Gary Merchant;Always the Third Doctor!;Liz Shaw;Jo Grant;Sarah Jane Smith;Jon Pertwee;UNIT;TARDIS;Jeri's Doctor Who Fiction
From Cover to Cover
Written by Gary Merchant
It was pure chance that I came across Jeri Massiís Third Doctor fiction site. About a year ago I was checking out a new site called Martís Place, which details all issues of the Doctor Who Magazine, and decided to investigate the links page. Almost at the bottom of a very long list, was Jeriís site. Curious, I called it up and was amazed - not just the number of stories, but also the varying lengths of them, from a single chapter up to a mind-boggling twenty one chapters.
Scanning the list of stories, I chose Killer Bees as the first one to read, mainly because of the premise; Jo Grantís return to England after her failed marriage, and a Doctor lifted from his time stream. I was hooked, so much so that I was inspired to put together a cover for it, just for fun.
As I read more, I alternated mainly between Liz Shaw and Jo Grant for whatever story I chose to read next - The Fighting Dead, Blood Dimmed Tide, Night Terrors - there werenít many covering Sarah Jane, so I left it a while before turning to those. Anyway, as I printed the stories off, chapter-by-chapter, I continued to make up individual covers for each one.
Now armed with a handful of story covers, to me the next step was to find a way to send these to Jeri. Now in my work capacity I send numerous e-mails with a variety of attachments, but never had I sent anything like this. So my first attempts didnít transmit. But eventually they did, and the results seem to have gone down pretty well.
Here is a list of just some of the covers Iíve created, with comments on how they came togetherÖ
KILLER BEES - My first attempt, and I think it still holds up ok. With this being Joís story, I knew she had to be at the forefront, with the Doctor in the background.
NIGHT TERRORS - I had originally planned this as the cover for The Fighting Dead. But Jeri asked if I could change it for Night Terrors. No problem.
THE FIGHTING DEAD - Originally intended for Faint Glimmerings of Light.
INFLUX OF THE ARRAY - The finished picture is taken from my interpretation of the tv serial Terror of the Autons. I just reduced the size to fit.
DEATH AND TOLIMAN - My first Sarah Jane cover. The background picture comes from a sci-fi magazine, while the images of the Doctor and Sarah are from The Time Warrior. The end result seemed to work, judging from Jeriís favourable reaction at the time.
PORTRAIT OF A CROW - The first of the Not A Rational Process series for Liz Shaw. This was pure luck, where the two chosen images seemed to belong. One of those rare instances where I got the result I wanted first time.
INSIDERS - I puzzled over this for a while, until I came across a still from Planet of the Spiders. With that as the central image, everything else fitted around it.
CHRISTMAS WITH FRIENDS - An antagonistic Liz Shaw and Brigadier was what I was looking for, and I think the images chosen fit just right. My only cover not to feature the Doctor.
THE MYSTERIOUS GENTLEMEN FROM LONDON - This was a challenge, with both the Doctor and Brigadier out of their usual attire, and trying to find the right clothes to match their new surroundings. The end result drew quite a few compliments from the ladies about the Brigís new clothes.
SHADOW OF THE DALEKS - Jeriís most recent Doctor Who story for a while, and a superbly different take on the Daleks. I thought, ďI must do a cover for this - now!Ē
THE REVENGERS - The black and white cover was due to the background image being that way. Screen captures of the Doctor and Jo came from The Mind of Evil.
GLOBAL SEARCH AND REPLACE - Iím afraid vanity reigns here. The face of the Doctorís young imposter is actually me, from a few years ago.
THE DEAD GO SEARCHING - Jeri had wanted the cover for The Fighting Dead to encompass a three-story trilogy. But when she began to insert thumbnail covers against each story on the site, I could see there would be a couple of gaps. So I set to work. Once I found an image for the supposed monster in The Dead Go Searching, everything else fell into place. I think itís one of Jeriís favourites.
FAINT GLIMMERINGS OF LIGHT - I wanted at least one cover to feature Anne Thompson. Luckily I found a black and white picture to suit, and then colour copied to match the background.
Having read the majority of Jeriís output, a particular theme that runs through many of her Doctor Who stories is that of relationships. It always seemed to be a factor of the tv series that character development was lost in favour of the story. Here, the balance is restored, and whether it be relating to friends, lovers or breaking down the barriers between humans and aliens, the development of the central characters has been a major contribution to each of Jeriís stories, and something I hope will continue in future.
I have to say I never expected my covers to feature on Jeriís website. As I said before, it was only done for fun. And hey, it still is.