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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Comic Cuts: Trigan Empire

Having bemoaned the fact that I've been juggling a number of different projects and not actually finished anything for a couple of weeks, I'm pleased to say that, as of 9:53 am, my work on Trigan Empire--The Collection is done. Finished. Over. I've just mailed off the last few corrections to the proofs of the twelfth and final volume.

Next week, the files for the last two volumes (12 and 1) will be sent to the printers and we'll have the printed books in January; at that point the whole of the Trigan Empire saga as written by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Don Lawrence will be back in print for the first time. 974 pages of artwork plus a 5-page text story. Of course, fans of the series will know that the Trigan Empire had a number of other contributors and the saga actually runs an additional 664 pages, but I believe 99.9% of fans agree that the Butterworth/Lawrence era was when the strip was at its peak. The completest in me wouldn't mind seeing all of those pages reprinted, too, but that's an idea that can be explored later. I somehow doubt that this will be the last I see of The Trigan Empire!

When the last two books are out I'll set up a permanent page for the series but, until then, I thought you might enjoy seeing the following...


The first image comes from the story 'The Invasion From Gallas' as it was originally drawn for Ranger in 1967. However, when the strip was reprinted in the Dutch weekly Sjors in 1969, that page, for some unknown reason, was missing and Don Lawrence redrew it. The 'Invasion' storyline has only ever been reprinted in the UK in Vulcan at a time when that comic was being distributed in Scotland. The Sjors version has appeared in a number of album reprints over the years but this is the first time it has been seen here in the UK. The Dutch-language version of the Trigan Collection restores the original page, which was re-discovered many years later. As we've also restored the first few storylines back to their original formats, there should be something new for most readers who have only read the Look and Learn Book of The Trigan Empire, the Hamlyn Trigan Empire or even the Vulcan reprints.

Guess I should be getting back to cleaning up artwork for the next book and start thinking about the one after that. No rest for the freelance.

(* The Trigan Empire © IPC Media.)

6 comments:

Mike W said...

Very interesting - I'm looking forward to the final 2 volumes. The 5 page text story sounds intriguing. Although the completeist in me agrees that it would be good to have all the Trigan stories in some form of matching collection, I can't help feeling that the artwork is too different and surely there are anomaliies in the stories when Ken Roscoe took over such as the disappearance of Ursa and the reincarnation of Kassar,Trigo's brother-in-law who had been killed a few years earlier. I believe Zorth also was a character whose death was later over-ruled.

Steve said...

Mike,

Ursa pretty much disappeared from the storylines during the Butterworth/Lawrence run on the story. But Kassar was certainly resurrected. Zorth... I can't recall if he was actually killed. He's the main antagonist in the early stories and in the book I've just proofed is last seen staggering off into the desert. Off the top of my head I can't remember whether he comes back.

I agree there would be a culture shock for anyone going straight from the Butterworth/Lawrence to the Roscoe/Woods stories, but there's still a couple of years worth of stories written by Butterworth, drawn by Ron Embleton, Philip Corke, Miguel Quesada and Oliver Frey, much of which is worth revisiting.

George said...

Congratulations on reaching the end of this particular publishing cycle.

From a customer's perspective, I hope that all the hard work that all involved have put in leads - eventually - to cheaper paperback reprints. Much as I'd like to support such a worthy venture, the hardback cost is verging on prohibitive (although I know there's a very keen and receptive audience out there). I'd have thought the series was a good fit for someone like Cinebook actually, being a youth-friendly adventure.

Actually, I do have one volume, but I'm in the unfortunate position of owning a misprint - half the pages are in Dutch! I guess that's why it was so cheap on Ebay!

George

Steve said...

George,

I have to agree that the series is expensive - especially at the moment with the pound being so weak against the Euro. Working on the books is the only way I could afford to have a set of them on my shelves!

I'm not sure what's happening in the future. The high price is one of the disadvantages of specialist publishing and, sadly, unavoidable but I'm hopeful that, at some point, the whole series can be published in a cheaper format that will open it up to a much wider audience.

I should also add that it's not the end of my association with DLC. Rob said only last night "This won't be the end of the things I want to publish." If the Karl does OK, I imagine we will at least do Olac the Gladiator and Maroc the Mighty. There are also a number of Dutch-language strips painted by Don Lawrence that have never appeared in the UK, although wrangling the copyright on those might make a book near impossible.

Next up from me will be the 11th and 12th Storm books, which I'm really looking forward to as that will complete another set of Don's artwork, in this case in English for the first time. I'm hopeful that we'll then continue with the new series that Martin is producing with Romano Molenaar and Jorg de Vos; the first book looked great and the second is soon to be serialised in the revived Dutch comic, Eppo.

Rob said...

Congratulations Steve on completing this particular portion of the task of getting the wonderful art of Don Lawrence published in English. At the moment I only have 7 Storms and 4 Trigan Empire's, and while I agree that they're not cheap in the current format, by god they're worth it. I've recently picked up all the Hank Janson novels you introduced with Telos, so I'm certainly not short of reading material, but I'll eventually pick them all up, Karl the Viking included. All the best and thanks again.

Steve said...

Rob,

Glad you're enjoying the books. Hopefully the pound will recover against the Euro in 2009 and drive the prices down to something we can all afford.