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The Illustrated Doctor Who, but without (many) illustrations.
on 11 October 2012
I must admit to being a bit disappointed with this book. It is published by Telos, a fan publisher, who are usually very heavy on written content, and very low on (like non existent) visuals, and good design content. Their attention to detail is usually top notch and crammed into most of their books - till it bursts, generally. I've often forgiven the lack of illustrative material in their books due to the amount of facts and figures and new information.
This time around we get a book about the Dr Who comics strips. I'd anticipated no pictures again, so was pleasantly surprised by the 8 pages of colour reproductions of various comic and annual covers. Nice as they were to see, the covers didn't help expand on the stories at all. I understand that finance might be the problem for Telos, but I can't help feeling that the lack of illustration diminishes the book from what it could have been.... it's a bit like reviewing a painting exhibition on the radio - you may want to see the pictures talked about, but it isn't going to be possible.
It is the written detail that, up to now (I haven't finished the book as yet... but not far off), has proved disappointing. The page count is many, the type size is very big, the information is thin. I say thin, as much of the material is already available in magazines and on the internet if you do a quick Google search. I'd hoped for more from writers and artists as well as publishers, not just the ones who created and put the comic out, but maybe newer artists and writers reflecting on what went before, for example. I know we are talking about events from 50 years ago nearly, but apart from including fragments of incomplete documentation held in the BBC archive related to the comics which was interesting, there is little more than a list of comic strips titles and plots. This has been done before, and as I said is freely available on the internet if you have access to it. Volume 2, and maybe volume 3, which is/are surely coming holds less interest to me. I imagine Vol 2 would cover the Marvel/Panini years, and there is less mystery about this run of stories, Panini having published their own graphic novels of material with 'commentaries' from artists, writers etc already. Vol 3 may cover the American comics, some of which are out there as Graphic novels too. Who knows?
Looking positively, at least much of the material is gathered together in one place now and is easy to access. Being less generous, the large page count and low word count feels a little bit mercenary, possibly taking the opportunity to 'fleece' Dr Who fans at least twice. A smaller page count and smaller type face size, and therefore (hopefully) a lower price would have been preferred.
Titles and plots, named artists and writers - it's all in there. If this is what your looking for then you'd be looking in the right place. I'm still hoping for a better illustrated overview of the Dr Who comics than this, though I realise I could be waiting a very long time. As such, this volume will have to do for now. It's not a bad book, there's just not really a lot to it.