THE DW-TIME ZONE
How do you write a biography about a 900 year old Time Lord?
It can’t be easy, considering Edmund Morris spent a decade writing three 600-page books on President Theodore Roosevelt and Roosevelt died when he was just 60 years-old! Yet, writer Paul J. Salamoff is going to give it a shot with my old buddies at Bluewater Comics with his upcoming bio-comic on the “Doctor Who” phenomenon.
To celebrate the success of the DW-Time Zone column, we are presenting this interview of our new friend. Salamoff talks about comic books, screenwriting, his own graphic novel, owning his own TARDIS console and “geeking” out with Steven Spielberg over the good Doctor.
QUESTION: First, thanks for hanging out with us. You are our first official interview for the DW-Time Zone! Let’s take this back, how did you get into Doctor who?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Well, when I grew up in Massachusetts I used to watch “Doctor Who” on WGBH, which was Channel 2.
And my first memory was a black and white episode about the Silurians and it scared the crap out of me! [LAUGHS] However, my father got me into it, and, gradually I became obsessed with the show.
I was so obsessed that I would buy all the toys or the books I could get my hands on. I even built my own life-size K-9. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1989, I still kept the torch alive.
QUESTION: It’s amazing how the special effects in “Doctor Who” (around 1973) are terrible, but the stories are amazing, but you have something like “Star Wars Episode I” and all anyone talks about is terrible Jar-Jar Binks.
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Special effects are to be used to serve the story. It seems that if a story is more compelling and the characters are well written, fans can forgive the poor special effects, but if it is the other way around, it does not work so well.
The bad effects are what made “Doctor Who” even more endearing, and because of the bad effects, the writers really had to punch up the story to keep the viewer.
QUESTION: What do you think makes “Doctor Who” so compelling?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: The premise of “Doctor Who” is a premise that works today as it did in the 1960s. It crosses every type of genre and each story is always unique. It can be hard science fiction or hard fantasy.
Either way, there is something for everyone.
QUESTION: How did you get into comic books?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: I started out in the entertainment industry as a Special FX Make-UP Artist and wound up doing that for the first 14years of my career. But I had other passions as well and during that early part of my career, I taught myself how to be a Screenwriter. I love doing different things because it keeps life fun for me. So many people pigeonhole themselves into one aspect. My opinion is the more you can do the more hire able you’re going to be. It must be working, because I have been in the industry for 22 years now and still going strong.
QUESTION: How did you get involved with Bluewater Comics?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: I had been a screenwriter for a number of years and many of the scripts I had written could be turned into comic books. I got in touch with Darren Davis at Bluewater Comics and he said no to the ideas, but asked if I would be interested in writing “Roger Corman Presents Black Scorpion” in a way similar to the “The Dark Knight Returns.”
I pitched a script and submitted it to Roger Corman and both Corman and Bluewater approved it.
QUESTION: What else had you done after that?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Well, I also did a number of issues of “Vincent Price Presents…” and then I was given the opportunity to write “Logan’s Run.” When that was given to me I lost my mind! [LAUGHS]. I was a huge fan of the movie and series of books written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson.
QUESTION: So how did you get a chance to do the bio-comic on “Doctor Who”?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Bluewater Comics has been doing a slew of bio comic on politicians, actors and the like and Darren knew I was a huge Doctor Who fan, so he asked if I was interested in doing one on the Actors who played “The Doctor”. The first issue would focus on four of them.
We decided on Matt Smith (The current incarnation), Paul McGann (The Eighth Doctor), Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and William Hartnell (the First Doctor) and there will also be a trade paperback expanded edition which will feature one more Doctor, but I will keep that a secret for now. No Spoilers! [LAUGHS]
QUESTION: It is amazing how “Doctor Who” has gone from being a cult show to becoming a full-fledged mainstream show.
Add to the fact, it is amazing at who is a “Doctor Who” fan. I mean Matt Groening of “The Simpsons” will slip in a Tom Baker-looking character every so often.
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Oh yeah! In fact, I was producing a video for the upcoming Ubisoft Video Game based on “The Adventures of Tintin” which was written by Steven Moffat [the current “Doctor Who” show runner] and I interviewed Steven Spielberg, the executive producer/director of the movie.
Before the Interview, he said to me one of the reasons why Moffat was hired to write “The Adventures of Tintin” was because of “Doctor Who.” I have to tell you, it was cool to geek out with Steven Spielberg about “Doctor Who.” [LAUGHS].
QUESTION: I bet. Spielberg was one time involved with the production of what would become the 1996 “Doctor Who” movie with Paul McGann as the Doctor.
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Yeah, he was. In fact, I actually own the TARDIS console from that movie.
QUESTION: How did you get your hands on that?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: I produced a movie called “Cemetery Gates” and the boyfriend of the make-up artist’ on the movie owned the prop company that had the TARDIS console. He was looking to get rid of it and so he sold it to me for next to nothing.
QUESTION: He wanted to get rid of a TARDIS console? Wow!
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: I know! Talk about lucky. In fact, I live down the street from Daphne Ashbrook, who played the companion to the Doctor in the 1996 movie. I told her, “Anytime you want to come down and relive the memories you are more than welcome to.
QUESTION: I really should ask, what do you think of the current actor playing the Doctor? You must have some sort of special insight after having written about Matt Smith.
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: I loved David Tennant and he was amazing, and so when Matt Smith was brought on I was like “Oh c’mon, who is this guy?” But ten minutes into the show, I was hooked. Matt Smith is phenomenal. I love Tennant but I am amazed at how effing good, Smith is!
QUESTION: Before we close, I wanted to ask about your own personal graphic novel “Discord.” Could you tell us what that’s about?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: This is a new original graphic novel and I am really proud of it. It’s the story of a superheroes team, like the X-Men or Avengers, and they crash land on an alien world while fighting one of their enemies and they are all killed. Bits and pieces everywhere. The indigenous life forms on the planet come out of the woodwork and are curious about all the parts. So they collect the usable remains and assemble what they think is a person and resurrect him.
The main character wakes up to discover that not only is he made up of parts of his fallen teammates but also parts of his enemy. He is this Frankenstein-ian creation and now he has to deal with the ramifications of this. It’s all about loss of identity and how one defines themselves as a hero.
QUESTION: What sort of response have you gotten for it?
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: The response by the critics and the fans has been overwhelmingly positive with one reviewer comparing it to “Watchmen”. It is endorsed by Jim Krueger, Rick Remender, Eric Wallace, Tony Lee and William F. Nolan to name a few and Eisner Winner Mark Waid (Boom’s “Irredeemable” and DC’s “Kingdom Come”) wrote the introduction.
QUESTION: Well, we look forward to seeing it! Paul, thank you so much for your time! We have had a blast.
PAUL J. SALAMOFF: Thank you. I enjoyed it too.
All photos courtesy of Paul J. Salamoff.