Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Beginnings of Dalekmania!

As most of us know, the Daleks featured in the second ever Who story, ´The Mutants´ (or ´The Dead Planet´, or even ´The Daleks´!), in late 1963 and early 1964, and were an instant audience hit. Terry Nation knew he had something big on his hands, and controlled the branding, marketing and promotion of the Daleks in a manner to which even Davros would be proud.

´Dalekmania´, as it became known, was driven by the huge commercial promotion of Dalek merchandise that took place from the mid 1960s and which followed the huge commercial influence of ´Beatlemania´. There were other manias to follow (Batmania in 1966, Monkeemania in 1967) but Dalekmania was probably the first TV grown merchandise boom. It was not until late 1964, when ¨The Dalek Invasion of Earth¨ arrived, that the tills really started ringing. From clockwork Daleks to Dalek soap, the shops were full of wierd collectables, many of which remain the most highly sought after items for Who fans with more money than sense (purely a mathematical equation, no disrespect to Who collectors, of course!).

One of the very first items of Dalek merchandise, and indeed Who merchandise, was ´The Dalek Book´. Published by Souvenir Press (Panther Books) on the 30 June 1964 this 96 page hardback annual was the first time The Daleks appeared in comic strip form. The Dalek Book contained both colour and black & white comic strips and illustrated text stories and told the story of the Dalek invasion of our solar system and their ultimate, and apparent, defeat. It also featured a new photostory with Susan and the Daleks using images from the first Who Dalek story. There´s no Doctor in any of these these stories.

The book was said to be "Based on the Dalek Chronicles discovered and translated by Terry Nation" and was co-written by TV Who script editor David Whittaker and Dalek creator and writer Terry Nation. The illustrations were by Richard Jennings (including the cover artwork), John Woods and A.B. Cornwell. [Jennings was also the first artist chosen to illustrate the regular weekly Dalek strip on the back cover of the new comic TV Century 21 which started in January 1965.]

The book showed the Daleks in flight over 40 years before they would gain the ability on TV - a major improvement in Dalek technology which BBC special effects (and budgets) couldn´t match at the time. Although in the comics they flew by means of ´transolar discs´, flying platforms which allowed the Daleks to fly through space, the imagery of a flying Dalek armada clearly inspired similar scenes in the New Who story ´Doomsday´.

The story was recently used as the vague basis for the backstory of the Dalek Empire audio series produced by Big Finish.

If you are lucky enough to find The Dalek Book you can expect to pay over 50 quid for it in good condition. If, like me, you´re still waiting to win the lottery, then settle for the downloadable scans which you can find here (along with most of the Dalek annuals from the 60s and 70s).


Invasion of the Daleks - comic strip
Red for Danger - text story with illustrations
The Oil Well - comic strip
The Message of Mystery - photo story
The Secret of the Mountain - text story with illustrations
City of the Daleks - comic strip
The Humanoids - comic strip
The Small Defender - text story with illustrations
Monsters of Gurnian - comic strip
Break-through! - text story with illustrations
Battle for the Moon - comic strip


The Dalek Planetarium
The Dalekode
Anatomy of a Dalek
Dodge the Dalek
Dalek War Machines
Dalography of Skaro
The Dalek Dictionary

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