Joshua Hale Fialkov is currently slaying the DC Comics New 52 with his work on the surprise hit “I, Vampire” and re-imagining super heroes in his creator-owned “The Last of the Greats” at Image Comics. In 2012 he’ll put his hands on his hips as he prepares to do the Time Warp on IDW Publishing’s “Doctor Who.”
The Eisner-nominated writer of “Tumor” takes over the TARDIS from the outgoing Tony Lee in January for a special four-issue arc illustrated by “Who” mainstay Matthew Dow Smith, set in the Hollywood version of “Casablanca.” Superstar artist Mark Buckingham (“Fables”) provides covers.
The arc, which kicks off in “Doctor Who” #13, features The Doctor, Amy and Rory reveling in the fact that they have crash-landed smack dab in the middle of the Warner Bros. classic. But this time around, it’s not Adolf Hitler who has hatched a plot for world-domination — it’s a classic Who villain.
Fialkov didn’t want to spoil exactly which villain will be the thorn in the Doctor’s side yet, but speaking with CBR News he shared his love and admiration for the iconic BBC character and teased his story plays more like Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” than a reimagining of the Hal B. Wallis masterpiece.
CBR News: Growing up in Pittsburgh, did you catch a lot of “Doctor Who” on the dial back in the day?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: I sure did. My older brother would watch it semi-religiously, and I’d sit there mouth agape and completely confused, but riveted all the same. Since then, I got really, really back into it when the show relaunched, and I began to realize just how much of the show I’d seen and loved when I was a kid.
Frankly, I love superheroes, and I love Marvel and DC, but “Doctor Who” is the one thing that I geek out for uncontrollably.
Did you chase this gig or did IDW reach out to you?
I’ve been friends with Tony Lee for damn near a decade now, and he’d introduced me to [editor] Denton Tipton at IDW. When they were looking for writers for this year’s annual, I threw my hat in the ring, and we all just had an amazing time working on that one-shot. And now I’m back.
While Austin’s Matt Sturges recently wrote a really fun miniseries with the Doctor, the character has traditionally been written by a Brit. As an East Coaster now living in Los Angeles, are you having trouble finding the Doctor’s voice or is he simply another character for which you have to climb into his head?
You know, the part I found the most fun was finding the Doctor’s voice. It’s so clear in my head, and finding a way to both capture and convey that in comic form has really been a blast.
I’m going to leave it up to all of you guys on how well I did, but I feel pretty confident.
And I guess he’s really not just ‘another character.’ With thousands if not millions of Whovians around the world, did this assignment come with added weight?
There’s no more critical fan than me, and seriously, I mean that. Ask any of my friends. I genuinely love The Doctor in a really deep way, and getting the book 110 per cent right and 500 per cent awesome was my number one priority.
You’ve made your mark in this industry as a horror writer. While “Doctor Who” is heaped in sci-fi awesomeness, it’s also lauded for its delivering of the willies too. Is your run with the Doctor going to crank up the chill factor?
Actually, not so much. I went more with my noir roots for my first story because frankly, it was something I was more comfortable with. Horror has its own set of challenges and I wanted to give the Doctor and Co. a chance to really be themselves. Hopefully, if I get to do more, that’ll be time for my horribly scary stuff.
What makes The Doctor Who concept so scary?
I’d argue that it’s got less to do with the concept and more to do with the people who’ve written it over the years. I see Doctor Who as being about one thing: Wonder. He’s a character who at his basest form is, as he said in Matt Smith’s debut, a mad man with a box. That means there’s room for literally every kind of story imaginable, from horror to romance to adventure to comedy. That’s part of what makes the thing work so well for so long.
On your Facebook page you revealed your story is a four-part story called “As Time Goes By” and it drops The Doctor, Amy and Rory smack dab in the setting for the legendary movie “Casablanca.” Are you a big fan of the Bogart classic?
Who isn’t? It’s one of the crown jewels of cinema, and such an iconic story on every level. I figured I’d go for broke and write two of my favorite things mashed up into one.
Assuming Amy plays Ilsa, is Rick played by The Doctor or Rory? And is the other Victor Laszlo?
Think “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” more than that.
You’ve also shared that some classic Who aliens will be “lurking in the shadows.” Any teases because I can’t wait to see who or what is cast as Ugarte?
You’re just going to have to wait to see how all the pieces fit together. We’ve got a compelling noir war time story to tell, and some familiar glimpses from the history of cinema. It’s an absolute joy to write in literally every way.
Do you have plans to stay beyond these first four issues? If so, can you tease what’s next?
That’s a question for my editor, but, I would write “Doctor Who” for as long as they’d have me. It’s an honor and a genuine pleasure the likes of which most people are rarely so lucky to experience.