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on 27 September 2012
Paul Scoones's very entertaining and enlightening book takes a long, detailed look at the story of the Doctor Who comic strip. While the TV series began in November 1963, it was just one year later that everyone's favourite Time Lord began appearing in the pages of TV Comic. Not that the strip had a great deal of similarity to the show that spawned it, but it must have been reasonably successful as it continued, through the likes of Countdown and TV Action, until 1979. That is the point at which Scoones stops -- presumably the Doctor's revival as the star of his own weekly/monthly comic, and then full-fledged magazine, will form the basis of a second volume.

The book has a lot of background detail, referencing correspondence between the BBC and publishers and this is often fascinating. The artists and writers are credited, where known, and each story is provided with a plot review and personal appraisal by Scoones. He also offers detailed notes on continuity issues, art inconsistencies, and where the strips sit in the chronology of the TV show. The Doctor Who Annuals and Dalek spin-offs get their own sections.

While the book is light on illustrations, and there are no strip reproductions at all, there is a lovely 8-page colour section showcasing the best comic and Annual covers.

For fans of Doctor Who looking for something a bit different, and especially fans of comics history, this is a very worthwhile purchase. However, it probably works best if you're already familiar with the comics themselves.
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Perhaps because comic strips, particularly the ones detailed in this book, have often been viewed as ephemeral, there hasn't been a great deal published in the past about this part of Doctor Who's history.

Paul Scoones' new book more than makes up for that ommission, weighing in at over 600 pages it is an exhaustive account of the Doctor's comic strip adventures, both in TV Comic and later in Countdown and TV Action, as well as the World Distributors annuals, not to mention the Dalek Strips in TV21.

After an introduction that details how TV Comic came to be awarded the rights to produce a Doctor Who strip in the first place, Scoones takes us strip by strip through all the stories produced in TV Comic/Countdown/TV Action, from the Klepton Parasites in 1964 to Size Control in 1979.

After that story, Polystyle Publications who published TV Comic lost the rights for the Doctor Who strip. Marvel UK were in the process of launching a Doctor Who comic, and successfully negotiated the rights away from Polystyle. But that is a whole new story, one which hopefully Scoones will chronicle in a future volume.

Coming back to this book, each story has a brief synopsis, publication date, artist/writer info and general notes which point out any interesting background detail.

After the last Tom Baker story in 1979 is discussed, the book moves on to cover the Doctor's adventures in the 60's and 70's annuals and then the Daleks solo appearances, first in the pages of TV21 and then in their own annuals of the 1970's.

This is primarily a text-based book, although there are eight colour pages in the middle with pictures of various Doctor Who comic strip covers. It would have been nice to have examples of the art under discussion, but the costs of licensing would no doubt have been prohibitive.

The fact that the material under discussion in the book is not currently commercially available means that whilst The Comic Strip Companion is an interesting read in it's own right, it is of more use if you are familiar with the stories discussed.

Hopefully one day the rights will be negotiated to collect the strips and release them in book form as many of them deserve to be appreciated by a wider audience. Notwithstanding this, The Comic Strip Companion is an invaluable guide to the first fifteen years of the Doctor's many and strange adventures in the world of the comic strip.
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on 6 April 2015
Paul Scoones' intelligent, meticulously researched book covers the history of 'Dr.Who' comic-strips from 'T.V. Comic' in 1964 to 1979, taking in along the way a welcome diversion to 'Countdown' ( later to become 'T.V. Action' ). Annuals are also included. It is pleasing to see the author refraining from using sarcasm, a failing of many 'Who' related books. Many strips are better than their reputation would suggest; for instance, 'Time In Reverse' is an ingenious tale where the Doctor and his friends arrive at the end of an adventure, and have to work their way back to the beginning. But it is where 'Countdown' where the series really starts to come to life, with dynamic stories illustrated by the likes of Gerry Haylock. The expression 'labour of love' comes to mind when assessing this book. It is frustrating that the entire run of strips is, at the present time, unavailable in print. However, some are online if you know where to look.
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on 9 January 2013
Information about the Doctor Who strips published by TV Comic in the sixties and seventies is very difficult to come by. The strips have rarely been reprinted; Doctor Who Magazine has only published a handful of articles of the subject in the last thirty years; even the 'Doctor Who Classic Comics' magazine was limited to a handful of editorial pages. So a volume like this is a godsend to anyone interested in those stories.

Unlike books about the tv series, the volume has to present material about its subject matter without assuming that the reader has ever had sight of the strips. Fifteen years of Doctor Who strips, spanning 4 Doctors, are almost unobtainable without spending a fortune on eBay.

The author manages this presentation very well. However, as this is a Telos volume, and the author really knows his stuff, this is more than a collection of story summaries. Each story is analysed, where possible, original production paperwork is discussed, as is the context of each strip. In many ways, it helps to challenge the view that the TV Comic strips are a poor collection of stories that do not deserve a second airing.

This volume helps bring to life its subject matter. Now if only the current rights holder to the strips could be persuaded to begin a series of reprints...
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on 7 January 2014
What can I say? Paul Scoones has created a marvellous guide to an often neglected area of Doctor Who - the comic strip! As a kid I remember Christmas with the arrival of the Doctor Who Annual and this book brings back so many happy memories . . . brilliant!
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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.
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on 14 July 2013
The Doctor Who comics, particularly the early comics, have often tended to be a bit neglected by fandom. Yet they are an important part of the history of the franchise and were of great importance to young fans in the era before Doctor Who novels and audios.

The Comic Strip Companion provides a useful reference tool for the first phase of Doctor Who comics, that is those before the Doctor Who Weekly. This volume includes entries for all the Doctor Who TV Comic strips, the Countdown and TV Action strips, the World Distributors annual strips up to 1979, as well as the TV Century 21 Dalek strips and other strips in Terry Nation's various Dalek spin-off material. Sadly, the book includes no reproductions of strips.

It follows the pattern of so many episode guides, giving a synopsis of each story, as well as continuity details and goofs as well as a critique. Information about these stories can be found online, however, Scoones offers much more detail than has previously been available. What particularly stands out is the wealth of historiographical materail that Scoones collects, providing a clear picture of the publication history of the comics. Regarding the critiques, it can be tedious reading the author's continual laments about the quality of the strips, particularly the Sixties TV Comic strips. I might have liked him to show a little more enthusiasm for his chosen subject matter. On the other hand, I would have liked to have seen some acknowledgement of the racial stereotyping that can be seen in the TV Century 21 Dalek strips (Power Play and Menance of the Monstrons).

The author makes the assumption that the comics are set in an alternate universe and therefore makes no attempt to reconcile them with Doctor Who television continuity. I was very disappointed and consider the alternate universe view a rather lazy assumption. To my mind, a major appeal to the comics is the idea that the Doctor had more adventures than can be seen on television. It would have been so much more interesting had the author attempted to suggest ways to fit these stories in to the wider Doctor Who mythos.

This is definitely a useful book for fans to buy, but it is not the comic companion I would have liked to have read.
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on 8 May 2015
A superb reference book for anyone interested in the first fifteen years of Doctor Who in comic form. It's a shame there are no examples of the actual strips but the entries are informative and fairly detailed.
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on 9 January 2013
We bought this for someone who is a Dr Who fan but has some other difficulties. It was a good book but not for yhose who need more pictorial input
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