I received my copy of Vworp Vworp! Volume One today.
This is a publication of particular interest to me as it focuses on the history of Doctor Who Magazine, with a particular emphasis on the comic strips. Naturally, some of Vworp Vworp!’s material will be referenced and footnoted in volume two of my book, The Comic Strip Companion.
Vworp Vworp! is currently - and very deservedly - receiving many positive comments online. The A4, perfect bound full colour glossy publication is produced to such a professional standard that it could easily pass for a DWM special issue. It. What is most remarkable is that it is a fanzine, produced not for profit but as a labour of love by editors Grant Kavanagh and Colin Brockhurst.
The content includes an impressive line-up of articles and interviews with such familiar (to long-time DWM readers) names as Dez Skinn, David Lloyd, Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills, David J Howe, Andrew Pixley, Jeremy Bentham, Scott Gray, Clayton Hickman, Ade Salmon, Alan Barnes, Martin Geraghty and more.
Even though the written material is impressive it is just about eclipsed by the visual feast of colour and imagery throughout. If this were a professional publication I would still think it superb. That this quality has been lavished on a non-profit fanzine is, quite frankly, simply astounding.
All this aside, I must declare my own vested interest. My name appears in the “with thanks to” list, but that’s my one and only appearance in the issue. It wasn't always going to be this way, and in fact my involvement in its gestation stretches back over one and a half years.
I first got involved in October 2008 when I discovered online that a one-day event was shortly due to take place dedicated specifically to Doctor Who comics. I greeted this news with mixed feelings of delight and dismay; delight because it was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to attend since I was (and indeed still am) involved in writing a book on this very subject; and dismay because it was due to take place in a pub in Manchester, on the far side of the world. Frustratingly, had this taken place a few scant months earlier when I was still in London, you couldn’t have kept me away.
Had I been able to go, I would most certainly have volunteered as a guest speaker to talk about my book. Instead I did the next best thing. Gareth Kavangh, the organiser, was preparing a Doctor Who comics-themed fanzine called Vworp Vworp! to launch it at the convention. I emailed Gareth and offered to write an article for his zine, and he gladly accepted. I also provided him with some research material for a panel he was running at the event. So, in lieu of being there and giving a talk, I wrote down what I would have said instead. My article discussed my particular interest in Doctor Who comic strips and my book. I knew a number of like-minded comic strip writers, artists and fans would be in attendance and it was an opportunity not to be missed to let them know who I was and what I was doing.
Good plan - in theory. Trouble was, the convention came and went. Gareth ran out of time to get his fanzine together so it wasn’t published in time for the event. These things happen. Not to worry, he was still determined to produce the publication, and still wanted to use my article. In February 2009, Vworp Vworp! writer Matt Badham interviewed me by email about my book. The plan was for this interview to appear alongside my article.
Months passed. Gareth was busy with his Masters degree and the zine understandably had to get placed on the back-burner. By July, Colin Brockhurst had joined Gareth on the project. At this time I pitched a second article idea for the zine, this time a look at how Scott Gray got himself established as a comic strip writer. I interviewed a number of usual suspects, including, crucially, the elusive Scott himself. Before I could deliver the piece I learned that there was no room left in the issue and that the piece was instead under consideration for a planned second volume.
By December I learned that my earlier article and accompanying interview about my book had also been dropped from the issue. This wasn’t too much of a disappointment; during my years as a fanzine editor I was frequently faced with the agonising decision to drop a piece from an issue. That never gets any easier, and I could certainly appreciate that my article and interview were no longer a good fit for the issue's repositioning as a celebration of all things DWM. Besides which, my book still wasn’t finished, let alone scheduled for publication, so it made sense to hold the article over to a later date when it would be more timely.
Still very much eager to help out, I offered Gareth and Colin my services as a proof-reader and fact-checker. This was accepted, and shortly before Christmas last year, I pored through eighty pages of PDFs looking for errors. I came up with a list of sixty corrections, most but not all of which made it into the issue (if you see a few typos on page 79, rest assured that I did point them out!)
Gareth very kindly has sent me a complimentary copy of the issue, which I received in the mail today. I cannot recommend this publication highly enough. Although I saw it all on my computer screen when I was proof-reading, I cannot help but marvel at the final, printed product. It is a thing of beauty; Gareth, Colin and their team of contributors deserve to be very proud indeed of what they have achieved.
Go to www.vworpvworp.co.uk to order, but be quick - they're selling fast!
My only hope is that at least something of mine gets published in volume two...