“The Secret of the Samurai” collection, a prequel to Garen Ewing’s Rainbow Orchid, out soon

The Seven Samurai by Garen Ewing

It’s great to hear that Garen Ewing, creator of the award-winning The Adventures of Julius Chancer has a new graphic album out, albeit a short collection of previously-published stories.

The Secret of the Samurai, published by Belgian publisher BD Must, will be released on 27th August 2020 and will be available in English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish. The French language edition is listed on AmazonUK, after a successful crowdfunder that ran back in May on Ulule.

BD Must is a small independent publisher that has been offering quality comic book series such as Julius Chancer for 20 years. They specialice in historical series, thrillers and adventure in a classic Franco-Belgian style, as well as traditional clear lines series.

A page from the original publication of The Secret of the Samurai by Garen Ewing, from The Phoenix Comic
A page from the original publication of The Secret of the Samurai by Garen Ewing, from The Phoenix Comic

Fans of Garen’s work are warned by the creator himself that the print-run is not large, and that it’s smaller for the English language edition, so you should look out for updates on his web site for news of availability.

The Secret of the Samurai, set before the brilliant The Rainbow Orchid, is a mystery about the hunt for a missing set of samurai armour, and collects the eponymous 20 page story that was serialised in The Phoenix Comic back in 2013 (Issues 75-78), although Garen has re-edited a bit of the text, and re-written and re-drawn large parts of two pages; and two other stories “The Sword of Truth“, a six page story first published in 2004, and “The Girdle of Polly Hipple”, a four page story published in 2005.

For those of you pining for a new Julius Chancer adventure, Garen has confirmed he has one mapped out and we should see it at some point, “as long as I don’t get knocked down by a bus (or whatever the modern-day equivalent is … an Amazon delivery robot?).

Recently working for Berlin-based games company Maschinen-Mensch on Curious Expedition 2, a sequel to their enormously popular pixel-art title, Curious Expedition, Garen says he hasn’t forgotten Julius Chancer, and is indeed delighted that fans haven’t forgotten, either.

“The new story is all-plotted, semi-scripted, and drawing started,” he says, offering a teaser image on his official blog. “I fully intend for this new story to happen … I just don’t want to promise when!”

The Complete Rainbow Orchid - Cover

The Rainbow Orchid starring Julius Chancer, beautifully created in ligne clair style, was originally started in 1997, but the only sign of it was a three-page preview that appeared in Cherokee Comics’ Imagineers magazine. It wasn’t until 2002 that it got going properly, and the series saw publication in BAM!, with the first volume printed there over the next year or so.

Eventually these strips were published in a black and white collected edition in order to gauge public reaction, and it quickly sold out at London’s Winterfest, the Bristol Comics Festival (where it was also shortlisted for two National Comic Awards), and through internet sales. Garen’s last copy of this early edition sold on eBay for £79, with some frantic last-minute bidding.

In 2006, the story started receiving interest from publishers, and was picked up by Egmont UK and won the Young People’s Comic Award at the British Comic Awards in 2013.

Garen Ewing
Garen Ewing

Garen Ewing‘s love of drawing and writing goes back to when he was very young, and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, so his mum supplied him with plenty of comics to read, and pencils and blank paper to draw with, and he’s been making comics ever since!

Other jobs have included working at a mushroom farm (he’s a qualified fork-lift truck driver), an airport hotel, a computer software company and doing loads and loads of illustrations for various books and magazines. He’s been the editor of a local entertainments guide, 5D, and a comic strip anthology, Cosmorama.

He’s adapted Shakespeare’s The Tempest into a comic and, as noted above, is the writer and artist behind The Rainbow Orchid, and is an expert on the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-1880. He plays bass guitar and does karate (though not at the same time!).

• Garen Ewing in online at www.garenewing.co.uk | Behance | Twitter | Rainbow Orchid | Garen’s Comics projects

The Complete Rainbow Orchid is still available from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Jeremy Briggs review of The Complete Rainbow Orchid is here | John Freeman’s review of the individual Rainbow Orchid volumes are on downthetubes as follows: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

Garen Ewing talked to downthetubes about The Rainbow Orchid and his other work here

The Secret of the Samurai by Garen Ewing


• BD Must – Julius Chancer in French | Home Page | Facebook

• For background on The Secret of the Samurai, Garen created The Secret of the Samurai FAQ and related blog posts at the time for its initial publication in The Phoenix Comic. Be aware that these contemporary posts contain some out of date information: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four


The original pixel-art Curious Expedition (available now on Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) is a ‘roguelike‘ expedition simulation set in the late nineteenth century. You have a team of explorers, you have resources, you have a map and lands to explore, and you have goals to attain.

Curious Expedition 2

Curious Expedition 2, produced by Maschinen-Mensch, is much the same in principle, but with many improvements in game-play, story, character development and scope, will interest Rainbow Orchid and Julius Chancer readers, in fact, as Garen has recently noted, any fans of ligne-claire comic art and adventure stories – and is now available on Steam Early Access

With thanks to Richard Sheaf

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