The Spider

The Steel Claw


Prince Argo sharpens his skill against a ZargotOne of the most famous British comic strips, 'The Trigan Empire' began life in the educational Ranger in 1965, and then moved over to the similar Look and Learn when the titles merged in 1966. The story then ran until that magazine ended in 1982 (it was thus one of the few strips featured in Vulcan to still be in regular publication at the same time). Initially titled 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire', the story is of the titular civilisation, a strange mix of the Roman Empire (the architecture, clothing and political systems) and science fiction (featuring monsters, primitive spacecraft and advanced weaponry). The main characters were the Emperor Trigo, his brother and advisor Brag, chief scientist Peric and Trigo's nephew Janno (who tends to also act as a one-man army, snaffling up the lion's share of the actual adventuring, but that's alright as he's awesome). The story is also something of a rarity among boys' action comics of the time in that it occasionally has named female characters...

Janno, Keren and Rofka's boat is destroyed by the Hericon Nacha The strip was devised by Mike Butterworth and Don Lawrence, and was always beautifully rendered in full painted colour. Due to Look and Learn being the only 'comic' a lot of stuffier British households would allow a child to buy, 'The Trigan Empire' was a very popular feature down the years - notably leading to three collections of material being reprinted long before every damn comic in the world - even rubbish like Chuck Austen's Uncanny X-Men run or IDW Transformers comics - got the TPB treatment automatically.

Trigo defends Janno from a monsterButterworth moved on to become a novelist, while Lawrence left Fleetway in 1976 when he found out how little he was being paid considering how well syndication rights for 'The Trigan Empire' were selling overseas. Ken Roscoe took over the writing duties until the comic finished, while Ron Embertron, Oliver Fray, Gerry Wood, Ramon Sola and Philip Corke would all have the unenviable task of following Lawrence's example with the art.

The Scottish Vulcan started from the very first story, with the national version taking over from the start of the "Voyage to the Moon Bolus" story (like most Fleetway strips, stories were untitled at the time, and have been named retroactively - the Trigan names are taken from the Don Lawrence Collection limited edition reprints), and continued up until "The Red Death", which was sadly left incomplete by Vulcan's cancellation. As far as my half-arsed research has been able to ascertain, when Look and Learn finally was cancelled in 1982, 'The Trigan Empire' seems to have had the decency to just stop. Its' influence is still felt today, however, with Lawrence's realistic and detailed artwork having influenced a generation of British artists.