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This month we take a look at Don Lawrence, the first of Carrie's artists, who died of pneumonia on 29th December 2003 in a hospital near his home in Jevington, East Sussex, England. He was 75.
Lawrence was born in London in 1928. He studied figurative art at Borough Polytechnic (now South Bank University) in London. Comics had not occurred to him as a career path until a visiting lecturer spurred him to try breaking into the field. Leading publishers Amalgamated Press rejected his samples in 1954, but when Lawrence approached entrepreneur Mick Anglo's Gower Studios, he was hired on the spot to join a band of freelancers supplying publishers with cheap, ready packages of comic-book stories.
His early work graced such British classics as Marvelman. For 11 years starting in the mid-1960s, Lawrence drew nearly 1,000 pages for The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, a fantasy by Mike Butterworth about the warrior Trigo on the planet Elekton that appeared mainly in the weekly children's publication Look and Learn. While maintaining this demanding output, he still found time to draw The Adventures Of Tarzan, Gerry Anderson's puppet series Fireball XL5 (for TV Century 21) and Thunderbirds Are Go (for the Daily Mail), as well as drawing the adventures of our girl Carrie for Mayfair magazine (Dutch: Cathy, German: Virginia, French: Sophie). Carrie first appeared in Mayfair in August 1972.
Unlike other publishing spheres, British comics paid their artists only once for their work, and they received nothing for reprints, translations or other rights. When IPC refused to raise his page rate, or pay royalties, for the numerous foreign Trigan Empire collections, Lawrence resigned. That same afternoon, Dutch publishers Oberon offered him the contract he wanted, and he never looked back. For their weekly Eppo in 1977, Lawrence and writer Philip Dunn created a variation on Flash Gordon entitled Storm. Later, Dutch writer Martin Lodewijk contributed stories and became the regular scripter.
Failing health and eyesight reduced Lawrence's output in his final years, but he continued to work on new Storm albums. Acclaimed across Europe, appointed a knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands, yet little known in his homeland, he stands as an exemplar in the remarkable British tradition of fully painted adventure comics.
Although we have not seen it, we believe that on his death Mayfair ran an obituary and reprinted "Carrie and the Spider" alongside, at a much reduced scale. For those who don't know it, it shows Carrie outdoors terrified by an insect crawling up her body and being 'saved' by an elderly entomologist - who is promptly thumped by his wife.
All 41 of Lawrence's Mayfair Carrie strips have been collected together and published as art books, together with one strip - The Mousetrap - which was apparently not used by Mayfair, though we have no idea why.
The two 'Cathy' volumes come up regularly on E-Bay - one seller in particular, "Monk-e Business", seems to have a never-ending stock of mint copies. Tell him we sent you.
All Don Lawrence's Carrie's are listed in the Carrie Index
See more of Don Lawrence's Carrie in this month's "What Carrie did..." Gallery.
|THE CARRIE INDEX||
WHAT CARRIE DID ...
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