Set on the planet Elekton, the story told of the founding of a great and mighty Empire by one Trigo. He was helped in his civilising mission by his amiable idiot brother Brag, the wise old philosopher Peric, and various other people. The main baddies were the evil Republic of Cato (I think).
It was basically all about how authoritatarian rule is the best, in a kind of high tech Roman Empire kind of setting.
Does anyone else (other than Momus) remember this all time classic?
― DV, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
it had the BEST alien octopi of ANYTHING EVAH!!
― mark s, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
Asterix was much better because there was a sense of grass roots resistance to an
imperialist power. There was Schweikian cunning and Brechtian wit.
As for that Tintin, he was a little clipe, a stool pigeon, racist and Nazi...
― Momus, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
Does anyone else remember the very first instalment, which was set in
what was then the present day and showed a spaceship from Elekton
(“there was a dead hand at the astro-helm”) crashing on Earth –
somewhere like a swamp in Florida – with a boy on a fishing
expedition yelling “Gosh Dad look!”? On board were the corpses of
the last of the Trigans and a multi-volume history of their empire
written (naturally enough) in an alien language. A young and very
British-looking scholar – spectacles, corduroys – acquired the books
and spent his life poring over them before exclaiming in old age, and
I think this is verbatim, “Got it! Now to translate the books.” This
was the third of three frames in which he appeared; the intervening
one showed him in early middle age, refusing to go out for a walk
with his wife and children, so absorbed was he by the Trigan puzzle.
This was my first glimpse of the scholarly life.
The second episode, and those which followed, were supposed to be the
contents of ‘The First Book of Trigan’. Eventually the First Book
ended and the Second began, but I think I’m right in saying that this
framework was then forgotten and the Second Book rolled on endlessly.
Initially there were three brothers, Trigo (handsome and compelling,
he “slept the light sleep of the seasoned warrior”, which made him
harder to assassinate), Brag (presentable henchman) and Klud. Klud
was the baddie, with a goatee to prove it. All were “barbarians”
and, I think, nomads, dressed in animal skins. Peric and his
daughter were fugitives from a classical-type civilisation and when
Peric got together with Trigo an empire was the inevitable result.
At first Peric was an architect (“Creator of the unsupported arch!”
Trigo exclaimed when they first met, to which Peric’s response
was “By all the stars! You are a well-informed barbarian!”) and I
was puzzled when he developed into an all-purpose fount of wisdom.
Roman-style costumes co-existed with “atmosphere craft” of sleek but
unlikely design: many were crescent-shaped and seemed to fly sideways.
The artwork was seriously beautiful (“too good” for a children’s
comic strip, my mother protested): sumptuous full colour, impeccable
draughtsmanship, lots of noble blond warriors; in fact it would be
interesting to see it again and try to spot a homoerotic subtext. In
Ranger days it was unsigned, but later the name “Don Lawrence”
did sometimes appear. (Denis Gifford in one of his books said of one
particular comic that its artists ranged “from Don Lawrence
(excellent) to myself (otherwise).”*) I have a feeling that during
its decline it was drawn by (perhaps among others) Frank Bellamy, no
slouch himself but not in the same league.
I was too young to absorb from it anything I can now recognise as a
political message, but I remember it with affection and certainly
preferred it to the other main strip in Ranger and then
Look and Learn, “Jason January: Space Cadet”.
* Can’t swear to this; the phrase may have been “whether excellent
(Don Lawrence) or otherwise (myself).”
― Rex, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
― Andrew L, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
― mark s, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
A surprisingly anti-imperialist message from a comic so frequently
tagged as ultra-rightist.
The possibility of a homo-erotic subtext is interesting. I think the
women were all pretty hot too, but in a classy kind of way. also, I
think the artist did some comics for jazzmags at some stage in his
career (don't ask how I know that).
― DV, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
― DV, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
― Nicole, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
― mark s, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link
Just to comment about a few details in your other replies, the strip
was indeed called The Rise and Fall of Trigan Empire at first and, of
course, it did start it's life in another comic, Ranger. Ranger was,
to my mind at least, a far superior read, but then I a bit young for
Look and Learn at first. By 1973 it was called simply The Trigan
Empire and the 1973 annual of the strip was called, "The Look and
Learn Book of the Trigan Empire". How many episodes this book covered
I am not sure.
Someone mentioned the "dead hand on the astro-helm!" How unforgetable
the words and pictures are, even over 30 years later! The excitement
I gained from opening a fresh, crisp, copy of Look and Learn and
turning to the latest adventure of the brothers, Trigo, Klud and
Brag, just can't be explained.
The full text of the first page of the adventure read, "Through the
ice-cold vastness of outer space hurtled a cosmo-craft - huge,
unearthly and out of control... ...out of control as it had been for
eight billion miles, yawning wildly... ...out of control for the most
final of all reasons - THERE WAS A DEAD HAND ON THE ASTRO-HELM! The
craft was manned by a crew that had been frozen to death. The heating
equipment of the ship had been destroyed and the unimaginable cold of
outer space had done the rest. The result was instant death for the
men who were the last of the Trigans, all that were left of a once-
mighty civilisation, pride of the planet Elekton."
Now, by a strange coincidence, I have a copy of the afore-mentioned
annual from 1973 and, since I am short on storage space, I might be
tempted to sell it if anyone cares to email me with a sensible offer.
It is in very good condition, though minus dust cover. I also have a
complete bound set of Look and Learn (Issue 1 Jan 20th, 1962 - issue
104 Jan 11th, 1964) which I might similarly be persuaded to part with
for an equally sensible offer. These are pre Trigan Empire though,
but someone might be interested.
― Brian Robertson, Sunday, 26 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link
As an old comics pro and critic, this is the kind of artwork I like
least, gorgeous looking individual images, but limp and lifeless read
as a comic. The Hal Foster school.
― Martin Skidmore, Monday, 27 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link
Top stuff I think,
― Steve, Friday, 31 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link
― andrew grant, Sunday, 16 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link
Ron Embleton, who did some of the art work, though I'm not sure if he
was the artist when I was reading it, illustrated several books about
― Malcolm Barres-Baker, Wednesday, 3 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link
― Davi G, Saturday, 16 November 2002 21:09 (nineteen years ago) link
― Cyrus Dali Vesuvala, Friday, 29 November 2002 09:15 (nineteen years ago) link
― DV (dirtyvicar), Friday, 29 November 2002 10:12 (nineteen years ago) link
Not in Breaking Free he wasn't.
― tigerclawskank, Friday, 29 November 2002 11:09 (nineteen years ago) link
― DV (dirtyvicar), Saturday, 17 January 2004 09:01 (eighteen years ago) link
― Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 17 January 2004 16:44 (eighteen years ago) link
Rebellion have finally got hold of the rights and are putting out an affordable version.
I suspect I'll have to pick it up for the non-Don Lawrence stuff.
― Elitist cheese photos (aldo), Monday, 20 May 2019 09:45 (three years ago) link