : What are we going to do?
POLLY : It is the Doctor. I know it is -- I think.

Panel 5
Ben walks over to confront the 'stranger'.
BEN : It's not only his face that's changed - he doesn't even act like him. Come on, it's time we sorted this out.
BEN (LINK): Now look here!

Panel 6
The 'stranger' thrusts a mirror into Ben's hands.
DOCTOR : Hold that. Tilt it.

Panels 7-9
As Ben obeys the Doctor's order, the Doctor stares deep into the mirror. At first he sees an image of his current face. But suddenly this changes into an image of his predecessor. The Doctor stares at the image in confusion. The image eventually turns back to that of his current self.


Page 4

Panel 1
Grunting in satisfaction, the Doctor begins to search through his pockets.
BEN : (referring to the mirror) Have you done with this?
DOCTOR : Put it down. Put it down.
BEN : Now, what's the game?

Panel 2
Ignoring Ben, the Doctor pulls out an ornamental dagger from one of his pockets.

Panel 3
He examines the object thoughtfully.
DOCTOR : Ah! The Crusades, from Saladin. The Doctor was a great collector wasn't he!
POLLY : But you're the Doctor!

Panel 4
Closeup. the Doctor looks mischeivous.
DOCTOR : Oh? I don't look like him.

Panel 5
The Doctor places the dagger back in his pocket, and then brings out a dull-looking piece of metal.
BEN : Who are we?
DOCTOR : Don't you know?

Panel 6
Another closeup, this time fearful.
DOCTOR : Extermination.

Panel 7
Ben and Polly look at each in mutual puzzlement. The Doctor replaces the metal back in his pocket, and gives a cry of joy when he discovers a magnifying glass.

Panel 8
Peering through the magnifying glass, the Doctor studies his hands.
DOCTOR : Very good. Nails need growing.

Panel 9
Ben picks up the ring from the floor.

Panel 10
Ben grabs the Doctor's hand, and slips the ring on.
BEN : Now look, the Doctor always wore this. So if you're him, it should fit now, shouldn't it?

Panel 11
However, the ring is far too big for the Doctor's finger and slips off again.
BEN : There - that settles it.

Panel 12
Closeup. The Doctor, imperious.
DOCTOR : I'd like to see a butterfly fit into a chrysalis case after it's spread its wings.


Page 5

Panel 1
POLLY : Then you did change!
DOCTOR : Life depends on change -- and renewal.
BEN : (sarcastically) Oh so that's it, you've been renewed have ya?

Panel 2
The Doctor rushes back to the storage chest, and begins to search through the vast array of items.
DOCTOR : (taking Ben's remark seriously) I've been renewed have I? That's it, I've been renewed! It's part of the TARDIS - without it, I couldn't survive.

Panel 3
DOCTOR :Come here! (softly) Come here. The Doctor kept a diary, didn't he?
POLLY : Yes.
DOCTOR : I thought so. I wonder where. I wonder where.

Panel 4
Ben and Polly watch silently as the Doctor pockets a number of objects, sometimes chuckling to himself with childish glee.
POLLY : He's a very different Doctor, Ben.
BEN : Yeah, maybe. Just where do we stand, though?

Panels 5-8
Suddenly, an expression of joy appears on the Doctor's face, as he pulls a tattered recorder from the storage box. He immediately blows a short tune on the recorder, while shuffling a few steps of a dance at the same time. At the conclusion of the tune, the Doctor deposits the recorder into a pocket.

Panel 9
He pulls out another object from the chest - his 500 year diary.

Panel 10
He starts to flick through the pages.
POLLY : Doctor? Doctor, what's going to happen to us?
DOCTOR : I think... I think we must have landed for sometime. I think it's time we went for a stroll.

Panel 11
The Doctor grabs a tall-peaked hat from the chest, and places it on his head.

Panel 12
With his eyes firmly placed on the diary's contents, the Doctor walks over to the console and flicks a switch.

Page 6

Panel 1
The TARDIS doors glide open. Continuing to read the diary, the Doctor walks out of the TARDIS.
POLLY : But you don't know where we've landed!
BEN : No! You haven't checked the oxygen or the temperature or anything!

Panel 2
DOCTOR : (not looking up from the diary) Oxygen density 172, radiation nil, temperature 86, strong suggestion of mercury deposits. Satisfied, Ben? Now, are you two coming or are you not?

Panel 3
POLLY : He does know us! He said 'Ben', didn't you hear him?
BEN : Yeah, I heard. But he might just have been copying you though, mightn't he?

Panel 4
Large establishing shot.
The TARDIS has landed in a rough, mist-covered landscape. The ground is littered with rock formations and small bubbling pools of liquid. At regular intervals, a small spray of liquid is emitted from one of the pools, causing the rocks to be covered by a small silver filament. Oblivious to the surroundings, the Doctor strolls by one of the pools, his concentration completely on the diary. The Doctor strolls directly towards a small pool of hissing mercury, apparently unaware of the danger.

Panel 5
Just as he is about to step into the pool, he stops abruptly, and turns a page of his diary. He laughs as he reads the contents of the diary.
DOCTOR : (shouting back) Are you coming you two?

Panel 6
Without looking where he is walking, the Doctor continues around the pool. He is able to successfully traverse the edge of the pool without even glancing up.


Page 7

Panel 1
The Doctor's concentration is interrupted when he detects the sounds of movement ahead. The Doctor looks up, and notices a medium-sized rock blocking his path.

Panel 2
Pulling a tape measure from one of his pockets, the Doctor measures the rock.

Panel 3
He then taps his legs mischievously.
DOCTOR : Time I put you through some tests I think!

Panels 4-6
The Doctor moves back a short distance, carefully studying the rock in front of him. Suddenly, he breaks into a run, and successfully leap-frogs the rock.

Panel 7
A man in a space tunic strolls into view.
THE EXAMINER : Hello? Hello? Is there anyone there? Hello? Hello? Why don't they come? (noticing the Doctor) Ah, so you've come at last. I'm from Earth. I'm the Examin...

Panel 8
Suddenly, a shot rings out. The Examiner collapses at the Doctor's feet, mortally wounded.


Page 8

Panel 1
The Doctor glances around his surroundings in startled surprise.

Panel 2
He is about to rush behind the rock, when he looks back to the victim on the ground.

Panel 3
Realising that the man could still be alive, the Doctor cautiously moves towards the body and kneels next to it. His worst suspicions are confirmed - the man is dead. The Doctor notices a badge attached to the dead man's uniform.

Panel 4
He removes his predecessor's wire-rimmed spectacles from a pocket, and places them on.

Panel 5
However, when the Doctor attempts to examine the badge, all he sees is a misty blur.

Panel 6
Realising that his new incarnation has no need for spectacles, the Doctor removes the glasses, and places them back in his pocket.

Panel 7
The Doctor then turns his attention back to the Badge.
DOCTOR : Earth Examiner. Accord every access. Vulcan.

Panel 8
As the Doctor searches the Examiner's body for further information, a figure begins to move in. The figure is wearing a shiny silver suit and a large helmet, which completely obscures the stranger's appearance. The stranger raises a futuristic-looking pistol to the Doctor's back.


Page 9

Panel 1
Suddenly, Ben's voice shatters the silence.
BEN : Doctor?! Where are you?

Panel 2
The Doctor turns around as he hears Ben's voice. The assassin quickly steps behind a nearby rock, but the Doctor has detected the movement.

Panel 3
The Doctor turns towards the rock, but the stranger has disappeared. Behind the rock, the stranger reverses his hold on the pistol - he now intends to use it as a bludgeon.

Panel 4
Ben and Polly have emerged from the TARDIS, and are closely examining one of the mercury pools. Both are oblivious to the fumes slowly drifting up from the active mercury geyser.
BEN : Whoa, ain't it hot!
POLLY : Hmm, do you think the air's like this everywhere?
BEN : Nah - might be just around here. Don't want too many lungfuls of it, I know that. Here, when I was a kid, we used to live opposite a brewery. You could take a walk and get tipsy all in one go!

Panel 5
Polly kneels next to the pool for a closer look.
POLLY : It's beautiful.
BEN : No, don't touch it Polly!

Panel 6
POLLY : I wasn't going to.
BEN : No, it's quicksilver - it gets through the pores. Where is the Doctor, or whatever he is, got to?

Panel 7
As Ben looks around for the Doctor, a jet of steam is suddenly emitted from the mercury geyser. It sprays all over Polly's face. She coughs and splutters.
BEN : What's the matter? Hey, Polly!

Panel 8
As Ben kneels next to her, Polly suddenly falls unconscious and collapses against him. Ben cries out.
BEN : Hey, Doctor - wherever you are. Quick, there's something happening to Polly!

Page 10

Panel 1
The Doctor, still holding the Examiner's badge, strides towards Ben's voice, but unbeknownst to the Doctor, this brings him closer to the helmetted stranger.
BEN (OFF): Quick, over this way!

Panel 2
The figure suddenly emerges from behind the rock, and strikes the Doctor on the head with the pistol. The Doctor is knocked unconscious.

Panels 3-4
In the Doctor's motionless hand, the stranger carefully places a button.

Panel 5
The stranger then proceeds to drag the Examiner's body away.

Panel 6
Meanwhile, Ben is trying to lift Polly to her feet. Suddenly, another jet of toxic vapour is emitted from the mercury geyser.
BEN : Doctor!
Like Polly, Ben begins to cough and splutter.

Panel 7
Slowly, Ben fades into unconsciousness.

Panel 8
Ben's last vision is of a white-suited figure approaching, with a pistol held firmly in his hand.


Page 11

Panel 1
Later. Two more white-suited figures have discovered the Doctor. The younger of the two is Quinn, while the older man is Bragen. Pretending to be unconscious, the Doctor listens as Bragen walks over to Quinn.
BRAGEN : Ah, Quinn, there you are. What have you got there? My people have found two more of them by one of the pools.
QUINN : (indicating the Doctor) This one's got a nasty bruise on the back of his head. Fallen over his feet, and knocked himself out, I suppose.

Panel 2
BRAGEN : I suppose so.
QUINN : Why don't they use the kit we send them?
BRAGEN : Yes, the other two have had a rather bad dose of the fumes - the girl has anyway.

Panel 3
QUINN : Girl?
BRAGEN : Yes, but she'll recover.

Panel 4
QUINN : These comic opera guards of yours do have some uses after all.
BRAGEN : I pick them for their physical fitness.
QUINN : I thought it wasn't for their IQ. Give me a hand with the Examiner, will you.

Panel 5
BRAGEN : I wonder why Earth has chosen to send an Examiner to Vulcan? Just now, I mean.
QUINN : I don't know.
BRAGEN : It's a mystery, isn't it? He isn't due for another two years.

Panel 6
Meanwhile, Ben is slowly recovering from the effects of the fumes. Quinn walks over towards him.
QUINN : How do you feel?
BEN : Ahh.

Panel 7
QUINN : We saw your rocket overshoot the landing area.
BEN : Eh?
QUINN : Don't worry - most of the ships from Earth do over-shoot. I'm Quinn, Deputy Governor.
BRAGEN : Bragen, Head of Security.

Page 12

Panel 1
QUINN : Let's get all back shall we? I'll take the girl.
BRAGEN : (to two guards) Here, you two, help carry the Examiner (indicates the Doctor).

Panels 2-3
Quinn grins at Bragen. As soon as Quinn turns his back, Bragen directs a look of hatred towards Quinn.

Panel 4
BRAGEN : (turning back to Ben) I suppose you Earth people can't wait to examine Lesterson's space capsule?
BEN : Eh?

Panel 5
One of the guards picks up the Doctor's 'unconscious' body.

Panel 6
Ben is surprised when the Doctor's eyes suddenly open, wink at him, and then close again.

Panel 7
Large. Lesterson is sitting in his laboratory polishing a dull-coloured piece of metal. A large space capsule dominates one side of the laboratory. Lesterson's assistant, Janley, walks into the room.
JANLEY : Lesterson.
LESTERSON : Look at this.


Page 13

Panel 1
JANLEY : They've just brought in an Examiner from Earth, and a couple of assistants.
LESTERSON : An Examiner? What's he here for?
JANLEY : I thought you'd know.

Panel 2
LESTERSON : Ah, it's the capsule, it must be. Ah, they can't stop me working on it, I'll tell you that.

Panel 3
JANLEY : Could anyone?
LESTERSON : The Governor's always been difficult about it. But surely they wouldn't send someone all the way from Earth just to...
JANLEY : Look, what about the meeting?

Panel 4
LESTERSON : Meeting?
JANLEY : Yes - I've arranged everything. Can we still use the old rocket room?

Panel 5
LESTERSON : Yes, I suppose so. But I do wish you wouldn't get mixed up with these pressure groups, Janley.
JANLEY : Somebody has to do something. The colony's running down and you know it.
LESTERSON : I'm too busy.
JANLEY : But, if we ran things, you'd have better facilities, more money. I wish you'd take an interest.

Panel 7
LESTERSON : Now look, I don't mind letting you have the use of one of my rooms now and again, Janley, but don't try to involve me. This is what I find important. Two hundred years in a mercury swamp. (indicating the piece of metal) : And this piece of metal that dropped from it. Look - a couple of minutes polishing and it's as good as new.

Panel 8
JANLEY : (bored) Wonderful.
LESTERSON : Rain, damp, heat, mercury - nothing touches this metal. No corrosion, Janley, think of that.

Panel 9
Janley strides from the room. Lesterson watches her leave, a worried expression on his face.
JANLEY : Well, I hope the Examiner lets you go on with your experiment. Frankly, I doubt it. I think the Governor's brought the Examiner here to stop you opening the capsule. You should join our group, Lesterson. You might need us one day.


Page 14

Panel 1
The Doctor, Ben and Polly have been left to rest in a small room. The Doctor is blowing absent-mindedly on his recorder.
BEN : So the murdered man was the real Examiner?
Nodding, the Doctor blows a series of notes on the recorder.
BEN : Well, did you see who did it?
The Doctor shakes his head, blowing a high-pitched note.

Panel 2
Polly holds out the button for all to see.
POLLY : The Doctor got this button though.

Panel 3
BEN : I think it's pretty dull around here - I don't know why we don't just go back to the TARDIS.
The Doctor again shakes his head, blowing a high-pitched note.
POLLY : Doctor, are you going to let them think you're the real Examiner?

Panel 4
The Doctor nods mischievously, blowing a "Yes" note on the recorder.

Panel 5
POLLY : Won't that be dangerous?
The Doctor pauses, and then blows a "Yes" sequence of notes.

Panel 6
Ben suddenly reaches forward and snatches the recorder from the Doctor's hands.
BEN : Why don't you stop blowing that thing and talk to us properly?
POLLY : Ben!

Panel 7
BEN : Now don't you start - it's bad enough with him!
POLLY : Well, he hasn't done anything.
BEN : No, that's just the trouble! He knows what happened back at the TARDIS - yet will he tell us? Will he come out and say? Will he admit to being the Doctor?

Panel 8
Ben shakes his head, and in mimicking the Doctor, blows a variety of tuneless notes. At that moment, there is a knock on the door.

Panel 9
BEN : Come in!


Page 15

Panel 1
Bragen and Hensell, the Governor of Vulcan, walk into the room. The Doctor takes the button from Polly and pockets it.
HENSELL : I am Hensell, the Governor. I trust you're all feeling much better?
BEN : I've felt worse, Governor. (to himself) The Governor.

Panel 2
HENSELL : If Earth had seen fit to warn us you were coming, we might possibly have been able to guide you down to the landing area.

Panel 3
DOCTOR : If Earth didn't warn you we were coming, Governor, they must have had a very good reason. I wonder what it was?

Panel 4
HENSELL : Now look here - I run this Colony. I'm entitled to know why you have come to Vulcan? What is your brief?
DOCTOR : I am the Examiner.
HENSELL : Why are you here?

Panel 5
The Doctor suddenly moves forward and examines Bragen's uniform. He ignores the look of puzzlement on Bragen's face.
DOCTOR : To examine. And I intend to start my examination at once!
HENSELL : Someone's leaked reports about these Rebel Groups - that's it, isn't it?

Panel 6
The Doctor moves across to scrutinize the Governor's uniform.
DOCTOR : Your turn now Governor.
BRAGEN : There is Lesterson's capsule.
HENSELL : Internal affairs are my business, Bragen. Please don't interfere!

Panel 7
The Doctor seems satisfied with Hensell's uniform and moves back to study Bragen again. Hensell continues talking, but the Doctor looks at Bragen, as if he wishes Bragen to explain.
DOCTOR : Please go on.
HENSELL : The capsule. It was found in a mercury swamp. It must have been here for centuries before the Earth colony arrived. I felt it might be dangerous, it might contain bacteria.



Page 16

Panel 1
DOCTOR : I shall examine the capsule later, you may leave us.
HENSELL : I shall look forward to your report. Bragen, see that the Examiner and his party get some proper clothes, will you?

Panel 2
Hensell, Bragen, and the rest of colonists leave. The Doctor slumps on to a bed.
DOCTOR : (grouchily) We are wearing proper clothes!

Panel 3
As soon as the door closes, the Doctor places the recorder to his lips, and starts playing.
BEN : Oh, how did he get that thing back again? That was a bit of a cheek, wasn't it? Ah, seeing if the Governor was the guy you got the button off?

Panel 4
POLLY : Doctor? When he was talking to you, you were staring at the other man.
DOCTOR : Yes, very rude of me wasn't it - terrible manners. To tell you the truth I was studying his reaction, seeing if he agreed with the story.
BEN : Did he?

Panel 5
DOCTOR : Must have a look at that capsule.
BEN : Now, you want to watch out you don't take this Examiner stuff a bit too far.
DOCTOR : Our answers must come from that mercury swamp.
BEN : 'Cause at least one bloke ain't going to be fooled.
DOCTOR : When Bragen found us, he definitely said space capsule.
BEN : Look, you're not going to fool the guy that did the real Examiner in!

Panel 6
But the Doctor is lost in his own thoughts. Ben sighs in exasperation as the Doctor blows a slow tune on the recorder.


Page 17

Panel 1
In a corridor nearby, Bragen is pinning up a notice on a board. Quinn strides up, clearly agitated.
QUINN : Bragen! What's all this nonsense about having to have a pass to see the Examiner?
BRAGEN : It's the Governor's idea.

Panel 2
QUINN : Surely it doesn't apply to me?
BRAGEN : It's not my order, Quinn. I expect the Governor wants to keep people away from him.
QUINN : It sounded like one of your red-tape ideas.
BRAGEN : It had nothing to do with me.

Panel 3
Frustrated, Quinn walks away, but almost collides with Janley as she hurries around a corner.
QUINN : Right!
JANLEY : Oh!

Panel 4
QUINN : Sorry, Janley.
JANLEY : My fault.
QUINN : Are you all right?

Panel 5
JANLEY : Yes. Lesterson's just cleared me out of his lab. Quinn laughs.
JANLEY : Is the Examiner going to let him open the capsule?
QUINN : I don't know. I'm on my way there now, if I can push past Bragen's army of layabouts.

Panel 6
Janley touches Quinn's left sleeve, which is missing a button.


Page 18

Panel 1
Later, in Lesterson's laboratory, the Doctor studies the strange capsule. The others watch on in anticipation.

Panels 2-3
The Doctor notices the piece of metal that Lesterson was polishing. He picks it up, with a concerned expression on his face.
DOCTOR : Where did you get this?
LESTERSON : It dropped from the capsule.
DOCTOR : Dropped?
LESTERSON : Yes, when it was being hauled into the laboratory. But, you can see, this metal could revolutionize space travel. That's why I'm insisting that we open it. Well, who knows what other marvels there may be inside?

Panel 4
HENSELL : But Lesterson, I didn't think you could open it.
LESTERSON : Well, I have a theory. I'm convinced that the opening mechanism on the other side is either here, or here.

Panels 5-6
While Lesterson is occupied, the Doctor pulls out the piece of metal he was studying in the TARDIS. His concern increases as he compares it with Lesterson's piece. Polly and Ben exchange puzzled looks.
DOCTOR: (in background) Extermination.

Panel 7
LESTERSON : Now, my theory is that I can insert a laser ray in this ridge here. The ray spreads, fuses the opening device and gets us in.

Panel 8
HENSELL : Examiner, I shall have to make it your responsibility.
DOCTOR : A laser? Why not? It shouldn't be too difficult.


Page 19

Panel 1
The laser torch has already been set up in front of the capsule. Lesterson switches on the torch, causing a small beam of light to shine into the entrance area.

Panel 2
Nothing happens.
LESTERSON : Well, we'll try the other side.

Panel 3
Lesterson shines the flame on the right side of the door. Suddenly, there is a crackle from within.

Panel 4
The hatchway door falls open.

Panel 5
Everyone rushes forward simultaneously to stare into the capsule.

Panel 6
The Doctor and Lesterson cautiously step through the entrance door, and into a small empty compartment.
LESTERSON : It's a bit disappointing.
DOCTOR : Not really. This is just an entry bay, isn't it?
LESTERSON : Yes, I suppose so.

Panel 7
The Doctor moves to one of the metal walls and discovers a thin opening in it. However, he remains silent.
HENSELL : Well, this doesn't get us very far does it?
LESTERSON : Ah, getting into the rest of the capsule will take time, Governor.
BEN : Well, can't you use that torch thing again? That must be an opening door.

Panel 8
LESTERSON : Well, I should have to measure it up and find out where the lock mechanism is.
DOCTOR : (hurriedly) And I think we'll leave if for tonight.



Page 20

Panel 1
HENSELL : Leave it for tonight? But what did we come here for?
DOCTOR : (tersely) That is my decision, Governor.
HENSELL : But, good heavens above, man!

Panel 2
DOCTOR : A hundred years you say this has been buried?
LESTERSON : Oh, at least. Now, there must be something in the inner compartment. We shall be able to find out where it came from originally.

Panel 3
DOCTOR : It didn't come from this planet - Vulcan.
LESTERSON : Oh no, no, no. The metal is quite alien.


Panel 4
The Doctor abruptly walks from the room.
DOCTOR : Alien, yes. Very alien. Goodnight.

Panel 5
Ben and Polly follow the Doctor, leaving the colonists to contemplate the situation.
BEN : What's he up to now?
POLLY : Ben, we're not going to let him out of our sight.

Panel 6
HENSELL : Well, Lesterson, you got your way. Was it worth sending for this Examiner? This idiotic Examiner?
LESTERSON : I didn't send for him. I thought you did.

Panel 7
QUINN : Why don't you let me talk to the Examiner, Hensell. I can find out what's he's here for.
HENSELL : No, no, no, no, you keep away from him. We'll leave him to work with Lesterson here. We've all got enough to do without having to worry about some amateur critic from Earth interfering.
QUINN : But with five minutes...

Panel 8
HENSELL : You heard what I said, Quinn. You won't mind keeping the Examiner busy, Lesterson? I don't mind what you do with him so long as you keep his nose out of our business.
LESTERSON : Yes. All right.
HENSELL : All right, well we shall talk about it tomorrow.

Panel 9
Lesterson watches as the rest of the colonists file out of the room. Once alone, he turns back to his workbench.

Panels 10-11
He suddenly realises the piece of metal that he was polishing has disappeared - the 'Examiner' must have taken it. A worried expression appears on Lesterson's face.

Page 21

Panel 1
Later that night, in the sleeping quarters.
POLLY : Ben!

Panel 2
BEN : (waking) What?
POLLY : Shh! He's in the corridor.
BEN : Who is?
POLLY : The Doctor you clod! Come on - quick!

Panel 3
Ben rubs his eyes and follows her out. They are in time to see the Doctor disappear around the end of the corridor.

Panel 4
POLLY : He's going towards Lesterson's lab.
BEN : Of course - to the space capsule.

Panel 5
The Doctor steps into the deserted laboratory, eerily illuminated from the light within the capsule. As the Doctor reaches its entrance, he dips into his pockets and withdraws the two pieces of metal - the one shined by Lesterson, the other from the TARDIS. He disappears into the capsule.

Panel 6
The Doctor creeps up to his discovery in the wall, unaware that Ben and Polly are close behind him. He inserts the shiny piece of metal into the thin opening, and pushes the 'key' home.

Panel 7
There is a hum as the inner door of the capsule slides open.


Page 22

Panel 1
Framed in the doorway, just as the Doctor expected, are two 'dead' Daleks.

Panel 2
He spins around as he hears Ben and Polly's startled gasps.
DOCTOR : Polly, Ben, come in and meet the Daleks.
BEN : What?
DOCTOR : The Daleks.

Panel 3
The Doctor begins to search through the inner chamber.
POLLY : You could have opened this before!
DOCTOR : These two pieces of metal are identical. The Doctor got one of them from the Daleks himself.
BEN : Why do you keep saying the Doctor if you mean you?

Panel 4
DOCTOR : I knew I should find them here, I knew it.
BEN : Ah, they look harmless, not very lively.
POLLY : What do you think? Two hundred years in a swamp and you wouldn't look very lively either. Nothing could live through that could it?
BEN : Live?

Panel 5
DOCTOR : Nothing human. No.
POLLY : Doctor, look!
BEN : What's the matter?

Panel 6
The Doctor has noticed something strange about the floor. He bends down to examine it.
DOCTOR : There were three Daleks in here! What's happened to the other one?

Panel 7
Behind the Doctor, a gruesome claw-like appendage crawls from out of the shadows. Paralysed with fear, Ben chokes. Polly gasps, as the Doctor turns to confront the horror.
BEN : Doctor!

TO BE CONTINUED

12.1.11

Introducing: The Deadliest Man in Asia™

It's easy to think of historic cultures as discrete, isolated from each other as much by indexing boundaries as by physical geography; but in fact, at any given time, contacts between ancient civilisations could be pretty sophisticated. Trade goods would pass from hand to hand along the Silk Road or between ports in the Indian Ocean, and while most individuals would certainly stay within fairly narrow bounds from one generation to the next, those few who travelled at all often ranged quite widely over a lifetime. Think of the Crusaders, or the Seljuk Turks. One of the T'ang Dynasty Emperors of China had a general who'd originally come from Iran as a Nestorian Christian missionary – that was in the Eighth Century.

So: it's 12th Century Asia, and our protagonist is a wanderer, a mishmash of cultural influences – a product of two cultures, each with its own honour code and unique style of lethality; fully accepted by neither, he has carved out his own path and lives or dies by his fighting skills. He is… the NINJASSASSIN™!



I haven't yet decided whether he's a Japanese somehow co-opted by the Hashishin, an Ismaili raised by a Ninja clan for some reason, or a second-generation hybrid with a parent from either end of the continent: clearly, the backstory needs a bit of work to make any damn sense at all. But the name is awesome (in the modern, internet fanboy sense), the setting is rich and expansive, and the premise is ideal for a series of self-contained stories in the old pulp style as he travels from place to place. I'd probably need to team up with a writer who knows Asian history better than I do, but there's matter there to work with. Or am I just crazy?

Tuesday Doodles

Maybe it's a bit sick of me, but upon hearing that Michael Moorcock is contemplating having a foot amputated, my initial reaction of sympathy was soon brutally shoved aside by recollection of his 1975 short story The Stone Thing, and its prosthetically-enhanced hero Catharz:

Never play with HeroMachine drunk.

Just kidding, it's actually an ink sketch with (very rough) digital colour. I did have a couple of tries at the best configuration for a nine-fingered hand before settling on the two-thumbed version in the finished piece:


UPDATE: Someone called David Mosley writes,
Hi, just to confirm, all Mike is having amputated tomorrow (Thursday Jan 13th) is the remaining couple of toes on the infected foot. There's currently no plans to amputate the foot (or leg as some blogs are reporting). It's hoped that removing the toes now will mean Mike won't lose the foot later - as long as his post-operative after-care is done properly this time. (Previous shoddy after-care in the US is the reason why he's facing the current round of surgery.)
Moorcock's website, www.multiverse.org, is currently redirecting to random travel sites, so I don't really know any of the background here, but best wishes to the great man anyway.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, his Doctor Who novel is pretty good.