I’m amused…

…that people got annoyed with Moffat for supposedly “ignoring” the previous continuity regarding the Daleks and showing us that Skaro was still there.

I mean, for starters, “still there” is essentially a meaningless term in a show that is about time travel…even if Skaro may or may not have been “time locked” at the end of the Time War.

But…more importantly…which previous continuity for the Daleks are we talking about? The one where they were originally the Dals from Skaro whose travel machines drew power from the metal floors of the city they lived in but could never leave? Oh…wait…Terry Nation himself ignored that previous continuity that he’d established himself when he went on to reveal in later episodes that they were actually the Kaleds and were quite capable of leaving their city. Oh, and travelling through space. And time.

Oh…and then, of course, The Doctor interfered with Dalek history and possibly completely rewrote every previous encounter he’d had with them.

And then all the Daleks were destroyed. Multiple times. And Skaro was destroyed too. But then it wasn’t.

The Doctor and the Time Lords have been battling the Daleks back and forth through time and space for so long that any attempt at recording a meaningful history of their encounters must necessarily be futile. The past must be being constantly rewritten. It must be in constant flux. The Daleks, Davros, Skaro…sometimes destroyed, sometimes not, all depending on who has won the latest conflict. And by “latest” I mean…well…it could have happened before they ever encountered each other…or in the far future…or yesterday…or an hour from now.

Maybe the Time War never happened now. Maybe Skaro exists again. And so does Gallifrey. And all the Time Lords. Maybe when history was remade in The Big Bang everything was rewritten, and the time locks put in place at the end of the Time War were broken…and he just hasn’t realised it yet. Because, come on, if you were the Time Lords, would you want to let The Doctor know you were out there again?

On Doctor Who.

Skip Nine.

Or don’t.

It’s fine.

Hey, skip Ten if you want! Or skip most of Eleven. Just start with the beginning of the latest season…or the latest episode!

Everyone has to start somewhere.

Skip One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight too.

There’s a LOT of episodes, after all!

Or don’t skip any of them! Watch them all! Apart from the ones that are gone forever (stupid BBC…).

It doesn’t matter where you start, all that matters is that you love the show. (And if you don’t love the show, that’s fine too, just skip it all…we will try not to shun you too much [you know who you are, Mr Wynne]).

Just, you know, if you skip stuff, you’ll miss some really, really awesome and amazing stuff (and some ridiculous stuff, and some awful stuff too), and we’d really like to share it all with you.

But, please, whatever you do, don’t act like you’re the gatekeeper to the Doctor Who fandom, and tell anyone they’re not a real fan if they’ve skipped Nine (or Ten…I bet people are skipping Ten too…because people have to start SOMEWHERE…and where better to start than at the beginning of the current Doctor…or did you all forget that Ten is neither the current Doctor nor the most important of all the Doctors? [Trick question, there is no most important Doctor {Other than Six, of course}]). Especially if you skipped One to Eight…because then you’re just imposing some absurd, arbitrary starting point for no good reason.

Personally I will always encourage New Who fans to watch Classic Who…because it’s the SAME show, I see no real distinction (especially as the production values on Nine’s run were actually lower than on Eight’s TV movie). So I tend to think that if you love the show as it is now…then maybe you should try watching all this rest of the show which is also awesome that maybe you’ll enjoy too. But, you know, if you can’t, or you don’t want to, or you don’t have the time (because god knows there’s a LOT of it), then that’s fine. Big hugs. Let’s just join together in our love of Doctor Who, eh?

There’s no right or wrong way to watch and enjoy a TV show. There’s no way that you can love Doctor Who that’s the wrong way to love Doctor Who. I may, equally, get frustrated by people who’ve only been reading Marvel comics since the movies come out who aren’t familiar with the vast and labyrinthine history of the Marvel Universe…but at the end of the day, I’m just pleased that they’re reading and loving comics. And the same is true for Doctor Who.

So skip Nine if you want. Or don’t. I’d recommend watching Nine, but I’d recommend watching One to Eight too…but it’s cool if you don’t wanna.

Now, let me tell you about Omega and how he’s behind everything that’s been going on during Eleven’s run…

The End Of An Era

This last weekend I attended my eleventh London MCM Expo, it was my tenth as an exhibitor. Initially I attended with Markosia, as one of their creators, but it wasn’t long before I had my own table in the newly founded Comic Village to promote my own publishing endeavour, Orang Utan Comics. So, I’ve been attending the show for over five years now, and in that time I and my colleagues at Orang Utan Comics have on many occasions promoted the show to other creators. We’ve encouraged many other indie and small press creators to exhibit at the show, who had previously been wary of attending because it was “not a comics show”…or because “cosplayers don’t buy comics.” Instead we always viewed the show as a great opportunity to reach a new audience, to meet people who wouldn’t normally attend a comic show. I’ve also attended the Midlands Expo, which has no Comic Village, at which I was more than happy to pay full price for an exhibitors table, despite the fact that we didn’t make that cost back at the show, because it’s great to reach a new audience. Also, when the people behind the MCM Expo wanted to get a Comic Village going at Memorabilia in Birmingham earlier this year, I was delighted to attend. We sold about three books all weekend, but I absorbed the cost of travel and hotel accommodation for myself and my fellow writer who attended with me, because, again, it was a chance to hopefully reach a new audience.

This weekend was my eleventh London MCM Expo, it will also be my last.

Why? Well, let me give you a bit of background here…but I’ll say first that these are gripes. We understand that mistakes happen at shows, and we could have easily forgiven them, but it’s what they led to that is the real problem.

Firstly, I never take my car to the MCM. It costs £50 to park for the weekend, so I always arrange for someone to drive me up there with our boxes of comics, banners and all the other paraphernalia we need for the weekend, and to pick me up again after the show. It’s awkward, but it works. However, last week, the Comic Village organisers sent out an email to all of the exhibitors attending the Comics Village telling us that parking permits would be available for everyone, allowing us to park for the weekend for £15. This meant that driving myself up to the show would be affordable, so I changed my plans…and it made life a lot easier for me as I had to pick up one of our writers from the other side of London on my way to the show, so it meant that we could simply drive straight there. However, there was one problem…when we got to the show, I found one of the organisers and asked for a permit, only to be told that actually there were no parking permits available for anyone in the Comic Village because they had all already been given out to the other exhibitors at the show. I explained that I wouldn’t have brought my car to the show if I’d known this and that I was very unhappy with having to pay out £50 to park for the weekend. The organiser I spoke to told me that he would try to sort something out for me and would get back to me, but that in the meantime I should go and pay for my parking so that I wouldn’t get clamped or towed away. That organiser never came back to speak to me, never spoke to me again throughout the show despite passing our tables on a number of occasion, other than to ask me the whereabouts of David Wynne (but we’ll get to that later). Let me get something clear here – I do not expect, as an exhibitor, to be given a parking permit for this or any show. However, if I’m told I can get one and I change my plans because of that, and then it turns out that I can’t have one, and I incur significant extra costs because of that – that is a problem that I expect the event organisers to do everything in their power to solve, and if they can’t then I expect a clear and unequivocal apology. This was not forthcoming, in fact the complete opposite was the case, but we’ll get to that later. This is also a matter I would have been more than happy to deal with privately, but we’ll get to why I’m not later also.

Secondly, we come to the issue of the green room. Once again, let me make something clear, I do not expect a green room to be provided for me and the creators attending a show with me at this or any show. I am not that egotistical that I think I deserve special treatment. That’s not the issue here. The simple fact is that at previous shows a green room has been provided. I and the creators who attend a show with Orang Utan Comics have made little or no use of the facility over the years. Indeed, I didn’t even set foot in it until last May’s show, where I sat with the show’s main organiser for about half an hour and had a good chat. The green room, however, for those exhibiting in the Comics Village is a god send. The Comics Village has always been situated right at the back of the show, and getting out of the show and back again to get a drink, or have a smoke (as some of the people who work with us like to do) can take a significant amount of time. At other shows we’ll often bring drinks with us to last us the weekend, but as the MCM has kindly provided them for us, we didn’t do that this weekend. That worked perfectly on Saturday, and we were able to enjoy a couple of cans of Coke throughout the day, and one of our writer/artists was able to get out onto the balcony for a quick cigarette without having to fight his way through the heaving masses of people in the exhibition hall and the entry hall. Strangely, we noticed that nobody was checking people’s passes as they entered the green room, and we all found this a little odd. On Sunday, however, when our creators tried to gain access to the green room they were told that it was for people with VIP passes only as there had been too many people in there the day before “who weren’t supposed to be there.” This, obviously, made them feel very uncomfortable. Let me make it clear again, I do not expect a green room to be provided at this or any other show, but it was reasonable to expect that as it had been available to those of us with Comic Industry Professional passes in the past (and, as I said previously, I had spent time in there at the previous show talking to the overall con organiser) it would also be available to us at this show, especially as no announcement had been made to the contrary. One of my creators complained about this on Twitter, and that’s when things started to get strange.

As I said previously, the only time that the organiser I spoke to about the parking permits talked to me again during the entire weekend was to ask me where David Wynne was. At the time he had taken the long trip out to the front of the venue to have a cigarette and buy us all some Cokes, as access to the green room balcony had been barred to him. Upon his return, however, a couple of the organisers led him off from the table. At the time I didn’t know where to or why. I’d seen what David had tweeted and suspected it might have something to do with that. Now, this was my table. I run Orang Utan Comics, I booked and paid for the tables, and the convention organisers had just marched one of my writers and artists away from the table without first talking to me about it or explaining why. That alone is completely unacceptable. The fact that they kept him in a back room and asked him to “justify” his tweets…for around an hour…is quite simply disgusting. I will leave it to David to explain exactly what happened during that meeting. I wasn’t there and I don’t want to report it wrongly. However, two things from his account really stuck out to me. The first is that when he told them that he didn’t appreciate being marched off to be told off, he was told by one of the organisers that, “I’m the guy who tells people off, if you were being told off by me then you’d know about it.” That’s threatening language and it would be inappropriate to use in any setting, let alone this one. We had paid to be at that show, we were their customers, and we do not appreciate, nor will we put up with, being threatened by them. The other point that sticks out is that when he raised the issue of the parking permits with them he was told that they did have parking permits after all, but that there was nothing they could do now as I had already put money in the machine. That is what they had told me to do! And as for there being nothing they could do about it – reimbursing me for the extra cost of parking I had incurred through their error would have been a start. I don’t see how my having already paid for my parking, as I had been instructed to do by them, in any way prevented them from doing this. Besides, as I said, the organiser I had originally spoken to about the permits had passed our table many times over the course of the weekend and had said nothing to me about the passes.

In closing, the issues with the parking permits and access to the green room are, ultimately, trivial and could easily have been dealt with in private after the show. Leading one of my creators off and “telling him off” for tweeting for an hour is not a trivial matter, however…and as that was done publicly (and I had many other exhibitors approach me while David was gone, asking me why he’d been taken off) my response to it, and my explanation as to why Orang Utan Comics will no longer be exhibiting at the MCM Expo is also being done publicly.

The London MCM Expo has, over the last year or so, attempted to rebrand itself as London Comic Con, and they claim that they make a loss on the Comic Village, and host it because they want to support the UK comic book industry. My simple response to that is that the UK comic book industry simply doesn’t need that kind of support. We are not a charity case and do not appreciate being made to feel that we should be grateful for the opportunity for being at a convention that we have paid to be at.

Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to the many fans and readers who have bought our books at the London MCM Expo. We will truly miss you and we sincerely hope you come and find us at one of the many other UK shows we will be attending both this year and next. You are all wonderful, amazing people. I have many fond memories of my times at the MCM, and I have many good friends, including my best friend, who I would never have met if it wasn’t for the show.

Over the next few weeks we will be attending Demoncon 2 in Maidstone and Thought Bubble in Leeds, and hopefully we’ll see some of you there. For next year we’re already booked up to attend Hi-Ex in Inverness, The London Super Comic Convention at Excel in London, the Bristol Comic Expo and Kapow! These are all magnificent, wonderful shows, run by amazing people with a real passion for promoting comics and the comic book industry…and if, so far, you’ve only attended the London MCM Expo, I’d urge you to give one or all of them a try!

EDIT: David’s account can now be found here.

Some thoughts on Doctor Who and the rules of fictional worlds.

I’ve seen a few people on here complaining about the recent season of Doctor Who. Their view is that the Doctor shouldn’t have been able to prevent his own death because he only knew about it because it happened, and therefore if he prevented it then he couldn’t have known about it, and so forth…and that’s not how time travel works in Doctor Who.

Now, first and foremost I disagree with that whole point anyway. The Doctor was aware that he reportedly died at that specific time and date. The Doctor still reportedly died at that specific time and date. Nothing has changed, and, my personal opinion is that things happened exactly as they always happened. That’s how those events transpired. The Doctor didn’t change anything.

On the contrary, it was The Silence who were trying to alter time. What makes me say that? Well, the simple fact that there are stories about “The Fall of the Eleventh”…an event that transpires after the events that took place at Lake Silencio…an event that The Silence are aware of and are trying to prevent…means that by trying to kill The Doctor before “The Fall of the Eleventh” they are trying to alter time. They failed, because…heh…and this is going to fuck with your head a little bit…Lake Silencio was a fixed point in time. The events that transpired there couldn’t be altered…and they weren’t. Not by The Doctor. Not by River Song. And not by The Silence. By creating a fixed point in time The Silence actually defeated themselves by locking The Doctor into an inevitable and unalterable course of events.

However…that’s not the point that I really want to make with this post. You see, the part of this objection to Season Six that really bothers me is the “that’s not how time travel works in Doctor Who” part. Why? Because the rules of any fictional universe exist to serve the story. If the rules get in the way of telling a good story then the rules need to change and not the story. Especially in a show like Doctor Who which has no canon. Who says that the rules of time travel don’t work that way in Doctor Who? Where is it set in stone? Nowhere. Perhaps the rules of time travel can be rewritten. Perhaps they were rewritten. And we simply haven’t seen that story yet. (But I bet that Rassilon, Omega or The Other…or all three of them…has something to do with it!)

To Cut A Long Story Short

Every now and then the fact that I used to work at a church, and be in a Christian rock band, comes up in conversation. And I usually just fudge the issue by saying “It’s a long story, I’m not into all that anymore.” But I was looking for something on my many hard drives last night and I came across this quick account of “what happened” and so I thought I’d share it with you all. Going to put it under a cut, as it’s a little long, but if you’re interested, read on…

Oooookay…I’ll try to make a very long story as short as possible…
I grew up in the church, particularly a charismatic evangelical free church. My parents were both raised in the Plymouth Brethren but switched churches when their marriage ran into difficulties (another long story which ends in my mother coming out as a Lesbian when I was thirteen). That church actually split when I was about eleven, due to some financial shenanigans that my dad became aware of, and we ended up leaving the church when I was about eleven…and neither of my parents attended any church after that.
Anyway, my sisters both stayed as regular church attenders, going to various different churches…fast forward to me being…hmmm…twenty…and my sister invited me along to the inauguration of the new pastor at the church she was going to at the time, called the King’s church…another charismatic evangelical free church type thing. At the time I’d dropped out of university about a year or two before with a view to breaking into comics, and was living with my dad…quite frankly I was just glad to get out of the house…and there was a girl (or two) there that I quite liked…so…I started going regularly. I got involved with the music group, made some friends…seemed to get on well with the pastor…and then one day I lost the part time job I had…and so ended up working full time at the church as a graphic designer. Over time I got married to one of those girls I mentioned…we had a kid…I became one of the worship leaders at the church…we went on a missionary trip across Europe to visit the refugee camps in Macedonia during the Balkans War…I recorded three CDs…got played on Christian radio a lot…rose up in the church leadership…it basically consumed my life…
And so…when everything went wrong I ended up being the one person that everyone came to. I was the one who was confided in that the pastor was beating his wife…I was the one who was told he was threatening members of the congregation (including me, actually)…I was the one who was told that he’d made advances towards some of the single women in the church…I was the one who was told about the many, many, many financial irregularities…I was the one who was told that he’d helped the assistant pastor and the head of sunday school cover up their affair…I was the one who listened to him tell the entire worship team that his wife was being “disciplined” when he had no idea where she was because she’d left him because he’d beaten her…I was the one who then watched them both lie to the whole church about how everything was fine because otherwise they would lose everything they had…
…and ultimately I was the only one who could actually do anything about it. No-one else knew everything. And everyone else was too afraid. So…I got my dad to call his brother…who called his pastor, who was kinda’ the head of the umbrella organisation that all the churches in the area belong to…and he came to my house…and he told me that he’d known a lot…but that no-one was willing to stand up and let him use their name…everyone wanted to remain anonymous…and so I told him to do whatever he had to do to get rid of my pastor…and he did…
…and, you know…no-one thanks you for revealing their pastor as a scum bag. People would rather just not know.
So the next morning my dad drove me to the church, and I went into my office and took all of my things and left (I was already working out my notice period at this point, having technically resigned).
So…I lost my job (and my second son was due in two weeks)…I lost all of my friends…I lost my band (and at that time music was as much my life as comics are now)…a few months later I lost my house (which I owned)…and two years later, ultimately as a result of all of this…I lost my marriage…I pretty much lost everything.
But I did the right thing.
And now I’m living the comics dream. So the story has a happy ending…
PS – This is an extremely abridged version of events, so feel free to ask questions if some of it makes no sense.