I was digging around in the BBC archives and found this little gem from a very early 2nd Doctor memo as the show writers and staff were coming to grips on how to explain the metamorphosis from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton. Today we know how the regeneration works, to an extent and it’s old hat by now… But given that this was the first time the Doctor had ever undergone such a change, these early writings are particularly interesting.

My favorite part deals specifically with the regeneration and how dark and bleak they wanted it to be. It’s certainly much different than what we’ve come to know these days. This regeneration wasn’t going to have him looking for fish sticks in custard or running around town in his underwear. Instead, he was going to be suffering a bad acid trip and all the horrors of his past incarnations. No wonder the 6th Doctor nearly strangled Peri to death when he first changed.

Speaking of different takes on the Doctor…

In 1980 as part of the Japanese publishing company, Hayakawa Bunko’s trend of transporting popular science fiction novels into Japanese, five of Target’s Doctor Who book arrived in the land of the rising sun. This would be fairly uneventful if not for the fact that artist Michiaki Sato was commissioned to do illustrations for the series. This is where the excitement and interesting part comes about.

Doctor Who videos were virtually non-existent in the era, especially in the far east. You weren’t able to hop on to Wikipedia and see what the Doctor Who characters and monsters looked like. Given such a Herculean task of putting in illustrations with nothing but the details contained in the books themselves, Sato began to draw Doctor Who… HIS Doctor Who.

Just how many details the folks at Hayakawa Bunko had about the Doctor Who series is debatable. Some have speculated that they simply didn’t have the rights to the Terry Nation and Raymond Cusick designs of the Daleks, but that hardly accounts for all the other vast differences in the artwork. It’s possible that they weren’t even aware these were TV programs at all and given that the five books featured starkly different interpretations of the Doctor, his looks and companions (the Target selection is a mix of both the first and third incarnations of the Doctor) they may have thought the stories were meant to be creatively interpreted. There were of course the English illustrations by Chris Achilleos, but they only provided a few details themselves.

Whatever the reasoning for why these Japanese novelizations feature such different designs for many of the characters (the Daleks being the most interesting), it’s hard not to enjoy these unique takes. Doctor Who has so many plainly identifiable elements that it’s hard to reimagine them without comparing to the original designs, but the Hayakawa Bunko books stand out not as some custom fan interpretations, but entirely new concepts and a good look at how other parts of the world might have done Doctor Who. You can check out some more artwork from the Bunko books at the TARDIS, Hasshin! website.

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