Paper TARDISes

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The George Bennett Model (Paper TARDISes Series)

(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my excessi– uh, extensive TARDIS collection. Find previous entries HERE.) 

As I recently mentioned in the previous paper TARDIS entry, the Nick Bell Model), one of my formative experiences as a youth was to attend the Summer Scholars Onstage Theatre Camp at Mississippi State. It’s a theatre camp for gifted junior high and high school kids, who gather together, usually 50-55 of them total, write a three-act musical comedy in a week, and then perform that show at the end of the third week, complete with dance numbers, acting, costumes, sets, the whole bit. I was only a camper for two years, then came back as writing staff for a handful of years, took ten years off, returned to the writing staff, and eventually became the script coordinator for the writers camp for several years.

One thing we’ve learned in the nigh on 40 years of the camp’s existence is that, when wrangling 55 kids, keeping to a schedule is an important thing to do. It’s therefore always important to write out the schedule on a big long piece of paper for everyone to see. We usually assign the task of writing out said sched to creative and artistic souls who will not only supply the schedule for the following day, but make it look good too. One such soul during one such year was George Bennett. George was a camper himself during the early years of my return and he returned as staff for a number of years following his high school graduation. Whenever George was around, there was no question who would be doing the schedules.

In addition to being a talented comedic actor, George was a gifted artist even in those early years. He was able to dash off magic marker sketches that were annoyingly good for those of us who only wish we had his kind of talent and have to work so very hard to achieve anything presentable ourselves. George made it look effortless. He’d been doing the schedules since a junior counselor camper, but once he’d enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design, his schedules improved beyond the impressive level they’d already set.

The image at right, which I featured a couple of weeks ago in the TARDIS Cozy entry, contains one of George’s sketches–a quick doodle of Rod Serling in a TV set that I found charming and which I purloined at the end of camp. Our play’s theme that year was a pastiche of Twilight Zone style stories–hence the Serling appearance. However, time travel was also a factor in the plays, with it ultimately being revealed that Rod Serling himself was from the future and, due to some alterations to the timeline, Tales from Dimension 13 (the title of our play and the TV series within the play) transformed into The Twilight Zone. With time travel as a factor, though, it only made sense for George to sketch a random TARDIS in the corner of another day’s schedule in scented blue magic marker. As a lover of TARDISes, I couldn’t resist saving this one too, and it now resides among my TARDIS collection, as you can see in the photo. And one day, when George is famous, I shall sell it for a mint (though I might have to get him to sign it first).

Lest you think that George’s talent was limited to schedule pages alone, perish the thought. In the intervening years, he has gone on to become a professional illustrator and storyboard artist. These days, you can find him and his work at

TARDIS Collector’s Corner: The Nick Bell Model Paper TARDIS (Paper TARDISes series)

For many years as a youth into young adulthood, I was both a camper and staff member at Summer Scholars Onstage, a theatre camp at Mississippi State University in which a group of junior high and high school students write a three act musical comedy (or three one act musical comedies) in the space of one week and then co-star in that musical at the end of the three week camp. I took some years off, from 1998 to 2007, and came back as an act leader and, eventually, the writers camp script coordinator. It’s consistently one of the more stressful things I ever do in terms of the workload and the deadline, but also one of the most satisfying in terms of getting to see pure creativity at work on the part of the kids in both the writers and production camp aspects. They get it done every year and I sometimes get to be there to help suggest stitching for any small tears in the narrative fabric. (There are not that many. And for every suggestion I make, the camper writers almost always come up with something way better.)

As part of camp, during the third week we have a tradition called Secret Pal. (It’s like Secret Santa, only in July.) Campers and staff draw one another’s names from a hat and are then tasked with giving the person they drew some little gift or card each day, which they either bought or made. It’s just sort of a nice daily pick-me-up during the energy-sapping third week rolling into production.

In 2013, or so, my secret pal had my number in terms of an ideal gift. Not only did they learn of my obsession with TARDISes (maybe from spying one in my room on the staff hall or maybe from the many TARDIS t-shirts that I sported), but they made, with their very own hands, a paper TARDIS which they gifted to me on the sly by leaving it for me in the camp office. I actually spied through the office door as I came around the corner, recognized what it was, and instantly knew who that paper TARDIS was meant for.

Making a TARDIS of any sort is always a tricky prospect. While the basic shape and features are fairly consistent (except when they’re not–I’m lookin’ at you Patrick Troughton TARDIS with the door sign on the wrong door), there are loads of details to take into account and only the most foolhardy soul would attempt it without a visual reference. I don’t know if mine was made with one or not, but it’s impressive either way. A rectangular box made of thin cardboard, akin to cereal box packing, the TARDIS has individual windows applied, also cut out of cardboard, and pasted onto the surface. And on its roof was affixed a lamp, also in cardboard. Most other details are drawn on in ink. It’s not a small thing, either, coming pretty close to the same scale as the Electronic Flight Control TARDIS, which was the very TARDIS I’d brought with me to camp.

If the title of this post didn’t already spoil it, at the end of camp, my secret pal revealed themselves to be none other than my fellow staff member and friend Nick Bell. Nick’s one of the nicer guys I know and was among the first campers I was privileged to work with upon my return to Summer Scholars, some years earlier. His TARDIS remains a treasured member of my TARDIS collection to this day.

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