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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 499 > PICTURE PERFECT!


As the art of the Target books is celebrated in a new exhibition, DWM tracks down the men who painted Doctor Who…

From Doctor Who’s Space War to his encounter with The Cave Monsters, the 1970s range of episode novelisations from Target Books was as familiar to fans as the show itself, allowing readers to re-live the fleeting lost broadcasts from the show’s past in the pre-video age. Universal-Tandem Publishing had established Target as a children’s paperback imprint in 1973, picking up the rights to three 1960s Doctor Who novels based on early William Hartnell episodes. Reissued with brash new cover paintings, they spun the web for a series of books that would span two decades and over 150 titles.

Without doubt, the initial success of the range owed much to its distinctive cover art. In an age before Photoshop and publicity posters, Target’s illustrations were Doctor Who rendered with movie poster gusto, pushing the show’s visuals beyond the limitations of budgets and the countdown of any studio clock. This investment in new artwork was unusual for TV tie-ins, which typically fell back on recycled publicity stills.

Mark Gatiss reads Planet of the Daleks for its audio release.

The missing link to the early Target cover art can be traced to Frank Bellamy’s 1972 Radio Times cover for Day of the Daleks, which had been warmly received by the show’s production team. Bellamy was much in demand and beyond the reach of Target’s art editors, but his trademark fizzing galaxies and bold graphic shapes clearly influenced many of the early Target Doctor Who pieces.

Chris Achilleos was the first regular artist on the range, establishing a new visual style for Doctor Who.

“I didn’t need direction – I knew how to do a cover,” he explains today. “I was always very aware that a book cover needs to be attractive – almost interactive, in a way – so that you’re drawn to pick it up in a shop. I still think they work as good punchy covers.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: A celebration of the classic Target Book covers, including interviews with artists Chris Achilleos, Jeff Cummins and Andrew Skilleter; executive producer Brian Minchin on casting the new companion; an interview with actress Clare Higgins, who plays Ohila, leader of the Sisterhood of Karn; an in-depth look at immortality in Doctor Who; The Fact of Fiction examines two pivotal adventures – Warriors' Gate and The Night of the Doctor; The Time Team watch The Vampires of Venice; a guide to Doctor Who weddings; comic strip – Witch Hunt part 3, written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty; Relative Dimensions discusses cosplay for kids; a review of The Complete Series 9 box set; plus news, reviews, previews, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and the Wotcha column.