29 December 2008

Ah 'Battlefield', one of my bottom five Doctor Who stories of all time! Sorry to those who love it, but I hated it in 1989 and it has never grown on me since (and I've given it several chances in the last 19 years - well, a couple). The whole thing's just a mess, in my eyes, one that not even the reliable Nicholas Courtney can rescue. Oh well, we can't all love everything, and while I was glad that my off-air copy saved me from having to buy the VHS release, I'm happy to pay my dues for the DVD. My cover would have been a struggle without the aid of the disc's photo gallery, so it was worth it for that if nothing else.

The hardest part in the initial stages was finding a suitable photo of the Doctor. Most of the pictures of him from this story are publicity shots where he's grinning away with one or other of his co-stars. I generally try to avoid publicity shots as I find they rarely fit the feel I'm going for with my covers, but really struggled here. In the end the image I used is a publicity photo, of Sylvester and Jean Marsh standing back to back, but I decided his smirk could be interpreted as a determined grimace and that by having him wield Excalibur rather than his umbrella, as in the original, it would suit the cover nicely. Fortunately the frontispiece to 1989 in the recently released DWM: In Their Own Words volume 5 presented a good shot of said sword that I was able to scan and place into Sylvester's hands quite neatly. I had to flip the picture of Morgaine to fit the composition, but fortunately there's nothing about her costume to give it away. The knights fighting was pretty much a given for the bottom corner, although the DVD photo gallery provided a well-fitting shot that I hadn't seen before. I did consider having a UNIT soldier facing off against a knight, but couldn't find a suitable picture of the former, so Mordred and Ancelyn's duel it had to be.

I was originally in two minds about including the Destroyer on the cover. He's an impressive and eye-catching creation, but he doesn't play a huge role (one of my big beefs with the story is that he's released then struts around waiting for the Brigadier to shoot him). As the composition took shape, I thought there wouldn't be room for him anyway, but then there was a bit of a plain area in the centre and I decided having him in Morgaine's crystal ball tied into the story nicely and fitted her pose too. Finally, for the background I used a shot of Ace's explosive approach to archaeological excavation that I'd found when choosing an image for the 'coming soon' thumbnail. The quality was a bit ropey, and I couldn't find the same photo in print to scan, so I had to enhance the explosion with some radial blur.

Download the final BATTLEFIELD cover here

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