The Trigan Empire
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. (January 2021)
The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, later called simply The Trigan Empire, is a science fiction comic series written mainly by Mike Butterworth with artwork (initially watercolours, later gouache) by Don Lawrence, among others. It told the story of an alien culture in which futuristic technology, such as antigravity vehicles and energy ray weapons, was blended with architecture, dress, and customs reminiscent of ancient civilizations, the most obvious being those of Ancient Greece and Rome. The stories revolved around a strong and heroic leader who defended his empire from constants threats from both without and within. The comic remains notable for the unique artwork by Don Lawrence which combines a painterly photo-realistic style with caricaturistic renderings that remain anatomically convincing.
The series initially ran from 1965 to 1982, dealing with the long-past events of an empire on the distant planet of Elekton. Heavily influenced by mythological tales, a number of the societies seemed to be based on ancient cultures that had existed in history. Chief among these was the Trigan Empire, apparently modelled on Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. This similarity even extended to Trigan City, the capital being built on five hills, in a similar fashion to the seven hills of Rome. The Trigans flew atmosphere craft. The Trigans' clothing was similar to that of the Romans, with many of the populace dressed in toga-like garments, or in the case of the soldiery, in Greek or Roman-style armour. A similar likeness could be drawn with Hericon, the chief rival in power to the Trigans, whose appearance seemed to mirror that of elements of the Byzantine Empire, and the Persian Empire.
According to Butterworth, "The original Impetus was from that veritable genius Leonard Matthews, then my senior group editor when I was editing Sun and Comet. He threw the first introductory script at me and told me to take it from there. He had no idea where to further it but he knew where to look for a guy who did...."
The first strip told of a spaceship crashing into a swamp on Earth, the crew frozen to death, with many written volumes inside in an unknown language. Studies of the crew reveal them to be humanoid, but around 12 feet tall. After many years, the spaceship is turned into the central attraction of an amusement park. Eventually, at a very advanced age, a scientist—Peter Richard Haddon—who has studied the books from the spaceship as a young man manages to translate the volumes, and begins to relate the tales.
The Trigans began as a nomadic tribe called the Vorgs, with no technology, initially under the leadership of three brothers, Trigo, Brag and Klud. Trigo persuades his more conservative brothers that in the face of changing events, namely the ambitions of the Lokan Empire, they must settle. The fledgling Trigan nation is established via a merger of the nomadic Vorgs and the technically advanced people of Tharv (who arrived as refugees to the Plains of Vorg after they were defeated by the Lokans) under the leadership of Trigo, with the trappings of a Romanesque civilization with swords, lances and Roman-style clothing, but with high-tech ray guns, aircraft and a high-tech navy. In a later story, the Trigans create a rocketship in months to fly to one of Elekton's moons. Several of the other civilizations show a similar blend of low and high tech.
The strip first appeared in the first issue of the British magazine Ranger in September 1965 and then in the British Look and Learn magazine from issue 232 (June 1966) when the two titles merged after the 40th issue of Ranger. Both titles were weekly educational magazines designed for children; although mainly filled with educational features on life, history, science and technology, both contained a small comic strip section in each issue. Unusually for a British comic, the strip was printed in colour.
The series ran in Look and Learn until the title ceased publication with issue 1049, in April 1982, comprising a run of 854 issues in total, divided between the two magazines.
In addition to the weekly strips, a very small number of Trigan Empire stories were published in Ranger annuals and a Vulcan summer special.
In 1975-1976, the series thus far was reprinted in its original sequential order, in Vulcan, a weekly glossy-format comic, which reprinted the strips in full colour, albeit edited and resized, alongside colour reprints of other British comics serials of the 1960s.
There were a number of reprints in hardback format. In 1978, Hamlyn Publishing in the United Kingdom printed a hardback collection of early Trigan Empire stories titled simply The Trigan Empire; this was reprinted in the United States by Chartwell Publishing. Other than Lawrence's signature being visible on the title-page art, neither he nor Butterworth are credited in this edition. A later collection, also in hardback, was printed by Hawk Publishing in 1989 as Tales of the Trigan Empire. Both the Hamlyn and the Hawk books presented edited versions of the stories; most notably, in the Hawk book there are sometimes entire pages that have been left out. Several stories were repeated in both collections, but The Trigan Empire collection has the earliest, showing the establishment of the Empire.
In 2004-2008, the stories drawn by Don Lawrence were reprinted by the Don Lawrence Collection in luxury hardback limited editions. These editions contain the complete stories, without any of the omissions that were a feature of the earlier reprints, particularly the Hawk Publishing book. They were not reprinted from Look and Learn; in many cases they were printed from the original artwork, and used revised fonts to make the text easier to read.
The rights to The Trigan Empire were bought by Rebellion Developments in 2018. Initial plans were to publish the sequence drawn by Lawrence in four volumes, and a first volume appeared in March 2020, with a second published in December 2020. The second volume included two 1960s stories not illustrated by Lawrence, raising the question whether serials drawn by other artists during the later years of the strip will be included in subsequent volumes.
- Trigo is the founder of the Empire. With his two brothers Brag and Klud, he was the leader of a tribe of Vorgs. At this time the Lokan Empire was instituting a military buildup with an intent to take over the entire planet. Trigo had a vision of a nation where the Vorg tribesmen could give up their nomadic existence and band together in civilization. He knew that the Lokans were intent on conquest and felt that if the Vorgs were not united they would become extinct. When his initial plans to build a city on the plains of Vorg fail, there is a fateful meeting with refugees from the nation of Tharv which has been attacked by Loka. Among these refugees is the architect Peric who agrees to help Trigo with his plans as long as his people are allowed to stay there. Although Brag was willing to give up his claims of leadership to his people to allow Trigo to become sole ruler, his brother Klud had no such plan and tried to assassinate Trigo. In the years to come, Trigo will institute a treaty with Hericon, the other great power on the planet of Elekton, be crowned first Emperor of the Trigan Empire, and face many other threats to himself and his empire.
- Trigo's brother. While some consider him slow and perhaps a bit stupid, Brag is well-meaning and ever faithful to his brother. Despite living in relative luxury with all the benefits of more advanced technology there are times that Brag wishes he was back to his life as a simple Vorg huntsman. He keeps himself in good physical shape despite growing older. If Brag can be classed as having a fault, it is that he can be manipulated by those cleverer than himself.
- Janno is the son of Brag and nephew to Emperor Trigo. A courageous individual, he has a natural aptitude as an atmosphere craft pilot. He is friends with Keren, the son of Chief Imbala of Daveli, and Roffa from the City State of Ellul. Janno is regularly a representative of Trigan City, whether it is as an athlete in the olympic style games, or as a diplomatic envoy. In some stories it is mentioned in a short dialogue that Trigo had a thought to name him his successor.
- Chief architect of the destroyed nation of Tharv, Peric with his daughter and other Tharvish refugees made their way into the desert of Vorg after the destruction of the main city of Tharv by Lokan forces. Peric is of advanced years but remains fairly healthy. He is regarded as the greatest living architect on Elekton and an accomplished engineer and scientist. He is often behind many of the great accomplishments of the Empire.
- Salvia is the daughter of Peric and is the most visible female character in the series. Salvia is skilled in Tharvish medicine, a trait that would serve the Empire well on a number of occasions, whether it is saving Trigo from potent poison inflicted by Trigo's brother, or the life of Keren, son of Chief Imbala of Daveli, or the life of the Chieftainess of the Tamaz desert warriors.
- Janno's best friend and son of Chief Imbala of Daveli whose culture closely mirrors that of Central American Indian civilisations. Keren was introduced in the second tale of the series, "Crash in the Jungle". Keren and his people are shown as being either blue skinned or dark green, depending on the printing.
- Lady Ursa
- Sister of King Kassar of Hericon and probably the next most visible female character of the series. She and Trigo were married, as guarantee for the ratification of a trade treaty, at the start of the story titled "War With Hericon". They would have triple sons, although two would later be killed.
- King Zorth
- The autocratic, megalomaniacal, despotic and tyrannical leader of Loka whose obsession with planet conquest (especially that of the Trigan Empire) ended only when he was overthrown by his own people. The Lokans are given an olive complexion and appear somewhat Asiatic.
- Don Lawrence (1965-1973, 1975-1976)
- Ron Embleton (1969, 1968/1975)
- Miguel Quesada (1972, 1974), for long wrongly credited to Ramon Sola
- Philip Corke (1974-1975)
- Oliver Frey (1976-1977)
- Gerry Wood (1977-1982)
- Henry Winter
Although there were no official titles for most of the stories, these are the commonly used names.
- Tales written by Mike Butterworth (1965-77)
- “Victory for the Trigans” (1965-66)
- “Crash in the Jungle” (1966)
- “Elekton in Danger”, also known as “The Falling Moon” (1966)
- “The Invaders from Gallas” (1966)
- “The Land of No Return”, also known as “The Legend of Hellas” (1966)
- “The Lokan Conspiracy”, also known as “The Revolt of the Lokans” (1966)
- “War with Hericon”, also known as “Truce with Hericon” (1966-67)
- “Revolution in Zabriz” (1967)
- “The Lokan Invasion”, also known as “Vannu's Poison” (1967)
- “The Revenge of Darak” (1967)
- “The Three Aliens”, also known as “The Alien Invasion” (1967)
- “The Reign of Thara”, also known as “Battle for Trigan City” (1967-68)
- “Voyage to the Moon Bolus”, also known as “The Invasion of Bolus” (1968)
- “The Three Princes” (1968)
- “Poison from Outer Space”, also known as “The Alien Dust” (1968-69)
- “The Lost City” (1969)
- “The Terror of Mount Spyx” (1969)
- “The Invisibility Ray”, also known as “False Accusation” (1969)
- “The Deadly Formula”, also known as “The Ultimate Weapon” (1969)
- “The Tyrant” (1969)
- “The Red Death” (1970)
- “The Puppet Emperor” (1970)
- “Trigo's Five Tasks”, also known as “The Five Labours of Trigo” (1970)
- “The Menace From The Sea”, also known as “Menace from the Deep” (1970-71)
- “The Giant Rallus”, also known as “The Rallu Invasion” (1971)
- “The City of Jewels” (1971)
- “The Imposter”, also known as “The Unscrupulous Servant” (1971)
- “The Duplication Machine”, also known as “The Duplicator” (1971)
- “The Masked Raiders”, also known as “Revenge of a Friend” (1971)
- “The Prisoner of Zerss” (1971-72)
- “The Miniature Killers of Zelph”, also known as “The Black Duke” (1972)
- “The Hypnotist”, also known as “Doran the Hypnotist” (1972)
- “The Wish Fulfiller”, also known as “The Black Box” (1972)
- “The Fiendish Experiment”, also known as “The Hydro Man” (1972)
- “The Curse of King Yutta” (1972)
- “The Lost Years” (1972-73)
- “Journey to Orcadia”, also known as “Atomic Disaster!” (1973)
- “The Secret of Castle Doum” (1973)
- “The House of the Five Moons” (1973)
- “A National Emergency”, also known as “The Outlaw Planet” (1973)
- “The Palace of Peril”, also known as “The Glass Palace” (1973)
- “Evil from Outer Space”, also known as “Terror from Tarron” (1973)
- “The Curse of the Sun Worshippers”, also known as “The Sun Worshippers” (1973-74)
- “The Zootha Vorgs”, also known as “The Rogue Planet” (1974)
- “The Sea Creatures” (1974)
- "The Youth Serum" (1974)
- "The Assassin" (1974)
- “The Deadly Seeds” (1974)
- “Emperor Z” (1974-75)
- “The Brief Reign of Sennos the First” (1968/1975)[a]
- “The Heat Controller” (1975)
- “The Time Traveller”, also known as “The Man from the Future” (1975)
- “The Rocketeer”, also known as “The Mission of Lukaz Rann” (1975)
- “The Convicts”, also known as “Torga's Mind Controller” (1975)
- “The Gambler”, also known as “Nastor, the Faith Healer” (1975)
- “The Ultimate Collection”, also known as “The Millionaire” (1975-76)
- “The Dryaks”, also known as “The Green Smog” (1976)
- “The Nobes”, also known as “The Lost Valley” (1976)
- “Atomic Fallout”, also known as “The Fallout Menace” (1976)
- “Vengeance!” (1976)
- “The Zallus” (1976)
- “The Street Sweeper” (1976)
- “The Time Machine” (1976-77)
- “The Frozen People” (1977)
- “Abdication” (1977)
- “Dr. Mazaratto's Elixir” (1977)
- “The Digger” (1977)
- “The Stolen Plans” (1977)
- “The Curse of Zonn” (1977)
- Tales written by Ken Roscoe (1978-82)
- “The Killer” (1978)
- “The Rival” (1978)
- “The Trigonium Thieves” (1978)
- “Chase For a Traitor” (1978)
- “The Voyage of the Perici” (1978)
- “The Flowers of Forgetfulness” (1978-1979)
- “Rebellion in Daveli” (1979)
- “A Tragic Misunderstanding” (1979)
- “The Zabriz Conspiracy” (1980)
- “Trigan's Deadly Peril” (1980)
- “The Skorpiads” (1980)
- “The Zolt Exodus” (1981)
- “Terror of the Skorpiads” (1981)
- “Search Mission” (1981)
- “Alien Mission” (1981-1982)
- “Mercy Mission” (1982)
- Other tales
- “The Wise Man of Vorg”
- “They Came From out of the Night”, also known as “The Underworld of Vuldar” (text story, 1976)
- “Battle for Survival” (1977)
The stories have been collected into volumes a number of times:
- The Look and Learn Book of the Trigan Empire (70 pages, IPC/Fleetway, 1973, ISBN 0-85037-104-X)
- The Trigan Empire (192 pages, Hamlyn, October 1978, ISBN 0-600-38788-7)
- Tales from the Trigan Empire (160 pages, Hawk Books, 1989, ISBN 0-948248-95-5)
- The Trigan Empire (The Don Lawrence Collection, hardcover):
- The Invaders from Gallas (August 2008, ISBN 90-88860-25-4)
- Revolution in Zabriz (122 pages, March 2007, ISBN 90-73508-91-6)
- The Reign of Thara (98 pages, November 2006, ISBN 90-73508-84-3)
- The Three Princes (98 pages, March 2006, ISBN 90-73508-78-9)
- The Red Death (114 pages, April 2008, ISBN 90-73508-96-7)
- The Puppet Emperor (114 pages, December 2007, ISBN 90-73508-93-2)
- The Rallu Invasion (96 pages, August 2006, ISBN 90-73508-82-7)
- The Prisoner of Zerss (98 pages, March 2004, ISBN 90-73508-54-1)
- The Curse of King Yutta (98 pages, October 2005, ISBN 90-73508-66-5)
- The House of the Five Moons (94 pages, March 2005, ISBN 90-73508-64-9)
- The Sun Worshippers (106 pages, October 2004, ISBN 90-73508-62-2)
- The Green Smog (November 2008, ISBN 90-88860-27-0)
- The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire (Rebellion)
- Volume I (304 pages, March 2020, ISBN 978-1-78108-755-8)
- Volume II (288 pages, December 2020, ISBN 978-1-78108-775-6)
- Volume III (256 pages, due July 2021, ISBN 978-1-78108-932-3)
Two radio plays were produced in Dutch, "The Mysterious Meteorite" and "Lumbwabwa the Usurper".
Movie rights for a feature film based on the strip were optioned in 2009. In December 2011 it was revealed that a script existed and that the film's producers were holding meetings in England to find a director.
Time Inc had a TV series in development in 2017 with 10 episodes written but production halted when Rebellion acquired the rights.
- ^ Butterworth's authorship of this story, first published in 1968 in a Ranger annual (and then reprinted in Look and Learn in 1975), has been questioned.
- ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric (2003). Modern Masters: Alan Davis . ISBN 9781893905191. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
- ^ a b c "Bear Alley: Writers of the Trigan Empire" . June 24, 2007.
- ^ Stringer, Lew (June 14, 2014). "BLIMEY! The Blog of British Comics: VULCAN (1975)" .
- ^ "British Comic Heroes under one roof! Rebellion snaps up TI Media's classic comics catalogue – downthetubes.net" .
- ^ "'The Trigan Empire' Comic Book to Be Reissued" . The Hollywood Reporter. May 19, 2019.
- ^ Bruton, Richard (February 20, 2020). "Preview: 'The Rise And Fall Of The Trigan Empire' A Beautiful British Classic Complete At Last" .
- ^ ""Trigan Empire" Volume Two: Limited Edition Hardcover Announced – downthetubes.net" .
- ^ "Bear Alley: Revelations: The Other Trigan Empire Artist" . July 19, 2008.
- ^ Stringer, Lew (June 16, 2014). "BLIMEY! The Blog of British Comics: Vulcan Holiday Special 1976" .
- ^ Dutch radio archive
- ^ Trigan Empire: The Movie! , Bear Alley, 2 December 2011.
- ^ "TV Series That Might Have Been: The Trigan Empire – downthetubes.net" .
Categories: British comics | 1965 comics debuts | Science fiction comics | British comic strips | 1982 comics endings | Drama comics | Comics adapted into radio series | Fictional empires
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