The Trigan Empire - Classic or FUCKING CLASSIC

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This was a British comic from the dawn of time which appeared in Look and Learn and was later reprinted in Vulcan. The story and art were by Don Lawrence and Mike Butterworth (the rubbish later versions do not count), I'm not sure which of them did which.

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

By All The Stars! new answers.

DV, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

a quick over view: ht tp://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Set/2585/trigan.html

DV, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

surely the message was: look if you are going to have roman-style authoritarians in charge, be sure a. their beards are WHITE not BLACK b. they are sensible and nice NOT bonkers and nasty

it had the BEST alien octopi of ANYTHING EVAH!!

mark s, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

There was no concept of subversion. The rulers were just, 'tall , blond and bronzed men ruling an empire which combined Roman characteristics with modern technologies.' It was deadly dull, and no wonder it came from IPC, a corporate megalith with little vested interest in wit or subversion. (Modern technology helped them get rid of the bolshy setters and printers in the 80s, after they'd sacked TrigEmp's artists for daring to ask for more money.)

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

elekton was a tiny bit like GOR actually, except w/o the bondage so much

mark s, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

The Trigan Empire – I seem to recall it was originally called The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire – began life in the boys’ magazine Ranger, which lasted for only a year or so before merging with Look and Learn.

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

Frank Bellamy is a much better COMICS artist than Don Lawrence - a better storyteller, a more subtle colourist and a true craftsman (yuk) whose work is full of the kind of kinetic visual energy that's sorely missing from Lawrence's overly static and tasteful 'paintings'.

Andrew L, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

b-b-b-buty the alien octopi had HUGE EYES!!

mark s, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

does anyone remember the story where they go to the lost city of Dorana, Peric having found a map telling you how to get there? Only the evil Catons also found out how to get there and proceded to conquier the place. Fortunately the Trigans were able to help the militarily backward but culturally advanced Doranans defeat the Catons in a heroic intifada like struggle.

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

there were also a bestial race of giants who had really pathetic facial expressions.

DV, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I thought this had something to do w/the Trigger Empire at first, I've been misreading things like mad recently.

Nicole, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

By all the stars we are the FREAKY TRIGANS!!

mark s, Friday, 1 March 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

two months pass...
Yep, the artwork was, and remains, amazing!

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.

Regards,

Brian Robertson.

Brian Robertson, Sunday, 26 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Pretty pictures but dull, though made to seem less so by its context in a kids' paper (only part comic) designed to appeal to the parents as being good for their children.

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

Cough Cough... ahh yes, under all that dust, there it is. (c) 1978 the big annual from Hamlyn 'The Trigan Empire'. It's a bit tatty now and the edges of the pages are a little dirty. Well, I was only 10 when it was given to me, and I read it cover to cover, several times.

Top stuff I think,

Stephen

Steve, Friday, 31 May 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Oh yes i remember it, i was about ten when it first appeared, and i was immediatly struck by the amazing quality of the pictures, and i remember a storyline that had two young trigans having a flying competition with the wings of their aeroplanes chained together, and the chained snapped nad one of them crashed ( i think ) we are talking a long time ago , however the comic stuck in my memory , and just recently i have been looking to see if i can find some of the old comics purely for the reading pleasure, im not a collector, in fact i havnt got a penny to scratch my arse with so please dont offer me over inflated priced comics for sale any of you dealers out there . However a credit to the great British comics among them Judge Dredd, etc

andrew grant, Sunday, 16 June 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I only ever read the 'Look and Learn' stories in the 1960s and am amazed that stories continued being churned out into the 1970s, though I did however come across an Italian version in a Paris comic shop in the 1980s. Apparently there are masses of Dutch editions, though I've never seen them. I was always a great fan (I used to cut out the characters and invent my own stories, like a Victorian paper theatre). A particularly good storyline I remember was about Trigan death rituals. The old and infirm would go into caves to die, but it transpired that they were then put to work in slave labour camps.

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 real Romans.

Malcolm Barres-Baker, Wednesday, 3 July 2002 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

four months pass...
HEWWWPP!!!
Have been trying to find any online info about Look & Learn, to wit, the one dominant key was using Trigan Empire as my main search key. Anybody know of say, a net archive of TE or L&L? It's hillarious how 25 years on what to me then (And still is actually)was pictoral eye candy (uberlush illustrations)now takes in part a strong homo-erotic subtext coupled with facist leanings.
Can anybody help re the episode about the guy up in the space station...classic revenge motif. If I remember correctly, he lures them back there, and then forces them to watch looped episodes of Coronation St, tho I might be wrong on the last bit...and then there was the ep where a sepratist cell try and overthrow Margaret Thatcher's Diaphragm...and end up creating Dennis...

Davi G, Saturday, 16 November 2002 21:09 (nineteen years ago) link

I recall reading this fantastic comic strip in another magazine in the mid-late 60's, when I was about 12 years old, in Calcutta India: The magazine was calles "The Golden Book of Knowledge", and I recall the very first episode {Dead hand on Astro Helm, et al} clearly. The artwork and story line had us siblings all gripped for the 4-5 years that theGolden Book was available for subscription in India in those days. It stopped being published, as I recall, much to my despair, since we really used to wait for the next episode of this GREAT classic.
Anyone else out there who remembers this magazine? As I remember, it also had some other interesting comic strips such as Wildcat Wayne,but nothing to compare to the artwork and lavish mounting of Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire.

Cyrus Dali Vesuvala, Friday, 29 November 2002 09:15 (nineteen years ago) link

was it only published in India?

DV (dirtyvicar), Friday, 29 November 2002 10:12 (nineteen years ago) link

"As for that Tintin, he was a little clipe, a stool pigeon, racist and Nazi..."

Not in Breaking Free he wasn't.

tigerclawskank, Friday, 29 November 2002 11:09 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
Don Lawrence died recently... there was an obituary for him in The Independent.

DV (dirtyvicar), Saturday, 17 January 2004 09:01 (eighteen years ago) link

Holy shit, I have the Trigan Empire book....always thought it was Italian in origin, tho', Alas.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 17 January 2004 16:44 (eighteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

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


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