A Review by Finn Clark 3/8/04
Hey, it's drawn by Roger Langridge! What more do you need to know?
Roger Langridge has pretty much been the best thing about DWM's comic strip since his debut in Happy Deathday in issue 272. That was in 1998. Until this he'd only drawn two other stories, TV Action! (DWM 283) and The Autonomy Bug (DWM 297-299), but you'll never forget his art. It's outrageously cartoonish, but in a good way. His lines are clean, funny and characterful. Where Nobody Knows Your Name is populated by unique aliens, unlike anything else in Who. They're almost Dr Seuss-like.
The title is an upside-down Cheers reference. The 8th Doctor had just said goodbye to Izzy, the companion with whom he'd been travelling for seven years since Endgame (DWM 244-247), and so he goes to a bar. There are a few troublesome customers, but the core of the story is a heart-to-heart between the Doctor and Bish, the hefty bar-owner who resembles James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano in The Sopranos). It's an inconsequential tale, but sweet and charming. DWM's comic strip may be a bit hit-and-miss with its action-packed epics, but its one-parters have usually shone. See also Beautiful Freak (DWM 304). Scott Gray's script is a perfect match for Roger Langridge's art, being interested in whimsical moments rather than wham-bang adventure.
Oh, and for these seven pages they bring back Frobisher.
Not everyone is a fan of the penguin, but he's the best-remembered companion from DWM's comic strips by light-years. He's returned in novels (Mission Impractical) and audios (The Holy Terror). He's starred in 24 stories and 472 pages of comic strip alongside the 6th, 7th and now 8th Doctors. As I write this, his debut was twenty years ago (The Shape Shifter in 1984) - and if that doesn't make you feel old, you're a better man than me. Colin Baker wrote for him in The Age of Chaos. And most importantly he's an endearing smartarse who brings scenes alive in a way that Peri or Mel can only dream of. He rules, basically.
Continuity-wise, Frobisher hailed from the 82nd century but retired from TARDIS-travelling in A Cold Day in Hell (DWM 130-133), a sequel of sorts to Monster of Peladon. That dates this story (plus The Autonomy Bug, thanks to a throwaway reference) to the Federation era. Personally I'd put A Cold Day In Hell in 3987, The Autonomy Bug in 4000 and Where Nobody Knows Your Name in 4003. By now Frobisher is married and the co-owner of Bish's. He uses the word "mazumas" to refer to currency, which might indicate: (a) that mazumas were an ancient currency by the 82nd century, or (b) Frobisher might just be using the word as idiosyncratic slang.
There's something right about this story. The reunion between Frobisher and the Doctor is lovely to see, despite its twist. (Before now I never quite thought about the fact that they're both shapeshifters!) Roger Langridge's art makes every frame a delight, although his colouring is muted and his Frobisher isn't John Ridgway's any more than the one in Age of Chaos. Clayton Hickman has talked about omitting the comedy one-offs if they reprint the 8th Doctor comics as graphic novels, but for my money one-parters like this have provided the comics' best moments. In its own quiet way, this is special.
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 5/6/05
Must be about a bar, I thought, reading that title. Probably one of those interludes, between arcs, that DWM like to do. Most likely it will be pretty funny. Artist Roger Langridge - I was along the right lines. Would it have DW's versions of Norm, Cliff, Frasier and Woody? I liked the idea.
For 6 pages of this strip though, I wasn't really struck at all. The artwork was nice, but the story didn't seem to up to anything. A strange robot arrives to flesh the thing out - never a good sign in such a small strip.
The 8th Doctor arrives at Bish's - a bar somewhere out there in space. He's just said goodbye to Izzy (who must rate as one of the Doctor's longest ever serving companions). He's naturally cheesed off about everything, and drowns his sorrows in a soft drink. The bartender is a great listener, and a very good one for advice too. When the true identity of the bartender is revealed, I was very surprised - and suddenly a strip story that meandered was lightened up wonderfully.
I went back and read it again, picking up the clues - there's plenty there. This was a wonderful little interlude after all - the kind the comic strip excels at. Now where will the eighth Doctor go now? 9/10