If you have ever wondered how the Slyvester McCoy era of Doctor Who would have ended had the BBC not stupidly cancelled the show, you may yet still get the chance. Legendary former Doctor Who script editor (and one-time Starburst editor!), Andrew Cartmel has teamed up with comic book producer Hans Vang in order to create Fan Fiction Illustrated, which will feature comic strip versions of those lost stories.
This exciting new publication is being launched via crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, and only has a few days left to run. Starburst caught up with Andrew and Hans, and quizzed them about this exciting new project, as well as other things.
Starburst: What should we expect to see from Fan Fiction Illustrated?
Hans Vang: You should expect to see a high quality fanzine full of great fan fiction comic strips, some novelettes and short stories, and maybe even some articles - but for the first issue we're sticking with comic strips, that's really the absolute main attraction of FFL.
Andrew Cartmel: Be prepared to be surprised.
What’s prompted you to create this after so many years?
AC: The chance to work in comics, a medium I love, with total creative freedom. Well, almost total - put that bullwhip away, Hans!
Will we see fan fiction from other Who shows like Sarah Jane Adventures?
HV: If a good story comes our way, absolutely. Personally, I would like to try to go even crazier, developing a series out of the Nelvana animated series pitch, using the artwork available on the internet as inspiration. I'd like to see The Daleks have their own stories, I'd like to see representations of things like Rose - Defender of the Earth, or whatever that spin-off show was supposed to be called before it was canned. I'd like to see lots of nutty things like that in the 'zine down the line, and I have a feeling other people would also like to see those ideas represented as something tangible rather than an idea floating in the ether.
What elements of the Master Plan should we expect to see?
AC: The Darker Doctor, of course.
It’s called Fan Fiction Illustrated. What other fandoms do you intend to cover?
HV: Whatever we fancy, really. But Fan Fiction Illustrated is meant as a sort of banner title, under which several fanzines could appear, specialising in one franchise or another, rather than strictly doing a magazine with a mix of things.
How different would the newer series of Doctor Who be now, had you been able to enact your Master Plan?
AC: In many ways - particularly the character of the companion - the new series is a natural extension of where we were going. Rose was a direct descendant of Ace.
Knowing what you know now, if you could have done one thing different during your time with Doctor Who, what would it be?
AC: To write a whole bunch of episodes. But whenever I think about that, I realise it would have meant sacrificing some of the stories by my writers - and it would be hard, if not impossible, to imagine the series without the great scripts crafted by this talented crew.
You cite the excellent Vworp! Vworp! as an inspiration. What artists do you have lined up, and what else should we be looking out for?
HV: I've hijacked friends in the comics industry with whom I've worked in the past to illustrate things for the first issue, as there really wasn't much hope of finding enough submissions to be able to boil it down to something of high enough quality, something worth printing, something worth spending your money on. And that's important to me as an editor - if I wouldn't want to buy it myself, it's not good enough - not even when I'm editing a fanzine. The main objective of this exercise, for myself and for Andrew at least, is to have fun. That said, there's not much point to the whole thing if we just include every scrap of content sent to us without looking on it with a critical eye, editing and conversing with the writers. I'm constantly looking for talent with whom to work in the future, so I also look upon this as a sort of development program for another project of my own that I intend to spend the rest of my life on.
What future projects do you have planned?
AC: I have a series of mystery thrillers coming out around Christmas, a trio of novels concerning a record collector turned detective. Keep an eye out for them. They're a real labour of love, and the best thing I've ever done.
HV: I've got a project planned that I intend to spend the rest of my life on, to one extent or another. It's a comics project that could potentially change the way comics are distributed in the future. I'm currently looking for investors.
What work do you wish you’d created? How would it be different?
AC: I don't think in that way. If I love a TV show or book (eg The Mentalist by Bruno Heller or Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch) I enjoy it because of the specific way the writer has created it. I couldn't imagine myself doing it better than the person who thought it up. I can do my 'own' stuff better.
HV: I really don't want to have created any of the things I love - I'd be unable to enjoy them the same way, I think.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book for company, what would that book be?
AC: The complete Encyclopaedia Britannica.
HV: Gosh, that's an impossible question. Right now? Today? Probably The Star Wars Trilogy novelization. I've been enjoying the Star Wars saga again recently, so that's off the top of my mind. If I were a masochist, I'd probably bring a cook book - full of pictures!
What inspires you?
AC: Although I'm not a huge classical fan, Stravinsky is a person who inspires me, because he never grew old or stale or fixed in his work. He just kept on changing, evolving and improving throughout a long creative life. US TV drama in general I admire (I don't know if I'd say it inspires me) because it's so goddamn much better than what we have in Britain.
HV: I'm very inspired by television. I adore television. Since Buffy, as mentioned above, I've adored television. I am so infatuated by the idea of getting 22 or 13 hours of great storytelling per year, rather than 2 hours every few years in a cinema. I love serialised storytelling to death.
I learned to write by watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a teenager, when it appeared on television in Denmark. So Joss Whedon, I guess. There's not really any one author that has influenced me, I'm more influenced by ideas and good work than individual authors. I respect authors very much, and there are two or three authors that I would like to work with for the rest of my life, but that's the editor/producer talking.
George Lucas is also a great inspiration to me. I still feel that special magical, almost tingling feeling when I think back to being a six year old watching a behind the scenes documentary on television about the making of Willow or the making of Indiana Jones... That feeling of magic is something George Lucas will always represent for me. This independent filmmaker's stories and works, that are so colorful and so wonderful, will always hold a very special place in my heart indeed.
Simpsons or Futurama?
HV: Honestly? Neither. Family Guy all the way.
Coke or Pepsi?
AC: I don't drink stuff that comes out of a factory.
Truth or Beauty?
AC: I'm shallow. Give me beauty every time.
HV: What's the difference?
Rose or Dorothy?
AC: Got to be loyal. The latter.
HV: Dorothy, I think. She didn't need a Tardis to go home - just a pair of shoes.
Tom Baker or Matt Smith?
AC: Hmm. Now that's an interesting question. Damn close call. The production values are so much better in Matt Smith's era that it's not really a fair comparison. In the end I'd have to go with Tom because of the sheer scale of the body of work during his tenure.
HV: Tom Baker, obviously.
The website for Fan Fiction Illustrated’s IndieGoGo page can be found by clicking on the pic below...