Welcome To The Jungle
Cutaway Comics and Dez Skinn roll back the years with Demon Of Eden
FOUR DECADES AFTER launching Doctor Who Weekly, Dez Skinn is returning to Gallifrey’s finest, teaming up with Cutaway Comics to edit a special collected edition of Demon Of Eden. Formerly The Demons Of Eden, Ian Winterton and Martin Geraghty’s sequel to 1979’s Fourth Doctor adventure “Nightmare Of Eden” was previously serialised in the rear pages of Omega.
“Doctor Who Weekly is arguably the most influential and important piece of Doctor Who merchandise to emerge from the 1970s,” claims Gareth Kavanagh, who has stated that Cutaway Comics’ main inspiration was the Weekly’s legendary back-ups by the likes of Alan Moore and Steve Moore.
“Dez not only created the template for almost every tie-in comic and magazine that followed, but he did it with style with a main strip that is better than anything the show offered back then and, best of all, with back-up strips where anything could happen in the absence of the Doctor. These dark little strips were great spaces for experimentation, a place where villains took centre stage and endings were rarely neat and tidy.
“It was also where many of us first experienced the incredible back catalogue of Doctor
Who’s history, including Cybermen with souls, Daleks invading film studios and Dalek
Killers rescuing princesses, all explored over a couple of pages at the back of the comic.”
“It was a very different time, back in 1979, with regular viewing audiences in excess of nine million but nothing else beyond the TV series and the Target paperbacks,” adds Skinn. “Realistically, we could only tell one story per issue, so it seemed obvious to me to repeat the formula I’d used a few years earlier on House Of Hammer, which had a lead Hammer Films-based strip and a short Van Helsing’s Terror Tale, the latter giving us the freedom to tell totally new stories.”
With Geraghty’s art now presented in glorious greyscale, Skinn has also added some extra material, which harks back to Doctor Who Weekly’s halcyon days. “Martin’s art now really resonates with the look of the old Steve Dillon, Paul Neary and David Lloyd back- ups,” he explains. “I’ve left the original story untouched, as I’ve simply framed it more in the style of my old weekly issues.
“So there’s a feature on ‘Nightmare Of Eden’ by Jeremy Bentham, a Photo-file on Bob Baker, a Crazy Caption competition (complete with a chance to win a fiver), a colour diorama for the rub-down transfers, a Who Cares-style letter column with its obligatory young reader photos, a letter from the Dezter and 1970s-style spoof ads such as a homage to Mr Bellamy, who was the star of the Bassetts
Liquorice Allsorts back cover ads.”
Demon Of Eden also pays respect to “Nightmare Of Eden”’s original writer Bob Baker, who sadly passed away late last year shortly after contributing to the accompanying VAM disc. “Bob was hugely fond of ‘Nightmare Of Eden’, and the new commentary track he recorded for us is my favourite,” says Kavanagh. “It was such a shock losing Bob so suddenly, as he’d been an early and strong advocate for what we’re doing at Cutaway. We were determined to make this one-shot a fitting tribute to a great man.” SJ
Demon Of Eden is out in February.
WAR CHANGES PEOPLE, sometimes in ways that aren’t immediately obvious. In Amulet, the debut feature from writer/director Romola Garai, ex-soldier Tomaz moves into a house in London after fleeing his war-torn home country. But while he quickly strikes up a bond with fellow resident Magda (Carla Juri), something is very wrong with this house. There are dead bats in the plumbing and a foreboding sense that they are not alone. Can Tomaz help Magda – or will his dark past come back to haunt them both?
Set across two distinct periods in Tomaz’s life, Amulet mixes incisive character drama with visceral supernatural horror. “I was interested in the idea that good people do terrible things, particularly in the context of war,” Garai tells Red Alert. “I read an amazing book a few years back called The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan, which is about the building of the Burma railway and some of the extreme acts of violence that took place. And also in the context of the Me Too movement, where you’re just desperately trying to have a conversation with men and boys of, ‘This is not about there being bad men, it’s about understanding issues of consent’.”
A cinematic influence on the film was a trio of all-time horror classics. “We were thinking of films like Possession, and The Tenant was another big reference for us.” Amulet’s main setting – a dark, claustrophobic house filled with secrets and, perhaps, something truly monstrous – also invokes a British masterpiece. “Hellraiser was a big influence. Like Amulet it feels small, it feels intimate and it feels squalid.”
Playing Tomaz is Alec Secareanu (Constantin in BBC One’s
Baptiste). “It was really important for me to get an actor who understood the film and what it was saying. There are definitely actors out there who wouldn’t have.” Also appearing in the film is Imelda Staunton as Sister Claire.
“I had her in mind when I was writing it and I just thought, ‘I’ll ask her, she’ll say no…’ But she didn’t say no! She was very supportive of me making the move into directing and she was great to work with. She had a lot of fun with the role.”
If Garai’s name sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ll have likely seen her on the other side of the camera, acting in shows such as The Miniaturist and The Hour. She says that directing has long been an ambition.
“I wrote all through my twenties, but it really did make a huge difference to me when more women started directing and I started to work with them. That made me think, ‘I would really like to try that and be a part of actually shaping the narrative’.” She also says that the recent success of British horror films like Rose Glass’s Saint Maud and Prano Bailey-bond’s Censor is an inspiring moment. “I love both of those films. I feel incredibly passionately about women working in genres they’ve been locked out of. I think that there’s just this kind of explosion of creativity now and, hopefully, one day not too far away, we might end up with parity.” WS
Amulet is in cinemas from 28 January.