We continue our weekly creator spotlight with the penultimate story of the series, Episode Twelve: She Who Remains, written by co-project lead Ruth Long and illustrated by the brilliant Jonne Bartelds.
Writer: Ruth Long
How did your episode come to be? Where did you look for inspiration: Doctor Who itself, other places, bit of both?
I first came up with this story back in 2016, when the project itself was only just forming as an idea. I had a very clear, very striking image of a descent, an expedition into the unknown through an immense, haunting forest of the kind one sees in dark fairy-tales and myths. I'm utterly fascinated by mythology and folklore, particularly that of Central and Eastern Europe, and drew heavily on it here in combination with several sci-fi properties; the nature of which should become evident. In some ways, it was this initial image that inspired The Untold Adventures, and helped inform the tone and unique narrative arc we seek to tell with Clara in this series.
I’ve got to be very careful of what I say about this episode, but as far as Doctor Who inspirations go, you might find echoes of some of the Doctor’s most eerie and unsettling adventures. I’m not necessarily talking about monsters or scares, but the experience of the character themselves. We’re taking Clara Oswald to places alluded to but never fully explored in the show, to their inevitable conclusions...
Sum up your episode in 3 words!
I am Alone.
Artist: Jonne Bartelds
What’s your journey with Doctor Who? Did it inspire your art?
I got into Doctor Who properly in late 2009. I'd caught some episodes of Series 1 back in 2005 when they aired it on a Dutch channel, but I'd forgotten all about it until I came across it again when Waters of Mars aired. Everyone said it was scary and disturbing as hell and, well, I like scary and disturbing things, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I was hooked immediately. I binged Series 1-4 in about 2 weeks, and was basically stanning the Eleventh Doctor before we'd even seen one episode. In short, I fell hard.
It did inspire my art a lot. I didn't actually do much fanart at all before Doctor Who, but something about the show just made me want to draw tons of stuff. Aside from giving me a lot of stuff to draw, Doctor Who has also given me loads of new friends, and even actual illustration jobs for both the Fanshow and BBC books!
What are you most excited about when it comes to doing art for this series? What do you think are/will be the greatest challenges?
It's just so exciting to work on such a fun project, with all these other great writers and artists who all share the same love for Clara. When Ruth gave me her outline, I was immediately struck by how vivid the imagery was. The world and story she has created is just beautiful. Honestly, the hardest part so far was choosing which scenes I wanted to illustrate! The whole thing begs to be made into a full graphic novel, really. But since we can't do that, I just hope I can do justice to her story through a couple of illustrations.
Can you give us some non-spoilery teases about the look of the episode and the art you’re going to provide for it?
Haunting, ominous, ethereal. It's a little bit Annihilation with a touch of Miyazaki (Nausicaä especially, and maybe some shades of Princess Mononoke).