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MORTAL ENGINES (in cinemas now)

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Top Shelf: Doctor Who Magazine...


Even after almost 40 years, Doctor Who Magazine remains the gold standard in geek-focused magazines, being a genuinely authoritative critical resource on the beloved show, not simply an avenue for puff pieces and press releases.

With the current issue numbered 521 (published on Thursday), the magazine began life back in 1979 (cover price 12p; it's now £5.99), but is still finding minutiae of the show's production to dissect in a reader-friendly fashion, and the ever-consistent volume of spin-off books, audios, and even DVDs to discuss, preview, and review.

In these modern, cash-conscious times, when most news is available for free on the Internet, I still subscribe to DWM because, while some of its news might be old by the time it hits the printed page, the magazine has unprecedented access to the stars and crew of the series - past and present (for instance, in this issue new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over the reins of the monthly Production Notes column to give insight into on-going developments with the programme).

The magazine has always had the blessing and approval of the BBC even though it has been known to take quite a campaigning stance and isn't afraid to let the show's makers know if they are doing something the fans don't approve of.

Produced in Tunbridge Wells by Panini, the glossy, full-colour magazine is always a joy to read because, while not sycophantically oblivious to the programme's shortcomings over the years, it is written by knowledgeable fans with a great grasp of the trivia and folklore that also surrounds it.

These days Doctor Who Magazine includes plenty of news Big Finish and its audio plays, an essential part of the broader Whoniverse that keeps the fans entertained between The Doctor's televised outings.

The halcyon days of coverage of new episodes of companion shows like The Sarah Jane AdventuresTorchwood, and even Class (although it was truly awful) are sadly in the rear view mirror, but at least Torchwood lives on in audio format now (courtesy, of course, of Big Finish).

While its reviews may tend to err on the side of positivity, they're usually thorough and well-written.

The magazine also publishes its own on-going comic strip, which has featured the work of such industry greats as Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Steve Dillon etc; a veritable Who's Who of the British comic book scene of the last four decades.

Unsurprisingly, the latest issue devotes a lot of pages to coverage of the Christmas special and includes a three-page interview with the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker (although, clearly, she's not allowed to say too much - and successfully gives away nothing about the upcoming season).

Every year, the magazine also publishes three special editions, the latest of which was the The Doctor Who Magazine 2018 Yearbook,.

This came out the other week and has a nicely-illustrated, four-page article on Warlord Games' miniatures and their skirmish game, however I don't recall seeing anything similar for the Doctor Who RPG.

I seem to remember a couple of (out-of-date) lines in the special on Doctor Who merchandise last year, but certainly nothing on a par with the coverage Warlord Games got in this issue.

Surely Cubicle 7 is missing a trick here? The publicity of a multi-page splash would raise the game's profile outside of the often-insular RPG community, potentially bring in new players, and reach an audience generally not au fait with the world of RPGs.

The Doctor Who Magazine is essential reading for any fan of the Whoniverse, and everything it contains, and it seems to me this is an untapped market for the roleplaying game.

2 comments:

  1. I had no idea the magazine had such a long and consistent history. That's very impressive...and I can't think of another similar feat in geek media.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I can't think of a comparable example - it really does put other "show-related magazines" in the shade, with its production values, quality of journalism, depth of study etc

      Delete

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