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Frobisher - Comic Book DB

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Frobisher is a Whifferdill, one of a shape-changing extraterrestrial race. What is assumed to be his natural form, as seen in his first comic strip appearance, is humanoid, pale yellow in color, three to four feet in height, with a round, featureless head, and wearing spectacles. However, he preferred to spend his free time in the form of a penguin.

When he first appeared in "The Shape Shifter" (DWM #88-#89) (written by Steve Parkhouse, with art by John Ridgway), Frobisher was a private investigator calling himself "Avan Tarklu" (a play on the phrase "Haven't a clue"). He came across the Doctor when an enemy, Dogbolter, had placed a bounty on the Doctor. After infiltrating the TARDIS, instead of turning the Doctor in for the money, Tarklu decided that he liked the Time Lord and helped him against Dogbolter. He then joined the Doctor on his journeys. He assumed the name of Frobisher because he felt that it sounded British and thought that the Doctor would like that.

Though he strictly pre-dates Peri's first appearance in the comic strip, he was not the comic Sixth Doctor's first companion. His knowledge of Peri, prior to her first appearance, suggests he joined the TARDIS crew at a time after she'd already been there. Likewise, as he ended his travels with the Seventh Doctor, it can be assumed, even though it is never explicitly stated, that he was aware of the Sixth Doctor's regeneration into the Seventh. [Note: This is a sticky point, however, as discussed below.]

Frobisher was once married to Francine, another Whifferdill, who left him because she was a better detective than he was. Apparently, he was very fond of her in penguin form, and so adopted it to remind himself of her. It is not a static form, however, as Frobisher has been seen emulating different types of penguins. Despite his fondness for the form, however, he was anguished to be "stuck" as a penguin when he briefly suffered a disease that prevented him from changing shape.

Frobisher travelled with the Doctor for quite a long time, occasionally parting company only for their paths to cross once again. He left the Doctor permanently during the latter's seventh incarnation in "A Cold Day in Hell" (DWM #130-#133) and reunited with Francine. Subsequently, he was seen to have set up a bar called "Bish's" and remarried to Francine, who had taken the alias Caralla. During this time, he and the Eighth Doctor met each other, but neither recognized the other.

This entry heavily adapts some material from

If a shape-shifting penguin won't cause continuity problems, nothing will. Indeed, Frobisher is something of a continuity nightmare.

But he wasn't always. In fact, he wasn't for all but one of his stories.

See, the problem comes not in the fact that he's (almost) a comics-only companion. There are plenty of comics-only companions who can still find a neat "home" somewhere in the televised chronology. DWM's Sharon, for instance, can easily fit somewhere between Leela and Romana. Even the fact that Frobisher serves alongside the televised Peri isn't a problem. All of the Sixth Doctor's DWM stories involving Frobisher and Peri can be shunted into that rather large space between Colin Baker's first and second seasons. That gap is huge. No, the problems don't really set in until after the Sixth Doctor disappears from the pages of DWM.

In the Seventh Doctor's comic debut, "A Cold Day in Hell", we see that the editorial staff of DWM have chosen to completely ignore televised reality. Instead of just retiring the Sixth Doctor's era abruptly (as they did, for instance, with the Eighth and Ninth Doctors), they bother to create a sort of transition. Peri's gone in that first McCoy story, but Frobisher is not. In fact, the whole plot revolves around the fact that Frobisher is missing Peri, who is explained—as was true in the TV series—to be married to King Yrcanos.

With one story, DWM created a huge continuity problem where none existed. Before "A Cold Day in Hell", Frobisher could have been safely tucked away in the season-that-never-was. After, we have to find a way to explain how he could know of the events of the "Trial of a Time Lord" season without having appeared on television. By completely ignoring Mel and retaining Frobisher, DWM made it harder to figure out where the early, pre-Ace Seventh Doctor strips "go".

Consequently, his placement (not to mention that of the comic Peri and Seventh Doctor) is somewhat dubious. It certainly can be inferred from "A Cold Day in Hell" that Peri, for instance, might've been a companion of the comic Seventh Doctor herself. Still, since the whole of "Trial of a Time Lord" is itself a continuity nightmare—with the conclusion being that the events depicted did not necessarily occur—it's possible to just hold your nose and walk quickly through this malodorous little part of the Doctor's life. Fail to believe that "A Cold Day in Hell" never happened, and you'll likely be a whole lot happier with Frobisher.

First Appearance: Doctor Who Magazine (1979) #88

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Issue Appearances:
Doctor Who 100-Page Spectacular (2012)

Doctor Who Classics: Series 3 (2010)
Doctor Who Classics: Series 4 (2012)
Doctor Who Classics: The Seventh Doctor (2011)
Doctor Who Graphic Novel (2004)
Doctor Who Graphic Novel Voyager (1985)
Doctor Who Magazine (1979)
Doctor Who Magazine Special (1980)
Doctor Who Marvel Adventure Comic (1986)
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time (2013)
Doktor Who's Reisen durch Raum und Zeit (1990)
Grant Morrison's Doctor Who (2008)
The New Sharon from Blackcastle Adventures (2004)

Group Affiliation(s):
Doctor Who companions

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