A few weeks ago, I was down in St. Louis, covering Wizard World’s annual visit to the Gateway City. It’s a massive gathering of geeks and gamers and cosplayers of every breed under the Dome and in the shadow of the Arch, so without any hesitation, I can say there was one question I was asked the most:
“Is that a reference to ‘Doctor Who’?”
If you’re not sure what “that” is referring to in the question, you’re likely in the wrong place, or you’re definitely not a ‘Doctor Who’ fan. In this case, the question refers to my chosen moniker emblazoned on my shirt that I wear for self-promotion: Bad Wolf Media.
See, back in 2005, those wily Brits did what you do with Doctor Who – they regenerated him after a long break. In this case, the supporting cast included Rose Tyler, a character played amazingly by the charming and stunning Billie Piper. Through the course of the first series of this new incarnation, the phrase “Bad Wolf” would be found, scrawled in graffiti or emblazoned on the walls of the TARDIS itself. To make a long story somewhat less long, The Rose character gets infused with time-twisting powers and it was her all along, going back and leaving this warning message throughout time for the heroes to find.
Rose has gone on to become one of the most popular characters in the reborn series and, therefore, is well known among the denizens of gatherings like Wizard World.
Now let’s go even further back in time. I’m going to guess a little here, but I would say sometime around 1999 or 2000, I was working with my buddy Adam at an internet service provider down in middle Georgia (does everyone remember ISPs? No? Well…moving on…). We would often talk about widely varied subjects, and one day we were talking about pirates and the traditional “jolly roger” flag. As it turns out (yes, education! Sorry, just stick with it!), there really isn’t such a thing as a standard pirate flag. The “skull and crossbones” that everyone thinks of was used by a few scoundrels of the seas, but we learned that pirate captains generally designed their own standards to fly so everyone knew who was sending them to the bottom. Edward Teach – Blackbeard, if you please – often flew just a solid black flag. Bartholomew Roberts had an image of himself and a representation of Death, each with a hand on an hourglass.
With this background in hand, we started talking about what we would use as our own, personal jolly roger if we were to have need of one. I found a great line-art rendering of a snarling wolf, which I modified, taking off the lower jaw and put it over the traditional crossbones to make what you see even now, on this very page. Over the course of nearly two decades, I’ve keep that image with me, from computer to computer to tablets to smartphones. It’s been a part of my digital fingerprint for that long. (Unfortunately, I’ve lost the original art and haven’t been able to find the original artist of the wolf, but I’ll keep looking!)
Okay, everyone sticking with me so far? Now we’re going to leap forward to early 2014. I started to get a little more serious about my photo work, and I needed a name and logo to use. I thought of and scrapped a few dozen ideas along the way before realizing the imagery was staring me in the face the whole time. I had my ‘jolly roger’ that was already so prevalent, I only needed a fitting name to go with it. The name wasn’t born from my love of ‘Doctor Who,’ however. I am a huge fan of the show, but in this case, the name came from the image and the idea behind it – the thought of , 400 years ago, that flag flying over a ship in the warm Caribbean waters. What name would be given? Black Wolf seemed like it would work, but then another thought hit me: I didn’t want to use “productions” in my name because of the company name of a friend, so I opted for “media.” And then visual landed there – three letters, four letters, five letters, Bad Wolf Media. And it was like that light hitting Jake in the Triple Rock Baptist Church, all those years ago (had to get one more iconic reference in there, right?).
I’m happy that it’s a name that it seems people are going to remember, for whatever reason. I’ll continue to explain that, no, it’s not taken from the good Doctor’s companion, but I have the utmost respect for the show, the writers, and the actors that put it all together.
And I’ll tip my ivy cap to Rose Tyler, for spreading the word about me, back before I even seriously picked up a camera!*
*this is a joke, Doctor Who people! Please don’t sue me!