Lee Sullivan is an illustrator and comic artist who has been associated with Doctor Who in various capacities since his first work for Doctor Who Magazine in the late 1980s. Generally, though, his work on Doctor Who comics has been confined to a few stories in the Seventh Doctor's run, the Radio Times strips that introduced the comic version of the Eighth Doctor, and the Battles in Time comic strips involving the Tenth Doctor. He's also provided illustrations that served as the backgrounds for the webcasts, Shada, Real Time and Death Comes to Time. Furthermore, he's been a prolific provider of comic previews of Big Finish audios for Doctor Who Magazine.
Outside Doctor Who, Sullivan amassed a reasonably large resumé of comic work in the British comics industry, particularly during the 1990s. However, he had, by his own admission, a considerable — and unwanted — lack of work in the industry during the latter part of that decade and the first half of the 2000s. Moreover, unlike most prominent Doctor Who Magazine artists, he never really "cracked" the American market to any significant degree — though it's unclear whether he has ever harboured ambitions in this direction.
Sullivan trained as a wildlife and technical illustrator at Barnfield College. He went on to work as a graphic artist for British Aerospace and spent some time in the advertising industry working freelance.
In 1988. with John Higgins' support and encouragement, he entered the world of comic books. He began with cover artwork for Marvel UK's Transformers comic title. Interior work for the Transformers 1989 Annual and other Transformers publications swiftly followed. Even at this early stage of his career, he displayed an affinity for drawing the Daleks, since he once illustrated a 1989 Transformers in such a way as to imply that Octus could change into a Dalek.
Soon, he began to build a comic resumé which included titles like Thundercats, Death's Head, RoboCop, Wildcards, William Shatner's TekWorld, 2000AD (Judge Dredd, Mercy Heights, Futureshocks, Vector 13), Action Man, and Thunderbirds.
Doctor Who comics work
Sullivan's first Doctor Who comic strip was Planet of the Dead, which gave him the opportunity to draw all the Doctors that existed at that time. While drawing this strip, he came to hold the opinion that the Second Doctor was his favourite to draw. Thematically, however, he is strongly associated with stories involving the Daleks. He regards Nemesis of the Daleks as his favourite Doctor Who strip. Children of the Revolution, a sequel to The Evil of the Daleks, gave him the opportunity to combine his love of Daleks with his enjoyment of the Second Doctor, who appears in flashbacks. His long-term artistic study of the Daleks has given him some authority to opine on what makes them work. He is an avid admirer of the TV Century 21 work, and has claimed a dislike for Davros, at least as seen in the original series.
...this lazy introduction of one-character-to-portray-a-whole-race is exactly what I don't like in SF. It emasculated the Daleks as an independent force; downgraded them to Ogron status. Remembrance redressed the balance a bit, but if [Davros] never tuns up again I'll be pleased. I'm a Yarvelling and Zolfian man.
Sullivan's expertise with drawing Daleks eventually led him to an unusual assignment based on the 1960s Dalek movies Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. His artwork on Daleks Versus the Martians remains the only original story to use characters and situations from that movie duology. He also has a couple of other "firsts" under his belt. He drew the comic strip debut of the Eighth Doctor. His partnership with writer Gary Russell in the Radio Times beat out Doctor Who Magazine's Eighth Doctor debut by a wide margin. Much later, his view of Donna Noble hit newsstands narrowly before her DWM debut.
Sullivan has typically been his own inker, and in terms of Doctor Who work, at least, has almost never been his own colourist. Exceptions will be noted in the following list.
DWM family of publications
- Up Above the Gods
- Planet of the Dead
- Nemesis of the Daleks
- The Mark of Mandragora (including the two prologues, Darkness Falling and Distractions) (pencils only)
- The Chameleon Factor (pencils only)
- Emperor of the Daleks!
- The Last Word (line and full colour)
- Children of the Revolution
- Daleks Versus the Martians
Sullivan has actually done more Doctor Who work outside of DWM. He was the sole penciller and inker for the Radio Times comic strips, which were the global debut of the comic Eighth Doctor. In these strips, he also co-created the characters of Stacy Townsend and Ssard, the first companions of the Eighth Doctor outside the television movie. These strips were further unique for their format. Sullivan is the only artist to draw for what could comfortably be classed as a "Doctor Who Sunday comic strip".
Years later, he would be called back into Doctor Who (after a brief return to DWM to draw Children of the Revolution, his only colour DWM story) to be the resident artist for Doctor Who: Battles in Time. There, he provided each issue's artwork, beginning with DWBIT 7. He coloured that issue's The Glutonoid Menace, but thereafter relinquished colouring duties to Alan Craddock, his former Radio Times colourist.
In 2013 he illustrated Bazaar Adventures
Sullivan's illustrative Doctor Who output rivals his comic strip portfolio. He was cover artist for DWM 182 and 183 as well as DWMS Summer 1991 He has provided technical schematics of several fan-favourite items, including the Whomobile, (DWMS Winter 1991) the Kill-Wagon, and the Dalek Death Wheel. (Abslom Daak collected edition) He's also illustrated some text stories or provided splash pages for DWMS Tenth Anniversary Special and the Ablslom Daak collected edition.
Sullivan's most consistent run of illustrative work, however, came when DWM began their so-called "comic previews" of newly-released Big Finish audios. Existing somewhere between actual comic strip and simple illustration, this artwork attempted to give a flavour of an important moment within the audio. All told, Sullivan did about 23 of these, starting with 2000's The Fearmonger and continuing consecutively through the Big Finish release order to 2001's The One Doctor.
He only occasionally did Doctor Who print work outside of magazines. For instance, he did some work for the 1993 Doctor Who calendar, the cover for Love and War, the fontispiece art for Citadel of Dreams. And he was also known to have helped Peter Darvill-Evans and Paul Cornell come up with a basic visual design for Bernice Summerfield during the early days of that character's existence. His image of Benny was used in Paul Cornell's interview about the character in Doctor Who Magazine and on the original covers of the first two releases in the Big Finish Bernice Summerfield series, as well as on the special release Buried Treasures.
These exceptions aside, though, most of Sullivan's Doctor Who work outside the pages of magazines has been in online content. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, when his Doctor Who comic strip work had all but disappeared, he was actively illustrating some of the BBC's most prominent Doctor Who web content. He was responsible for much of the artwork in the webcasts, Death Comes to Time, Real Time, and Shada. At the start of the BBC Wales version of the programme, when the official Doctor Who website gave new front page illustrations for each week's new episode, he did the artwork for the premiere weeks of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances.
Sullivan is a saxophonist who for over a decade regularly toured the UK as part of a Roxy Music tribute band before quitting in 2015.
- Kasterborous - Interview: Lee Sullivan, January 30, 2005, by Christian Cawley accessed 21st May 2010
- The Big Finish Companion: Volume 1
- Roxy Magic.co.uk accessed 21st May 2010