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The colorful world of Don Lawrence

Don Lawrence (74) is famous for his science fiction series Storm, which he has been drawing for the last 22 years. Storm is one of the most popular comicseries in Holland & Germany. Over 2.000.000 albums have been sold and every new album of the series gets a printrun, many authors can only dream of.

Martin Lodewijk has written the last 13 albums of Storm. The stories are situated in the universe of Pandarve, where Storm and his companions Nomad and Redhair are experiencing the most incredible adventures.

While the stories are fascinating and exciting, the series is most respected for Don Lawrence' amazing artwork. Lawrence has developed a unique style, which distinguishes him from all other artists. His use of colors has made him famous all over the world. All his paintings are in watercolors. Stroke by stroke he builds up his drawings and sometimes it takes Don Lawrence up to six weeks to finish one page.

Don started working on comics in the Gowerstreet Studio's in London. There he learned the disciplines of a comicartist. Working for the Gowerstreet Studio's wasn't very financially rewarding (his first comic 'Marvelman' paid one pound a page) but he improved his technique and got offers for better jobs by bigger publishers. After he had drawn Karl the Viking for Lion, he was asked for a comic in full-color for the magazine Ranger. By drawing this comic, the young Lawrence could follow into the footsteps of his fellow artists Frank Bellamy and Frank Hampson. The name of the comic: The rise and fall of the Trigan Empire.

Don did his own coloring for the Trigan Empire, unlike his colleague's on the continent. There the coloring was (and still is) done by professional colorists and colorstudio's.

His unique coloring has, together with Dons own fascinating style, contributed to his breakthrough in Europe in the late seventies. The Trigan Empire was sold to dozens of other magazines in countries all over the world. Unfortunately Don wasn't aware of this, and didn't receive any benefits from it. For 10 years Don worked on the Trigan Empire, until he got in contact with a Yugoslavian Agent (Ervin Rustemagic) on a International Comic Convention. Ervin told Don how well the series was doing on the continent. The day after Don asked his publisher for a big raise, which got rejected. As response on this turndown he resigned the following day. Being a father of five children this would probably turn out as one of the stupidest decisions of his life if not a Dutch publisher Oberon (Big Balloon) didn't offer him to draw a comic for them in stead. Together with Martin Lodewijk he created Storm, and the rest is comic-history.'
He was to spend the rest of his life on this strip, despite an offer from Chris Claremont to pencil the X-Men in 1989. He was also Dark Horse's original choice to draw Star Wars: Dark Empire.

While most of the comicartists have reached their top at 65, Don just keeps on developing his style and ways of working. Especially over the last 5 years, his work is more interesting and spectacular then ever. The reason for this is time, he says. In the old days, he had to draw up to three pages a week. Nowadays he can spend up to for four weeks on just one page.

Don no longer has to draw to earn his daily bread, but does it for fun, which shows. A good example is the saloonscene from the 20th Storm album -The Von Neumann Machine-. Not only do you see moviestars from the fifties and sixties, also political heads like Margret Thatcher, John Major, Ruud Lubbers and last but not least Helmut Kohl are figuring in this already legendary drawing. Especially Dons latest albums are filled with references and private jokes, which makes it a good excuse for rereading these albums.

Another aspect of his style is the use of incredible detail. His drawings are so complete that they take away the urge of the viewer to add things to the drawings. When Don draws a house, he draws every stone, every joint, and every window-frame. Landscapes, skies, mass of rocks there all finished in detail.

It seems Lawrence is challenged to work to perfection, so people think that his paintings are photographs. But the colors give him away every time. The warmth, coming from the artwork, just cannot be captured in a photograph.

What Don contributed to the comicscene can now be examined by visiting this website. It gives a good impression of the oeuvre of one of the biggest comicartists today: Don Lawrence.


Source: Don Lawrence fanclub

Other links:
Pandarve: Don Lawrence Dutch fanclub
Pandarve: German fansite
Splitter Verlag

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Storm Hyves

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