INTERVIEW: Paul Cornell, Writer Of Comics Series Doctor Who: Four Doctors, Talks To Us

This week sees the launch of the Titan Comics summer special event - the five episode comic book miniseries Doctor Who: Four Doctors. The weekly series sees the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors plus their comic book companions united by a shocking past event to combat an unknown foe - an event that brings them face-to-face with a secret incarnation from their own past.

Doctor Who: Four Doctors was written for Titan Comics by author and screenplay writer Paul Cornell with art by Neil Edwards and will launch on Wednesday 12th August. The first issue can be preordered here or through your local comic store. 

Thanks to the good folks at Titan Comics we've been able to have a chat with writer Paul Cornell and were able to put some of your own questions to him. Paul is no doubt best known to Doctor Who fans as the writer of the Ninth Doctor episode Father's Day and the Tenth Doctor two-parter Human Nature / The Family Of Blood. He has also written episodes of Casualty, Holby City, Primeval and Robin Hood. Paul's other comics work has included strips for Doctor Who Magazine and titles for both Marvel and DC. He has written Doctor Who novels and recently published the second of his own Shadow Police novels, The Severed Streets. 

Paul Cornell- Four Doctors Interview 

How closely did you work with illustrator Neil Edwards in creating the Four Doctors miniseries? Were you able to collaborate on aspects of the plot?

Not plotting so much, but the usual, and very exciting, collaboration in comics, where Neil draws to my script, but makes changes to number of panels on a page, ways of telling the story, things like that, and we go back and forth until we're both happy.  It's been a very satisfying partnership. 

Is the storyline for the Four Doctors all yours or did Titan approach you with the idea?

Titan asked me to do the event, and had a few ideas on the table, small plot bits, which I adapted and built on. 

Was it hard to think of a story line to make the show the best it is?
(From Jessica Bath)

That's always the aim, and yes, absolutely, if it's not hard you're not doing it right.

When you write a script, do you write the whole thing from scratch or do you mix and match bits and pieces from a back catalogue of small scripts and sketches to fit into an idea?
(From Steven Charlton)

You write the whole thing from scratch, unless you're adapting something.  Although, actually, I do have a notebook full of bits, and now you mention it, I realise I did include a Capaldi line that I'd always wanted to use, so actually, in a small way, yes!

To what extent do you feel the "New Series" has changed over time in the past ten years? And how difficult has it been to combine the different flavours of each Doctor's era?
(From Maximilian Curtis)

I think each Doctor has to bring the flavour of their era with them.  Russell and Steven both have different ways of telling stories, and the Ninth and Twelfth Doctors also have specific production and storytelling differences. 

Could the War Doctor get his own comic book series?
(From Nate Valverde)

Not my call!

I’m a huge fan of your Doctor Who books and Doctor Who and Marvel comics. I'm an artist and (somewhat of ) a writer too and I was wondering where you went to school to learn how to make comics? 
(From Belle Gaudreau)

I didn't learn this anywhere academic.  You just need to read a lot of comics and comic scripts (lots available online) and learn the craft.  Doing your own webcomic is a good way to get into the business. 

Which incarnation is ‘your’ Doctor and why?
(From Nicole Halpin)

I have to choose between Davison, McCoy and right now... hmm, actually, yes, it's Capaldi!

Would you ever turn the doctor into a woman?
(From Connor Stephens )

If I could, yes, immediately. 

Do you think you will pen another story for a television episode?
(From Maclean Enright )

I get asked that three times a week on Twitter.

Would you ever consider writing a multi-Doctor story for the show itself?
(From Sean Bassett  & Amy Christina)

And that's a new variation on the old classic. 

Who would you like as the next Doctor, and any particular reason why?
(From Jamie Robertson )

Rebecca Front.  I think she'd be awesome. 

Would you like to see your own Shadow Police characters appear in comics or on screen one day?

I'd be delighted with either or both.  The comics, I feel, would have to fit into the chronology of the books, though, and I'd want to write them, and I'm a bit busy.