Posted by Sandy Auden on February 1st, 2008 at 11:45
The new Torchwood comic strip is an exclusive feature of Torchwood: The Official Magazine – the BBC monthly companion to the award-winning sci-fi drama out now from Titan Magazines.
The comic series kicks off with The Legacy of Torchwood 1 - the tale of a misguided Torchwood scientist whose creation sets off on a rampage of gruesome violence. As ever, it falls upon the Torchwood team to save the day! The Legacy of Torchwood 1 is written by the legendary Simon Furman (Transformers), and pencilled by SL Gallant (DreamWorks Tales).
Steve White, Senior Comics Editor of Titan Magazines, is in charge of the Torchwood project so we squeezed into his hectic schedule with some burning questions...
The heart of Torchwood lies in its characters, so how important has it been to select stories that are true to the characters we know and love? "I think it's been perhaps the most important thing!" said White. "Whilst comics, in many ways, gives you a little more latitude, you have to stay true to the essence of the characters or fans just won't appreciate it and it kind of defeats the point of doing the strips."
And to build on such a good approach, they're also keeping a close eye on developments in the new series too: "Well, we have to stay within fairly tight guidelines and because we're running behind the TV series, there has been the occasional stumble over an idea or storyline already underway in the show. In these sorts of situations, you tend to have move in a sort of circular history. You can do whatever you want – tear holes in the space/time continuum, destroy planets, leave cast members for dead – so long as by the end, it's all back to normal."
All of which sounds like the comic strip might have a little more freedom in the special effects department than the TV show. "We do generally have a certain degree of visual flexibility. We're not constrained by special effects budgets so if we want an army of giant attack dinosaurs charging from a flotilla of alien battle cruisers we can. We just get the artist to draw it.
"In terms of plot and character, the comic genre can place certain restrictions that come naturally with the territory. You have ten pages (in this case) so there's not much room for real character development. However, that's done for us by the TV series so it's just simply taking that and running with it, whilst we get to run wild with the visuals."
Creating a new comic strip is more than just asking an artist to draw something though. "One of the biggest challenges was finding the right creators that everyone's happy with! Editorially that's been the driving force behind the strip – at least during the initial stages. Everyone has had differing views on approach and style and it took a fair while to actually reach a consensus. But after a bit of struggle, we got there and things can now seriously get underway."
"Not that's it's been a constant struggle or such like, but every stage of the process has been hard work. Still, Shannon (SL Gallant) did get a pretty smooth ride through the approvals process and did a miraculous job turning the pages around in under two weeks – which were then approved pretty much as was. You have no idea the sense of relief on that one!"
After all that effort, the first issue is in print now and looking pretty sexy. So where does the comic strip go from here? "The stories we have planned for the first year of the magazine will feature one overall story arc, although we will have standalone strips that will reflect what's going on in the main storyline.
"Simon Furman has been responsible for developing the story arc and will write several issues, but we're hoping for star turns on the individual strips. We also have a number of artists in the pipeline including D'Israeli, Paul Grist and Steve Yeowell. But this is early days and we're still pulling together a final line-up.
"I'll say no more about future issues other than it does hark back to my earlier comments of not being restricted by special effects budgets! And one of them has dinosaurs in, so I'm happy!"
Torchwood: The Official Magazine is published every four weeks and issue #1 is on sale now. The first comic strip story will run over a thirteen-part arc, with an instalment in every issue of Torchwood Magazine.
For more information, check out the Titan Magazines website. Or you can preview some of the strip on the Torchwood: The Official Magazine YouTube clip. And there's even a Facebook group you can join in order to receive further updates as they happen.