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On Resurrecting a God with Playwright Mark Griffiths

A classic Doctor Who baddie gains a whole new life in Cutaway Comics’ Omega: Vengeance.

Brought to you by the same “splinter universe” publisher that gave us the Lytton solo series and the critically acclaimed play We Apologize for the Inconvenience and armed with “showrunner” Eric Seward (The Visitation, Remembrance of the Daleks, and a bunch more), Omega: Vengeance looks to tell an “untold tale” about one the Doctor’s most deadly, and most powerful, enemies. 

The planet Minyos is in chaos. The population is in open revolt against their pantheon of alien rulers, a revolt further stoked by Omega even from behind the cosmic bars of his black hole prison. But when a rogue member of the Minyos royal family stands up to the revolt and the caged god, the planet is poised on a knife-edge between violence and reason. With nothing holding it together but the humanoid will to survive.

The GateCrashers recently got a chance to sit down with the writer of Omega: Vengeance, playwright Mark Griffiths, to talk about the genesis of the project and how this “side-story” fits into the overall tapestry of Doctor Who while standing on its own as a complete story. Join us as we wreak cosmic vengeance with one of the Doctor’s most formidable foes.

GateCrashers: How were you brought on to the project?

Mark Griffiths: Gareth Kavanagh the publisher of Cutaway Comics is also the producer of my stage play about Douglas Adams, WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. With the onset of the pandemic, our theatrical plans were put on hold and it seemed a good opportunity to concentrate on print media.

GC: What was your experience with Doctor Who, and more specifically Omega beforehand?

MG: I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who since I was very young. The earliest season I remember watching is Tom Baker’s first. Initially, to me, Omega was a terrifying image in The Doctor Who Monster Book (that mask!), and then a terrifying presence in the Target novelisation of The Three Doctors. With the repeat of that story in The Five Faces of Doctor Who in 1981, Omega became a slightly less terrifying presence, thanks to his spangly poncho, but he always remained to me, a first tier Doctor Who baddie.

CG: Were you only able to use story and character beats from The Three Doctors and Underworld? Or did you use any of the further development Omega has had since?

MG: The comic leads into (or at least points towards) both Underworld and The Three Doctors. They were, in very broad strokes, the background material I was working from. We knew that the Time Lords played at being gods to the ancient Minyans so it was nice to dramatise that moment at the start of the comic. 

GC: Do you have any plans for further work in the Doctor Who universe?

MG: Yes, Gareth and I have plans for further Doctor Who spin-off titles but they’re top secret at the moment. As the saying goes, stay tuned!

GC: What was it like collaborating with John Ridgway?

MG: An absolute delight. John’s stuff is just brilliant and to see his pages arriving each week has been a real highlight of an awful year. I’m extremely fortunate to have him illustrating my first comic book script.

GC: Since Omega primarily weaves in and out of the Jon Pertwee Era of Doctor Who, did you find yourself rewatching or retreading some Third Doctor Adventures for inspiration?

MG: Not especially. The Three Doctors is a favourite story so it was always at the back of my mind as I was writing. I was keener to create a new protagonist and take her on a journey leading to a final confrontation with Omega.

GC: Speaking of, that era has a reputation for being a more “grounded, realistic” take on Doctor Who, was it difficult trying to thread that needle between realistic and operatic? Specifically in and around such an “all-powerful” character like Omega?

MG: Yes, when you’re writing this kind of space opera story, language becomes a tricky business. On the one hand, if you have the characters using lots of modish slang, it feels out of place. But on the other, if everyone talks too formally the dialogue feels bloated and unnatural. Ditto for the action. You have to strike a balance between realism and the wilder, more psychedelic sequences.

GC: What was the design process like for this new incarnation of Omega?

MG: We knew we couldn’t use either of the BBC visual takes of the character and any design we came up for him had to be approved by Bob Baker (creator of Omega). 

As the comic opens, Omega is present only as a voice and occasionally as a dimly perceived humanoid figure. When we eventually see him in the flesh, as it were, I think people are going to be surprised by his appearance. I can’t say any more at this stage!

GC: Any chance of a Bessie cameo? Even just parked on the street somewhere maybe? 

MG: Hmmm…

GC: Oh, man, we love the sound of that. But finally, are there any other “unseen” areas or specific other locations of Doctor Who you feel itching to explore?

MG: Tons! Virtually every story broadcast creates new worlds and histories to explore. 

Doctor Who has one of the richest fictional universes of any sci-fi programme and it’s been a privilege to be allowed to add a few pebbles to its mountain of mythology.

Omega: Vengeance #1 (of 4) is available now through Cutaway Comics.

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