Adventures in the 9th Dimension – Dr Who Comics


Do you remember the story when The Doctor met Santa (or Jeff as he’s sometimes known) on another planet?


What about the one where time ran backwards for the TARDIS crew for an entire visit?
The time the Quarks fought Giant Killer Wasps?
When the Dr abandoned his grandchildren on a Planet called Zebadee?
Cybermen on skis?
Perhaps not, as all of these stories took place in the form of comics.

In countries where comics are highly regarded, they’re known as ‘The Ninth Art’.
There have been some instances of the Doctor Who strip form surpassing it’s progenitor.
Overall, Dr Who is the longest running comic based on a tv show in the World.
The history of these comics is vast , like the history of the tv show which spawned them.

The first comic appearance of the Dr was as a spoof in May 1964. ‘Dr What and his Time Clock’, appeared in ‘Boys’ World’ and ran for 4 months.

Very soon the real deal would see print.

The Dr Who strips ‘proper’ began in November 1964 in TV Comic, written & drawn by Neville Main.
The 1st story involved an nasty attack of the Kleptons.
The Dr was accompanied by his young grandchildren, John & Gillian. Like Felix the Cat, he had a magic bag which got him out of scrapes.
Together they met old & new characters such as the Zarbi & the Trods


In 1965, in TV Century 21, came the comic strip ‘The Daleks’ (Otherwise known as The Dalek Chronicles). Written by the first tv Who story editor, David Whitaker, these Doctorless stories  featured the Daleks own adventures. From their Genesis (a decade before tv did it) through to what seems to be The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Daleks strips are classics of the artform.

1966 saw Dell’s adaptation of the 1st Dalek Film with artwork by Dick Giordano & Sal Trapani (a full comic dedicated to Dr Who!).

Back at TV Comic, artist Neville Main made way for Bill Mevin, who in turn made way for John Canning, whose tenure would encompass 3 Drs (Hartnell to Pertwee). Then Hartnell made way for Troughton. The Dr’s regenerative transformation went unmentioned in the comics, & his magic bag had been replaced by a pocket lighter with laser beam.

Jamie McCrimmon’s arrival as companion signalled an attempt to honour the tv narrative.
The half-year wait between Troughton’s sentencing in ‘The War Games’ and ‘Spearhead from Space’ was bridged by the comic strip. Pre-empting a few Who things, ‘The Nightwalkers’ saw the 2nd Dr as an exile but also as a tv celebrity. The Dr’s abducted by walking scarecrows – agents of the Time Lords, which come to fulfil his deferred sentence with enforced regeneration.
The Pertwee era moved house from TV Comic to Countdown (which eventually became TV Action).

New artists Harry Lindfield, Frank Langford & (the unbeatable) Gerry Haylock created a golden age for Who comics.
The Dr drove his car, Betsy & lived in a country cottage between adventures.
The Brigadier popped by from time to time.
Sometimes he’d bump into The Master, who was out hypnotising Jacobites or whatever…
During this time,  there was a competition to design a monster to feature in the strip. Many children entered but the winner was ‘The Ugrakks’, a race of strange pachyderm creatures.
With the demise of TV Action, the Dr was relegated to TV Comic.
Tom Baker was the new Dr. We saw goodbye to Haylock as artist.

Martin Asbury stepped in, with stories like the one where the Daleks were cloning the TARDIS; and the Dr’s Home Planet was called Jewel.

Canning returned & brought Leela.
Mirroring the tv show, late 1970s Hyperinflation meant that budget could sometimes be an issue for comic production. So by issue #1385, there were just reprints of old 2nd & 3rd Dr strips recycled with Tom Baker’s head & lots of tippex.

The next big change came when Editor Dez Skinn bagged the rights to publish Dr Who strips for Marvel UK. The plan started in 1976 but the magazine couldn’t manifest until the rights became available in 1979.
Writing legends, Pat Mills & John Wagner were joined by also legendary artist Dave Gibbons in making these new strips, which featured in the new Dr Who Weekly (latterly Dr Who Magazine).

The Doctor was joined by his first black companion (over 25 years before tv did it). Kronkburgers & New Earth also appear 25 years before RTD would pay homage to them onscreen.
Back up Strips populated by favourite monsters (almost certainly breaching lots of copyright) & Time Lords, whose origins were also printed in those early issues. The Deathsmiths of Goth debuted, ahead of their role in the Time War.

Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Steve Dillon, Mike McMahon & Steve Moore & many more Comic Gods were let loose on these. America came poaching with bigger pay cheques and so you later got the likes of ‘Watchmen’ for DC.
Marvel US printed colour reprints of the DWW/DWM strips, which lasted 23 issues – the first regular comic (as opposed to magazine) dedicated solely to Who.
Genius writer, Steve Parkhouse bridged Tom Baker to Colin Baker, creating such gems as ‘End of the Line’ & ‘Stars Fell on Stockbridge’.
John Ridgway joined as artist, & he & Parkhouse invented much loved companion, ‘Frobisher’, a shapeshifter stuck as a penguin.

During the hiatus, it was the comic which was the mainstay of Dr Who, & not for the last time…..

While tv Who hit it’s nadir, the comics were firing on all cylinders again.

Voyager is not just a great Who comic, it’s a great comic fullstop.

Mini – reprints could be obtained free with packets of crisps…

After Parkhouse left, many writers including Grant Morrison created the stories.
By the 7th Dr’s time, he was also making appearances in Death’s Head & Incredible Hulk Presents . One strip (Nineveh!) features a TARDIS graveyard 20 years before ‘The Doctor’s Wife’.
Marvel also reprinted all the classic comics of the early Doctors in a comic imaginatively called ‘Classic Comics’ (The Cushing one featured a new strip – Daleks vs. Martians, set between the two Dalek films) and a 7th Dr Comic -‘Evening’s Empire. There was also a reprint of 7th Dr DWM strips in a graphic novel under the banner of ‘The Mark of Mandragora’.


Then suddenly, tv Dr Who ceased to be. Bridging the BG to AG gap, the DWM strip was arguably the main continuation of Dr Who.

It might have remained so, or it might have been superseded by an animated series (Had a Shalka Dr series been commissioned).

Whilst the 8th Dr’s tv tenure was shortlived, his comic life was prolonged, perhaps keeping the flame of Who’s worth alive.
During those dark days, Dr Who got it’s 1st gay character & 1st gay kiss, and later it’s 1st Time Lord/Fish Lady snog.
We also had the Radio Times strip, compact but solid stuff, which received a much wider readership.
When Dr 9 appeared, it was planned that 8 would regenerate into 9 in the DWM comic strip. This was dropped for legal reasons, but a sketch of post regeneration Eccleston was drawn.
In his Who tv writing, RTD liked to refer to the comics, as well as the novels & audios. I love those fanboy nods.
We’re reminded that Dr Who is a great idea for many artforms including & beyond the television show.
RTD is a talented cartoonist and recently offered to do a graphic novel for the 50th anniversary celebration but incredibly he was turned down.
David Tennant’s time saw two new ranges. ‘Dr Who Adventures’ is a junior Who magazine in the UK with Dr Who strips.
The other range is the IDW Who title, launched in the U.S., another full comic dedicated to the Dr. It kicked off with the destruction of Gallifrey (& has recently returned there). IDW also publish reprints of the old DWM strips. These titles are not licensed for distribution in the UK (but can be found in certain comic shops).

Tennant nearly saw another range launched, with his 1st BBC graphic novel until it was shelved because of similarities to tv story ‘Victory of the Daleks’. (It was eventually redrawn & published, 2nd in the range, both feature Matt Smith).


Gareth Roberts’ DWM comic stories evolved into tv shows The Lodger & The Shakespeare Code.

Panini continue to publish volumes of reprints.  Unlike TV creators’ abundance of repeat fee royalties, publishing rights mean that comics creators aren’t likely to receive reprint fees.
Recently we’ve been ‘gifted’ with a Dr Who/Star Trek crossover. In comics.

IDW’s licence is about to run out. Rumour has it that Titan may be getting the rights.
The availability of the titles future distribution in the UK is in doubt.
Panini continue to publish DWM in the UK.


Other Quick Mentions –

Who Annuals – Another huge sub-genre of comic strips for all Drs bar the 8th.

Appearances in comic form elsewhere (e.g. The Comic Relief Comic, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, adverts).
(Fantastic Four – TARDIS sound effect)
(Warp-3-first comix – Wirrn Pinch)

Frank Bellamy Dr Who strip art – The Radio Times

Cartoons – both official & political

Failed ventures – Robot Magazine’s Future (& strawberry blonde) Doctor. RTD’s 50th Anniversary Graphic Novel.

Other comics spoofing Dr Who – MAD #161, Oink #24!, Dr Poo, Viz, The Bog Paper, Toby’s TimePiece, Dr What and his Time Clock, Judge Dredd – Dr Watt, etc.

Dr Who – ‘The Age of Chaos’ – The only comic written by a Doctor – Colin Baker!

Fan Comics – Sean Baldwin, Simon Mackie, Time Leech, Vworp-Vworp, CatsThat Talk, Lucy BellWood, Cathy


A comprehensive site about Dr Who comics can be found here:



Link for Stripped for action (documentries) playlist:

Stripped for action


Some other useful links:







The Dalek Chronicles

Third Dr Comic Strips

Assorted strips

Inky Adventures




  1. @wolfweed – Wow, I’d never realised there were comic versions (our local newsagents didn’t have a large selection to choose from). The closest I got were the annuals which, along with The Beano and Whizzer & Chips, I was guaranteed to get at Christmas. Oh, happy days:)

    This was the last one I got…

    They’re long gone now but I have a few of the PDF versions that are on the DVDs.

  2. @wolfweed — a great and very comprehensive rundown of the comics. Great scans too. You brought more than one lump of recognition to me throat there. Also yay for the mention of the Deathsmiths of Goth. I would truly love to see Apocalypse Device show up in the TV series at some point. (I suppose it’s too much to expect to see it in two weeks time.)

  3. Oh excellent – some great stuff in here @wolfweed. I’ll probably come back to it at the weekend when I have a little more time to talk about some of my favourties, but the world of Who is comics is a great one to explore. I really do agree that the comics have had an impact on the show, and it started really with the kind of storytelling that the early Doctor Who weekly specialised in.

    People talk about the great surprise reveal in Earthshock of the Cybermen at the end of the first episode. What’s generally not acknowledged is the inspiration for that surprise was Dogs of Doom. For those who don’t know it, it sees the Fourth Doctor come against a race of space pirates who are actually werewolves. You have a couple of episodes of to-ing and fro-ing before the leader is captured and basically breaks down in fear…. of his masters:

    The Daleks hadn’t come up against the Doctor before in Doctor Who weekly. As a ten year old my mind (and many others) was blown. Couldn’t wait for the next issue. JNT remembered the reaction from the readership, and suggested something similar. It seems such a small and obvious thing, but the experimental nature of the comics was great creatively.

    I’ll also say that if you published the headline “Alan Moore to write early history of the Time Lords” these days the internet would possibly melt, and it’s difficult to remember that it actually happened. Doctor Who saw his first real published work as a comic strip writer In Black Legacy, but look at this panel from his 4-D War:

    They didn’t have to go far for the look of the untempered schism did they? 🙂

    Also nice references to an early Time War, possibly the first, against a foe from the future who sought to prevent the Time Lords establishing themselves as a force.

    Shame it looks like his work is, as you indicate, tied up in the early confusion about what rights issues the weekly had.

  4. @wolfweed

    That post is absolutely fabulous.

    I never really followed the comics, but you show how they adapted to the times as did the TV show.  Because of your post, I will try and discover more of the world of Who comics.

    Just brilliant. Many thanks indeed.

  5. @FatManInABox, @JimTheFish, @PhaseShift, @blenkinsopthebrave,

    Thanks for your kind replies.

    I remember the 1980 annual. I only have the PDF now too…

    Apocalypse Device in the 50th? 😉

    Good spot on the untempered schism. RTD could be seen by some as a ‘Who hack’, but you can tell he was giving fanboy nods aplenty in honour of the comic strips (& audios & books).  I think he missed a trick, though –  The End of Time should have contained the phrase, ‘Prepare the Brainfeeler.’

    Glad to share my love of the comics.

  6. @Wolfweed

    Really good blog.

    I’m just getting into the whole graphic novel / comics genre again, and this is a wealth of really good information. Interesting you mention Watchmen, as it’s something I still need to get – following on from @Phaseshift‘s earlier recommendation.

    I mentioned this on the G previously but there is a series currently running called Prisoner of Time featuring all the 11 Doctors (1 per month) in which the companions are whipped out of time by an unknown foe. I think they are published by IDW. Not sure what’s going to happen in December…

    @Fatmaninabox I have that very annual – somewhere…

  7. Thanks, @WhoHar

    John Ridgway gave me a copy of  IDW’s Prisoners of Time #6

    I’ve still not got around to reading it yet but it looks great…

    That’s a good point about the December issue (#12)…….

  8. Does anyone else remember the Doctor Poo comic strip that used to run in Viz? It featured the 4th Doctor needing to go to the toilet but is unable to find one. For some reason Jamie was his companion.

  9. @wolfweed

    RTD could be seen by some as a ‘Who hack’, but you can tell he was giving fanboy nods aplenty in honour of the comic strips (& audios & books). I think he missed a trick, though – The End of Time should have contained the phrase, ‘Prepare the Brainfeeler.

    Everyone would have loved “the Brainfeeler”. I agree with you tbh, you inevitably see someone precious get into a huff when nods are made to the past, or the history of the show is raided and referenced, but I’ve always liked it. I find it actually breathes more life into the source material when people point out similarities, and may make some more inclined to seek the originals out.

    We’ve both mentioned End of the Line in the past, and the similarities to Utopia are uncanny enough to say that must have been an inspiration. The last of the humans, in a decaying world, dreaming of travelling somewhere better, and perused by sub-human cannibals. I’d still say the bleak ambiguity of End of the Line makes it the better of the two though.

    Mutants – End of the Line

    Futurekind – Utopia

  10. Also can I just thank you for reminding me of the Doctor Who? Strips by Tim Quinn and Dickie Howett. They could be the highlight of Doctor Who Magazine at one point, sometimes taking the piss out of the production team, and decisions about the show. The one below, on the announcement of Bonnie Langford as a companion kind us summed up the general air of gloom at the time.

  11. @PhaseShift – I guess this was your broken link?

    There are a number of original Quinn/Howett strips for sale on ebay right now, starting bids at £25 (mostly for 2 strips).

    They were usually my favourite part of DWM.


    Got to agree that ‘End of the line’ beats ‘Utopia’ hands down because of it’s brave bleakness.


    Thanks to Moffat’s recent deference to the audios, canon snobs will probably be reassessing their attitudes to spin-off media.


    Also of  note is the fact that Pat Mills & John Wagner did some audios. The last one that was released was a rejected TV script about the Doctor saving a Space Whale…  Sounds like a good plot…….


  12. @wolfweed

    This blog is amazing.  You seem to know everything about the comics and you also have access to so many images for them.  Deep bow to you.

    Obviously I wasn’t eating packets of crisps at the right time.  🙂  My Doctor Who drought was complete from the end of Sylvester McCoy in 1989 until 1996.  To be completely honest though, I was 16 in 1989 so I’m ashamed in retrospect to admit I didn’t really miss the show as much as I should have, and I thought I was too old for comic books.  Your intensive study of the genre in this blog makes me rethink that.

  13. @MartyB – Thanks. I gave up Dr Who when I stopped buying DWM in 1993 as I turned 19. It was an active decision to try to give up (some) childish things and to swap them for stuff like sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll…

    This decision to have a parting of the ways was not pain free, but was eased by having had 4 years of hope but no tv show.

    Whilst DWM was still noticeable in the newsagents, it was a bit like bumping into an ex wife of 15 years (who was also my 1st love), who I had spurned on a whim – I was tinged with guilt.

    Had I made the right choice?

    The Summer of 96 ‘one off’ tv movie felt like a final farewell, the last nail in the Who coffin.

    Thankfully, Dr Who’s return in 2005 coincided with something akin to a mid-life crisis, so I was free to return to the fold!

    And in 2006 DWM forgave me & we ‘remarried’!

  14. @JimTheFish

    Thanks for the reminder about the Dundee Comics Expo today. I kept forgetting all about it until I saw Judge Dredd walking down the road, which reminded me of your post (He was off to the cosplay next door). I got to have a quick chat with Dan McDaid and took home a few ‘Who’ things including this quick sketch of Davros (‘How about Davros? I’m in the mood for Davros’, he asked, without any provocation!)

  15. @wolfweed — just got back myself. Wish I’d thought to drop you a PM and we could have met up for a swift libation. I was humming and hawing about going until the last minute. Was surprised at how busy it was. Kind of expected a more low-key affair.

    Nice Davros sketch….

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