Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire was especially made for the magazine
Ranger, of which the first issue appeared in 1965. Publishers house
Fleetway wanted to publish a new magazine in which The Trigan Empire
would be the leading comic. After Mike Butterworth was contracted
for the scripts editors went looking for the right illustrator and
found… Don Lawrence.
Don Lawrence: “The Trigan Empire. This was the big one.
I was asked to appear at the top floor of Fleetway Publishing house
which was a Gods domain. The carpets were so thick, you just sank
in them. And all the secretaries were beautiful women, everybody
I suppose I was the upper coming star at that time and I wasn't
aware of this, but I sort of got the treatment. When I went in,
the secretary asked: What's your name? And I said Don Lawrence.
'You're the Don Lawrence”. Oh my god, I thought, Where am
I. It was weird. But it was obviously a great honour and I dropped
everything I was working on. I sent in the roughs and they all got
accepted and so I started on the Trigan Empire.”
De stories about the Trigan Empire were full of action and beautiful
artwork, painted in the tradition of Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy.
Don Lawrence: “They thought of this idea that it would
be cheaper to reproduce the work if it was done in inks. And, so
all the artists had to use inks. And it's extremely difficult to
use inks. Because they have qualities which are very difficult to
manipulate. There not easy, like gouache or watercolour. And it
just meant learning a new technique. But, when the boss says you
do that, you do that. It got that nice quality. But there are certain
colours that couldn't mix with them. If you put yellow on, then
you tried another colour on top it would form, a sort of greasy
bubbles. And however you spread it, it go back into bubbles again.
After eight years they relaxed this and they said you can use whatever
you like. Well they didn't actually say that, it's just you did
other things and they didn't say no, that won't do.
I could do about two pages of the Trigan Empire in one week.
I would spend time on the first page, on the second page I was getting
near deadline. And what I did was. If I had to work all night I
would put by the side of each frame how long it's going take me.
This one is an hour and a half, so I put one and a half, this one
won't take me half an hour, so I put half an hour and I'd do each
frame how long it's gonna take me if I really had a go at it. Add
them all together, deduced it from a night sleep and then I said
right. I gonna finish this by eight o'clock in the morning, then
I'm going to bed. And I just worked, and I do that. Packed it all
up, at eight o'clock. Finished it, because I always sticked to that.
I could do it within those time. I was so accurate with my timing,
that I could do the whole page in roughly between six and eight
hours. And then I finished the whole page, packed it all up, get
it ready for postage and then get to bed and Julia would come down
and post it of for me. And that was it. I knew just how much sleep
I was gonna get. And that's the way it worked. It was a bit silly
really. It was a ridiculous way of working. If I had spread it out,
but what happened as soon as you've finished of then you get to
bed and you have a sleep. Wake up and think, I don't want to touch
any work, and then you get drunk and my friend would around, Vince
would come up and we go out and have a drink. And that would destroy
that day and the next day and then I fiddled about with the children
or do something on the third day so suddenly I was on the fourth
day of the week, you're back on the grandstand again.”
Don Lawrence drew the Tales of the Trigan Empire from 1965 till
1976. After a disagreement with his publisher about the price for
the artwork and royalties Don quitted and started working on another
hit series ‘Storm’.
Mike Butterworth wrote the tales of the empire till the comic was
cancelled in 1982. The artwork was drawn by Oliver Frey and Gerry
After the Trigan Empire, Mike Butterworth continued writing on his
successful thrillers like The Five Million Dollar Prince.