Old Fusion is a collaboration between illustrator Alister Pearson and graphic designer David Lavelle, producing Special Editions of Alister’s popular book and video cover illustrations for the BBC’s Doctor Who television series. We digitally remaster the original art, and ‘remix’ with elements from other paintings in Alister’s extensive portfolio. In many cases we enhance the revamps with newly painted elements and digital renderings. The new artworks have been published as limited edition art cards, prizes given away as one-off prints to support charitable causes, and occasionally been included in CD sleeve designs for BBC Audiobooks’ ongoing series of Target novelisation readings.
Many of these examples feature before/after sliders so you can compare the special editions with the original paintings. Simply slide the controller across each image to see the changes.
All illustrations © Alister Pearson, reproduced here with permission. No further reproduction without permission.
The Celestial Toyroom Annual 2021
New. The Doctor Who Appreciation Society (DWAS) published their Celestial Toyroom Annual 2021 in December 2020, and they commissioned Alister to paint a portrait of Patrick Troughton, who played the second Doctor from 1966 to 1969, 2020 being the one hundredth anniversary of Troughton’s birth.
The idea behind this project was to use the cover of The Doctor Who Annual 1969 (World Distributors) as inspiration to create a new image which captured the flavour of that era’s style. Initially the brief was simply to add a background image of the TARDIS walls to the inner circle behind him, but it soon became clear to Alister that the hat was placed slightly too high on the Doctor’s head, so he asked me to move it down a few millimetres to make it look more natural. I tackled this part of the project first, using a mock-up from Alister and some extra painted regions of the brim on the master painting to find the new position. Some work on the joins where it met the edges of the hair, along with some additional shadow under the brim, completed the repair.
The creation of the TARDIS wall involved a few stages. I sourced a section of the roundel design from a publicity photo, and used sections from other roundels in the image to restore and create a new master roundel. I then tiled it into a wallpaper pattern to match the original set design. The new TARDIS wall was coloured red sampled from the 1969 Annual’s cover and added to the master portrait. Finally, it was warped to match the perspective of the 1969 painting and cropped to match Alister’s chosen angle and position.
An inner white circle and outer red circle completed the composition, and the bottom corner of the bow tie was cloned to peek over the boundary of the circle.
New. Doctor Who – Time-Flight (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1983) was the second novelisation featuring Peter Davison’s Doctor, and has the unusual distinction of being one of only two of his stories not to receive fully painted cover illustrations (the other being Doctor Who – Terminus; see below for more information about that one). Davison and his agent had been unhappy with the illustration painted for Doctor Who and the Visitation (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1982), so WH Allen’s management took the decision to use photographs on Fifth Doctor stories from that title onwards. These photo covers were unanimously unpopular with the readership, and the practice was eventually abandoned in early 1984, after eleven books. The final two* – Snakedance and Enlightenment – did have traditional paintings, but a photo of the Doctor was weaved into the series logo so they sort of count in the tally of photo covers.
When Virgin Publishing began a programme of reprints in 1990 seven of these photo covers were replaced with new paintings by Alister, the “blue spine reprints” (or BSR for short). These editions were published in monthly batches of two: Castrovalva and Four To Doomsday, Kinda and The Visitation (1991), and Arc of Infinity and Mawdryn Undead, and Earthshock (1992, the latter being issued with The Awakening).
The reprints were very successful, but sales eventually tailed off and the list came to an end in 1994. It’s unknown if Time-Flight and Terminus were ever scheduled. They were among the most widely reprinted titles in the mid 80s when the TV series was riding high in the United States, and copies of these editions can still be found relatively cheaply. But, I digress…
For the BBC’s audiobook, to be published in April 2021, Alister was commissioned to produce a new illustration in the style he developed for the BSRs. This style usually incorporated a portrait of the Doctor, a villain or monster, a piece of hardware and/or set design, and some interesting geometry to pull the composition together. Of particular note in this new painting is the fantastic portrait of Davison. No one paints him better than Alister.
My job was to apply some minor tweaks to the painting: smoothing the geometry and whiteness of the Concorde motifs, and applying some subtle colour grading to the character of Kalid. On screen the colours in the costume and the set’s props varied considerably from scene to scene, and this problem appears to have affected the BBC’s publicity photos for the story too. Some were very muddy and over saturated, while others were very blue (see the screen shots below for examples of these differences). The warmer images were probably the intention during recording of the story, so we took the opportunity to adjust this part of the painting. The overall impression now looks a little closer to the majority of the scenes in the televised episodes.
The final image was then supplied to BBC Audio’s packaging designer for inclusion in his master artwork. Alister’s composition carefully places the Concorde motifs on either side, so the square CD leaflet trims the sides exactly to the centres of the aircrafts. The wider picture plane (as seen in the inset photo of Alister at the top of this article) fits the front face of the CD case, and shows the full extent of the Concorde shapes.
Old Fusion‘s remasters often apply extensive changes to the original artwork (for example, The Smugglers or The Tomb of the Cybermen), but occasionally the changes are more subtle and not always obvious to the untrained eye.
*Yes, I know about Time and the Rani. Its original cover was a painting but it had the misfortune to be printed the wrong way up, so it was (bafflingly, it has to be said) replaced by the reference photo the painting was based on. Alister finally rejacketed it in 1991 (which was printed the right way up).
Arc of Infinity
New. A remaster of the reprint novelisation artwork for Doctor Who – Arc of Infinity (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1992). for the BBC Audiobook, to be published in June 2021. For this composition the usual polish was applied, along with a more extensive revamp of the background image of the Matrix. This was achieved by working with screenshots from the story, overlaid with reversed and flipped orientations, then processed with paint effects and the application of a greenish tint to complete the effect. The artwork was subsequently supplied to BBC Audio’s packaging designer for further work to expand the picture plane into the correct orientation for the CD and Audible formats.
The Master Annual 2974
New. A quick remaster and clean up of two paintings Alister contributed to The Unofficial Master Annual 2974 (Terraqueous Distributors, 2020). The remaster included the addition of circular shapes to complete the compositions.
New. Based on the JP100 reimagining of the frontispiece for Doctor Who Annual 1973 (see below), this remaster used the same the composition and background artwork. The portrait of Roger Delgado’s Master was originally featured on the cover of The Dark Path (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1997).
The Keeper of Traken
New. A remaster of the reprint novelisation artwork for Doctor Who – The Keeper of Traken (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1992). This was a simple job to replace the original painting of the Keeper with a newly painted version based on a clearer reference photograph. Limited edition prints were made to tie in with the publication of the BBC Audiobook in 2020.
An extensive remaster of the novelisation artwork (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1988) for the BBC Audiobook, published in August 2020. Among the many changes needed for this cover was the reformatting of the picture plane to fit the CD / download cover proportions. Newly painted elements included sky, a boat, beach and barrels, portrait of the first Doctor using a more detailed reference photo and an architectural framing device to hold the new composition. The artist’s signature initials were removed, and church and graveyard were enlarged to establish a new horizon line. The top half of the composition is a straight lift and drop of the updated blue sky Alister added to the artwork, along with other small changes, for the 1993 postcard published by Doctor Who Magazine.
Based on Doctor Who – Kinda (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1992). Part of a set of four art cards published by the Doctor Who Appreciation Society to raise money for “Save the Children”, in memory of Doctor Who author Terrance Dicks who died in August 2019. In 1973 Terrance, then the incumbent script editor on the television series, became one of the first authors to write new novelisations for Target Books, becoming the list’s unofficial editor in the late 70s. He went on to write 64 books, more than any other author.
Revamped for limited edition prints to tie in with the 2019 publication of the BBC Audiobook of Doctor Who – Dragonfire (Target Books 1989).
The Sixth Doctor
Three portraits of Colin Baker’s Doctor from Alister’s portfolio. These were remastered for inclusion in the Unofficial Doctor Who Annual 1987, published by Terraqueous Distributors in 2019. A simple remastering job.
The Trial of a Time Lord (3rd Edition)
We revisited the VHS cover for Doctor Who – The Trial of a Time Lord once again, this time updating the previous edition to tie in with the 2019 Blu-ray release of the story. On this occasion we updated Sil’s portrait from a new photographic reference, to place him more fully in the composition.
Limited edition print produced to tie in with the release of Reeltime Pictures’s SIL And the Devil Seeds of Arodor, a new drama written by Philip Martin and starring Nabil Shaban as Sil (both veterans of mid-80s Doctor Who). The new print is based on the BBC audiobook cover for Doctor Who – Mindwarp, and utilises a portrait of Colin Baker’s Doctor, taken from the novel Millennium Rites (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1995) and part of Colin’s costume from the VHS cover for Doctor Who – The Trial of a Time Lord (BBC Video 1993).
The Third Doctor Handbook (Doctor Who Books / Virgin Publishing, 1996).
The Sixth Doctor Handbook (Doctor Who Books / Virgin Publishing, 1993). The “blue cravat” edition of the artwork was featured on the cover of Celestial Toyroom issue 500, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s newsletter, in November 2019. A print was also presented to Colin Baker.
The Seventh Doctor Handbook (Doctor Who Books / Virgin Publishing, 1998).
Alister recently painted a new cover illustration for BBC Audio’s audiobook CD and download for Doctor Who – Terminus (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1983), one of only two books in the Target library never to receive original painted covers. Photographic covers were common during the Peter Davison era; legend had it that artists struggled to paint Davison’s youthful features accurately, prompting the publisher to use photos instead. I remember the original publicity surrounding the book promising something “a bit special” for its cover. In those days gradients weren’t that easy (or cheap) to do, but even so the published cover was something of a missed opportunity, saying very little about the content of the story. I supplied Alister with some screenshots of the skull motif from the transmitted episodes, and he used them as the basis for his new composition. After delivery BBC Audio felt the cover should reflect a bit of the original cover design from 1983 (as we did with Four To Doomsday a couple of years earlier, see the entry further down this page). Alister’s painting was mottled grey from top to bottom (see the inset photo featuring the artist himself) so he asked me to add a digital version of the pink gradient behind the skull. I supplied the artwork with the lighter shade at the top to match the original book, but the BBC’s designer, Minty Design, inverted the gradient to better accommodate the logo and title/author information. An excellent decision – the finished packaging looks fabulous.
The Enemy of the World
Exclusive one-off print created, remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1993). This was a simple job to change the details in Salamander’s jacket from pink to yellow. The print was given away as a prize, to tie in with the publication of the BBC Audiobook in July 2019. (The cover of the audiobook uses Bill Donohoe’s painting as used on the original Target book published in 1981.)
Celebrating the Centenary of Jon Pertwee’s birth on 7 July 2019.
Exclusive one-off print inspired by the frontispiece illustration from The Doctor Who Annual 1973. This was an opportunity to do something a bit different to our usual revamps, this time utilising the portrait of Pertwee from Alister’s cover for the reprint of Doctor Who – Carnival of Monsters (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1993). The painting will be given away as a prize drawn on 7 July 2019.
Exclusive one-off print created for a An Afternoon At Devil’s End, a location tour which took place in Aldbourne on Sunday 23 June 2019. This remaster updates Alister’s painting for the VHS video release (BBC Video 1993), replacing the portraits of Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado with portraits from the covers of Speed of Flight and The Dark Path (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1997). During the remastering it was discovered that the original reference photos for Azal and Bok were printed the wrong way around at the time the artwork was painted, so our first job was to flip the whole painting horizontally to restore the correct orientation. Other minor adjustments included repositioning Azal’s horns to help the balance of the composition, and updating lighting effects with modern renderings.
The Dæmons, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Abominable Snowmen, The Crusade.
Exclusive one-off prints created for a Doctor Who convention auction in 2019. These special editions are printed at the same size as the original paintings, and feature the separate back cover vignette illustrations positioned onto the main artwork. The printed edition of The Dæmons (Titan Books 1993) was used as reference for the positioning of these elements. During the planning stage we were surprised to note how much of the original artwork had been cropped out on the finished book, so this print reveals the full artwork for the first time and in superior print quality. Titan Books cancelled the Script Book series in 1994, and the completed paintings for The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The Abominable Snowmen were not used. The latter was extensively remastered for a Fantom Films art card signing event in 2017 but was dropped in favour of Planet of the Daleks due to the availability of cast members from that story. It is presented here in full, the previous remaster having used only the front cover section at A4. Use the slider to reveal the new compositions.
The Target Book – William Hartnell
Exclusive print for a competition prize to celebrate 55 years of Doctor Who and 45 years of Target Books. This painting was originally commissioned as part of the cover illustration for The Target Book (Telos Publishing 2007), and was subsequently reused on invitations for an exhibition of Target book cover illustrations (see below). For this edition Alister painted a new cravat inspired by the original cover illustration by Chris Achilleos used on Doctor Who and the Daleks (Universal Tandem / Target Books 1973) which was overlaid and blended with the original painting. Use the slider to reveal the new composition.
The Trial of a Time Lord (2nd Edition)
Exclusive print for a charity auction at a Doctor Who convention in 2018. For this limited edition print Alister wanted to update the artwork with his painting of the 1980s TARDIS, originally commissioned for the Doctor Who 30th Anniversary Calendar (1993). This painting was combined with a digital rendering of the Time Lords’ space station tractor beam to pull the composition together. We also took the opportunity to revisit the colour grading in certain parts of the image.
Survival (2nd Edition)
Exclusive print for a charity auction at a Doctor Who convention in 2018. For this limited edition print Alister painted a new foreground landscape to replace the original. The new painting contains more detail and a more accurate rendering of the colour.
Exclusive A3 print for a charity auction at the Capitol Doctor Who convention in spring 2018. Remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video, 1990, and subsequently used on a paperback reprint by Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1990) and a new painting of part of the set used in the TV production. The remaster of the unedited painting is featured in the interior inlay artwork of the BBC Audiobook, published in September 2018.
The Robots of Death
Extensively remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1994). The revamped artwork would have featured a new portrait of Tom Baker, but was never completed.
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1993) with a new background using processed creative commons photography from the Hubble Telescope and a new painting of the character Steven Taylor played by Peter Purves.
The Invisible Enemy
Remastered from the unused reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1994). The reprint of this title was originally intended to be published alongside a reprint of The Horror of Fang Rock. Although the Fang Rock painting was completed and cover proofs sent to the book trade, both reprints were abandoned when the Target reprint programme was cancelled in 1994. Alister consequently stopped working on The Invisible Enemy, which remains unfinished. However, he asked me to remaster it for inclusion as a curio in the interior inlay artwork of the BBC Audiobook published in August 2018. (The cover of the audiobook, left, uses the first edition artwork by Roy Knipe.)
The Three Doctors
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event (right). Remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video, 1991) and a brand new painting of the story’s villain, Omega. An alternative version, with a different treatment of Omega (left, remastered from a photo), was produced for an A3 print to be auctioned for charity at a convention.
Terror of the Autons
Remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video, 1993) for an exclusive one-off print. The artwork shows the original pink background, which BBC Video replaced with purple on the printed sleeve.
Exclusive print for Fantom Films Pandorica convention in Bristol in November 2017 attended by several members of the original cast. Remastered from the novelisation artwork for Doctor Who – Survival (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1990), and a photo of Anthony Ainley (The Master). For this revamp Old Fusion went back to Alister’s original plan to incorporate the Master’s face into the body of the kitling, the sketch for which can be seen on page 127 of The Target Book (Telos Publishing 2007, see inset).
The Five Doctors
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Extensively remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video, 1990), with the addition of the character Rassilon from the back cover of Doctor Who – The Eight Doctors (BBC Books, June 1997) and a new painting of Tom Baker. An alternative version, with the addition of K9 (right), was created for an A3 print to be auctioned for charity at a convention.
Planet of the Daleks
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1992) with the addition of Jon Pertwee’s portrait from The Ghosts of N-Space (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1995). Holding aloft her copy of the art card is Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant in the original television story (photo courtesy of Simeon Carter).
The Abominable Snowmen
Extensively remastered from the unused cover illustration for Doctor Who – The Scripts: The Abominable Snowmen (Titan Books 1994), and a detail from the first edition novelisation artwork of Doctor Who – The Evil of the Daleks (Virgin Publishing / Doctor Who Books 1993). This artwork was originally created for an event in September 2017, but held back due to a change in scheduling.
Pyramids of Mars
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1993) with additional swathes of Tom Baker’s scarf from A Device of Death (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1997).
Exclusive, one-off signed print raffled for charity at an event in May 2017. Remastered from the first edition artwork for Evolution (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1994). This was a simple job to remove the artist’s initials and some unwanted detail from the right hand side, apply some digital polish to remove dust and scratches and extend the clean burgundy background on either side. Not strictly an Old Fusion project as we didn’t add anything new to it, but it was a nice remastering gig and a pleasure to work on such a gorgeous portrait of my childhood heroes.
The Tomb of the Cybermen
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Extensively remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video, 1992), with an additional Cyberman from a poster for Doctor Who Magazine issue 123 (Marvel Comics, April 1987) and reference photography of the original set.
The Key to Time
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from two archive prints of an unused cover illustration for a proposed reprint of a non-fiction book by Peter Haining. The illustration was subsequently updated with the seventh and eighth Doctors and auctioned for charity. The challenge with this job was to add the extra Doctors from the lower quality print to the higher quality version, and add extra detail to the top and sides so it could be formatted to A4.
The Trial of a Time Lord
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Extensively remastered from the VHS artwork (BBC Video 1993), first edition novelisation artwork for Doctor Who – The Ultimate Foe (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1988) and Doctor Who – Mindwarp (BBC Audiobooks 2013, based on updated artwork for the 1989 novelisation) with processed creative commons photography from the Hubble Telescope.
The Target Books Exhibition
A special illustration used on the private view invitation for an exhibition of Target book cover illustrations (below, centre), hosted at the Cartoon Museum in London in spring 2016. The illustration brings together the first and seventh Doctors featured in the Target Books series of novelisations (1973-94), taken from Alister’s covers for The Target Book (Telos Publishing 2007) and Doctor Who – Survival (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1990), one of the last novelisations. The artwork also accompanies an article about the exhibition in Doctor Who Magazine issue 499 (below, left) and features on the dedication page of the 2016 hardback edition of The Target Book (centre).
Four to Doomsday
Background plate for BBC Audio’s audiobook CD and download. Extensively remastered from an original on-spec painting (1985). The new repeating pattern was delivered to BBC Audio, who combined it with a new scan of Alister’s artwork for the reprint of this title (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1991). The deep red colour-cast is a nod to the red background for the novelisation’s first edition (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1983).
The Power of the Daleks
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Extensively remastered from the first edition novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Doctor Who Books 1993) with processed creative commons photography.
Remembrance of the Daleks
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Extensively remastered from the first edition novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1990) with processed creative commons photography.
The Tenth Planet
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1993) with an additional Cyberman from a poster for Doctor Who Magazine issue 123 (Marvel Comics, April 1987).
Revenge of the Cybermen
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the reprint novelisation artwork (Virgin Publishing / Target Books 1991) with the addition of Tom Baker’s Doctor from A Device of Death (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1997).
The War Machines
Exclusive print for Fantom Films signing event. Remastered from the first edition novelisation artwork (WH Allen & Co / Target Books 1988) with the addition of the character Dodo Chaplet from The Man in the Velvet Mask (Doctor Who – The Missing Adventures, Virgin Publishing 1996).