"Doctor Who" fans the world over are gearing up the proverbial Tardis in anticipation of Matt Smith's debut as the Eleventh Doctor this Easter, now that David Tennant's run as the titular Time Lord has come to an end.
Smith, officially took over the role of the Doctor in the final moments of 'The End of Time,' special broadcast originally by the BBC in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2010 and in the United States on BBC America one day later, January 2.
Not wanting to miss out on all the action, IDW Comics announced a bevy of Who-based projects Sunday at Gallifrey One: Blackjack 21, the 21st Annual North American Doctor Who Celebration being held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriot Hotel. Â "Doctor Who" editor Denton Tipton told CBR News that British-born writer Tony Lee will be joined by a new artist, Blair Shedd, for the next arc of the "Doctor Who" ongoing series, "Don't Step on the Grass," which begins in March with #9.
"Tony has totally got the flavor down, and of all the Doctor Who stuff that I've read, I think he's the best at actually getting the voice down," said Tipton of Lee's ongoing adventures featuring the Tenth Doctor, the outgoing Tennant.
"You can read it and actually hear David Tennant's voice. It's almost a performance the way he does it. And his plots are solid. It's fun, sci-fi romp kind of stuff."
The four-issue arc is basically a two-part TV episode, and Tipton said that a new reader could easily jump in on the series now.
Tipton also revealed that Martha Jones returns in the arc as the Doctor's companion, easily one of the most popular companion's in the history of the long-running sci-fi TV series.
"Martha hasn't been around at all [in the series], she basically popped up on the last page of #8, setting this up," said Tipton. "So you can jump right in on page 1, sure, we carried on some threads and we're bringing back some villains but you don't have to have read the previous eight issues to understand what's going on."
For readers wanting to play catch up, IDW also announced the first six issues of the ongoing series will be collected as a trade paperback entitled, "Fugitive" Vol. 1 and will be released in March, as well, featuring art by Al Davison and Matthew Dow Smith.
"Doctor Who Classics" Series 3 is also coming in March.
"We're starting to do the reprints of the Sixth Doctor's strips, which were done by Marvel as 'Voyageur,'" said Tipton. "We're doing six issues, the first and last issues are going to be 32 full pages and then the middle issues will be 24 issues a piece. So you're going to get a little bit more bang for your buck. Even though they're reprints, they been completely restored with new coloring. A lot of them haven't been reprinted in color anywhere.
"And it has beautiful John Ridgway art. I love his stuff. It's a solid run of 'Doctor Who' Magazine #88 through #107."
"Doctor Who Classics" Vol. 5 is also on the way, collecting Series 2, #10-13, which finishes off the run of the Fifth Doctor.
IDW will also be making a bit of Whovian history in 2010 with the release of the first ever 'Doctor Who" Annual, released in the United States.
"The ongoing is the first ongoing 'Doctor Who' series and this will be our first annual," explained Tipton. "The U.K. annuals are always reprints, oversized stuff, where this will be something new and different that hasn't been done before."
Four writers - including Lee, Jonathan L. Davis, and writer/artists Davison and Smith - will join forces on the ad-free, 48-page special.
Davis, a Hollywood screenwriter, contributed the main feature, a 22-page story drawn by Kelly Yates, who also served as cover artist on the project.
"The annual is a Tardis-centric issue," said Tipton, speaking of the Doctor's time and space traveling machine that just so happens to look like a British phone booth. "It's not really a Doctor Who book. It's more of a Tardis book. So we've got some pretty cool ideas there."
Lee's four-page story, also drawn by Smith, leads directly into the final arc of the "Doctor Who" ongoing series, "Final Sacrifice," featuring Tennant's persona as the Doctor. The storyline runs from #13-16 with the final issue expected in December 2010.
In 2011, IDW Comics will begin featuring Matt Smith's likeness in its series.
"This isn't an adaptation of the TV series in any way. It doesn't tie-in, but it doesn't contradict anything either. So basically, you don't have to have seen the final episode with David Tennant to make sense of this, but it gives you more perspective on the character. And it basically ramps up our storyline for #1," said Tipton. "Right now, it looks like we're going to end the ongoing with #16 and then we're going to re-launch with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith."
Tipton said that a final decision hasn't been made on whether or not "Doctor Who" will regenerate as an ongoing series or a succession of limited series.
While Tipton is excited about what Smith's addition to the TV series will mean to the comic, he's quite content to keep releasing comics featuring Tennant for the foreseeable future.
"A lot of people are happy that there is still more Tennant material coming out. He's been hugely popular and is basically the main reason for the big resurgence," said Tipton. "He's still has a lot of fans, so I think we're making a lot of people happy."