Please be patient…

While we get up to date with the mammoth task of shipping out hundreds of orders, we’ve decided to suspend the sale of Volume Two for the time being. As soon as we’ve sent out copies to everyone who’s ordered, to contributors and to specialist shops, we’ll obviously have a clear idea of how much stock we have left and we’ll be able to accept orders again.

So if you’ve missed the boat, please be patient; there will be another one along soon! Keep watching this space!

We also ask patience from those who have yet to receive their copies of Volume Two. We’re getting there :-)

Volume Two is here!

Finally, Vworp Vworp! Volume Two has arrived and a small mountain of copies are currently being despatched by my long-suffering colleague, Mr Gareth Kavanagh. Feedback has been unanimously positive so far, which is lovely to hear after nine weeks or so of delays and disappointments. Thanks, all!

Newly added to this website are four sets of Weetabix/Vworpabix instructions (see menu bar above) and two new wallpapers.

Update update

Well, September 22 came and went…

Apologies to everyone who has been waiting so patiently for their copies of Volume Two. We’ve had a very frustrating time with the printers, which appear to have now been sorted out. They’ve confidently promised us that the magazines will be with us next week, so copies will be sent out in the last week or so of October.

For those who have also ordered copies of Volume One, those will be shipped with Volume Two. We should also have a few more available soon, so if you missed out, keep an eye on this website and our Facebook page for an announcement.



A quick update. We had hoped to get Volume Two out at the beginning of September, but various delays at our printers has set us back a little. We’ve been promised delivery on 22 September, so expect your copies within a couple of weeks of that date. We’re as keen to get printed copies in our hands as you are, after working on the thing for the best part of 18 months! Thank you for your patience.

Main cover Variant cover

Vworp Vworp! Volume Two

It’s been a long wait, but finally Volume 2 is nearly upon us! Within its 104 pages can be found:

  • The first half of our exhaustive Abslom Daak tribute, including interviews with writer Steve Moore, and artists Steve Dillon and David Lloyd. Also a Daak comic strip, written for DWM by Steve Moore in 1980 but withdrawn after a disagreement with the editor, now finally brought to the page by DWM artists Martin Geraghty, Adrian Salmon and Roger Langridge.
  • We’re kicking off our series of DWM editor interviews with a fascinating chat between Dez Skinn and Tom Spilsbury. We also chat to Paul Neary, Alan McKenzie, Cefn Ridout and the elusive Sheila Cranna.
  • Ex-Doctors Tom Baker and Colin Baker talk about their comic strip selves.
  • Dave Gibbons, Steve Parkhouse and Mick McMahon discuss The Tides of Time and Junkyard Demon, and we take in The Lodger with Gareth Roberts and Mike Collins.
  • We’ve got, The Housekeeper, a comic strip written by Paul Magrs and drawn by Bret M Herholz starring Mrs Wibbesey and the Fourth Doctor.
  • And we’ve got an fantastic free gift in the form of a ‘Vworpabix’ board game. Based on the 1970s Weetabix game, ours has 16 character cards by Adrian Salmon and boards by Paul Grist, Jon Pinto, Leighton Noyes and Graeme Neil Reid.
  • Two covers: a wraparound Abslom Daak cover by Mike Collins, and an early Doctor Who Monthly pastiche featuring Junkyard Demon (with Jason Fletcher and Ben Willsher’s take on Daak on the back cover).
  • … and much more!

Preorders for Vworp Vworp! Volume 2 are now open – click on ‘ORDER VWORP VWORP!’ above – and we plan to release it late-August/early-September…

Many thanks for your support!

Vworp launch!

Colin and the Vworps

Gareth’s arranged a little launch party at this month’s Tavern – and Dez Skinn, our adviser and guru throughout the project, as well as the original editor of Doctor Who Weekly and a bit of a legend in the comics world, will be there too, celebrating both all things Vworp and his birthday! If you can make it, it would be wonderful to see you.

The details are on the event’s Facebook page, but in case you’re not Facebookified:

The day:
Thursday, 04 February 2010

The time:
8pm to (approx) 11pm

The location:
The Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NA
[] [Google Maps]

Please note that Gareth and Dez will be bringing some copies of both versions of the zine, but they’re heavy so supplies will be strictly limited!

The long and winding road…

Development hell.

Aside from being one of my favourite pages in SFX back in the pre-internet days, it’s also a phrase I’d never really given much thought to until recently. Because, for nearly three years, that was exactly where Vworp Vworp! was stranded. And an odd place it is too, full of whispers, misery, false dawns and rumour. But then again, without all that time spent languishing in development hell and the accompanying accidents encountered along the way, I honestly believe we’d never have come up with something quite so unique either.

Here’s how it worked. Like Colin, I’d started out in Doctor Who fanzines (in my case, on Black Scrolls alongside Steve Preston), a modest success which ran for eight issues between 1993 and 2005. I loved Black Scrolls and met so many great and talented people along the way, I honestly thought it would never end. Which, of course it did when Steve tired of the colossal task involved in designing and editing. However, like the zine equivalent of Wall-E, it took me some time to realise this fact as I diligently went about collecting material, interviews and other bits and bobs for an Issue 9 that would never come.

Not that I hadn’t kept busy either. By 2006 I’d got pretty immersed in my next project, The Lass O’Gowrie, which is where I met the chaps from Redeye (a fine comics fanzine) who, knowing my time at the coalface with Black Scrolls, pitched me the idea of collaborating on a special edition of Redeye looking at the Doctor Who comic strips. Just the project for me, I thought! So we started the process of planning, plotting and generally hyping ourselves up into a such a rude frenzy that by the time we’d finished, we were planning not a fanzine but a proper book on the subject (little knowing, of course that the infinitely more qualified Paul Scoones was planning exactly such a project at almost exactly the same time as us, although in his case with the willpower to actually do it!). So, amidst several ale-filled meetings in the Snug of the Lass chapters were debated and listed out (for those interested in such things, we were going to do an About Time variant, with plenty of opinions and a detailed focus on a single tale per Doctor. Wildly ambitious!), tasks divvied up and naturally, collections of DWM all streamlined and collated. We were ready to go. Except, of course nothing actually happened.

One of several wise things I’ve learned off Dez Skinn during the long gestation of this project is ‘don’t talk, just do’. In other words, only talk about things when you actually have something to show. And that was the problem, for all the talk, no-one ever wrote anything! Not one word (as an aside, the same fate befell another planned underground fanzine that briefly reared its head during 2006 – Alt Universe, that we were all going to write under pseudonyms until someone pointed out how damaging this may be for the two graphic artists on the team if word got out, who coincidentally were also working on official Who commissions at the same time).

So the meetings get more awkward, the plans get scaled back and scaled back to eventually nothing. 2007 rolls into 2008, and apart from a legendary interview with Ade Salmon in the Snug and a chat with Alan Barnes, nothing really advances so Vworp Vworp! goes back to sleep for another year, to be replaced by – yes you’ve guessed it, the legendary Black Scrolls #9. Yes, Steve almost changes his mind when I point out I’ve got a host of interviews and other material already banked. Things like a fantastic and varied chat with Paul Cornell on Human Nature (which really does deserve to see the light of day, if only for the rich discussion of religious iconography in the show and a fascinating insight into RTD’s attitude to faith), a warts-and-all interview with Anneke Wills (that amongst other things, outed Hartnell as a tightwad in the pub), a Heat-style chat with Sophie Aldred (that eventually makes it’s way into Shooty Dog Thing), a brilliant chat on Life on Mars with Matthew Graham (which finally escaped, over at Kasterborous) and more Sol 3 silliness. Anthony Dry maps out a marvellous cover, Steve does a first draft of Anneke Wills and everything looks good for approximately six weeks before everything fizzles out inexplicably.

So with three projects simultaneously marooned in development hell (or let’s be frank, stone cold dead), it is with great surprise that I agree in the summer of 2008 to pick the gauntlet of Vworp Vworp! back up, only this time as a one-off fanzine. So, given the material with Ade already in the can, I spend a very pleasant day or two by the pool mapping out something for the Cybermen section. More meetings follow, with lots of ‘ooohs and ahhhs’. We even talk about getting the fanzine ready a few months later for a one day pubcon all about the Who comics at the Lass O’Gowrie to coincide with the Manchester Literary Festival in October. Four months I think, easy. All I need is a designer and a bit more content!

So off to Outpost Gallifrey I go, boldly announcing both our inaugural pubcon (which went ahead to fair acclaim – check out this link) and, completely forgetting Skinn’s Law of ‘do, don’t tell’, a brilliant new fanzine to go with the day. Looking back, I really must have begun to believe my own hype as despite having only three months to go, no designer onboard and only enough content for 50% of a 32-page publication, I felt confident of success. I even found a willing designer over at Outpost Gallifrey (who I’m delighted to say has made the leap into proper, paid official Who commissions – so congratulations and apologies for what I put you through in equal measures, Iain!) willing to work to such a crazily short timescale, and despite all this, missed the target horribly.

You also learn that both events and time are the real mortal enemy. In this case, I’d totally underestimated how much effort goes into organising a con as well as foolishly starting a Masters in Planning to reignite my consulting career as well as keeping a pub on the rails. I like to be busy, you see. So the con comes and goes and the fanzine idles in the workshop, again.

2009 arrives, but like an itch I can’t get to – Vworp Vworp! nags away at me. Some of the non-comics material begins to escape via Kasterborous and Shooty Dog Thing, which helps but doesn’t hit the spot either. So, in an attempt to soothe this constant, nagging itch, I begin to pick away at it. So, John Daiker finishes off the Master strip in the midst of an economic meltdown in North Dakota, Dez Skinn chats the weekly and Iain and I try to get going again with designing out and completing section. But the moment has gone, and with Iain then moving on from the project having plenty of other things on his plate, it becomes quickly clear something new is going to be required.

And with this dawning realisation, comes the first bit of real luck the project has enjoyed for some time. As Colin freely mentions over on his entry, we first got in touch over on the old OG to discuss a little paid job involving flyers and logos for the Lass O’Gowrie. And having found him so refreshing to work with, as well as tough and frank when needed (and yes Colin, with hindsight it would have been madness to do 1000 flyers advertising business meeting hire of the Salmon Rooms featuring Morgus and Krau Timmin….), I just felt that here was the divining force the project really needed. So, with the offer accepted be started pinging emails around and the project rolled and rolled and rolled.

I was fascinated to read Colin freely admitting he was previously more of a lone wolf on these projects, as to my mind I’ve never worked with someone more suited to the shared creative endeavour. Apart from the fact that the previous three years had brutally taught me that dragging this load of coal up the hill was at least a two man job, if we were to avoid it becoming a rerun of Sisyphus and his wretched ball (from Greek myth, or for the more classically minded amongst you, Ulysses 31), we just clicked, saving the project in the process. Key to it all was communication and, above all, trust. I didn’t see the finished articles for ‘Who Cares!’ and ‘Time Toons’ until relatively late, but they were spot on. No, better than that – perfect. And when, all of a sudden, we were chatting with our heroes about the comics that, for them, were at the beginning of long and distinguished careers – Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills, Dave Lloyd, Steve Moore (held over for Vol 2, it’s a cracker!), Dez Skinn – you begin to feel this is a project that has found its feet.

Summer 2009 becomes a blur. I’m finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on my thesis (I mean, who’s got more chance of holding my attention, ‘The 24 hour city is a myth [discuss]‘, or tales of Dez Skinn and the drinks cabinet hi-jinks at Marvel towers), but grind on nevertheless. Draft layouts zip round, design touches come and go. It’s becoming a correspondence, almost intimate like something out of Les Liasons Dangereux (although we never meet or even speak on the phone). The work becomes our shared obsession. Increasingly I come to realise that Colin is doing far more than designing this work of art. He’s shaping it as co-editor, so that’s what we agree he should become. And then, in a touch of genius, Colin suggests we celebrate not only the strips but the Doctor Who Magazine itself. Genius. This ultimate piece of merchandise, the thing that all of us have bought at one time or the other and for a very long time, the solitary light in the darkness for Who fans deserves something on the 30th anniversary in October 2009 (ooops, we nearly made it though).

And the amazing thing is, how pleasant and amicable things have been. Not to say there’s not been debate, far from it. But I can honestly say the decisions made have been better for it. It probably also tells me I’m better working with others, which bodes well for Vol 2!

So, here’s to Vworp Vworp!. The magazine that, by all accounts, should not exist and yet is undoubtedly better for the hell we’ve been through to get it to you.

It is ‘transfurs’, isn’t it?

As I write, 7% of the Vworp Vworp! PDFs are with the printers. The little transfer bar’s barely moving – this may take a while…

12% It’s an odd feeling to finally relinquish something I’ve been working on for so long. I’ve just checked, it was on July 6th last year when Gareth first invited me onboard. The previous designer had been forced to drop out (busy working for Big Finish or some fool nonsense) and, as I’d proved myself reasonably capable by coming up with some flyers and posters for Gareth’s pub, The Lass O’Gowrie (“The best pies in Manchester!”), he wondered if I fancied “taking on design duties”? I thought about it for at least a second before agreeing.

19% Now, I doubt many of you will remember my previous tentative step into the world of Doctor Who fanzines. It was a thing called Circus that ran for nine issues and was quite popular for a time. The last issue came out around 2001, with me cursing bitterly that the internet was killing the good old printed fanzine. By 2009 I was really missing editing and designing fanzines, so, with me having been made redundant one day after returning from my Christmas hols and no new job on the horizon, Gareth’s proposal couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m not sure he realised the monster he was taking on though – within weeks I was already suggesting new articles and interviews, questioning some of the old ones, and bringing the whole ‘Thirtieth Anniversary of DWM‘ angle into the mix – what should have been a couple of months’ work stretched on. And on. And…

26% (26%! I’m already thinking, worrying. What if there’s not enough bleed? What if the page numbers aren’t readable? What if converting from RGB to CMYK renders the whole thing unreadable? Did I remember to spell poor old Richard Bignell’s name right this time? Will DWM sue us? Will the transfers actually work?)

31% So anyway, I’ve not done much designy stuff in colour before, certainly not an entire 48-page magazine (because that’s what it was back then. Haha, naïve young fools!). I’d designed my fair share of wine labels, newsletters and flyers, and had been trying for years to persuade Big Finish that I could whip up a mean CD cover (to no avail), but the thought of assembling an attractive magazine in full colour, with no design elements in place, filled me with apprehension. Plus there was the small matter that – whisper it – the Doctor Who comic strip had, until then, never held much interest for me. I didn’t tell Gareth that, of course. And don’t worry, I bloody love them now (what was I thinking?!).

45% It’s been fantastic. I’ve come into contact with lots of amazingly talented people – we’ve interviewed Dave Gibbons, for goodness’ sake! I’ve spoken to cartoon creators whose stuff I grew up with: Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett, for example, whose first ‘Doctor Who?’ cartoon appeared in my first issue of Doctor Who Monthly. Leighton Noyes, who I’d always assumed was merely an anagram, not the really friendly, really generous and really real person I spoke to. On the other hand there was Baxter Sullivan, who I assumed was a real person and turned out to be someone else entirely.

66% And it’s been incredibly rewarding collaborating with Gareth too. I’d always been a bit of a one man band with Circus, so I was initially a little worried whether the arrangement would work out. I can be a stubborn bugger some times, but having someone there to point out that my way might not be the best way has taught me a lot, most of all humility. Best of all, the final product is, I think, far better than either of us ever imagined. It’s certainly the most rewarding project I’ve ever been involved in, and much of that is down to m’colleague. You never know, we might ever meet up one day…

74% And don’t get me started on the genius that is Ben Willsher. Or “Brillsher” as I call him. I’ll write another blog post about the covers soon, but until then I’ll just say that the multi-Doctor cover could never have happened without him (and some initial help from the ridiculously busy Roger Langridge).

79% I’m beginning to gush like RTD in one of his Production Notes. Without the wit. (We tried to get him in Vworp!, you know. He never replied. Just because he was off being a hugely successful scriptwriter in LA! Some people…) Vworp Vworp! Volume One contains the words “interregnum”, “Waxman” and “Busby”. And no others.

86% Ah yes, “Volume One”. Gareth’s thread on the Gallifrey Base forum still has “one-shot” in the title. For a couple of months it was indeed intended to be a one-off, then, because I was rather enjoying myself and knew we’d have enough material to fill several issues, with lots of juicy interviews promised to us (not least Dave Gibbons on his Davison strips and Steve Moore on Abslom Daak), I dropped the bombshell that Vworp Vworp! HAD to be an ongoing zine. I could almost hear Gareth choking on an exquisite pie from 200 miles away, but he soon agreed. So we’ve already started work on Volume Two, with lots more exciting stuff lined up. We’ve got Steve Parkhouse! John Ridgway! Mike McMahon! David Lloyd! More articles and comic strips and, if everything works out, another stunning cover!

94% Nearly there. This is it, no turning back now. I remember my dad buying me a Star Wars comic in the early 80s. Emblazoned in huge, loud type across the top were the words “FREE BAGDE”! If that little gem got past countless editors, what chance have we got with long words like ‘Celebrate’ (imagine it: “WE CELIBATE 30 YEARS OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE!”) on the cover? How many “DELGARDO”s and “DAVIDSON”s have we missed? Surely there must be at least one hugely embarrassing typo within, some massive clunker that escaped our loyal band of proof-readers? Oh God, 99%, there’s still time to hit cancel…

100% Oh.