Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Doctor Who Storybook 2007 - ed. Clayton Hickman

The cover art on The Doctor Who Storybook 2007 is by Alister Pearson and it is SO eye-catching; it features a painting of the 10th Doctor and Rose and I encourage you to check out the larger version. This collection has seven fantastic stories written by the finest Doctor Who writers around. It also has illustrations that bring an already fantastic set of stories to life - and this is from someone who normally takes little notice of illustrations - so you know they must be good, if I'm commenting on them !

The seven stories are as follows:

"Cuckoo's Spit" by Mark Gatiss (writer of one of my favourite Season 1 New Who stories, "The Unquiet Dead") and is written in the style of a diary. It's a dark and gripping story with some great one-liners, accompanied by illustrations by Daryl Joyce (which help to add to the eerie atmosphere).

"The Cat Came Back" is by Gareth Roberts which I could easily imagine being made into a TV episode as it features so many strands of "Classic Who" and some good continuity too. Roberts' story is illustrated by Martin Geraghty, whose work manages to bring the poignant moments of the story to life.

"Once Upon a Time" is by Tom MacRae and from the outset it draws the reader into the narrative, in a warm manner. Viewers of the Season 2 two-parter "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Age of Steel", may be surprised at how stylistically different this story is. Adrian Salmon's line drawings are quite compelling.

"Gravestone House" is by Justin Richards and it's a tale full of intrigue and mystery. There's a bit in the cemetery that was quite chilling and when the Doctor asks Rose "What's got my leg?" I gulped in surprise ! Andy Walker's illustrations are striking and just a bit too realistic if you're reading this one at night !

Robert Shearman's story is the called "Untitled", rather intriguingly. He manages to capture the relationship and dialogue between the 10th Doctor and Rose perfectly. It's a well-paced and imaginative narrative that will make me think twice before I ever visit an art gallery again (and I don't visit them that often, anyway !) Brian Williamson's illustrations are unnervingly good.

Nicholas Briggs is best known to "New Who" viewers as the man behind the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen, but he's an accomplished author too. His story "No One Died"'starts off with tongue-in-cheek references to some 1960s (off screen) "Doctor Who" history. It's a mystery story and shows that Briggs paid attention to the stories about Poirot and Miss Marple penned by Agatha Christie. Ben Wilsher's illustrations are a fine accompaniment that could be translated fairly easily into an animated version of the story.

The final story, "Corner of the Eye" is by Steven Moffat, writer of some of my favourite "New Who" episodes (the chilling Season 1 episode "The Empty Child" and its triumphant sequel, "The Doctor Dances", and the beautiful Season 2 episode, "The Girl in the Fireplace"). Moffat's story is written in the style of an instant message conversation between two characters. I can't say too much about it without giving everything away, but it's quite a dark story, with an almost sombre tone that made me think about it for some time after reading it. The ending is quite creepy and may just leave you looking over your shoulder. The illustrations are by Daryl Joyce and are quite spooky on their own !

Also included in the Storybook is a comic strip called "Opera of Doom", written by Jonathan Morris and with pencil art by Martin Geraghty. I don't normally "get" comics or graphic novels, but I did read and enjoy this strip, which is conveniently located in the middle of the book, and provided a nice breather between the text-based stories. Morris' narrative is set in Venice and is quite cunning.

This a great book for older children and adults alike and I recommend it.

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