2000 AD publishers Rebellion have announced a collected edition program for the classic British comic strip “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire“, co-created by Mike Butterworth and Don Lawrence, launching March 2020.
The new mass market collections, which will be release as part of the company’s Treasury of British Comics, were announced at the Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Summit in Las Vegas this weekend, and first reported by Hollywood Reporter and other outlets, but Rebellion quickly followed up the trade event announcement with social media confirmation.
The new Treasury of British Comics series, which launches with a 304-page first volume next March, will be the first time the series has been collected in a mass market edition. Previous, limited-edition hardcover collections from the Don Lawrence Collection, published in both Dutch and English, were produced specifically for the collectors market. They have a high price point, reflecting their low print runs and reproduction and remastering costs, often utilising original art.
Originally published in the anthology titles Ranger from the first issue in September 1965 and Look and Learn from June 19966 until April 1982, “The Trigan Empire” stories told the story of an alien empire on the planet Elektron that was heavily influenced by real world history, particularly Roman history, although other eras were incorporated.
Created by Mike Butterworth, who died in 1986, and artist Don Lawrence, who died in 2004, the series’ mix of political intrigue and Lawrence’s lush painted artwork won a host of fans worldwide, and, as we previously reported, was even considered as a Hollywood movie project.
Don Lawrence drew the strip between 1965-1973, but on discovering how widely the strip had been published in Europe, left the series when its original publishers IPC refused to raise his page rate, accepting an offer from Dutch publisher Oberon (Big Balloon) to draw Storm, which he co-created with Martin Lodewijk and drew for some 22 years.
Don, who started out as a comics creator in the Gower Street Studios in London, first working on Marvelman – for which he was paid one pound a page – then moving on to “Karl the Viking” for Lion, is regarded as one of the finest in British comics history. He mentored current creators like Liam Sharp (DC’s The Green Lantern) and Chris Weston (Judge Dredd), and both will contribute introductions to the new series remembering their time with him.
Other artists who worked on the strip include Ron Embleton, Miguel Quesada, Philip Corke,
Oliver Frey and Gerry Wood.
Although the strip has seen only limited English release (reprinted in the 1970s, for example, in Vulcan) it remains one of the most popular comic series in Holland and Germany, with over two million albums sold. As Hollywood Reporter noted, it has been named as an early influence by the likes of writer Neil Gaiman, artist Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland, amongst many others.
Rebellion acquired rights to Trigan Empire from TI Media last year, one of the assets retained by IPC after it sold most of the Look and Learn archive to Look and Learn Limited.
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The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, Trigan Empire © 2019 Rebellion Publishing Ltd | With thanks to Lee Grice