Felt Trips: “Dr Rat and the Daleks” by Alex Storer

Darth Vader versus Skeletor! He-Man versus Mrs Slocombe! Or, indeed, the Daleks steaming into battle against Roland Rat. For a child in possession of a vivid imagination and a healthy collection of Berol Notewriter pens, there were no limits to the deadly cross-franchise battles that could be waged across a few tatty pages of foolscap. Which brings us neatly to Alex Storer, pictured here in the blistering summer of 1985 outside the Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool…

Growing up in Dronfield, North-East Derbyshire, Alex was an avowed Dalek fan. But he was also a keen admirer of TV-AM’s most garrulously egocentric gerbil, so why not find a nifty way to bring them both together?

Over to you, Alex…

“I spent a large part of my childhood drawing Doctor Who. I was obsessed with the show, so when I wasn’t watching it or thinking about it, I would be putting pen to paper, creating countless unfinished comics or drawing my ultimate obsession – the Daleks.

My early efforts were praised and encouraged. In hindsight, I just wonder if it was simply kindness, but I pursued my passion at each and every opportunity.

It wasn’t all Doctor Who though. I would constantly draw the characters from all my favourite TV shows or films – Willo the Wisp, Mooncat, Dungeons & Dragons, He-Man, Thundercats, Supergran, The Tripods and Star Wars, all of which were regular viewing by the age of six or seven.

I wasn’t always content with just drawing a picture. No, I nearly always had to make a comic. However, once the excitement of creating the front cover (complete with price – usually 66p) was over, I tended to lose interest. My handwriting was poor, so the interior pages were mostly picture-based. And most of the time, my impatient desire to draw the ending resulted in a few hastily-scribbled pictures at the back and a long section of blank pages in the middle!

Classic titles included The Dalek Invasion of Rome 54AD (why?!) and Dr Rat and the Daleks, where the Doctor was replaced by Roland Rat and the Daleks were green. I would also go out of my way to identify specific characters to avoid any doubt – they were usually highlighted with their name and a big arrow!

Rummaging through a large box of old schoolwork and childhood drawings, I came across a depiction of the Android from the much-maligned Doctor Who story Timelash – which the seven year-old me actually really liked. This reminded me of the excitement of using a gold or silver pen to wreck your drawing. That smell… the special rattle when you shook it prior to use… and then the ability to create a shimmering Timelash or a starry sky all of your own. The end result was usually a mess, and those pens easily leaked and would soak through several pages of your drawing book.

Quite often, rather than making my comics that focused on the heroes, my stories featured the escapades of Darth Vader, Evil Edna, Skeletor or the Daleks outside of their usual context. Yep, I was captivated by the villains.

I would often send my drawings into Hartbeat or the BBC’s “Broom Cupboard”. I still remember Philip Schofield sitting there with what looked like my drawing of Mumm-Ra sitting on his desk, which he never showed. And I tuned into Hartbeat, waiting for ‘The Gallery’ in case any of my pieces had been chosen. They never were.

Doctor Who is synonymous with having to seek refuge behind the sofa, but with only a couple of exceptions, it never scared me. The Tripods however, was petrifying! Despite this, I was fascinated with the huge metal monsters and always thought it a great shame the BBC cancelled it after two seasons.

As I got a bit older, my drawing improved, and I gradually left behind the animated shows in favour of Doctor Who. I was utterly absorbed by the show.

In December 1988, Doctor Who Magazine published one of my drawings in the readers’ letters section. My picture was of the Daleks – of course – bursting through the TARDIS walls to face Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor, captioned ‘You could have knocked’. Which my mum wrote for me, as my own handwriting was still abysmal. I was over the moon! As a ten-year-old whose world revolved around the show, that moment felt like a dream come true.

My name had appeared in the magazine earlier that same year, when I was one the lucky winners of the new Spearhead From Space VHS release from BBC Video. I took my prize into school, and my teacher even let the whole class watch it! But having my artwork featured on the sacred pages of the magazine was in another league altogether. I’d seen other fans’ drawings in there before, but somehow it felt impossible that mine would ever make it. 

Yet the Daleks never actually entered the TARDIS or burst through the walls in the series on telly, so I don’t know where the idea came from. Perhaps it’s one of those images burned into the memory which never actually happened – such as the Fourth Doctor, K9 and Leela facing off against the Daleks.

In April 2021 – thirty-three years since DWM printed my cartoon – my artwork once again appeared in the magazine, this time a recent piece featuring Davros. This was a rewarding moment, especially given I hadn’t drawn any Doctor Who stuff for literally decades. Things always come full circle…”

Felt Trips is a collaborative effort. If anyone wants to contribute their own childhood drawings from the era, I would be utterly delighted – please drop me a line using the “Contact” link at the top of the page. A good quality scan would be perfect, but – if not – then a clear photo of your artwork, lying flat, is fine. And maybe a few words of explanation, too: when the drawings were done, how old you were, what inspired you to tackle those particular subjects? Thanks so much.

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