We Comiconverse With Paul Cornell

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
September 16th, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

We Comiconverse With Paul Cornell
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The wonderful world of comics is full of firsts; first issues; first stories for certain characters; first experiences of the industry. Each first is a starting point to larger experiences which are as varied as the genres in the comic book industry.

To coincide will an article I have written based around my own personal experiences, I wanted to find out how ‘first’ encounters have shaped the way creators have engaged with the comic book world. Over the next few weeks, we at Comiconverse will bring you the thoughts and memories of a few comic book creators.

Paul Cornell

Novelist, screenwriter and comic book creator, Paul Cornell has written a host of characters in a multitude of mediums. He has written a number of different Doctor’s for Doctor Who: including stories for the TV series, the audio books and various comic strips since 1990.  He created Bernice Summerfield for the Big Finish audio line. His superhero work has covered most of the big names in comics, everyone from Captain Britain, through the Young Avengers to big hitters like the Fantastic Four and Superman.

However, it is with his creator owned comics where his flair for imagination truly shines. The demon worshipping, Spinal Tap inspired This Damned Band was as outlandish as it is possible to be and the current hit Saucer State is proving that Cornell can mix deep emotional drama with out of this world alien conspiracies.

Credit: IDW Saucer State #1 cover

Luckily for us, Paul was able to take time out to answer a few questions about his first experiences with comics.

Comiconverse: Everyone is introduced to comics in a different way, sometimes through family, sometimes through friends, often by self-discover. What was your initial introduction to comic books and how did this come about?

Paul Cornell:      My Mum and Dad bought me UK toddler titles like Pippin and Playhour when I was tiny, and then the wonderful Sparky, but it was Dad bringing home Avengers Weekly #1 which was the doorway to a whole exotic world.  Avengers #4 in the front, scary Lee/Ditko Doctor Strange in the back.

Comiconverse: After discovering comic books there would come a point where a certain title or run of issues became a ‘must read’ and ‘cannot miss’. What was the first series/title that you thought you just couldn’t put down, the one that turned you from a casual reader to an obsessive one?

Paul Cornell:      Claremont/Byrne X-Men, in my local newsagent, which I bought only after I’d joined the X-Men Fan Club (because I wanted to belong to a fan club!)

Credit: Marvel UK Avengers Weekly #1 cover

Comiconverse: As we’re talking about firsts, do you have a favourite First issue of a comic? Is there one #1 that you feel is a particular good example of a first issue?

Paul Cornell:      Well, every Stan Lee first issue did such an amazing job that we’re now living, decades later, in an entertainment industry that revolves around them.

Comiconverse: At some point in your life you must have thought “I want to produce a comic”, when was the first time you actually wrote or illustrated a comic? Did it ever see the light of day?

Paul Cornell:      I wrote and drew a lot of comics in biro while I was still at school.  I was hugely influenced by Miller and Chaykin!

Comiconverse: What was you first professional job in comic books and what did you learn from this experience? (this doesn’t have to be as a creator, it could be Marvel Tea Maker or DC currier)

Paul Cornell:      John Freeman, the editor of Doctor Who Magazine, gave in to my pestering and basically taught me how to write a one issue Doctor Who strip.  I learned a ton about craft just from that, and he kept mentoring me on the strip for a while.

Comiconverse: What was the first mainstream comic you had published? How was it received, was it a success?

Paul Cornell:      I think the above was it.  My first US comic was Wisdom #1, after Mark Millar had introduced me to Marvel.  I still had a lot to learn, but I think it did okay for a Max title.

Credit: Marvel Comics Wisdom #1 cover

Comiconverse: What was the first comic you worked on that you were really proud of? What was different in the production to previous work?

Paul Cornell:      I was proud of several of my Doctor Who comics in the UK, and XTNCT for the 2000AD Megazine, but in the US, it has to be Captain Britain and MI-13, which I think I got right, and still attracts comment now.

Comiconverse: The comic industry is a sort after profession with thousands of people wanting to get in on the action. What advice would you give to someone producing their first comic, whether this is a script, art portfolio or even self-published comic book?

Paul Cornell:      Make it, finish it, show it to be people, listen to criticism, change, do it all again.

Comiconverse: Are there any comic books you would recommend to someone who has never read one before, a title to become their ‘first’?

Paul Cornell:      Planetary, Bandette, Sandman, Fables, Frank Hampson’s Dan Dare.


Paul is currently writing Saucer State for IDW Publishing and the third novel in his Shadow Police series ‘Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?’ was released earlier this year.

I’d like to thank Paul for his time and can’t recommend his work enough.  There’s something for everyone in his back catalogue.


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