14 October, 2012

The TARDIS Tales Treasury

The newly-published TARDIS Tales Treasury is a collection of all of the published comic strips by the funny and talented Graham Muir. Graham is a New Zealander who is well-known in local Doctor Who fandom for writing and drawing a long-running humorous comic strip called TARDIS Tales, which often mercilessly poked fun at various aspects of the television series.

The strip's main character was not the Doctor himself (who nevertheless usually appeared in one or more of his incarnations), but rather Saucer, a smart-talking, laid-back, super-intelligent chicken not adverse to ridding himself of bothersome characters in the final frame with a knock-out punch or a blast from a sub-machine gun.

TARDIS Tales made its debut appearance in 1988 in the pages of Time Space Visualiser (TSV), the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club zine. The strip was a well-established regular feature by the time I took on the editorship of the publication for the second time in 1991.

When I became editor I gave the zine a major revamp, changing almost every aspect, but the only feature that I was happy to retain unaltered was TARDIS Tales. I admired Graham's talent and passion for the strip and recognised that his creation had a strong following with readers. I don't recall my exact words all these years later, but I'm fairly sure that my directive to him would have been along the lines of, "keep doing what you're doing, it's great."

Excerpt from TARDIS Tales: The U.N.I.T. Reunion (1992)
TARDIS Tales finally bowed out of TSV six years later. Such was the clamour from fans for new material that Graham was subsequently  persuaded to create a handful of spin-off strips for Telos and Reverse the Polarity!, a couple of Christchurch-based fanzines.

The TARDIS Tales Treasury collects all of Graham's fanzine strips, along with his artwork and some fascinating previously unseen examples of his early unpublished work, under one cover. For the first time Graham's strips are presented at 1:1 scale. I produced TSV's physical masters (in the days before digital publishing) at A4 size, with the printed copies reduced to A5-sized pages. Graham drew his strips at A4 but until now many readers have never seen TARDIS Tales at full size.

But wait, there's more! In addition to the strips and artwork there is also a substantial 'behind-the-scenes' history and examination of the strip, occupying most of the first 75 pages of this 200-page book. Written by Alex Ballingall, the book's editor, compiler and designer, the text section comprehensively chronicles Graham's cartoon work from its beginnings when Muir was doodling during his school days up to the latest (and last?) TARDIS Tales strip completed especially for the Treasury in 2010.

The paperback book is handsomely presented with a full-colour cover by Graham that is a fitting homage to The Dr Who Annual from 1968.

The book has been a long time in development. It was over a decade ago that I first organised a set of copies of the strips from the TSV print masters for this project. I later contributed comments for inclusion in the 'behind-the-scenes' sections and more recently an afterword. Thanks to Alex's perseverance the book has at last been published. 

I am most impressed with the look of the finished, printed book, and it clearly shows that Alex has devoted a lot of time and attention to getting it just right. 

Leafing through this volume I am now inspired to showcase more of TSV's 'back-catalogue' in this format.

Well done, Alex and Graham!

The TARDIS Tales Treasury is available to order here: