Friday, October 7, 2011

Memorable Moments In Whostory: Pyramids Of Mars

Hey, it's another Doctor Who infographic!

This time rather than showcase individual characters, I decided to focus on one particular episode: Pyramids of Mars. I'll probably do more episode specific infographics as time permits. There've been over 200 stories so far (consisting of over 770 episodes), so that should keep me busy for a while.

Obviously you'll have to click on the image and magnify to read the text. Hopefully everyone will figure out how to read it; start at the upper left and follow the arrows.

Pyramids of Mars is one of my all-time favorites. It was the third episode of the 13th season, and Tom Baker's second year of playing the Doctor. It's got everything a classic episode needs: a historical setting, a gothic mansion, an evil enemy and of course, monsters.

The Mummy designs are certainly... unusual, what with their dome-like heads and protruding chest plates. The special effects still hold up reasonably well, especially for a nearly 40 year old show. Some of them are still quite effective, particularly the smoking footsteps of Sutekh's agent, and Professor Scarman's shotgun wound healing.

Tom Baker is absolutely firing on all cylinders here. This is also where we get his famous "I'm a Time Lord. I walk in eternity" speech. Elisabeth Sladen was never more radiant as Sarah Jane Smith than here. Sarah Jane was saddled with some truly regrettable outfits in the 1970s, but thankfully here she's wearing a flattering and subdued period costume. And who knew Sarah Jane could handle a rifle so skillfully!

Bernard Archard is wonderfully creepy as the reanimated Professor Scarman. Michael Sheard is suitably befuddled as Laurence Scarman. Sheard also played Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the U-Boat Captain in Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Hitler in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Oddly enough Sheard has played Hitler three other times! Quite a departure from the meek and bewildered Laurence Scarman.

Sadly there just wasn't room to include all the characters. I had to leave out Dr. Warlock, Collins the butler and Ernie Clements, the groundskeeper. They really didn't figure prominently in the plot anyway. I desperately wanted to include Sutekh's "jackal headed appearance," but couldn't find a way to do so. I tried to include all the major details and plot points, but some items had to go by the wayside for space purposes. Think of this as the Cliff Notes version of Pyramids of Mars.

The exterior shots of the Scarman mansion were filmed at a home owned by none other than Mick Jagger. For the scenes at the end where the mansion is on fire, they filmed a large cardboard cutout of the building behind a wall of flames.

Pyramids of Mars is a pretty violent episode; every single character (save the Doctor and Sarah Jane, of course) dies by the end! It features the world's first (and probably only) "Death by Mummy Chest" scene as Ernie Clements, the poacher, is killed by two Robot Mummies who crush his windpipe between their sharp, protruding chest pieces.

Even classic episodes have a few hiccups though, and this one is no exception. Sutekh the Destroyer is so powerful that the Osirans seal him inside a pyramid on Earth, and leave the key on Mars. But Professor Scarman opens Sutekh's tomb in about five seconds with little more than a small crowbar. Seems like there should have been some better security. Inside Sutekh's tomb, he has what appears to be a wide screen high def TV, with which he can observe anything and anyone in the galaxy. He uses it to monitor his possessed slaves and Robotic Mummies, directing their actions to facilitate his escape. Why would his jailers provide him with such a device? And Namin supposedly takes over the Scarman mansion and fills it with sarcophagi full of Robotic Mummies. Where in the hell did he get those? Mummies R Us?

As for the actual drawing and design of the infographic, I changed the layout and rearranged boxes several times until I was satisfied with it. There's no science or formula, I just arrange things until I think it looks right. Drawing monsters and helmeted characters is always pretty easy, because they don't have features, so Sutekh and the Mummies were no problem. I'd drawn the Fourth Doctor before, but I altered his expression here and changed his outfit to the one he wore in the episode. Marcus Scarman proved harder to draw than I thought he would be, probably because he looked slightly different in every reference photo I found. Laurence Scarman and Namin took a little while to get right, but weren't too difficult.

The hardest one of them all to draw was Sarah Jane. I realized this was the first time I'd attempted to draw a female in my "Doctor Who Style." Obviously I couldn't draw her with a giant nose and long skinny head like all the male characters or she'd have looked ridiculous. So I had to pull back the cartooniness quite a bit for her. She proved remarkably difficult to capture. I went through many, many version of Sarah Jane before I got a decent likeness. I'm still not 100% satisfied with her, but she'll have to do.

Very special thanks to my pal across the pond, Ian Ledger, who helped out with editing, text correction and support. Thanks to him I now know what a "ginger moggie" is.

Drawn and laid out entirely in InDesign.

Just for fun, here's what the page for this image looked like in InDesign. I usually place reference photos off to the side and draw the characters there, then drag them onto the page when they're done. Looks like a mess, but it works for me. You can see my many attempts at a Sarah Jane likeness on the right hand side, and several versions of Laurence and Marcus Scarman on the left. I started drawing Sutekh's jackal head on the left as well, but left it unfinished when I realized there wasn't going to be room for it.

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