The Doctor (Doctor Who)(04)
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Tom Baker's televised Doctor was both a transitional figure for the series and a source of considerable stability--a paradox created by his exceptionally long seven-year run. During his tenure, the show became avaialable to most US audiences and he became, and still is, the actor most associated with the role (in the US). It's hardly surprising, then, that he was only one of two incarnations to ever appear on the cover of a US-published version of a Doctor Who comic--even though he had long left the role.
There is ongoing debate amongst those who read Doctor Who comics as to whether the comics generally captured the essence of Tom Baker's performance. This debate has traditionally been fueled by the difficulties of attempting to capture the range of emotion inherent in his characterization of the Doctor. Further complicating this assessment was the fact that he was denied the companionship of virtually any characters from the TV series, save K-9. Readers were left to consider whether the Fourth Doctor without Sarah Jane or Leela or Romana really felt like the same man.
The stories, though, are generally seen to be strong in their own right and many are numbered among the best of the lot. Baker's exploits certainly have been reprinted more than any other Doctor's. Panini began reprinting the entire run of his Doctor's appearances in DWM in a digitally remastered, deluxe glossy paper series of trades in 2004.
Some of the earlier stories, such as "Star Beast" and "Iron Legion" have seen a home in no less than 4 separate publications.
This has led to an odd situation of a handful of stories being given a somewhat false air of importance, simply because they've been published over and over again. As to whether these stories really are as good as the number of reprintings they've seen, well, that's a matter of ongoing debate in the Who community.
What's more certain, however, is that the Fourth Doctor was the first to receive treatment by Marvel, and he ushered in an era that felt more like an American comic book than a so-called "British comic". From a modern comics perspective, he was for all intents and purposes, the "First Doctor".
The Fourth Doctor's comic experience is unique in a number of ways.
Though other Doctors have had appearances in multiple publications, he's the only Doctor to have a significant run in both Doctor Who Magazine and a Polystyle Publication (in his case, TV Comic). Thus it's somewhat difficult to speak of a singular, consistent comic characterization.
Generally speaking, the TV Comic run was often at odds with the characterization seen on TV. There, he would often speak in a tone more consonant with the Third Doctor than the Fourth. Indeed, a number of the stories were direct reprints of Pertwee stories, with Baker's figure simply drawn on top of the original Pertwee image.
Even in wholly original Fourth Doctor stories, very little of Tom Baker could be seen in the Fourth Doctor. Strikingly, the TV Comic Fourth Doctor's relationship with Sarah had little of the "chummy" feel of the Baker/Sladen rapport.
In the story, "The Emperor's Spy", for instance, the Doctor is seen to be disapproving of Sarah's journalistic skills and gender equity values. He's even openly sexist towards her. This is clearly at odds with the Baker performance, and the memory of Baker that surfaces in David Tennant's performance in the Tenth Doctor story, "School Reunion".
The Doctor Who Magazine interpretation of the character is much more faithful to the televised performance, but their Fourth Doctor tends a bit toward the "zany" rather than the "alien". Since many of these stories were written in the era of the television program produced by Graham Williams and script edited by Douglas Adams, they tend to be fairly accurate.
However, it's fair to say that very few comic writers, for either publication, were able to capture the more serious, intense, and wryly comic sides of Baker's characterization. Again, though, much of this "missing" personality may be due to the fact that the televised companions were mischaracterized during the TV Comic run and altogether absent from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine's run.
On television, the Fourth Doctor had roughly the same costume for six years, differentiated mainly by the color of the coat he wore. However, in his final year, then-producer John Nathan-Turner order a sweeping revision to his uniform by introducing question marks on his lapels and a radically different coat and scarf. In comics, this trend was echoed, however, owing to the weekly production schedule of TV Comic and, initially, Doctor Who Magazine, the imbalance between the "John Nathan Turner look" and the earlier costume is even more profound than it was on TV. All told there were only about 56 pages of JNT-era Fourth Doctor stories versus hundreds of pages in which the Doctor appeared as he did during his first six years.
Additionally, there is the matter of the "TV Comic Fourth Doctor". Artwork during this period is highly variable, with the likeness of Tom Baker fluctuating somewhere between "acceptable" and "rather poor". In many of these strips, artists didn't even bother to give him a scarf, and seemed to confuse his features and clothing with those of Jon Pertwee. This situation improved greatly in the "middle years" of the Fourth Doctor's tenure in TV Comic. However, towards the end, TV Comic's decision to reprint Third Doctor stories with Tom Baker's face drawn over the top of Jon Pertwee's resulted in the return of the "muddled" capture of Baker's likeness. Doctor Who 100-Page Spectacular (2012)
First Appearance: TV Comic (1951) #1204
The Doctor (Doctor Who)(01)
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The Doctor (Doctor Who)(06)
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The Doctor (Doctor Who)(09)
The Doctor (Doctor Who)(10)
The Doctor (Doctor Who)(11)
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Doctor Who (1984)
Doctor Who Classic Comics (1992)
Doctor Who Classics (2007)
Doctor Who Classics Omnibus (2010)
Doctor Who Classics: Series 2 (2008)
Doctor Who Graphic Novel (2004)
Doctor Who Magazine (1979)
Doctor Who Magazine Special (1980)
Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition (2002)
#8 Doctor Who Yearbook (1992)
- 'The Complete Fourth Doctor, Volume One'#9
- 'The Complete Fourth Doctor, Volume Two'#15
- 'In Their Own Words, Volume Two: 1970-76'#16
- 'In Their Own Words, Volume Three: 1977-81'#19
- 'The Tenth Doctor Collected Comics'
Doctor Who: It's Bigger on the Inside! (1988)
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time (2013)
Doctor Who: The Forgotten (2008)
HCTPB#3 Doctor Who: Time Machination (2009)
- 'Part 3: Misdirection'#6
- 'Part Six: Reunion'
Marvel Premiere (1972)
Star-Lord, The Special Edition (1982)
The Amazing World of Doctor Who (1976)
The Comic Relief Comic (1991)
The Doctor Who Fun Book (1987)
The Dr Who Annual (1965)
TV Comic (1951)
TV Comic Annual (1951)
TV Comic Doctor Who Special (1973)
TV Comic Holiday Special (1963)
Time Lords and Gallifreyans
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""There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." ~The 4th Doctor, "Robot""
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