The Eighth Doctor annual is finally on its way after 24 years! Perhaps it was spending a night on Darillium?
Actually, in truth no such book was planned. And this new Eighth Doctor annual is not an official offering, but one produced by the not-for-profit publisher Terraqueous Distributors. They are a fan-run company that make ‘what if?’ books to fill some of the gaps in Doctor Who history, with previous publications including The Master Annual, and a 1989 annual for the Seventh Doctor.
As some of you may know, the Eighth Doctor’s travels were cut a little short in 1996 when the Fox-produced TV movie-cum-pilot failed to spawn a new series. And even though the good Doctor’s travels continued with the official BBC books – and later the Big Finish audios – fans never got to see the much-requested Eighth Doctor annual. Indeed, to date his incarnation is the only one whose adventures have never received the annual treatment (unless you count Peter Cushing and John Hurt. Now there’s an idea…)
However, the Eighth Doctor did receive a weekly comic strip in the Radio Times, written by Gary Russell and illustrated by Lee Sullivan. And Terraqueous Distributors will be using these strips as inspiration for the new Eighth Doctor annual, which will feature new contributions from Russell and Sullivan, plus illustrations from Alister Pearson, Smuzz (from the 2000 AD comics), Paul Cooke, and more.
In a statement on thedoctorwhosite, Terraqueous Distributors said: “Like many other fans, we looked forward to picking up the Radio Times every Tuesday, just for [the Eighth Doctor strip] alone. It was so well written. And I remember at the time, being very disappointed when the strip ended.
“So now we’re going back to the beginning of the Eighth Doctor’s journey – when Doctor Who was brought back to our screens, after a seven year absence.
“This is very much a 1997 annual. We’re going back to that amazing year, when everything was new! A new production team, a huge new TARDIS interior, and an amazing new Doctor in Paul McGann. And new companions Stacy and Ssard. The 1997 annual will include features, puzzles, strips, and stories.”
Stacy and Ssard – for those of you who don’t know – were the team that accompanied the Eighth Doctor in the Radio Times comic strip. Stacy was from the year 2246, and first encountered the Doctor when he materialised on the Dreadnought freighter. Ssard, meanwhile, was an Ice Warrior from the planet Mars who decided to join the Doctor and Stacy on their travels.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether the Eighth Doctor annual will pick up where these stories left off, or recreate the ones that originally appeared in the Radio Times. It may even do both. Certainly, there is a rich archive of existing strips for the Eighth Doctor annual to delve into; there were five Radio Times adventures in total, told gradually over the course of the year, with the final instalment being printed in March 1997. These were ‘Dreadnought’ (featuring the Doctor’s first encounter with Stacy, and the Cybermen); ‘Descendance’ (featuring the introduction of Ssard); followed by ‘Ascendance,’ ‘Perceptions,’ and ‘Coda.’
The good news is, we won’t have to wait long to find out. The Eighth Doctor annual will be released at some point in 2021, and fans can keep up with the project by following Terraqueous Distributors on Facebook.
Will you be buying the Eighth Doctor annual when it releases later this year? And what would you like to see in it? Let me know in the comments below.
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