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Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Archive's Sunday Comics - It's a Boy's World!

As always click on any of the images for a larger version.

Boys' World still enjoys an astonishingly high reputation on today's 

comics websites and blogs. It had a comparatively short run in the early 

1960s but its quality was never in question, and the comic's hardcover 

annual edition ran on for years after the weekly had expired.


Here is a quote from one of the readers recalling their happy memories 

of Boys' World at the website Nick George writes:


"While the comic may have expired in 1964, there was certainly a Boys' 

World Annual being produced after the incorporation into Eagle. I got 

the 1968 copy as a Christmas present and its rather tattered condition 

is testament to how much I enjoyed it. Printed for Odhams in Holland by 

Jan de Lange it contains a range of technical articles, stories and 

comic strips, including some that though uncredited look suspiciously 

like the work of Don (Trigan Empire) Lawrence. Presumably lifted from 

the Boys' World archives, unfortunately I have no idea how many others 

were produced."


The Archive is pleased to clarify a few points. The annual did continue 

until at least 1972. The great Don Lawrence did contribute to the 1968 

edition, and here is his artwork for a complete strip story that 

appeared there, The Chequered Flag. None of the publication's writers 

and artists were identified. For some reason, bylines were rare in the 

comics of the period. But the annual in question was put together in 

1967 by Archive friend Keith Chapman, then a young editor at Odhams 

Books, later better known to us as western novelist Chap O'Keefe. Keith 

also wrote the scripts for five of the nine adventure strips featured in 

the annual, including The Chequered Flag, plus some of the articles. 

None of the material came from the Boys' World archives. Keith says, 

"Everything in that annual was new."


The comic strip pages below are scanned from sharp, proof copies of 

Lawrence's art as originally supplied to the publisher by the annual's 

Dutch printer. However, although a pristine copy of the book in which 

the pages appeared was available, we thought a picture of it in a 

much-worn, much-enjoyed condition would be appropriate. 
Oh, the nostalgia!


Don Lawrence died just after Christmas in 2003, aged 75. The Telegraph 

newspaper said his science fiction comic-strip series The Rise and Fall 

of the Trigan Empire was considered one of the finest examples of the 



"It was first produced by Lawrence and the writer Mike Butterworth for 

Fleetway Publications' Ranger comic in 1965; then, when Ranger folded 

after only 40 issues, it appeared in Look and Learn, the educational 

weekly-cum-comic. Illustrated in full colour by Lawrence over two pages, 

it is a tale of swords and spears against strange beasts and hover tanks."


The Trigan Empire series and other Lawrence strips have been reprinted 

in comic, magazine and book form for an international audience. The 

artist's work is highly regarded throughout Europe, but particularly in 

the Netherlands. In later years, when Lawrence lived in the Old Post 

Office at Jevington, West Sussex, European fans would drop in on him 

while holidaying in Britain.
For more Keith Chapman/Chap O'Keefe check out Misfit Lil Cheats the Hangrope 
for the Kindle now. 

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