Thirty-Nine years ago today Doctor Who Weekly #1 hit newsagents shelves across the UK. Blogtor Who takes the opportunity to wish happy birthday to the greatest print magazine in the galaxy!
In a way it’s difficult to believe Doctor Who Magazine wasn’t there from the start. Even for older fans in their forties, there’s never been a period of their fandom when DWM wasn’t available in all good newsagents. In fact, for fifteen years DWM was a part of fans’ lives even when Doctor Who itself wasn’t on TV.
DWM has embedded itself as a crucial part of its fandom in the way no official magazine for any film or television series ever has. Its woven into the fabric and language of our fandom as indelibly as anything on television. It’s because of DWM that the TARDIS’ wheezing groaning engines are written in print as ‘VWORP! VWORP’ even though – and Blogtor Who can’t emphasize this enough – that makes no sense whatsoever. DWM’s traditions have become Doctor Who’s traditions. No new Doctor is truly the Doctor until they’ve had their official “_____ IS The Doctor!” cover.
Beginning as Doctor Who Weekly, the magazine originally emphasized comics action. It included a comic strip starring the Doctor every week. There were adaptations of science fiction classics like The War of the Worlds (as ‘told’ by the Doctor) as well and backup strips featuring the Doctor’s enemies away from their battles against the Time Lord hero. The creative teams behind the strip was a galactic Who’s Who of famous names. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison and many many more were counted among the contributors. Over time the balance shifted and the text pieces and fact files came to dominate the pages. However the comic strip always remained as a touchstone, proving DWM has never lost touch with its roots.
DWM has become a crucial part of what makes Doctor Who and its fandom what it is
Features came and went over the years. We’re now on its third version of The Time Team, and many still fondly remember the likes of the Space-Time Telegraph, Matrix Data Bank and UNIT Hotline. Andrew Pixley’s magnificent Archive, so long as mainstay of its pages, eventually ran out of new facts and details to uncover about classic episodes. Alan Barnes’ insightful and analytical Fact of Fiction took up the slack.
In its evolution from Doctor Who Weekly to Doctor Who Monthly to Doctor Who Magazine, the title has had multiple changes of production team, and even changes in publisher. But it has thrived under them. Its hybrid nature as both an officially licensed publication and an editorially independent entity has been key to its success. It’s testament to its importance that both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat maintained a ring of steel around it. Both considered DWM’s continued existence and independence crucial and non-negotiable. A policy there’s every indication of being continued under current showrunner Chris Chibnall.
So raise a glass to DWM teams past and present. To Beep the Meep and Sorvad and all the rest. And let’s thank them for being part of making Doctor Who the phenomenon we know and love.
Doctor Who Magazine is available from all good newsagents (and even the belligerent newsagents) and is available on subscription (including exclusive, textless covers) and in digital format from their official site.