Back in 2007 David Howe and the Telos Publishing crew launched a book of tremendous ambition and breadth – The Target Book – the story of the remarkable
Target Imprint and the Doctor Who novelisations that meant so much to the fans who consumed them at the time. As most of you will know, I unwittingly ended up playing a major part in this story, completing 45 of the covers from the classic Target era. I say unwittingly, since I did not seek to be a Target artist, it was thrust upon me. I loved SF and enjoyed Doctor Who but I was sufficiently removed from the world of Doctor Who fandom in 1979/80, not to realise the iconic nature of the Target books, how much each and every release – and therefore the covers – meant to the fans. Even years later when the Target work was behind me and I began to sell the original art in the 1990s, having moved on technically and creatively, I failed to realise their true value. Over the years I’ve had some tremendous feedback from individuals who as children or teenagers, still remember the thrill of seeing my art for a new Target book cover. And I can understand how they felt, if I translate it to my own experiences of seeing the new full colour Dan Dare page on my Eagle comic each week, eagerly anticipated and never to be forgotten. I was only too happy to provide cover related drawings to David and wished the book well. I do have a bit of an issue with what constitutes a Target title though. I do feel that by the time Virgin Publishing took over the novelisations, the classic era was over and the magic gone.When I think of the Target books, they are inistricably part the 70s and 80s, the publishers W H Allen and their magnificent Mayfair headquarters that was a regular haunt for me.
James Moore is one of those individuals to whom the Target covers mean so much and some years ago he embarked on a remarkable project, which he is happy for me to share with you. A beautiful, leather bound limited edition of the The Target Book was released – I have one courtesy of David – together with the standard edition and James has taken it upon himself to commission the Target artists to paint a piece of Doctor Who art within the book.
I was given the dark blue endpaper at the very front of the book and was asked to do a portrait of the second Doctor with a Yeti in the background. I decided to use coloured pencils and it worked very well. This was 2009. This year James was in touch again. Would I paint up the Troughton portrait and do another painting of the Peter Cushing Doctor and Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor to match a duo of different Doctors by Roy Knipe on the opposite page? The new art would require laying down a surface of gesso over the glossy paper. My thanks to Roy for his advice. Gesso is used as a preparatory base for paint that is applied over it. James wanted the Target logo to feature as it had been in Roy’s where it was in full colour but peeling on old, textured wood. James suggested a number of possibilities to me but in the end we agreed on the concept of a brick wall with the logo in chalk effect graffiti. It was a bit strange painting on an unfamiliar surface and I couldn’t employ certain techniques. It has echoes of my early work rather what I would do had this been a full out new painting on board. Significantly this is my first painted Matt Smith. I look forward to doing a full size portrait of him. Commission anyone?
To paint in such a book is a huge responsibility for all the artists – before working on your page, you have to ensure the book and page opposite is protected from any potential mishap. And more it is illustrated, the greater the responsibility becomes. This is the illuminated Doctor Who manuscript of our time – it is already priceless and will surely stand as a unique object for as long as it lasts. James – it’s great to be part of it.