I can remember exactly when I came up with the idea for this story. My girlfriend and I had travelled to Spain for a nice relaxing holiday and I noticed a boy happily playing with two action figures by the marina next to where we were staying…
What’s that? Ah, an idea! Quick! Paper and pen… Eureka!
As soon as we had returned home, I contacted Owen Watts, editor of the superb Doctor Who fanzine anthology book, Doctor WTF?! I had read his first Dr WTF?! (2011) publication and it had blown me away. Owen had brilliantly masterminded a comic book full of inventive ideas, told and illustrated by some of the best talents in the Small Press comic industry. It was his first attempt to put together a comic anthology and he passed magnificently with flying colours. Truth be told, I was a bit miffed that I wasn’t invoved (if I recall, I was unavailable) but now… here was my chance.
I was aware that Owen was putting together another Doctor WTF?! anthology and I badly wanted to be part of it. I begged and pitched him my idea… I waited anxiously for a reply… the man from Somerset… he say “YES!” I was very grateful as I knew that Owen’s policies are that the story had to be written by one person and the artwork was to be drawn by somebody else… not by the same person, which, was the case with my strip.
For the concept of Doctor WTF?! Owen laid down some rules. Basically, you’re not allowed to use any of the past or present Doctors, assistants, aliens, monsters, robots etc. The only object you could use was the Tardis. I thought that this was a great idea. This way, Doctor WTF?! offers a refreshing alternative to the existing Doctor Who universe, one that Doctor Who fans wouldn’t have previously seen or potentially see in the future.
After Owen had given me an enthusiastic thumbs up, I went back to the drawing board to create my own Doctor… how exciting! I wanted a Doctor who was full of English debonair, almost arostocratic. He had to have a visual trademark as all of the Doctors have. I decided to give him a monocle. My ever-thoughtful Doctor would have one eye to look over the bigger picture of a task and the monocled one to study the finer details in whatever situation was presented to him. I wanted his assistant, Christina, to be the complete opposite of my newly created Doctor. Chalk and cheese. Visually, I wanted her to be a bratty, Gothy, punk rock chick. Christina was to wear black clothing and the Doctor was to be dressed in white. I wanted this double act to be at the opposite ends of the scales, yet highly compatible.
I had great fun in re-inventing all of the Doctor’s arch-enemies, as seen in the last panel of Larger than Life. This part of the story gave me a chance to inject some of my own humour into a comic strip, which I’d never had the chance to do before. I have always been a big fan of the television and film parodies which have appeared in MAD magazine (especially if Mort Drucker illustrated them). It was highly enjoyable to create visual puns in the same way as one of my influences but in my own flavour. Two of my personal favourite ideas, The ‘Reading’ Angel and The Scare Tescrow, didn’t make it into the final version, due to their puns being too small and becoming lost amongst the other characters. The reinvention of the interior of the Tardis was equally as fun to design as well, especially all of the ‘fun stuff’ on the central console. If I recall, the fish tank was a last minute idea I had during the colouring stages of the page.
Writing and drawing Larger than Life came at a time when I was personally in need to express myself within a comic strip. I don’t see myself as writer as such, but I have a head (and countless of sketchbooks) full of ideas and it was both therapeutic and beneficial to exercise my creative needs. But, more than anything, Larger than Life was fun and to create. In many ways, Larger than Life was a continuation of a theme I had explored in a strip I had written and drawn called ‘A little help from my friends’, which took the reader on a journey of ‘who is real?’ . Since Larger than Life has been published in Doctor WTF?! I have received a number of emails enquiring about the use of Rene Magritte’s painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”) in the second panel of the story. “Did the Doctor collect this painting on his travels through time and space? Is there a connection between the painting and your idea for the story? Is it one of your favorite paintings?” I feel that if I explained why I put Magritte’s masterpiece, which challenges the observers preconditioned perceptions of reality, there would be little left for the reader to discover…