The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Absent Friends

To answer a FAQ that’s been frequently asked elsewhere.

Why isn’t Rory in the DWM comic strip? Is it because the writer doesn’t like him, or the magazine doesn’t like him, or the artists find it difficult to do justice to Arthur Darvill’s nose?

No. None of those things. Brilliant character, fantastic actor. The reasons are as follows.

1) When I started writing the run of 11th Doctor comic strips, back in November 2009, it wasn’t generally known that Rory would become a companion, so clearly I couldn’t have included him in the first story as that would’ve been a spoiler. I’m not sure I knew that he would become a companion, I try to avoid spoilers myself.

2) Ever since then, the comic strips have been a continuous run of stories, allowing no breaks for TV adventures or an unseen adventure in which Rory is picked up. I hesitate to use the word ‘arc’ but it gives us the opportunity to create links and an ongoing narrative elements between stories. Which have proved popular in the past and will hopefully please people this time.

3) Having companions appear and disappear from the comic strip out of the blue is annoying, and makes the comic strips look like that their continuity is subordinate to that of the TV show. Even though that is the case, it’s not healthy to draw attention to it. As a reader I remember being very irritated when the strip incorporated companions like Peri/Ace/Benny etc. for a few stories only to lose them again without explanation.

4) Nevertheless it is important that the comic strips fit into the continuity of the TV show, and now we’ve decided ‘where the comic strips go’ we can’t change it. It’s the gap between Vincent And The Doctor and The Lodger.

And finally, and in my opinion, most importantly,

5) Comic strips are a very different narrative form to television programmes, particularly when those comic strips are limited to telling stories in 10 page chunks. There is a limited amount of room to express character, and if the Doctor had two companions, it would mean they each got a smaller slice of the action and there was even less space for the non-recurring characters. Also, in terms of narrative, it’s trickier telling a story with three leads than with two. I’m sure we’re all familiar with how tiresome it is when writers have to resort to locking secondary characters up for the duration because there isn’t enough story to go round. Not to mention how complicated speech bubbles get once you have three characters talking in the same panel. So given the choice I’d opt for the Doctor and Amy rather than the Doctor, Amy and Rory.

But, of course, all this may change in the future. Who knows.