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The Trigan Empire

I remember sitting in the school library back in the late 1970s, reading Look and Learn, which the school had on subscription. I chiefly read the magazine for one reason: The Trigan Empire. At that time, it was drawn by Oliver Frey and then Gerry Wood. The Trigan Empire had actually begun in Ranger in 1965, and the moved across to Look and Learn in 1966, where it remained until 1982 when the magazine ceased. It was was originally written by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Don Lawrence. The latter quit in 1976 after discovering that the strip was being syndicated throughout Europe and he was receiving nothing for it. But back when I was at school, I wasn’t aware of Lawrence’s work, and it wasn’t until my parents bought the book below one Christmas that I discovered the true Trigan Empire.

This Hamlyn omnibus reprints some of the earlier stories from the strip, including the one describing the founding of the empire. The stories, however, are not complete.

Between 2004 and 2009, the Don Lawrence Collection in the Netherlands reprinted all of Lawrence’s Trigan Empire strips in handsome leather-bound volumes. Each volume includes an essay on one aspect of the strip’s world. There are twelve volumes. To be honest, the stories are often quite crap – as they were for Dan Dare – but the art is gorgeous – again, as it was for Dan Dare. If Dan Dare inspired a generation of British boys in the 1960s to become sf fans, then the Trigan Empire did the same in the 1970s.

In 2008, Book Palace Books published a full-colour catalogue of Trigan Empire art from the Look and Learn archives which was available to buy. Prices ranged from £200 to £4000. I didn’t buy any, but the catalogue itself is very nice.

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