Titan Comics: How Do You Write the Doctor?

If you ever wanted to know what was it like to write for the Doctor, you could do a lot worse than ask two of Titan Comics top writers.

Doing just that, The Nerdist have sat down with both Paul Cornell and Cavan Scott, who have both had a hand in Titan Comics summer events with The Four Doctors and the ongoing Supremacy of the Cybermen respectively, to find out how you capture the voice of the Doctor, the importance of speech patterns and which Doctor would the pair like to write for.

The pair need no introduction, between them they’ve crafted scripts, novels, trivia books; you name it, they have lived and breathed the lore of Doctor Who for a long time: So what’s the most important aspect needed when trying to nail the voice of the Doctor?

Cornell said:

“The most important thing about writing for a licensed property is getting the voice right, which is something I think Titan has does so well across the entire Doctor Who line. You have to do the things the actor does normally so it’s a bit like having to write a lexicon of how they speak, but also how they, move to a certain extent.

“In my panel directions for the Third Doctor comics, for example, I’ll write, ‘He’s rubbing the back of his neck as he sometimes does when he’s uncertain.’ The artist, Chris Jones, is as immersed in this stuff as I am that you have a sort of shared language of how to write and draw the Third Doctor and how to bring a dead actor’s body language back into play and speech patterns back into play.”

Titan Comics Ninth Doctor 1 Adriana Melo

Scott elaborated, adding that paying attention to speech patterns is supremely important too:

“The thing is you listen to them a lot. What I do with writing the Ninth Doctor, especially with the ongoing, is I quite often put on the show, but don’t have the screen facing me. I just have the voices going constantly. If I had the screen facing me, I end up watching it and I don’t get any work done. But they are so different when you actually look at them.”

He added that listening in this fashion made him realise that the Ninth Doctor’s speech patterns clipped, whereas the Tenth Doctor tends to be more ‘sing-songy’:

“Then when you get to the Eleventh, he just doesn’t stop talking. He just goes on and has conversations with himself. And then you get back to the Twelfth and he’s just a child in an old man’s body. He’s just being rude to everyone.”

Even when you’ve listened to their speech patterns and resisted the urge to constantly drop catchphrases in to their dialogue, there’s the small matter of keeping each Doctor on point – especially for Cornell who had four different Doctors to contend with. So did he ever find one Doctor’s voice coming out of another Doctor?

“It’s actually much more important to play up the differences and indicate the differences of character, especially the drama between them. Doctors always clash; it’s what’s fun. It’s a good way of showing their differences. It’s easy with Capaldi because he’s got a differential; he’s got a bloody clear dividing line between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors.”

the four doctors

So, if given half a chance, which Doctor would the pair love to write for? For both, the answer was easy.

Scott said:

“I haven’t written much of the First and Second Doctors so I’d also like to go back, especially the Second Doctor,” Scott explained. “I’d really like to go back and do a 1960s, base-under-siege kind of story with the Second Doctor. And I’d like to see some crossovers with Doctors from the 21st Century. I don’t like [saying] ‘new’ or ‘classic’ Doctor Who. To me, it’s just Doctor Who. I’d like to see some of the early Doctors cope with the later Doctors. I think Troughton would be really interesting with the Ninth. If I can get him into the Ninth Doctor comics, that’d be great.”

Cornell shared Scott’s sentiments:

“Troughton would be a big challenge. Getting Troughton [right], because the biggest thing is the form of these stories is shaped by the production circumstances of the time. So budget actually plays into what those stories are like. And I think doing a Troughton story with an enormous “budget” with all sorts of fantastic spaceships and aliens, I think, would just feel weird. You really do want to say, no, we can’t get out of the base here. You want to impose those limitations on yourself.”

Who doesn’t want to see a Titan Comics Second Doctor series!

You can catch up with Titan Comics latest summer event, Supremacy of the Cybermen, co-written by Cavan Scott with George Mann, when the second issue is released on the 17th August. You’ll soon be able to catch Titan Comics Third Doctor series, written by Paul Cornell, when it’s released on the 31st August.