The Comic Creators Project at the Cartoon Museum in London has original artwork from a comic-strip devoted to the most ruthless villains in the Whovian Universe: The Daleks. Currently on display in the Comic Art Gallery is a page that featured in TV21, no. 37, 1965. The artwork was done by the talented Richard E. Jennings (1921-1997). This blog post offers additional information on the history of publication of this comic and on the Daleks themselves.

On January 20th, 1965, City Magazines launched TV Century 21, a large format weekly comic for children that featured the many science-fiction tv series created by Century 21 Productions owned by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The title of this comic was simplified from issue 155 in 1968 to TV21. The comic went through several mergers and it was later known from issue 192 as TV21 and Tornado,  from issue 243 as TV21 and Joe 90, from issue 278 as TV21 and from issue 347 as TV21 and Valiant. The latter merger saw the end of TV21 in 1971. Outside the UK, the comic became so popular that it even got a Dutch adaptation as TV2000.

TV21 (2)
TV Century 21, N. 2, January 30, 2065 (1965).

One of the things that made this comic attract so much attention on the newsstands was the innovative concept of the covers. Instead of showing a single comic strip like other comics were doing at the time, TV Century 21 created a front page with “stop-press”-style news items and photographs. Conceived as a newspaper from the future with the first issue dated to 2065,  the covers then showed related news regarding Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, etc.

Although not part of the Anderson productions, the Daleks were also included with a full page comic strip at the back of TV Century 21 and news about their ongoing attempts at universe-domination were regularly featured on the covers. This was not the first time that these villains had taken to the pages of a comic. In 1965, David Whitaker and Terry Nation accompanied by the artwork of Richard Jennings, John Wood, and A.B. Comwell, wrote an annual-style publication called  The Dalek Book with six strips showing Skaro’s finest.

The Dalek Book, 1965.

After TV Century 21 obtained licensing rights to publish The Daleks, David Whitaker with the approval of Terry Nation began to write the scripts for the 104 issues that the comic strip lasted (from 1965 to 1967). The artwork duties were taken at different times by Richard Jennings, Eric Eden, and Ron Turner. Later on The Daleks was retroactively re-named The Dalek Chronicles and they were re-printed many times and in different forms by Doctor Who Magazine, where they were also known as The Dalek Tapes. In 1994, Marvel released in full colour a re-print of The Dalek Chronicles with an additional article and a wonderful new cover created by Ron Turner.

The Dalek Chronicles, cover art by Ron Turner, 1994.

As was the norm during that period, the individual stories did not have any titles. John Ainsworth, editor of Doctor Who Insider and comic stories in Doctor Who Magazine, proposed a list of titles after doing extensive research and talking with the people involved in the original strips. In some cases the titles were taken from the previous issue’s “coming next time” closing caption; in other cases the titles were given following the main plot of the story. These titles have been accepted for use by Doctor Who Magazine and are as follows:

  • 1-3: Genesis of Evil
  • 4-10: Power Play
  • 11-17: Duel of the Daleks
  • 18-24: The Amaryll Challenge
  • 25-32: The Penta Ray Factor
  • 33-39: Plague of Death
  • 40-46: The Menace of the Monstrons
  • 47-51: Eve of War
  • 52-58: The Archives of Phryne
  • 59-62: The Rogue Planet
  • 63-69: Impasse
  • 70-75: The Terrorkon Harvest
  • 76-85: Legacy of Yesteryear
  • 86-89: Shadow of Humanity
  • 90-95: The Emissaries of Jevo
  • 96-104: The Road to Conflict

The original artwork on display at the Cartoon Museum is connected with the story-arc known as Plague of Death (33-39).

The Dalek Chronicles

The Daleks: Plague of Death. Art by Richard Jennings, TV21, n. 37, 1965. Original artwork on display at the Comic Gallery in the Cartoon Museum, London.

The Daleks were the creation of the Welsh science-fiction writer Terry Nation and they made their first appearance in the 1963 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.  For someone new to the Whovian Universe, these metal creatures brandishing a whisk and a plunger might seem funny, but they are the most dangerous adversaries of the Time Lord known as the Doctor (Doctor Who tv show).

Based on the real-life example of Nazi Germany and the Third Reich, the Daleks became merciless and pitiless cyborgs who were determined to conquer the universe and destroy all sentient life, which they considered to be inferior. Their terrifying catchphrase is “Exterminate!”

The Dalek Chronicles traced the history of the Daleks starting with their creation, which is slightly different from that found in the Doctor Who tv show as seen in The Genesis of the Daleks and The Daleks. In this version, small blue men with big heads called the Dals created a number of war machines and neutron bombs that they were going to use against their enemies, the Thals, with whom they had been in conflict for a thousand years. The bombs were accidentally detonated when a meteorite crashed on Skaro. The resulting explosion created mutant Daleks who then use their war machines as their outer shells. By the hand of the last two surviving humanoid Dals, the war factory was rebuilt and the Emperor Dalek rose as the leader of a new and improved Dalek race. Soon after, the Emperor began to plot the enslavement of humanoids across the galaxy who would either work in the factory creating more Dalek shells or die!

Even though for the  most part the Emperor Dalek functioned as a “hero” of sorts, throughout these stories there was no attempt to make these aliens likable. On the contrary, the evil and destructive nature of the Daleks was emphasized as they discovered space flight and their dreams of universal domination became a reality.

Taking their familiar flying saucer-designed spaceships, the Daleks began to conquer by force or by subterfuge worlds like Alvega and Solturis, before a new threat disrupted the Emperor’s plans. After an accident in the war research shop in Skaro created a radioactive rust cloud that attacked the Daleks, the Emperor had to return to deal with this new deadly plague that could spell doom for the entire Dalek race! The original artwork that we have in the Comics Gallery by Jennings deals with the most dire moment of the conflict before the Daleks emerge victorious, but in disarray.

Soon after the plague the Daleks faced a new invader: the cruel Monstron  and their Engibrain robots. The Daleks’ supremacy is briefly shattered but they manage to survive in the end. This would not be the last time that the Daleks found themselves on the more precarious side of a conflict. Right after the Monstron and the Engibrain robots’ invasion, a new race also keen on universal domination made its appearance, the Mechanoids, and they became a recurring rival for the Daleks.

Mechanoids Force field against Dalek saucer, from Eve of War by Ron Turner, The Daleks Chronicles, TV21, n. 51, 1966.

Before the confrontation between these two warmongering races could develop into a galactic war of epic proportions, the Zerovians (afraid that whichever side won would mean the end of all other species in the galaxy), dispatched robot K2 to stop it. He did in fact succeed and the Mechanoid-Dalek war came to an abrupt end.

Soon after, on the frozen pole of Skaro, three original Dals were brought back to life and the Daleks started to uncover their long lost history, including the information on a planet called Earth. This story set up the remainder of the Dalek Chronicles. In the end, the strip concludes with the Daleks learning the location of Earth and preparing their invasion. This ending tied quite nicely with the continuity already established in The Dalek Book of 1965. This could also mean that the whole comic was, in effect, a prelude to The Dalek Invasion of Earth aired in 1962 during the second season of Doctor Who.

Even though much of the material in these comic strips contradicted what was shown on the tv show later, some concepts, such as flying Daleks, the Daleks acquiring human characteristics and turning against their masters, and the design of the Dalek Emperor did show up later on Doctor Who.



We would like to thank the TARDIS Data CoreAltered VistasComic Book Database, and Wikipedia, for providing some of the information used to create this post.We would also like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting our work.

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