The Publication History of Trenchcoat/Ninth Aspect

The Beginning

Eighth Doctor

The Trenchcoat series began in 1989 when I started writing a short story that became The Great Fear. I was inspired by an interview with Sylvester McCoy that I had read, wherein he expressed a desire to do a historical story brave enough to make a commentary on the events being viewed. This, combined with a book I was reading on the bicentennial of the French Revelolution, inspired me to write a story designed to introduce a character from the era into the TARDIS. That character became the 17-year-old Fayette Calonne. As I wrote for her, I began to feel that she wouldn’t work against any of the established Doctors in the series. So, in a fit of arrogance, I created my own. And so the Trenchcoat eighth Doctor was born.

Trenchcoat 1

The Great Fear was, in many ways, the pilot episode to the Trenchcoat series, and it features all of the problems that generally plague pilots. But the characters clicked for me, especially Fayette, and I decided to write more. I was well into my fourth story before I decided to collect these stories into a fanzine, and then bind them together using the fictitious future seasons gimmick. The writing of these stories continued through 1990, with the last, The Abbey by the Sea (the longest story yet) completed early in 1991.

It was in January 1991 that I met up with Martin Proctor at a local convention. I was (and remain) in awe of his work. He had been the art director for the Doctor Who Information Network throughout the 1980s, and his artwork graced many of the covers of Enlightenment. He was a celebrity and I was a stranger, but somehow I plucked up the courage to ask him to illustrate my stories, and he agreed. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I began advertising Trenchcoat in DWIN’s Enlightenment. I released the first issue in late May 1991 and took copies to a DWIN Executive meeting, where they sold pretty well. Orders started to trickle in, as well as letters of comment. My first order came from Chris Kocher of Dallas, Pennsylvania. This started a long pen-pal correspondence and he eventually took over the reigns of the series when we moved to Ninth Aspect. A review by Elizabeth K. Shaw in Enlightenment sparked some more interest, and I received my first story submissions for issue 2.

Upon my move to Kitchener, ON, I was contacted by Dan Kukwa expressing interest in the fanzine. This lead to a story submission and another longstanding friendship.

Trenchcoat 2, 3 & 4

Trenchcoat 2 began writing in the summer of 1991, with the first stories being sent to Martin Proctor for illustration by the end of the year. I had learned from my mistakes in the first issue and I felt that the issue was improving. This issue was released in May 1992, was sold at the Who Party 10 convention in Toronto and started to receive more attention from within DWIN and other fan clubs.

But I think it was Trenchcoat 3, released March 1993, that made the series. It was in this issue that my characterization of Fayette Calonne hit her stride. Jabberwocky Dreams, a story that focuses primarily on Fayette, with the Doctor only appearing in the final minutes, was voted the best story of the Trenchcoat series and has received a number of other good reviews. It was also with this issue that the Trenchcoat series started to be noticed outside DWIN. It was the first issue of the series to feature more stories by other authors than by myself. The issue competed with Roving Reporter for the Fan-Quality award at MediaWest in Lansing, Michigan, and was reviewed in a number of fanzines, including The Whostorian Quarterly.

Trenchcoat 4, released July 1994, built on Trenchcoat 3’s success, featuring longer stories, desktop publishing layout and a colour cover. This issue won the Fan-Quality award for Best Fanzine and attracted a lot of attention. By this time, though, I felt that the eighth Doctor era should be drawing to a close. My Doctor had been around for a respectible length of time, and Fayette was now the second longest serving companion in the history of the series. This coincided with my heading into my final year at university. Anticipating that I would not be able to handle as much of a workload, I decided to regenerate the eighth Doctor and hand over the reigns to another.

Ninth Aspect and Life After Trenchcoat

Chris Kocher, the first person to order a copy of Trenchcoat 1 through the mail, was the person who agreed to take over the reigns. I helped him establish the new ninth Doctor for Trenchcoat 5: Ninth Aspect by novelizing Martin Proctor’s Sentinel as the ninth Doctor’s first story. I then tied up remaining loose ends with The Shattered Clocks and handed over the fanzine to Chris. Even Chris had to deal with life’s priorities, however, and the issue ended up delayed, finally seeing release in May 1996. This issue too was well received, with a number of complimentary reviews in a number of fanzines.

After that, progress on Ninth Aspect 2 faded. Both Chris and I got married (to Crystal and Erin respectively) and moved on to other things. The fanzine languished, until it finally came time to turn out the lights. But it was hard saying goodbye. I had met and made friends with a lot of people through the Trenchcoat series. I met Erin after she read one of the stories of Trenchcoat 4 and wrote to compliment me on it. We were married four years later. Martin Proctor was Best Man at my wedding, and Dan Kukwa one of the ushers.

It was Dan’s suggestion that we have a party to celebrate the passing of the Trenchcoat series. That became the Trenchcoat Farewell Project, which collected the published stories of the Trenchcoat/Ninth Aspect canon and added the unpublished stories of Trenchcoat 0 (linking the Trenchcoat series with the established Doctor Who canon) and Ninth Aspect 2. The published stories were remastered, pictures scanned and printed digitally, and the whole thing published as a single 864 page hardbound volume. This project took years to finish but, in January 2005, James finally returned from the bookbinders with 58 copies of the finished product.

Click here to order the Trenchcoat Farewell Project.