[SPOILER WARNING: The following interview contains spoilers for “Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time” #9, on sale now.]
IDW Publishing’s year-long tribute to Doctor Who and his companions, “Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time,” concludes this December with issue #12. Written by brothers Scott and David Tipton, and drawn by artist Kelly Yates, “Prisoners of Time” featured stories with every version of the Doctor and his companions from each incarnation of the long running British television series.
The Tipton brothers recently spoke with CBR News about the final issue of “Prisoners of Time,” revealing why they chose to bring back lost companion Adam Mitchell to serve as the series’ surprise antagonist, what it’s been like to watch “Doctor Who’s” notoriety in the USA grow, what they’ll miss about Matt Smith and much more.
CBR News: Scott and David, for “Doctor Who” fans who haven’t been following “Prisoners of Time,” what’s been going on for the past 9 issues?
Scott Tipton: Well, over the past year in “Prisoners of Time” we’ve seen new adventures of each of the incarnations of the Doctor, all interrupted by a mysterious stranger with an axe to grind who has managed to kidnap many of the Doctor’s companions. Who is he? What does he want? Therein hangs a tale…
We just discovered in issue #9 that the mysterious stranger is none other than lost “Doctor Who” companion Adam Mitchell, who briefly appeared during Christopher Eccleston’s incarnation of the character. Didn’t see that one coming! Why bring Adam back?
Scott: Honestly, we were just amazed no one had done this with the character before, whether it was on TV, in novels, audio dramas or comics. It just seemed like the story that was dying to be told. All the best villains are the ones that are relatable, that have a good motivation for doing what they do, and being abandoned by the Doctor for a single mistake seemed such a great motivation, we couldn’t resist it.
Does Adam think he’s doing the world a service by eliminating the Doctor or does it boil down to pure revenge?
David Tipton: I think Adam’s motivations are complicated. He had a unique experience as a companion, and the way that turned out for him colors his attitude toward the Doctor in multiple ways.
Scott: I do think it is very personal for Adam, in a way that you don’t see with many other of the Doctor’s enemies. I think there’s a sense of betrayal there that makes Adam’s relationship with the Doctor very unique, even if for much of the series the Doctor was left in the dark about it.
Does the Doctor feel any regrets about how he treated Adam?
Scott: Well, obviously, we’d like to save those kind of revelations for the printed page. But there’s no doubt that it’s a complicated issue. Does the Doctor bear some culpability in all that Adam has done? All the best villains have to believe they’re in the right, and we’ve tried to make Adam, if not a sympathetic character, at least one that’s identifiable. All of us have felt abandoned or mistreated at some point in our lives and lashed out in response. It’s just the Doctor’s bad luck that Adam was more fiendishly competent than most.
Adam’s age seemed to fluctuate a bit in the series. Was this deliberate or was it just down to how different artists interpreted the character?
Scott: It’s mostly due to the differences in artistic style, though we always wanted him to look sufficiently aged, which I think came across.
“Prisoners of Time” seemed as much a tribute to the Doctor’s companions as to the Doctor, himself. Why did you decide to focus so heavily on them for this series?
Scott: That was most definitely by design. The companions are just as important to “Doctor Who” as the Doctor himself. They’re the viewers’ eyes; they frame how we see and respond to the Doctor. And the relationship between the Doctor and his companions has always been, for me anyway, the heart of the series. Whenever they’ve shown the Doctor trying to go it alone, it doesn’t go well for him. He needs them as much as they need him, and we really wanted to pay tribute to that idea.
Will Peter Capaldi, recently announced new Doctor Who, be making any appearances in the last few issues?
David: No, it’s way too early for that, we’re afraid! Capaldi’s debut as the Doctor will be strictly on television, as far as we know.
What’s it been like to watch “Doctor Who’s” stature grow exponentially over the past year in the United States from niche fandom to mainstream success?
Scott: It’s been both gratifying and astounding. For so long, being a Whovian was kind of like being in a secret club — almost no one in the States knew anything about it. Nowadays, you walk down the street wearing a TARDIS t-shirt, and you can’t go a few paces without getting the knowing smirk or the thumbs up. American Whovians are everywhere. It’s kind of awesome.
What do you think of Peter Capaldi’s selection as the 12th Doctor?
Scott: I like the notion of returning to an older incarnation of the Doctor, just because the last two have been younger, so it’s nice to switch it up a little. All I’m hoping for from the new series is all I’m ever looking for: solid “Doctor Who” stories from a great cast. I like to come in with a completely open mind. I’ve never seen Capaldi’s work save his one “Who” guest appearance, so I’m curious what he’ll bring to it.
What will you miss most about Matt Smith?
Scott: The humor, I think. I loved Smith’s deadpan but mile-a-minute speech patterns. He also has such an expressive face, when he would play the sadder moments, it could break your heart.
David: I very much liked his sense of humor and his unpredictability.
Which of the Doctors did you have most fun writing for “Prisoners of Time?”
David: I probably had the most fun with the first three Doctors. Those three are probably the least familiar to the American audience, and I enjoyed creating new stories for these Doctors that also served to introduce them to new Doctor Who fans.
Scott: For me, the easiest and most fun to write were Nine and Ten, just because they were the ones I was most familiar with and so their voices came very easily to me. As for storytelling, I think we had the most fun with the Third Doctor, just because it was such a big, over-the-top adventure.
In what ways did you attempt to tailor each Doctor’s story to that Doctor?
Scott: We tried to match the tone as best we could to the overall style of that Doctor’s run. For example, like I mentioned before, for the Third Doctor, we wanted that big, Action-Man, James Bondian kind of feel, like a 1970s TV show or a 007 movie, to match the more kickass style of the earthbound Third Doctor. When we jumped to the Fourth Doctor, we definitely shifted to a more outer-space, traditional sci-fi feel. Then you take a look at issue #7, and we went to a Gothic vibe, to match some of the best McCoy elements. Then jump to issue #10, where we try to achieve the humor, romance and melancholy that characterized the best of the [David] Tennant episodes.
You used some classic “Who” villains for this story — the Animus, the Autons, the Judoon, the Master and more. How did you choose which villain tangled with which Doctor?
David: Our goal was to select villains that 1) made good matches for the individual characteristics of each Doctor and the stories associated with his episodes; 2) fit well within the story for that particular issue; and 3) made sense within the longer 12-issue series story arc. Our editor at IDW, Denton Tipton, did a great job of providing us with creative input on exactly this question, and we had great support from the BBC as well.
Were there any villains you wanted to use but couldn’t, either because there wasn’t enough room or editorial requests?
Scott: There were a couple we were asked to stay away from because there were plans in place for them, but that’s cool — all part of working in a shared universe. But overall, we had the whole of “Doctor Who” history to choose from, and we were pretty much able to use whoever we liked. How often does that get to happen?â€¨
With the “Doctor Who” license moving away from IDW at the end of the year, will the remaining issues of “Prisoners of Time” still get collected in a trade or do fans need to pick up these issues while they can?
Scott: Not to worry, you’ll be able to secure plenty of “Prisoners of Time” for your bookshelf. The Volume 2 trade paperback is outÂ September 25, following up the Volume 1 that hit stores in May, with the third and final volume arriving in December. A complete collected hardcover of the entire series will also come out in December.
“Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time” #12 is available this December from IDW Publishing.