The first volume of The Comic Strip Companion has two covers: the standard paperback version, and the limited edition hardback variant featuring a painting by 1960s comic artist Bill Mevin. There is however a third version of the cover, one that never saw print.
Around mid 2009 when I was still busily writing the book, I struck up a conversation on Facebook with Alister Pearson. Alister saw that I was writing a guidebook to the comics for Telos and, having recently painted the artwork for the cover of The Target Book for the same publisher, he was interested in submitting ideas for the cover of my book.
Alister is an accomplished artist long associated with Doctor Who due to his work illustrating book covers for Target Books and Virgin Publishing, and painting cover art and posters for Doctor Who Magazine. I had admired Alister’s work for years and was keen to see what he could come up with.
His idea was for a composition featuring the faces of the four Doctors covered in the book, each illustrated in different style, intended to be reminiscent of the comic strip artwork from each Doctor’s era. The individual images were inspired by the illustrative styles of Neville Main (First Doctor), John Canning (Second Doctor), Gerry Haylock (Third Doctor), and John M Burns (Fourth Doctor).
Alister sent me Telos some sketches, and made a start on the painting in September 2009. In the end the artwork wasn’t used. If I recall correctly, the change of plans had something to do with concerns over using images of the Doctors on an unlicensed book. Alister abandoned work on the painting when it became clear that it wouldn’t be used.
In March 2016 Alister decided to finish his painting, in order that it could be raffled off in aid of charity at the Doctor Who Appreciation Society event, ‘The Capitol’, held in London on 7-8 May.
Seeing this photo of the finished piece on Facebook, I mentioned to Alister that it would be interesting to ‘mock up’ a cover of The Comic Strip Companion using the artwork to see how it might have looked. Alister liked this idea, so emailed me a high quality scan of the piece and asked me to see what I could come up with.
After much fiddling around with various arrangements and styles in Photoshop, I found that I was happiest with preserving the stark white text on black from the ‘official’ cover, and extended the black background through the gutters between the panels of Alister’s piece. The end result is, I think, quite striking. Alister certainly seemed to think so, as his response on Facebook was: “Thank you, Paul – I like it. A lot!”