23 April 2014

AFT: Run!

Run! is a part of the storylab process Phil ran a few years ago. In this, writers were encouraged to conceive, write, shoot and edit their own four-page story. Along the way, Phil would help and advise and the results were brilliantly diverse. Run! is most certainly true. I highly doubt we'd ever have got a story like it on the AFT had Phil not run the storylab opportunity.

What Steve Aardvark Williams has come up with a really fun little self-contained story. Set within the early stages of Series 3 (it's implied that Martha hasn't met Shakespeare yet) it fits right into the more fun and obverse type of storytelling the Russell T Davies era presented. It's really cheeky and outrageous, and I love it.

This story fits more into the 'comic' end of the AFT spectrum as opposed to the 'photonovel' type style that Phil often utilises. Both have their merits and it's lovely to see this branch explored a little more. Run! opens with the Doctor and Martha appropriately enough being pursued on foot by a T-Rex, '65 million years ago'. There's a very funny use of Tennant's Doctor's "I'm so sorry" mantra, before our time two flee into the TARDIS. The ship's then promptly transported to the land of the Teletubbies. Seriously. The friendly four invite our heroes in, and soon tie them up. The Doctor knows who's behind this... the Toymaker!

Our dashing Time Lord manages to cut his way out of their bonds with his trusty Swiss army knife before sonicing the Unreality Machine, and thus destroying this entire dimension. They once again run to the TARDIS, and escape as the Toymaker is stretched into nothingness. That's the end of this madcap, bizarre and thoroughly enjoyable adventure. It's of a truly unique style, not only in terms of content but also the way it's laid out on the page. This is what I was meaning about the 'comic' end of things. Pages two through four are presented like pages of an old Rupert comic (so I'm reliably informed by the Behind the Scenes section) and there are lots of interesting visual techniques. The way this escapade is shot is another highlight, with unusual framing mixing things up.

The centrepiece of this story surely has to be the custom Toymaker figure Steve has made. It is simply perfect, and a highly accurate representation of the one-time villain. For the best photo of it, see the final frame of the third page. It's a beautifully detailed figure and must have taken hours upon hours. Even the face has been re=shaped to gain screen accuracy. This is an outstanding piece of work and well worth basing this comic around. I also loved how it was tied into the eccentric world that is the Land of Fiction (from The Mind Robber, fact fans), and all the photoshopping that went into this story is impressive in itself. 

What Steve's done here is the holy grail of storytelling: he's come up with something innovative, unusual and most important, different to normal. This is completely engaging and the time and effort that's gone into every aspect of this is astonishing. Although it's arguably thin on plot, you're too busy having fun to notice. This is a really excellent effort, and I loved the combination of the wacky with the sinister, and the dialogue throughout hit the spot. The parodying of the Tenth Doctor was really funny, and I can really imagine something irregular and 'out there' like this turning up in one of the minisodes we're becoming more familiar with nowadays, had they been around in 2007.

This is a fantastic piece of work, and Steve should be really proud.

You can read Run! here, and follow Steve on Twitter here.

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