Taking a short break from Doctor Who and the Green Death to talk about the fun I had at the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles this past weekend.
I’m not exactly a huge convention-goer, but I’ve gone to Doctor Who cons on and off since July 1985, when I went to my first convention in Manhattan, at the age of 11. That was a fun afternoon; I spent a lot of time in the dealer’s room, convincing my father to buy me several novelizations that I’d never seen in the bookstore (to that point, six months into my novelization-collecting phase), and walked away with the books for The Keys of Marinus, The Tenth Planet, and The Three Doctors (if not more – those are the only ones I remember from that day). I also saw The Dalek Invasion of Earth, my first Hartnell story, that day — this was a good two months before one of my local PBS stations started airing the full package of then-extant Hartnell episodes. And it was at the Visions convention in Chicago in November 1996 that I completed my run of novelizations of televised stories, picking up copies of Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock and Doctor Who and the Power of Kroll which had, up until that point, eluded my clutches.
However, even though I’ve had just about the full run of novelizations for over 20 years now, there is still something overwhelming in the sight of acres and acres of novelizations laid out before me. And that is exactly what you get in the Gallifrey One dealer’s room, which is the size of basically a small airplane hangar and in which you can find usually at least three dealers offering multiple copies of the whole run of Targets. And some interesting extras.
It is tempting, when one is faced with so many Target books, to want to grab and buy multiple copies even of books that you already own. This holds doubly true for the tables and tables’ worth of mid-1990s New Adventures, which, mostly priced at five dollars per book, are actually cheaper now in 2017 than what I purchased them for originally as a starving undergraduate a quarter-century ago.
So, what I did do this time, was fill in gaps in my collection. I picked up the second edition of The Making of Doctor Who (the 1976 version which details the making of Robot), and Elisabeth Sladen’s 2011 autobiography (released posthumously). I also picked up the original version of Doctor Who and the Nightmare Fair — previously, I only owned the 1990s’ Virgin “blue-spine” reprint, and which I misplaced years ago. Also up for sale, and now sitting next to me, are two of the three Companions of Doctor Who series (a short-lived and ill-fated extension of the Target brand, put out in the late 1980s when the books were still selling like hotcakes in the UK and North America), and same-era Target novelizations of a late 1980s radio play and a late 1970s original record album, of all things.
And that’s another short-lived Choose Your Own Adventure-type series in the upper left. I think six of those were released, the depicted one by William Emms, the author of Galaxy 4, who returned to literary prominence (or a pale facsimile thereof) in the mid-’80s.
Another highlight of the weekend was the Target novelizations panel, which featured a heavy-hitter lineup of speakers, including John Peel (who wrote several of the books), David J. Howe (who literally wrote the book on the history of the novelizations), Gary Russell (who’s written more Doctor Who books than nearly anyone else not named Terrance Dicks), Nicholas Pegg (a writer, a Dalek operator, and prolific contributor to the DVD range — including the writer of one of my favorite special features, the documentary about episode collecting in the pre-VHS and DVD days, appearing on the Revenge of the Cybermen DVD), and several other knowledgeable and entertaining British and American fans (including yours truly). Talking about the Target books is a passion for many people, and that panel easily overran its allotted time.
Not only that, but the convention featured an almost comically diverse array of actors and contributors to the classic series, including enough to stage a whole panel dedicated to the making of The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Companion-wise the con featured Steven Taylor, Polly, and Jo Grant (who long-time readers of this blog will know to be three of my absolute favorites), and the first K9 and second Romana (more favorites, though I haven’t yet had the chance to talk about too many of their stories here). Plus Philip Hinchcliffe, one of the best producers the show ever had, whose era we’re just about to get to here, with the novelization of Terror of the Zygons fast coming up on my schedule.
And of course there’s so much more to Gallifrey One than just the books or the classic series — also present were the Eighth Doctor, a ton of other Classic Series and New Series actors and designers and costumers, and other authors and comic book artists, etc. The array of Classic Series cosplayers was also breathtaking; people arrived as Davros, the Robots of Death, Alpha Centauri from the two Peladon stories, Sutekh and two mummies from Pyramids of Mars, a Gell Guard from The Three Doctors, and several classic series companions (including Barbara, Dodo, Polly, Jamie, Zoe, and the second Romana). I’m sure I’ve forgotten many others. There was hardly a dull moment the whole weekend, basically.
More importantly, though, thanks to my book haul, I’ll be continuing to enjoy this past weekend for several more weeks to come…