Archive for the ‘Issue 1’ Category

Zeus Plug flashback: issue one

Monday, November 18th, 2013

To mark November being Tennant month, here’s a return to Zeus Plug‘s debut, and a Tenth Doctor focus straight outta The Christmas Invasion. Oh, we were all so optimistic back then, weren’t we? Feel that youthful hope…

X the Unknown

Illustration: Alistair HughesIn the year 2000 BBC Books, saddled with a Doctor four years into his tenure and carrying a history about him like a tortoise does a shell, took a drastic measure. It made the Eighth Doctor forget who he was, not just for one story, but for a year. Eschewing his companions, temporal knowledge and TARDIS, and for nearly a hundred human years experienced the world and his environment fresh and unaided. This wasn’t the first time such a thing had been done of course – Virgin Books had done a similar thing with the Seventh Doctor in Paul Cornell’s Human Nature; but that story, like every story before it and the ‘Caught on Earth’ cycle, returned the Doctor to his present history-steeped, continuity sodden ‘familiar self’. Of course, what Richards needed, most likely wanted to do that no story before had been able to do, and what he could never hope to achieve, was not making the Doctor forget who he was, but his audience.

Five years later the idea would seem moot, because now most sensibly, Doctor Who is made for a new audience, not a curmudgeonly and shrinking fan base tied to the old series and its continuity. Played from the outset very smartly, with few instances of a ‘restart’ button having been pressed, and (thankfully) no strange desires to make the Doctor half-human, the Eccleston series has been a smash hit. The issue at the end of his supposed first season? The short televised life of the Ninth Doctor, gazumphed in a BBC plot (sort of).

With that in mind, and the how’s return neatly assured, the real gambit would surely be the first regeneration – hardly the surprise that it was in 1966, but still an effective show changer. The Tenth Doctor, therefore, is RTD’s newest gamble, and The Christmas Invasion saw him arrive in style. David Tennant – young actor, a board-treader recently tested with some RTD-produced top shelf BBC fare. But what of the new Doctor himself? The Christmas Invasion, whatever individual fans may review it as, is a master-stroke, and it’s all in the imagery. Blood, shades of the occult, lots of shouting and visceral reds courtesy of the Sycorax, tribal paraphernalia recalling some aspects of the Lord of the Rings movies, and then there’s the Doctor himself. It may well be that in this story the quintessential image of Tennant’s Doctor – of any Doctor for the new century, has been achieved.

And this may be a scary thought if we’ve peaked this early. Nevertheless, can there be a more Doctorish image than that of our hero wielding a sword high above London in his pyjamas? It’s both sublime and ridiculous, projecting bravado and peril as well as delivering a knowing nod to the British tele-fantasy heroes of old as well as those more recent – Arthur Dent’s dressing gown, Harry Potter’s sword. It’s also a neat reflection of Davison’s Doctor’s first moments in Castrovalva; incapacitated, rendered all but useless while some greater peril gathers strength about him. In all its vulnerability its also a symbol of confidence – the polar opposite of Tennant’s predecessor with his tough leather-clad and cropped hair exterior but soft, guilt-ridden centre.

Indeed, if rumour is to be believed, that this season’s theme is of the new Doctor’s over-extended confidence and perilous self-assuredness, then its initial story neatly galvanises both ideas – of the handing down of some very British hero archetypes with an internal motif being developed. What to make of the Satsuma? Is it the ‘Torchwood’ of the new series, appearing as it does in two stories to date (if you care to include Attack of the Graske)? Probably not.


Our Raisins D’etre

Saturday, September 26th, 2009



We’re through the looking glass now, people, and into the first issue of Zeus Plug number one! First up, here’s Jono’s welcome to new readers with a bit of a restatement of our agenda, and the editorial, which I was pretty pleased with at the time. Updated thoughts follow…



This is not a fanzine! A fanzine needs to be A5, have at least 20 pages, and have at least one review. ZEUS PLUG isn’t any of those. It is in fact 16 A6 pages long, officially making it the smallest NZ fanzine ever!


In explaining what you’ll get from ZEUS PLUG, it’s perhaps easier to outline what you won’t see in its pages. There won’t be any reviews (bar the occasional new series story), any interviews, list articles, and no fiction. Also ZEUS PLUG is series-centric only, so you won’t see many mentions of books and audios and anyway, TSV already covers these nicely. What you will get is opinion – lots of it. fandom survives on opinion and very little of the above. The reason this zine is so small is because life’s too short to be stuck inside reading a hundred pages of miniscule type. For God’s sake, get some fresh air! Go to the pub – you can take this with you and use it as a beer mat.


Well done on getting your hands on Issue 1 – whilst ZEUS PLUG is meant to be a quick disposable read, we still recommend you put it in a safe place. That way, in 10 years time, you can milk the completists for all they’re worth.


We hope you enjoy this issue – it’s rather wonderful with some friends and a bottle of wine.






Two things I recently observed. The first was heart-warming and, I’ve been told, not unique. On the way out of Whitcoulls I passed a young father and his son –probably no more than four or five years old. “Okay”, the father said “what do you want to look for?” “Docter Oo” “Well there’s plenty of other stuff here first, mate”. Clearly a fanboy in training if another male had to talk him around. The second thing I observed last month wasn’t so good. A debate on a message board as to whether the Children in Need ‘Pudsey Cutaway’ is canon. ‘Canon?’ I had to check the calendar to see that it wasn’t still 1995.

Doctor Who fandom has been around a long time – in organised form probably since the early 1970s; in militant form, probably the mid 1980s. Fans ‘of an age’ have grown into and up with organised fandom and its various endeavours and squabbles over ‘proper’ chronologies and issues of ‘canon’. For the most part it’s been harmless fun – nobody’s lost an eye, and even off-air the series continued to live through fandom, ever growing and changing. Well, maybe changing – I suspect that as a whole we fans don’t like too much change, as several letters to DWM et cetera will attest. Now the series is back, and many of those old fans really are old fans.

We can be proud that Doctor Who nowadays is the product of fans grown up, and has been spearheaded by those who championed it even in its last days and when the original fires sputtered out. Fans kept it alive, but it’s time for fans to move on and viewers to reclaim the series and from them new fans to appear. This doesn’t mean we should stop watching or loving the series, but it does mean we have the freedom to enjoy it again as it was intended, without the self-inflicted burden of responsibility that we are somehow its appointed guardians and curators. We owe it to the next generation of fans to allow them the freedom to interpret this series in their own way and on their own terms; to revise, reinterpret, and hopefully turn fandom on its head. If we don’t, then fandom will have nothing to nothing to talk about, no new ground to cover, and may as well not exist. And then where would we be?


This is the first editorial from Zeus Plug and it’s mine. It was deliberately provocative, intended to get a conversation going, or at least a reaction from the reader. At the time Jono and I were looking toward the new series, listening and reading the advance chatter and anticipating some backlash from fans of the traditional show who were expecting – perhaps dreading, changes to the ‘essence’ of the series with its return.

Five years on and it’s especially interesting to look back on.

I’ve pitched in with my none-too-private opinions on this blog over the years of the RTD era and among the comments I’ve made you could say that a common thread is that there’s some stuff – stuff from the Tennant/Piper stories in particular, that I’ve taken issue with. This isn’t the place to resurrect those complaints or arguments, but it does rather suggest that I have become one of those fans I was warning about in the editorial below. In short, things have changed and at times I have demonstrated that I have not moved on myself. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. Does it make me wrong? Absolutely not. Should I change my mind or indeed ‘move on’? Probaby for my sanity I could have done, but I didn’t and lookee – if I had I wouldn’t be given this gift of an opportunity to re-read past statements and reflect on my failing to live up to them! But I do believe in the statement still, as much as I believe there’ll be stuff we’ll see next year and maybe the year after that at least that won’t sit well with some old fans or some recent fans. New fans are as capable of being riled and of not accepting change as well, as reaction to Torchwood Children of Earth has shown. What does that tell us? Well, we’re fans, we each have our own vision of what the series is and how it should be, and we can at times be if not an unmoveable force then one slow to move. And yet, if collectively we hadn’t moved on and let some of the young fans in the show wouldn’t be in half as healthy a state as it was then, or indeed is now.

Over the weekend I visited friends who have a seven year old utterly and completely into Doctor Who. So much so in fact that despite having seen the Ninth Doctor turn into the Tenth Doctor, she’s so attached to Tennant’s Time Lord that the dreaded ‘R’ word is being avoided at home until the moment comes when it cannot be avoided. And after that, hopefully, things will progress as normal – besides, she still has a great set of DVDs to rewatch if she wants, and being a kid with greater tolerance for repeat viewing, she probably will. The lesson here is that change (you, me, everything) is inevitable in everything but parking machines. And if we don’t like it then we’ll always have the past to keep us company.


Zeus Plug 1

Monday, September 14th, 2009


Al Has It Covered

And so to the front cover of Zeus Plug one. Here’s Al:

It seemed Peter had been suggesting the idea of a zine composed of a single sheet of paper, folded in on itself with complexity rivalling a mobius cube, for quite some time.  Flirting with the dark side of origami was all well and good but the resulting inter-dimensional planes would eventually require actual content to be printed on them.

Typically, Peter was soon walking-the-walk and before I knew it I’d been catapulted from zine artist retirement to making my first attempt at David Tennant.

iss1aArmed with Radio Times reference and a doodle boasting more character than my finished illustration would, I was sent off to suck the ink clots out of my drawing pens and put a quiff on top of Tennant’s Casanova face. As well as a peerless artist and cartoonist, Peter is an imaginative Art Director, and suggested the stained glass window approach.  I forget why, but like Jack Sparrow’s walk or ‘V’s Betty Boop wig, this piece of inspired randomness somehow worked – particularly with the colour version which he published on-line.  Intoxicated with being involved in something new and potentially exciting, I was happy to tackle Tennant’s likeness (although these new-fangled young Doctors lack the inspiring facial crags and crevasses of their predecessors), and depict what is still my favourite Christmas special. 

Being forced to use an absolute minimum of line and tone which this approach demanded gave a result which I’m still happy with today, although I always made sure I supplied a mock-up suggesting how my illustration be used on the cover from this point on.  It was a good lesson learned – never expect someone else to compose a page using your illustration the way you imagine, unless you tell them.

zp1coverblogUpdate: Here’s the final cover, scanned as Jono requested. I didn’t want to include this in case the other details detracted from the topic at hand. But it’s probably the best place for it at the moment!