A variety of Doctor Who comic stories have appeared from 1964 to the present. The range of releases, since 1963, reflects the range of stories told and makes Doctor Who the longest running comic strip based on a television series in the world.
The first comics based on Doctor Who appeared in TV Comic and in Doctor Who annuals. The Dalek Chronicles, which did not feature the Doctor himself, appeared in TV Century 21 and others featuring the Daleks appeared in the Dalek annuals.
With the advent of the Third Doctor, the home of the Doctor Who comic strip changed from TV Comic to Countdown. After that publication failed some two years later, the strip returned to TV Comic, where it remained until Polystyle lost the license to Marvel UK. The Fourth Doctor was the final incarnation to debut in a Polystyle publication. While there were some Polystyle Fourth Doctor stories that were original, in fact the majority of Polystyle stories involving the Fourth Doctor were merely reprints of earlier Second and Third Doctor stories, with Tom Baker's likeness superimposed on top of the Doctor who had originally appeared in the adventure. This makes the placement of the very latest Polystyle adventures awkward for anyone who today wants to try to establish a chronology of the Polystyle events. In 1979, with the publication of the first issue of Doctor Who Weekly, the Doctor's adventures passed into the hands of people more influenced by American comic books than British cartoon strips, and thus their style radically altered. By the end of the decade, the only venue left for cartoon — and occasionally even avant garde — strips were the pages of the various World Distributors annuals.
The adventures of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and, finally, Seventh Doctor appeared in Doctor Who Monthly and Doctor Who Magazine (Doctor Who Weekly under a different name). Comics also appeared in Doctor Who annual.
- See Fourth Doctor comic stories, Fifth Doctor comic stories, Sixth Doctor comic stories and Seventh Doctor comic stories.
The comics actually outlived the original series, which had ended in late 1989. Comics in Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who Yearbook featured the adventures of past Doctors, and later the Eighth Doctor, who took over the main strip starting in 1996. A short Radio Times feature in 1996 also featured the adventures of the Eighth Doctor. A new publication, Doctor Who Classic Comics reprinted older stories, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s in their original colour form.
The adventures of the Eighth Doctor continued until 2005 with the debut of the first new Doctor Who season and the Ninth, then Tenth Doctor. New magazines Doctor Who: Battles in Time and Doctor Who Adventures, as well as the Doctor Who annual and Doctor Who Storybook featured new stories, which continue to do this day. Meanwhile, Panini began the publication of a series of graphic novels re-printing older, and the more recent stories from the pages of Doctor Who Magazine.
In 2007 the American company IDW was the first American comic-book publisher to produce original Doctor Who comic books in the US, starting in early 2008 with the release of Doctor Who: Agent Provocateur (comic story). The adventures of the Tenth and the Eleventh ran as regular releases (with variant editions), alongside mini-series releases including an Anniversary mini-series featuring each of the former Doctors as well as collected volumes and annuals. The license ran to the close of 2013 culminating in the 50th anniversary.
Additionally, IDW brought forth the first-ever Doctor Who crossover in any medium, the 2012 Star Trek: The Next Generation/ Doctor Who event series Assimilation2.
- See Eighth Doctor comic stories, Ninth Doctor comic stories, Tenth Doctor comic stories and Eleventh Doctor comic stories.
Promotional mini-comics have been given away free with multi-packs of crisps and snacks. A newspaper strip was at during the early 1990s considered (and sample work done) for a run in a national newspaper. Other comics have apepared various other merchandising (like collectable cards in ice lollies, and as slide shows for projectors and viewmasters.