Hi Nick. What are the most challenging stories you’ve ever written, and what made them so challenging?
Probably the biggest project I ever took on was LAIKA, which was a labor of love about the first earthling in orbit. She was a little Russian dog who was sent into space by the Soviets in 1957 in Sputnik II, only the second artificial satellite ever. It was a pivotal point in history, in the space race and in the technological society we live in today, so I had to do a lot of research, both factual and visual (I was drawing it as well as writing it).
I wanted to make it absolutely authentic to the period, I wanted to make sure it was utterly rooted in established events, and I wanted to dramatize these. So, although it was very thoroughly researched, and almost a biography of the dog’s life, there are also portions of the book that are essentially historical fiction, many human elements and standpoints too that it seemed only fair to include as they were all part of the story. It was a huge narrative to weave together.
Where does your work on the Doctor Who range for Titan come on the scale?
Doctor Who is different, although, in its own way, just as complex. Doctor Who has more than half a century of history and continuity, which although you shouldn’t necessarily feel you need to be slavish to, you have to at least be aware of. Every era has its own continuity also, which you want to aacknowledge. The challenges are different though… I find that my Doctor Who stories are very character-led, which I feel is a strength of mine anyway. But I’m old-school too, I like scary threats and weird aliens and artificial life forms, so it’s fun to be allowed to get inventive about those things, give the imagination a good workout. I like a laugh and I like big, hard SF ideas too… Doctor Who’s such an incredibly flexible format, it allows for me to really let rip with my imagination. There’s always room for many different things to come together in Doctor Who.
You’ve worked for some of the biggest names in comic-books – DC, Marvel, 2000AD, as well as adding your own stamp on the comic-book world with things like Hugo Tate. What are you proudest of to date? And what would you still like to achieve?
I’m proud of all of them, although the artist part of me tends to hate the last thing I drew and it takes me about five years to come around to it! As a writer, I’m very happy with how we got our tenth Doctor book off to a good start. I think in the end, I’d have to choose LAIKA, which I researched and both wrote and drew. But I’m proud of all my work and the fact that not one book or project is very much like another. They’re all “my kids,” and they’re all different. Working on Doctor Who is a huge thing for me though – it’s been a part of my life forever, so it’s lovely to be able to contribute in a small way to this vast,ever- unfolding mythology.
I have a lot of things I’d still like to do… I recently realized I have too many ideas to develop; there’s probably not enough time to get around to doing all of them before I die. So I try to make each day count.
How aware were you of the Tenth Doctor before working on the range?
Very well aware. I actually co-wrote the tenth Doctor’s debut in comic strips way back in 2006 in Doctor Who Magazine (collected as The Betrothal of Sontar, recently reprinted by Panini Books in the UK if anyone wants to go looking). I watched all his episodes on TV at time of original broadcast and have rewatched them many times since.
You seem very confident, and you place the adventures in a very fan-believable gap in his on screen timeline – did that idea come as part of the brief or was that your decision?
The placing of the adventures within the Doctor’s timeline was actually part of the brief, but it made a lot of sense to me. It allowed for more flexibility in the stories; there was more room for us to develop our own thing, our own continuity within the continuity, as it were.
I mean, no-one really knows how long any one incarnation of the Doctor lives; he’s admitted he doesn’t know himself how old he actually is, so there’s always the potential to find new pockets of time between adventures and seasons for new stories. But the period in the tenth Doctor’s life after Donna left the TARDIS is largely unexplored, so it made a lot of sense to begin our series there.
Prior to the tenth Doctor were you a Who fan? If so, who was ‘your’ Doctor?
Surely it must be obvious that I am a massive, lifelong Doctor Who fan…? [Laughs] I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t Doctor Who and I was lucky growing up in having a mother who encouraged me to be “into” things and bought me loads of Doctor Who books so I’d read. And I did read those, I consumed them, and many other books and comics besides. “My” Doctor was Tom Baker, although I’m old enough to remember Jon Pertwee. I can remember “giant maggots” [The Green Death] and the regeneration from the third Doctor to the fourth very well, but Tom Baker impacted me in a massive way.
Where did the idea for Revolutions of Terror come from? And how did it mature into the story you eventually wrote?
My original idea for the first adventure got rejected by the BBC for being “too similar” to an upcoming TV episode, which turned out to be the 12th Doctor episode Flatline, so I had to come up with a new one fast. I had the idea that our new companion, Gabby Gonzalez, worked in her father’s Laundromat, and wondered if that might spin off (sorry) some ideas, which is where the whole notion of a space/time vortex inside a washing machine drum came from. That struck me as very much a “Doctor Who idea” – a laugh, but kind of weird, offbeat. What kind of creature would concoct such a phenomenon? It grew from there.
There seems to be a theme in your Tenth Doctor work so far – the power of thought as an energy source, be it emotional or creative. Was that intentional, given that you’ve lived your life as a creative person?
It is entirely intentional. The Doctor’s belief in science and his faith in his companions and people (and aliens) in general to believe in freedom of thought and expression is a source of inspiration to me, as it was while I was growing up. So, pass it on, as they say. I’m also really interested in the special nature accorded to the “observer” in quantum physics and I do a lot of reading about theoretical science as well as the arts… I guess it all goes into the mix.
You’ve got a great ear for the tone of Tenth Doctor/companion dialogue – did you study that, or have you picked it up naturally?
Thank you. I never studied it, exactly… I hope I have a good ear for dialogue anyway, but you pick up the way people speak, and by the consensus of writers on the show itself and others writing spin-off media about the tenth Doctor before me, he speaks in a certain way. You can’t just repeat what you heard him say on TV or elsewhere though, because the way he speaks changes and evolves. He’s very inventive and carefree, but the essential cadences and sensibility behind his speech remains the same. I find myself thinking a lot about how David Tennant would say a line – does it work? – if yes, then use it, if not, then don’t, try something different. There’s a little corner of my mind that’s now given over permanantly to sounding like the tenth Doctor.
Without spoilering us too much, can we expect more from you in the Titan Doctor Who range soon? If so, what can you tell us beyond ‘It’ll be Nick Abadzis’ to get us foaming at the mouth to go out and buy it as soon as we can?
Yes, after Robbie Morrison’s run, I’ll be back writing the New Adventures with the Tenth Doctor from issue #11. The Doctor and Gabby are back in New York City investigating strange new goings-on and soon they’ll be encountering a new “big bad.” He's not even a villain precisely, he’s a victim of circumstance himself, but he will have very understandable motivations for wanting to trip up our favorite Time Lord. In his own weird way, he asks the Doctor for help, but the Doctor isn’t inclined to give him the kind of help he needs, and this guy isn’t used to being told, “No.” And then it gets bad…
Nick Abadzis, thank you.
Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol. 1 Revolutions of Terror hits comic book stores in the US/Canada on March 25 and then book stores in the US/Canada the week after on March 31.
Read our review of Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Vol. 1 Revolutions of Terror
To find your local comic store visit: http://www.comicshoplocator.com/
For further information visit Titan Comics.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk