After helming two ongoing series, various one-shots, miniseries and even a crossover with “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” writer Tony Lee is saying goodbye to the “Doctor Who” franchise (for now, at least) this month with the release of IDW Publishing’s “Doctor Who Special 2012.” A new ongoing series written by Andy Diggle and drawn by Mark Buckingham launches out of the special, but before that, Lee tells one last Doctor Who story, with art by Mitch Gerads.
“It’s an escape story,” Lee explained to CBR News. “The Doctor willingly enters 1962 Alcatraz to rescue a friend after he learns of his death in a riot. It’s ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ with timey-wimey fun and shimmer-suited aliens thrown in. And a familiar face or two. I wanted to do something ‘big’ in my 11 pages, rather than have people just sitting at a table talking to each other. I like the running, jumping, climbing trees school of Doctor Who.”
Teaming with Lee on his final Who story is artist Mitch Gerads, who Lee has been itching to collaborate with for some time. “He’s an incredible artist, and someone I’ve wanted to work with for a while,” Lee said. “When I heard he’d be the one drawing this, I was more than happy. And, I think he’s the right person for the time zone, if that makes sense!”
Lee’s story focuses on the Eleventh Doctor (played in the TV series by Matt Smith), whom Lee described as “a madman in a box. You never know from one moment to the next what he’s going to do, and none more so than in this story. My first work was obviously with the Tenth Doctor; I’ve written stories involving all the Doctors, yet Matt Smith’s Doctor has to be the most enjoyable for me.”
Lee’s experience with “Doctor Who” goes back to his early childhood — so early, in fact, that he identifies his first viewing of the TV series as his first memory ever. “I was three years old, sitting with my family watching Jon Pertwee regenerate into Tom Baker,” he said. “Doctor Who has always been a part of my life. I grew up with him. I’ll grow old with him.”
Looking back on his Doctor Who stories for IDW, Lee highlighted three stories — the miniseries “The Forgotten,” and “Ripper’s Curse” and “Silent (K)night” from the second volume of the ongoing series — as his favorites. “‘The Forgotten’ was my [fan fiction] made real, a love story from me to all the Doctors,” he said. “I got to play with pretty much the whole shebang there, and I managed to weave together a story that pretty much most people didn’t see coming.
“‘Silent (K)night’ was a completely silent episode (bar one balloon to the audience) where the Doctor helps Santa fight robots and then save Christmas,” Lee continued. “I’d wanted to do a silent episode for years, pretty much since ‘The Many Deaths of the Batman’ [by John Byrne and Jim Aparo in 1989], but I’d never believed I could manage it.” And Lee singled out “Ripper’s Curse” because “nobody had really done a Doctor vs. [Jack the] Ripper story. As an amateur Ripperologist, I really wanted to play with the ‘canonical’ number of victims, something I think I managed to do.”
Getting to work on Doctor Who in comic books rather than television allowed Lee to write stories unconstrained by budgetary concerns. “Also, actor availability,” Lee said. “There’s no way ‘The Forgotten’ could ever have been done on TV in anything other than a cartoon series. In the comics, however, you can have [William] Hartnell [as the First Doctor] and [Patrick] Troughton [as the Second Doctor] and things like that without a second thought.”
Despite spending so much time in the good Doctor’s universe, Lee still cites the Daleks and the Master as Doctor Who characters he still hopes to write. As for whether or not he’ll eventually get chance to work on those characters, or any others from the Doctor Who franchise, Lee has a simple answer. “Who knows? IDW knows where I am!”