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Sunday, 19 October 2008

Splendid Chaps, All Of Them!

Slipping for this post into first person mode, I had a wonderful time on Saturday at Vworp! Vworp!, a one day event at Manchester's Lass O'Gowrie pub organised by landlord Gareth Kavangah and his dedicated team, in partnership with the Manchester Literature Festival.

Dedicated to Doctor Who in comics, the day gave me a chance to catch up with the likes of founding Doctor Who Weekly editor Dez Skinn, writer and editors Gary Russell and Scott Gray, writers Paul Cornell and Ian Edginton, artists Lee Sullivan, Matt ('Isareli) Brooker, Martin Geraghty and Adrian Salmon, feature writer John Ainsworth, as well as touch base with many other creators drawn to the event including Matthew Badham, Leon Hewitt, Barry Renshaw, Brian Gorman, Ian Cullen and others.

Despite some minor technical problems and the usual over running any jam-packed day filled with people like myself who will insist on answering a question with 50 words when 10 will do, I think most people enjoyed themselves, the whole show ably held together by writer, actor and comedian John Cooper.

Dez Skinn's opening chat, in which he proudly showed off the 'dummy' of the first ever Doctor Who Weekly and then let fans read the oriuginal, type-written scripts of the first-ever Doctor Who Weely comic strip The Iron Legion by Pat Mills and John Wagner, was just one of many delights to the event, held in one of Manchester's best-known and best-loved pubs.

Ever the memory man, Gary Russell (pictured left, middle) proved a welcome lynchpin to the event since he not omly remembered much of what happened during his tenure as Editor of Doctor Who Magazine (unlike me!), with Lee Sullivan and Paul Cornell also providing many enjoyable anecdotes about past comic strip creation and the history of the Doctor Who comic strip, ably assisted by John Ainsworth.

Later, Scott Gray and Martin Geraghty offered their insights on the current Doctor Who strip. Other panels included one on animated Doctor Who such as The Infinite Quest, with Jon Doyle (two-time Bafta winning Animation Producer/ Director/Artist, and founder of Firestep, the studio behind that production and others) wowing the auidence with a taster of an animated version of Patrick Troughton's first ever story, Power of the Daleks -- sadly a project that it is apparently unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Torchwood also proved a talking point, with the first part of Ian Edginton and Matt Brooker's Torchwood strip out now in the new issue of Torchwood magazine - Issue 10. Unfortunately, by that time I had to wend my way home, but other reports on the event with more detail of these panels are sure to crop up on the web soon.

As a guest, I always find such events a bit like a wedding reception – there's never enough time to catch up with everyone there except in passing or while you share the stage with them. But for me, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day catching up with old friends and sharing memories of some wonderful times working on Doctor Who Magazine way back when, with some of the most talented people I know in the comics business.

As I said at the top - splendid chaps, all of them. Cheers!

My thanks to everyone who organised the day and I hope there's another similar event at "The Lass" in the future.

• The Lass O’Gowrie is currently playing host to an exhibition of Adrian Salmon's work, including pages from The Cybermen strip he drew for Doctor Who Magazine, illustrations from the magazine and more. "I’ve been a huge fan of Ade’s work for years and he’s a definite 'one off!'" says pub landlord and art collector Gareth Kavanagh. "Comic gurus and Who fans of all ages will love what they see, trust me." The histroic pub is located next to the BBC in Manchester city centre. Web site: www.thelass.co.uk

All pictures by John Freeman. Top: the event poster outside The Lass; Dez Skinn, Gary Russell and John Ainsworth on stage; and attendees watch one of several 'clips' of Doctor Who Magazine history assembled by the Vworp! Vworp! team.

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