Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Ninth Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

Christopher Eccleston played the Ninth Doctor in 2005.

Sixteen years after the show was canceled, the BBC brought back a new and improved Doctor Who series in 2005. The new series has been going strong now for five seasons and is a huge hit in England, consistently receiving high ratings and generating tons of merchandise.

The SyFy Channel aired the first four seasons here in the States, but opted not to carry it after that. I guess they needed the precious air time for wrestling and shows about men pretending to see ghosts.

The new series finally has a budget that allows them to depict decent looking aliens and other planets. Don’t get me wrong, the old series had its charm, what with its cardboard sets and paper mache monsters, but it’s nice to see the show get the budget it deserves.

When the BBC first announced the show was coming back, fans wondered if the Doctor would be the same one from the old series, or if the show would be getting a reboot. After all, it would be tough to attract a new audience to a show with a 40+ year history, what with all that continuity and baggage.

In the end the producers decided not to go the reboot route, and #9 is the same Doctor we’ve known and loved for years.

The way they brought the series back was nothing short of genius, in my opinion. Since we last saw the Doctor in the TV movie in 1996, his home planet of Gallifrey has been destroyed under mysterious circumstances (which have since been partially explained) and the Doctor is now the Last Of The Time Lords, wandering time and space alone.

This very cleverly leveled the playing field for everyone. It provided a jumping on point for new viewers, and fans who knew the continuity inside and out didn't know any more about the Doctor's situation than new viewers. It was the perfect was to start the show up again.

Unlike the old series, which would stretch out a story over 4 or 6 half hour episodes, the new series features one story per hour long episode (with the occasional two parter).

I really liked Eccleston’s performance as the Doctor. He was moody, melancholy and guilt ridden (no doubt due to losing his home planet) and was obviously in need of someone like his new companion Rose Tyler to give his life meaning again. Too bad he only stuck around for one season (or “series” to the Brits).

This Doctor wasn't afraid to use force, often utilizing weapons of the era in which he found himself.

Unlike any previous incarnations, Doctor #9 spoke with a distinct Northern English accent. Rose Tyler asked the Doctor, "If you're an alien, why do you sound like you're from the North?" He replied, "Lots of planets have a North."

The Ninth Doctor’s costume was the simplest and most modern to date. In the past the various Doctors have all worn out-of-time faux Victorian era clothing; waistcoats, opera capes and scarves. This Doctor wore a plain t-shirt, pants and a leather jacket. For the first time he was actually wearing clothing that more or less fit the times. His costume remained unchanged during his series, with the exception of an occasional change of t-shirt color. Best of all, there were no question marks to be seen on his clothing (something that bothered me greatly about past Doctors)!

Much like the Eighth Doctor, the Ninth Doctor's Tardis interior was an impressively large steampunk kind of cavern, much more impressive than the original series' dinky interior. The Doctor mentioned more than once that the Tardis was not just a machine but alive, which was backed up by the incessant breathing sound in the background of the control room.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver finally made its triumphant return in the new series, something we hadn't seen much since the Fifth Doctor's era.

The sonic screwdriver was originally just that-- a high tech tool that supposedly used sound to loosen screws and open locked doors. As time went on, the Doctor began relying more and more on it until the producers of the original series thought it was being used as a crutch, so they began to downplay it sometime during Doctor #5's era.

The sonic returned with a vengeance in the Ninth Doctor's adventures. It's now more versatile than ever, seemingly gaining new abilities every episode. No longer does it merely open locks, now it can be used to gain access to computers, reprogram cell phones so they can call into the past, even remotely control the Tardis. At times it seems more like magic than technology.

The Ninth Doctor was the first to use "psychic paper," a substance that would display whatever a subject thought he should see on it. If a guard would ask him for his pass, he'd show him the blank sheet of psychic paper, and the guard would see the appropriate credentials displayed on it, and allow the Doctor to pass. That would come in handy here in the real world.

Many important characters debuted in the Ninth Doctor's series, including his new companion Rose Tyler, her ex-boyfriend Mickey Smith, and former Time Agent and now immortal Captain Jack Harkness (who would go on to star in the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood).

Several old foes returned to plague the Ninth Doctor, including the Autons (which were animated store mannequins) and his most famous nemesis, the Daleks.

The Ninth Doctor began the new series' tradition of utilizing the city of Cardiff, Wales, as a sort of home base. Many episodes of the new series have taken place in or around there. Coincidentally, the series is filmed at one of the BBC's studios in Cardiff. Imagine that!

Doctor #9 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.

It was tough trying to color his outfit. How do you color a jacket and pants that are both black without it looking like a solid blob? So I ended up having to cheat a bit and add some grays. Don't judge me! ;^)

Please forgive the ugly watermark on the illustration. I swore I would never add one to my art, because I know that 99.99% of my readers would never even think of stealing it. But earlier this year I had a run-in with an art thief who was not only stealing my work, but selling it as her own! Hence the watermarks. This is why we can't have nice things.

Stay tuned for Doctors #10 through #11! I'm almost done!

Here's the original sketch for the Ninth Doctor. This was probably one of the easiest likenesses I've done so far. I sketched him from memory, and then when I looked up reference photos, I decided trying to match the reality would just muddy things up. Doctor #9 usually looked pretty mopey, but I opted for one of his rare smiles here instead.


  1. Great art work Bob! You are a superb caricaturist. And, as a bonus, your review of the Eccleston series was "spot on." I'm also a big big fan of the Doctor!

  2. Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good spirit.

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