|Imagine this scenario.
You love Quentin Tarantino. You've been told — by an official BBC press announcement, no less — that he's going to direct a two-parter for Doctor Who in 2010. But then you watch part 2 and you see someone else's name in the credits. Only after the fact do you understand that because of unavoidable circumstance, Tarentino had to fly back the US and leave the conclusion to someone the BBC scraped up at the last minute. And they didn't even have the decency to issue a press release about the switch. How would you feel about that?
Fans of Doctor Who comics are getting a taste of that very experience with IDW's Doctor Who: The Forgotten.
As was briefly mentioned on the forum, feted comic artist, Pia Guerra, was lined up to be principal artist on the Tony Lee-penned multi-Doctor adventure. Not only was she to be the first female lead artist on a Doctor Who comic adventure, but she would've been the first North American artist to tackle the likenesses of many of the incarnations of the Doctor. Well, "would have been" is a harsh phrase. In fact, she was and she did. She pencilled three issues of the six parter. Just not the other three.
Personal tragedy hit the Schuster-winning artist in the back half of 2008, unavoidably preventing her from working on issues 3 and 4. She got back in the saddle for issue 5, but while she was completing the book, she was effectively fired from the concluding issue. An artist that had worked on the previous Gary Russell IDW story was brought in for issue 3, but issues 4 and 6 were done by comparative newcomer, Kelly Yates.
A profound lack of communication between artist and publisher has left Guerra bitter, and comic fans crying, over the whole affair. Judging by the tone of her 7 November blog entry, it seems unlikely she will be working with IDW again. Still, when one reads the entirety of her blog, it's quite clear she's a massive Doctor Who fan, so it's possible she might venture back into the world of Doctor Who comics at some point.
The question of whether IDW had genuine cause to pull her from issue 6 is an open one. In a frank revelation, Guerra included the email notice from the IDW chief who prematurely ended her involvement with the project. Readers can therefore decide for themselves who was "right" and who "wrong", at least on the basis of that email and Guerra's published response to it. Whatever your own conclusions, Tony Lee's fabulous story, which opened to rave reviews, will at least be finished and soon offered in a convenient trade paperback format. Nevertheless, the project as finished won't be quite the project it was advertised to be. The biggest disappointment is that Tony Lee's long-rumored double-page spread of all ten Doctors slated for issue #6 — surely the definitional image of the whole story — has now been drawn by Yates instead of Guerra.
What will this whole mess mean to the future of the Doctor Who franchise at IDW? Maybe nothing. Kevin Smith's re-introduction of the Green Arrow was massively delayed, but the series he launched is still going strong years later. Battlestar Galactica over at Dynamite has occasionally been late, but it's still persisted in a number of different forms. Still, late delivery has killed the reputation of freshman comic titles in the past. One thing is fairly likely, however: sales of the trade paperback of The Forgotten will impact the decision on whether future stories will be printed. IDW's sales figures from the entirety of their Doctor Who franchise are unknown, but late issues generally tend to depress sales. It's also unknown for just how long the BBC granted a license. More troubling is this little nugget: Doctor Who can't even be found in the IDW website's alphabetical listing of its titles. To be fair, issues are still on sale in the IDW shop, and Doctor Who news still makes it to the front page of the website. It's just mysteriously absent from the online catalogue.
As of this date, there's only one announced new Doctor Who story in the pipeline from IDW: an intriguing one-shot known as Whispering Gallery, featuring some ridiculously great art by acclaimed Australian horror artist, Ben Templesmith. That'll be out in February, as will Templesmith's insane cover to The Forgotten #6.