Review: Doctor Who: Books: Argh! / Drawing Breath

Quinn-Howett-Book-WBy Tim Quinn / Dicky Howett

Miwk Press, out 21 May

Two separate but interlinked autobiographies…

I’m sure it was a clever idea to publish Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett’s autobiographies together in the same book, in the format of those old 2-in-1 publications (which was briefly revived for the Star Trek: DS9 series of novels a few years back). It means you get two for the price of one – if you’re only interested in Quinn’s Marvel career, say, then you get a nice bonus in the form of Howett’s memories. If you’re a fan of their terrific strips for DWM and elsewhere, then it saves buying two separate books. Whether it’ll be a good idea in terms of practicalities for bookshops… actually, who cares?

Thankfully, unlike some of those old dual novels, it’s not the case that an excellent piece has been paired with a stinker. Their styles may be very different, but both Quinn and Howett are great raconteurs, drawing you in with eclectic first paragraphs (one is a style dissection of the costumes of ladies of the cloth from the mid-20th century; the other a piece of magnificent name-dropping) and keeping a smile on your face throughout.

Quinn-Howett-Book rotateTheir careers have been equally eclectic – I’ll leave it to you to work out which of them is the BBC Essex Alternative Historian, which the one who paired Alice Cooper with Neil Gaiman for a project. Their period together is covered by each without it feeling as if information is being unnecessarily repeated, while still providing what’s required for those only reading one of the books (a nice piece of editing).

There are quite a few surprises – Howett’s involvement in An Adventure in Space and Time, and Quinn’s discussion of his Marvel work for instance – and a few promises of things to come. It’s quite clear that neither man is seriously considering retiring and there’s even a promise of paid Doctor Who work from them both. Now, with DWM 500 coming up, I wonder…

Verdict: Two fascinating books – for the price of one! 9/10

Paul Simpson

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