'Doctor Who' In Comics

By: Henry Hanks, Contributor     @hankstv / tvshenry@gmail.com

A person who can travel through time and space in a time machine that looks like a phone box.... Sounds like a superhero!

In many ways, the Doctor (aka Doctor Who) is the UK's ultimate superhero. Since 1963, fans have been thrilling to his adventures on the BBC (aside from that hiatus between 1989-96 and 96-2005).

So it only made perfect sense for the Doctor to appear in the pages of the comics... it's such a perfect fit that "Doctor Who" comics have existed for more than 50 years.

British magazines such as "TV Comic" and "Countdown" were home to "Doctor Who" comics for several years. "Doctor Who" magazine, which is still published today, has also consistently included comic strips featuring the Doctor since it started in 1979 (it makes perfect sense, since Marvel originally published it). 

Marvel's relationship with "Doctor Who" continued in 1980 with the very first full comic book published stateside to feature the Doctor: "Marvel Premiere" #57, with the then-current Fourth Doctor, aka Tom Baker (who continued to be featured for three more issues). 

However, it wouldn't be until 1984 that the first "Doctor Who" ongoing title was introduced by Marvel in the U.S. The Fourth Doctor (still a favorite among many who watched in the 1970s, especially here on PBS) was the one mostly seen in that series. These Marvel comics were all reprints of strips from "Doctor Who" magazine.

15 issues in, the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) became the star of that title, though Marvel was still one Doctor behind the BBC series. Unfortunately, Marvel canceled the title after 23 issues, so the Sixth and Seventh Doctors were never part of it, though comic strips continued in the magazine.

2008 saw the very first American-produced original comic books, as IDW picked up the license (Marvel having lost it many years beforehand). "Doctor Who" had been revived on the BBC and on Syfy in the U.S. (later BBC America), so interest in the character was back in America in a big way. The stories, starting with "Agent Provocateur," were also up-to-date with the TV series and featuring David Tennant's Tenth Doctor (David Tennant of Alias / Jessica Jones / Purple Man fame).

More stories were released over the six years IDW had the rights to the character, including stories with the Eleventh Doctor, and even a crossover with "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Titan Comics picked up the "Doctor Who" license in 2014, and started publishing various titles with the Tenth, Eleventh and new Twelfth Doctor. This was followed by the Third, Fourth, Eighth and Ninth Doctors. 

Now there's more "Doctor Who" on comic book stands than ever before, and as this Christmas brought a new Thirteenth Doctor, portrayed by Jodie Whitaker, it will be exciting to see how she translates to comics in 2018.