Image Credit: Vworp Vworp! (Fair Use)
Image Description: One of the covers of Vworp Vworp! Volume Four
Tides was provided with a free review copy
By James Ashworth
Following on from their first three volumes on the comic strip worlds of the Doctor, Vworp Vworp! returns in its fourth incarnation as it turns its attention to TV Comic, Countdown et al. In many ways a definitive take on the era, it’s only an unnecessary own goal that lets the side down.
As befits a fanzine exploring the comic strip stories of Doctor Who, Vworp Vworp! Volume Four is a thing to behold. With a variety of variant covers featuring Trods and Jon Pertwee on a bicycle to name just a couple, it’s a striking publication that immediately grabs your attention. Inside, the design befits a professional publication as boxouts, inserts and columns vie for the reader’s attention.
These design elements are very much required in order to fit in hundreds of pages worth of content. The writing team don’t do things by halves, with writers, artists and everyone else from this era of comics spoken to, and in some cases, tracked down first. As such, the articles are nothing less than comprehensive, though each author’s strive to give a complete picture of their topic means that on a few occasions, they cover the same ground found elsewhere in Vworp Vworp!’s pages.
Aside from the written word, the fanzine also takes up the mantle of creatives past in creating its own strip. And while the majority of these continue the good work of the rest of the volume, one in particular should be singled out for comment – Return of the Piper. A satire on the social attitudes of these Doctor Who comic strips, and the television industry of the era, the final frame crosses the line from satire into poor taste. Depicting disgraced celebrities Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris is a step that should never be taken lightly, especially when the punchline of the so-called joke is so misjudged. In attempting to make light of the at-times outdated attitudes of this set of Doctor Who comics, Vworp Vworp! has become the very thing it wanted to satirise.
This one misjudged scene casts something of a pall over what is otherwise a well-researched fanzine on an underappreciated section of Doctor Who comics. For anyone looking to be introduced to the era, or wanting to find out more, there’s unlikely to be anything more comprehensive than this.