29 October, 2006

This is 40

In the TSV online archive project I've finally hit the 40 issue milestone. That issue was published in July 1994, which marked the seventh anniversary of TSV (on average that's very nearly one issue every two months for the first seven years which is pretty good going and quite remarkable considering how few and far between issues have been published in more recent years).

With TSV 40 it seemed like the zine had achieved a greater importance and recognition. This was all due to the interview with Seventh Doctor era script editor Andrew Cartmel.

An Andrew Cartmel interview was at the time one of the holy grails of Doctor Who fandom. Cartmel was regarded as reclusive and mysterious, declining all requests to talk about his time working on the show. What part had he played in shaping the direction of the series and developing Sylvester McCoy's 'Dark Doctor'? What had been prepared for Season 27 and what was the so-called 'Cartmel Master Plan'? These questions remained unanswered as long as Cartmel kept his silence. He'd been interviewd by other publications about his New Adventures novel (Cat's Cradle: Warhead) and his DWM comic strips, but wouldn't discuss his stint as script editor. I think Cartmel had seen the way a section of fandom had treated producer John Nathan-Turner and former script editor Eric Saward, both of whom had given many interviews, and decided that if he remained silent, there was little that anyone could say about him.

Cartmel finally relented, apparently due to the persuasive charms of David Bishop, David hd been trying to get Cartmel to agree to an interview for months. As I recall, David Bishop met Andrew Cartmel through Judge Dredd: The Megazine, which David was editing at the time. That David got the interview where all others had failed was a testament to his persistence, and what was even more remarkable, from my perspective, was that he gave the interview to TSV, free of charge.

David Bishop had moved to the UK in 1990 but never abandoned his support of TSV. David believed in what I was doing and seized on any opportunity that came his way to generate interview material, recognising that it was very hard for a New Zealand fanzine to secure and conduct interviews with UK-based Doctor Who personalties. I am eternally grateful to David for this support, and the Andrew Cartmel interview remains one of the shining jewels in the TSV back catalogue.

The Andrew Cartmel interview occupies over a third of the print version issue, leaving little room for many other features. Some TSV readers said that the interview ought to have been spread over three issues but I was aware that it was likely that DWM or another magazine would respond after seeing the first instalment by either buying up the entire interview or conduct their own and I was therefore worried that this would see print before we had published the remaining parts. Sure enough, within a fortnight of the issue's publication

Doctor Who Magazine editor Gary Russell did indeed snap up the reprint rights, but to Gary's and DWM's credit, they didn't publish the issue until the following year, giving TSV time to gain recognition first - and we did receive a small footnote in DWM acknowledging TSV as the source. DWM bought the interview off David (which made me feel better about not being able to pay him for his efforts - although I did give him a free subscription). The DWM version (published in 1995) was heavily edited and re-worded; the original interview only ever appeared in TSV 40.

In addition to the usual reviews, TSV 40 also featured the return of the popular TARDIS Tales cartoon in a New Adventures-inspired adventure, a study of the Krynoids and a collection of deleted scenes from Ghost Light.

TSV 40 was one of the most heavily illustrated issues published to date, largely due to the prolific Tim Hill, an Auckland fan still in his early teens who was adept at producing artwork very quickly. I briefed him that we needed a lot of artwork for a major feature covering the entire Seventh Doctor era, without letting on that this was an Andrew Cartmel interview to maintain the surprise and prevent any leaks. Tim delivered a stack of artwork very quickly and also drew the front cover, a minimalist design featuring a moody portrait of the Seventh Doctor which I think nicely tied in with the 'dark Doctor' aspect discussed by Andrew Cartmel in his interview. The issue was delayed by a few days due to the cover being initially misprinted with the artwork not centred.

Reaching TSV 40 in the online archive project is also significant because back in January 2002 when I was planning to electronically capture and restore each issue for online publication, I selected this issue as a test case. I scanned all of the text and artwork from cover to cover to see how much work would be involved (although almost all of the text had originally been produced on a computer, the computer files were lost in a hardrive crash in 1998).

Having successfully created a new electronic copy of TSV 40, I then went back to the beginning and began working forward from the first issue. TSV 1 went online in September 2002; four years later, TSV 40 has finally arrived online.

Click here to begin reading TSV 40.

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