Doctor Who: Interview with Ninth Doctor Comic Writer Cavan Scott

In 2014, Titan Comics began publishing new Doctor Who adventures, taking over the reins from IDW, the publisher who handled the property’s comics through the show’s 50th anniversary. They’ve published Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctor-based stories, but this week marks the beginning of a five-issue miniseries with the Ninth. I had a chance to interview the writer, Cavan Scott, over email regarding his story process, as well as some additional thoughts on Doctor Who as a whole.

With art by Blair Shedd, Issue #1 in the Ninth Doctor miniseries takes place after “Boom Town,” with Captain Jack Harkness joining Rose Tyler and the Doctor on another adventure. Here’s the trailer:

SH: Given that this story happens somewhat early in Rose and the Doctor’s relationship, and very early with Jack, how did you make sure to keep their voices consistent with that time? Any tricks to not accidentally reference events to come?

CS: Well, first and foremost I watched those stories over and over and over again to familiarize myself with their speech patterns.

As for accidentally referencing events to come, I’ve just had to forget anything that happens after “Boom Town,” although I’ve had a little fun foreshadowing some of the events of “Parting of the Ways” and beyond.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 (Titan Comics, 2015)
(Click to enlarge) Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 (Titan Comics, 2015)

SH: The first issue has one reference to the Doctor’s jealousy of Rose fancying Jack a little. What are your thoughts on their interactions as a threesome, so to speak?

CS: Oh, they work so well together. They’re a joy to write, all that banter and mickey-taking. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see more of them together on screen. They just worked from the moment they met. Hopefully this miniseries goes part of the way to remedy that.

SH: You’ve said before that you think that if the Doctor hadn’t met Rose, he would have turned into a very different man. What do you think would have happened?

CS: I think he would have gone into a bit of a spiral, and possibly become more dangerous than he actually is. We saw in “Dalek” how she made him realise what he had the potential to become. Certainly, he changes subtly as the 2005 season continues. At the beginning, you get the feeling that he’s trying to remember how to be the Doctor. Trying too hard sometimes. But by the end, he’s 100% Doctor. A lot of that is to do with Miss Tyler — and, it has to be said, Jack, as well.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 (Cover by Alice X Zhang)
Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 (Titan Comics, 2015). Cover by Alice X Zhang.

SH: How do you view the Doctor Who Canon? Do the books and comics “count” in the same way that the show and audios do?

CS: I think canon is whatever you want to be. Obviously the TV show is king, trumping all others, but the books and the comics give you a chance to explore different things.

Personally, the comics have always been a massive part of Doctor Who for me, ever since I started to read the serialized strips in Doctor Who Monthly when I was a kid. Doctor Who is so well suited for comics, all the action and the aliens – and the quieter more introspective moments too.

SH: The modern era of the show has mainly focused on female companions. How well do you think they’ve done in writing them as fully realized people? Are some better than others? What traits do you think make for an excellent companion?

I think twenty-first century Doctor Who has had some amazing companions. I know a lot of fans were upset by the idea of giving them families and domestic set-ups [Writer’s note: certainly not this fan], but I was and am all for it. It’s grounded them. I’m not saying the companions of 20th century Who are bad by any means, but most of the time you never found out anything about their lives before they met the Doctor. I like knowing where they came from, what makes them tick — and why they’re so keen to go with the Doctor anyway. I also like the fact that they’re not perfect. I mean, at times, Rose was just horrible to people. It’s what made her so interesting.

As for what traits, my wish list would be:

  1. To have a good sense of humour and be well-versed in banter. (But not too much arguing please. These adventures are supposed to be the time of your life not a chance to moan and whinge!)
  2. To be loyal to the Doctor, but never afraid to question his decisions and actions.
  3. To make things happen rather than waiting for things to happen to them.
  4. To ask questions, but be able to come up a good many answers themselves.
  5. Not to fall in love with a character they’ve only just met. Ever.

Is that a subtle dig at Martha at the end? Man, you get surprisingly snogged by David Tennant, followed by meeting Shakespeare because of this man, and tell me you’re not going to be like, “Yes, I’ll have some of that, please.”

Then again, I always did find it a little weird that Jo Grant decided to marry the scientist Clifford Jones after just meeting him in “The Green Death.”

I digress.

Thanks to Cavan Scott for chatting with me. Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1 arrives April 1. It’s an outstanding start to a new story, in both its writing and its artwork, and I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out. We all need more Captain Jack Harkness in our lives, yeah?

Gif from Doctor Who of a naked Captain Jack Harkness saying, "Ladies!"

How many of you have read the comics? Do you have any particular “rules” when it comes to the canon? Give a shout in the comments.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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