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New challenge for Dr Who artist
Tom Bourton (BBC News Wales)
Christopher Eccleston's decision to leave Doctor Who may have shocked most of the show's fans, but it also meant a pile more work for artist Mike Collins.

As the man who draws the show's official comic strip, the switch to David Tennant sent Collins back to the drawing board.

The Cardiff-based artist is currently preparing images of the new Timelord.

It is the latest challenge for the man who has drawn everything from Superman and Star Trek to Harry Potter.

As you might have guessed, Collins is a massive sci-fi fan, and he admitted he was shocked at Eccleston's decision to leave the Tardis after just one series.

"I had just got to the stage when I can draw Christopher Eccleston quite comfortably," he said.

"But I have no problems, he has made a decision that was interesting for the show.

"It is a fresh new broom - David Tennant has a great face, and I have to get it right as he is a big fan and is going to read it."

Collins is currently waiting on his Tennant drawings to be approved, but said it helped that he has already started working on assistant Billie Piper, who plays the Doctor's assistant Rose.

"Billie Piper is fine - it took me a little while until I was happy, but one day you just understand how their face comes together," he said.

"You are working with likenesses, and you have to be fairly accurate - it has to be [enough like the characters] to be recognisable, but different so they can work in a comic. "If you do a comic strip, you are the director, the lighting man and all the actors - you have to make it work."

The monthly comic strips are mostly written by the same team who write the TV show, overseen by Russell T Davies, who Collins says is "very hands-on".

"They take place with the same characters and you are supposed to believe they fit in certain gaps of the show," he said.

Collins, who works with fellow artist David Roach on Doctor Who, said it was important to get everything right, or risk complaints from aficionados.

"Doctor Who fans are very particular, they treasure the show," he said.

As a fan himself, Collins said he enjoyed Doctor Who, but admitted his favourite character to draw has been Judge Dredd.

He always loved drawing as a child growing up in the Midlands, but before making a career of it, he had to overcome resistance from his parents who urged him to get "a real job".

"I always doodled and did caricatures of teachers I didn't get on with. In the end, I thought this is what I wanted to do."

He said he was one of a cluster of comic strip artists working in south Wales using the internet to send their work all over the world.

But even though some people might think being a freelance artist is the best job in the world, his family has still needed some convincing.

"My daughters never thought anything I do is cool, but finally I did some Harry Potter trading cards - they liked them."

Date Added: 8/10/2005

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