Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Doctor Who Monster Book.

Doctor Who Monster Book, Chris Achilleos
Forget Spider-Man. If you have any sense at all, there's only one thing in this world that you want to see stuck to the side of a building.

And that's a police box.

Reader, in 1977, I saw that police box. It was stuck to the side of a building in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, Britain, Europe, the Earth.

Inside that police box was not a policeman. It was an exhibition.

It was a Doctor Who Exhibition. An exhibition that could only be accessed by entering that box and then descending a flight of stairs, into a basement.

Within that basement were many things.

There was a Dalek threatening you as you arrived.

There was a Sea Devil pointing its deadly round thing at you.

There were yet more Daleks, roaming around on rails, doing yet more threatening.

On the walls were stills from the making of the show, including the story The Talons of Weng-Chiang. How all visitors must have gasped at the site of ex-jungle-brawler Leela being nibbled on by a giant rat.

Most important of all to this story, there was a shop. And that shop sold only things related to the universe's greatest Time Lord.

From that shop, I got The Doctor Who Monster Book, a staple-bound book filled with articles about the Doctor's greatest enemies. In its centre was a poster by Chris Achilleos, the man who did all those covers for the show's epic Target novelisations.

In the modern age, none of this might seem that exciting but, in the dark days of the 1970s, when the internet didn't yet exist and old episodes couldn't be found on videotape, a book filled with photos of the show's greatest menaces was a Godsend. At last I could be reacquainted with the monsters I recalled from years gone by and I could meet other monsters I had no memory of at all.

There was a Giant Robot. There was a Zygon. There were hordes of Daleks on Westminster Bridge and a Mechanoid doing whatever it was Mechanoids did. Most intriguingly of all, there were the Zarbi, man-sized ants with human legs. What terrible powers of evolution had combined to create such a creature? Truly, this was the greatest book ever published.

I accept that this site is called Steve Does Comics and that that book was not a comic. But I don't care. Some things are so awesome they have to be shared with the world. Even things that aren't comics.

And if you fear it's too much to ask of flesh and blood to endure a post about a book on a comics site, just thank Rassilon I didn't do a post about the picture cards I used to get from boxes of tea. Now there is a post I'm saving up for when I have nothing at all else left to write about.


Colin Jones said...

Talking of police boxes - when I was about 10 (so 1976-ish) we went on a school day-trip and suddenly we saw a police box - we were all staring in astonishment at THE TARDIS !!!! Of course it was just an ordinary police box that was still around but none of us had ever seen one except on Doctor Who so to us it was a Tardis standing in the street !!!

Steve W. said...

There's a police box still stood directly outside Sheffield Town Hall. Sometimes they leave the door open. Every time they do it, I'm still disappointed that it isn't bigger on the inside than the outside.

Anonymous said...

As a kid I absolutely loved this book - haven't seen a copy or even thought about it much since the late 70s, but now you mention it I can still see a lot of the pages in my mind.

Strange how that works really, as unlike you I'm not much of a fan - I mean, I was mad for Dr Who as a kid, but even before Tom Baker left I'd started to lose interest, and once he was gone that was it. I just grew out of it (its not as if we're talking about something important like comics, right?), And yet I very much enjoyed this post.

Nice one, Steve. Although - don't take this the wrong way - I think it means I should maybe get out a bit more.


Colin Jones said...

My relationship to Doctor Who was exactly the same as Sean's - I was a regular viewer in the '70s but had rather lost interest by 1980 and I didn't like '80s Who at all (could anybody really follow Tom Baker?) - I've only seen a handful of the new ones but they seem a bit bland to me. I was in Tesco's this morning and I saw a Doctor Who book on sale with Peter Capaldi on the cover - I think that had something to do with Who monsters as well but I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of discoveries....

Steve!!!! I went poking around the internet and finally found that show I was trying to remember. It was called Monday, Monday. Lasted all of 7 episodes before being cancelled. May have run during the summer of 09? Anyhoo, I kept thinking I had missed the ending, turns out, there wasn't one.

And I'm with Colin on the new Dr Who. If I have nothing better to do, I watch but I don't even DVR it so.....

The Prowler (And the days they get longer and longer and the nighttime is a time of little use for I just get ugly and older I get juiced on Mateus and just hang loose).

Steve W. said...

Prowler, I must confess that Monday Monday completely bypassed me.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I have to say I have never understood the real heartfelt passion some folk have for Dr Who -as a kid I did watch it and enjoyed it (but to be honest in the late 60s - mid 70s there wasn't that much on TV for kids after 4pm) I was too old for Tom Baker being about 15- 20 when he did that role but I do recall thinking he was good when I did see the odd episode.

I did really like the first version (Eccleston) of the new Dr Who and Neil Tennants role but I only watched it now and then -I think you need that "connection" to be made when your young

There are quite a few old Police Boxes in Glasgow city centre area - One is a coffee kiosk and one sells ice cream (in Glasgow I assume its not open that often) another is/was a tourist info box and a few others dotted around - you always see (particularly) Japanese Dr Who tourist fans taking pictures at these all excited , its quite endearing actually.

Dougie said...

I love the idea of Neil Tennant playing Dr. Who. The Pet Shop Boys: Transcendentally.

The b/w photos of 60s Who in this book were its real attraction for me. I got it as a Xmas present in 1975.

At the moment, I'm getting more enjoyment out of Audio Who than Capaldi's version. But there have been about three times in my life where my love for Dr. Who has wavered then re-ignited. I can't explain it.

Colin Jones said...

Last night I finally got around to watching two Capaldi episodes (on iplayer) and I thought he was terrific - in my opinion he's the first actor since Tom Baker who really feels like the Doctor and not just somebody playing the part. I'll probably (shock, horror) watch more of his Doctor Who episodes - heck, I might even watch them all !! Of course this probably means he'll be fired before too long and replaced with a young, "cool" Doctor who's down with the kids. Steve, are you aware that tomorrow (the 19th) is exactly 40 years since POTA No.1 and Dracula Lives No.1 went on sale ? POTA No.5 was my first ever Marvel comic so tomorrow and November 16th are important anniversaries for me.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

LOL I didn't notice that err mix up Dougie - sorry meant David Tennant.
I've only seen stills of Peter (nearly typed in "Jim" there LOL) Capaldi as Dr Who but anyone notice the Dr Strange like pose in a few of these pics??

Wow was it really 40 years ago Colin? that is scary I vividly recall picking these 2 comics up in a newsagents in Blantyre (just outside Glasgow) never followed them every week but regret that a bit as they both had some great strips that I missed, especially POTA

Steve W. said...

Colin, I didn't know that. Thanks for telling me. I think I may now have the subject for my next post now.

Colin Jones said...

Paul, when I saw POTA No.5 on sale I thought it was something to do with the TV show which was being broadcast at the same time - I'd never heard of the POTA films or Marvel comics (the first two years of Marvel UK completely passed me by). Apparently the POTA TV show was never shown on STV which is a shame. Without the TV show I'd probably never have bought the POTA comic and might never have gotten into Marvel comics.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, you're welcome - glad to be of service !!!

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I wasn't even aware that there was a TV show (and then a cartoon version) in the 70s until much much later Colin as you say they never aired in Scotland (no idea why that was the case) so I couldn't understand why Marvel decided to produce a Monthly mag in the US and a weekly in the UK for a film that had all but run out of steam by 1974 - still it was a good decision ( Dracula lives was also a brave move as horror comics never really made it in the UK although the US " Tomb of Dracula" reprints were fantastic)

Looking forward to Steve's next post now if its Dracula Lives /POTA related

Anonymous said...

There are probably a lot of young (and even middle aged) people who have never seen a real police box. They have been replaced by two-way radios (for constables who need to call HQ) and cell phones (for citizens who need to call 999). I did read, in Starlog or Fantastic Films, that they used a police box for the TARDIS because that's what the BBC had on hand at the time.

One of the funniest skits on "Whose Line Is It Anyway" was when the prop was a rubber bath mat, and the comedian said, "I don't see how the BBC expects me to make fifty monsters for 'Doctor Who' out of this."

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