Miwk Publishing has been publishing quality TV, film and drama related books for three years and has amassed an impressive catalogue of titles, and with more to come within the next eighteen months, so we took the opportunity to talk to head honcho Matt West to discover a little bit more about them.
STARBURST: You've just announced a whole raft of new books...
Matt West: We have indeed. I’m not sure if paper’s the right thing to build a raft from though as it gets quite mushy when in contact with water. Some of these are second volumes of books already announced; others have been teased with inserts on recent books like ‘Wallowing in Our Own Weltschmerz’.
Which titles are the follow-up volumes?
The two Man-Books; ‘Hooded Man’ volume two by Andrew Orton is all about Robin of Sherwood, this time focussing on the third series with Jason Connery (who’s also provided the foreword and is lovely in every way – very supportive). The other is ‘The Invisible Man’ volume 2 by Steve Hogarth, the lead singer with Marillion. The first volume was very successfully and we’re nailing bits of wood to the windows in readiness for volume two’s pre-orders in a few weeks.
Jessica Martin's book is an unusual foray into fiction for Miwk...
Not as unusual as you may think! I’ve wanted to do graphic novels since we started, but they don’t come cheap. A good artist is hard to find; and a good artist is rarely cheap! Even at a standard page rate, a 150-or-so page book is going to set you back a fair few quid. The other issue was finding something that fit into our range. We wanted to retain the focus on film, TV and performing arts and the graphic novels that came our way were just too tenuous. We also chanced our arm with getting hold of some licenses such as The Tomorrow People, Timeslip and Blake’s 7, but we hit brick walls with all of them with either no response from the relevant parties or in the case of two of those, no-one that currently owns the rights giving a damn. It’s such a shame that these older series are so neglected. Fremantle could make a few quid for no effort on their part, but they’re just not interested.
But then there was a documentary on Clara Bow on BBC Four a few years back which I was over-the-moon about. My main interest isn’t television but film, and I’m especially interested in the early days and the Hollywood studio system. The Bow documentary seemed really popular and people were talking about it, just as Paul Merton’s series on silent comedy had captured a similar interest. You can see it in films too like Hugo. Anyway, we started working on Andrew Cartmel’s book and it rekindled my obsession with Kangs and Mags. Through that I found Jessica Martin on Twitter and saw she’d produced a comic about Clara Bow. I ordered that, really liked it, couldn’t believe she’d done it all herself and then got back to work on ‘Script Doctor’. There was an event at Orbital Comics in London where Sophie Aldred had her exhibition of photos by Steve Cook, and I went up there so my daughter could finally meet Ace and as I was mooching I spotted Jessica Martin (hard not to – she hasn’t changed a bit!). I spoke to her about Clara Bow and she was so enthusiastic. I also then spoke to one of the managers of Orbital who said it had performed really well. It seemed a pretty straightforward fit for Miwk, so I got Jessica’s email from Andrew and after several meetings we rather fell head-over-heels in love with eponymous Elsie. I’m really looking forward to this and especially to the bizarre number of promotional ideas we’ve been throwing around. Jessica’s full of ideas and her enthusiasm was so infectious. I think Elsie’s going to make quite an impression.
A couple of these books are collections of material from Doctor Who Magazine; was that difficult to organise?
All credit to Tom Spilsbury and Peter Ware, without whom… - they were so helpful and generous. Jamie Lenman contacted us directly for his ‘WHOAH!’ book, which I snapped up straightaway, but we had to check on ownership as although he’d done them freelance, they were still owned by Panini. Fortunately, Peter was able to sort this for us, so I chanced my arm and asked about the Howett strips, and to my utter joy we could do those too! I contacted Tim through his website, who in turn put me touch with Dicky, and they were both so enthusiastic. I had a great moment when Dicky’s contract arrived in the post, as I recognised the writing on the envelope immediately!
‘WHOAH!’ is very exciting for us as it’s our first full-colour book, and what a book to be starting with! Jamie’s imagination and humour are so unique. There are some strips I call ‘eye-narrowers’ and others that are a plain guffaw. One of my favourites is Jo Grant presenting the Third Doctor with a jumper she’s knitted for him. This is of course the McCoy tank-top. We’re working on inserts for that now actually and it’ll be one of two Christmas books along with Rob’s ‘Time & Space & Time’.
Robert Hammond's book looks a little... odd.
Like any humorous endeavour it’ll be divisive I’m sure. But there’s a hell of a lot in there, it’s going to be a mighty tome! Essentially it’s a few completely made up facts about every Doctor Who story.
And what's the story behind the Esta Charkham book?
Esta was casting director and producer on Robin of Sherwood and she kindly provided a foreword for us for ‘Hooded Man Volume One’. I met up with her at the Hooded Man convention earlier this year and fell a little bit in love. She’s not only terrific fun, but she has so many stories. You can name any actor, actress or series and she’ll have a story ready to go. I know, because I threw some really weird names at her and she knocked every one for six. She said she was considering a memoir, but was adamant it wouldn’t be an autobiography. This is a collection of memories from everything she’s worked on from theatre to television when she was acting, then casting in film and television, producing and now she runs her own stage school for young actors as well as managing others. She’s a hard worker. If you like film and television, you’ll enjoy it. And of course she cast Supergirl, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
These are on top of the other titles you've already announced...
Yep, Richard Marson’s finished chapter two of ‘Drama & Delight: The Life and Legacy of Verity Lambert’ and will be working on that over the next few months. I can’t wait! Really looking forward to it and we have a very cool - well I think it’s cool - hardback in the pipeline for that one. John Williams is still working on his Malcolm Hulke biography but was delayed for various reasons, mainly while we were waiting for some paperwork to come through. What else have we announced and not followed through on? Oh! Toby Hadoke’s Quatermass book! That’s still happening; will happen; shall definitely happen. Toby’s a busy guy though so is having to fit it in as and when he can.
So when might we see any of these books?
‘WHOAH!’ and ‘Time & Space & Time’ are out for Christmas, ‘Hooded Man’ is at the printers now - should be out in a couple of weeks, ‘Invisible Man’ will probably be November I imagine, maybe mid-October, everything else will be in 2015. Dates are on the website. Best to follow us on Facebook or Twitter for release dates as they chop and change all the time! If we can get ‘It’s EVEN Bigger on the Inside’ out sooner then we will.
And finally, is there anything else you have in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Yeah, a few things. I’m still working on being able to reprint the Look-In artwork. There are so many rights tied up with it it’s such a pain! And again it’s Fremantle who aren’t interested in earning money for nothing. We have some more biographies lined up; Michael Seely is currently working on one for Douglas Camfield for example. These take a long time and a lot of effort to get right so we’re holding off on proper announcements until the books are close to publication. I’ve exchanged emails with a number of musicians, lead singers and actors about possible autobiographies/memoirs and had several interested replies. Next Christmas Andy Davidson and Kevin Stayner will be writing our first proper Christmas book all about Christmas films and TV. I’m looking forward to that – they’re both so obsessed with Christmas telly.
Miwk Publishing release:
Hooded Man – Volume Two by Andrew Orton
The Invisible Man – Volume Two by Steve Hogarth
WHOAH! by Jamie Lenman
Time & Space & Time by Robert Hammond
Before the end of 2014.
Expected in 2015 are:
Elsie Harris Picture Palace by Jessica Martin
It’s EVEN Bigger on the Inside by Tim Quinn & Dicky Howett
All My Estadays by Esta Charkham
Miwk’s books can all be found at their online store.
As a taster for the releases, here is a short extract from Rob Hammond’s book, Time & Space & Time, Truthless Bilge About Every Doctor Who Story Ever:
THE KEY OF MARINUS
To save the ever-dwindling budget for this story, the cast were asked to bring in items from home to use as props. Jacqueline Hill brought in six empty Tic Tac containers that were used as the eponymous keys, Fiona Walker supplied the white drapes used for set decoration, and Francis de Wolff gave the crew the Morpho Brain Creatures. He later told Doctor Who Magazine, “They had been in the back of the airing cupboard for years. They belonged to a great Aunt, and I always knew they would come in handy for something one day.”
To distinguish between the costumed actors in studio, rolls of different coloured Sellotape were pushed into the belts of the Sensorites. This led to the sticky tape firm attempting to market an item of office equipment called the Sellotape Dispensorite, where strips of tape could be pulled from the mouth of the plastic representation of the alien. Unfortunately, a disagreement between Ken Tyllsen and Peter Glaze as to which Sensorite should be made into the dispenser caused Sellotape to back-out of the deal.
THE CLAWS OF AXOS
Donald Hewlett and Jon Pertwee fell out during the filming of episode 3 – over rice paper. Hewlett was a firm believer that it should be categorised as paper, while Pertwee countered, “That's not paper you can eat; that's food you can write on.” Barry Letts mediated, and all sides agreed to disagree after sharing a tube of banana-flavoured Toffos.
TERROR OF THE ZYGONS
In keeping with the Scottish theme of this story, and to keep everyone warm on location, every member of the cast was given a tartan blanket. Production papers from the time show that actor John Woodnutt, while grateful, would have been happy with just the blanket.
THE DEADLY ASSASSIN
The nightmarish scenes set within the Matrix were directed by (but not credited to) Max Filligun, the winner of a Blue Peter competition to name a flamingo at London Zoo. As Production Unit Manager Chris D'Oyly-John later recalled in Doctor Who Magazine, “Filligun storyboarded the scenes on location with a box of crayons and laughed like a bloody lunatic for most of the filming. He was asked to leave the set when he found out we couldn't hire a real crocodile, and out of frustration he kicked Bernard Horsfall in the bum.”
A popular myth about this story (and the sequel Snakedance) is that they were written by Kate Bush under the pseudonym Christopher Bailey. This is, of course, nonsense – Bush said she would never write for the programme again after the team made such a fist of her first story, Warriors’ Gate.