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Jules & Lily off in the Mercedes
The artist at work

About the author
Garen's love of drawing and writing goes back to when he was very young, and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, so his mum supplied him with plenty of comics to read, and pencils and blank paper to draw with, and he's been making comics ever since! Other jobs have included working at a mushroom farm (he's a qualified fork-lift truck driver), an airport hotel, a computer software company and doing loads and loads of illustrations for various books and magazines. He's been the editor of a local entertainments guide (5D) and a comic strip anthology (Cosmorama). He's adapted Shakespeare's The Tempest into a comic and is the writer and artist behind The Rainbow Orchid. He's an expert on the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-1880, he's half Scottish, one-sixteenth Romany Gypsy and plays bass guitar and does karate (though not at the same time).

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Lily Lawrence

About The Rainbow Orchid
If you like your comics full of mystery and adventure and you love the worlds of H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar P. Jacobs and Hergé, then you'll want to read The Rainbow Orchid.

Set in the 1920s, it is a tale of the search for a mythical flower last mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher and botanist, Theophrastus.

But why does the orchid also feature on a stone slab that may tell of a forgotten Vedic legend? Who was the mysterious stranger who brought one to a remote village in the Hindu Kush, populated by those who are said to be descended from Alexander the Great? And why does Urkaz Grope want the legendary Trembling Sword of Tybalt Stone at all costs?

The Rainbow Orchid is traditional adventure at its best. Strong and accessible storytelling with an involving plot and attractive, cinematic artwork, it enjoys a varied international readership of all ages and both sexes.

A brief history...
The Rainbow Orchid was originally started in 1997, but the only sign of it was a three-page preview that appeared in Cherokee Comics' Imagineers magazine. It wasn't until 2002 that it got going properly, and the series saw publication in BAM!, with the first volume printed there over the next year or so. Eventually these strips were published in a black and white collected edition in order to guage public reaction, and it quickly sold out at London's Winterfest, the Bristol Comics Festival (where it was also shortlisted for two National Comic Awards), and through internet sales. The last copy sold on ebay for £79, with some frantic last-minute bidding. In 2006 the story started receiving interest from publishers, and in the Spring of 2008 The Rainbow Orchid was picked up by Egmont UK. See the publication checklist. In 2013 it won the Young People's Comic Award at the British Comic Awards.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the three volumes of The Rainbow Orchid and the complete edition?

The Rainbow Orchid is available in two formats: as three separate volumes or as a single complete edition (in English and Spanish*). The complete edition has the entire story as a single book, under one cover - the same as all three volumes together - plus the English edition has 17 pages of bonus material in the form of notes, sketches and research.

* The Dutch, French and German editions are only available as three separate volumes at the moment.

Where can I get The Rainbow Orchid?

In the UK it can be found in various bookshops, including places such as Foyles and (some) Waterstones, as well as many terrific independent bookshops - if they don't have it on the shelves it can be ordered. A number of friendly comic shops also stock the book. Online it can be ordered from most places, including Amazon and the Book Depository. You can also buy signed and sketched-in editions from my own online shop (where you'll also find links to the foreign language editions). It is available in the US from a few bookshops, including Barnes & Noble (see this useful stock resource by Linda Wada) and other places online (including Amazon). The Rainbow Orchid is also available for iPad on Panel Nine's Sequential platform.

Who publishes The Rainbow Orchid?

The English language edition is published by Egmont UK. In Dutch it is published by Silvester Strips, in Spanish by Netcom2 Editorial, in French by BD Must Editions, and in German by Salleck Publications. It is represented by my agent, Oliver Munson at A. M. Heath. See the contact page for details and links.

What age group is The Rainbow Orchid aimed at?

The only audience I've had in mind all along has been me, and I was in my late twenties when I started writing the book, finishing it in my early forties. Having said that, I was probably writing it for the 8-12 year-old in me, who hasn't really gone anywhere!

it is totally 'kid friendly' - there's no extreme violence, sex or nudity. The plot has quite a few strands to it, and there is the occassional wordy scene, but I don't believe in 'writing down' for children, they are perfectly capable of rising up to meet any challenges to expand themselves. I get emails from 11 year olds saying they love it, and from 40-somethings saying they love it, and even older and younger than these. I hear from a very pleasing mixture of both male and female readers.

In 2013 The Complete Rainbow Orchid won the Young People's Comic Award at the British Comic Awards, which was voted for by children at a number of schools across the UK.

Will there be more Julius Chancer adventures after The Rainbow Orchid ?

Yes. A short (20-page) Julius Chancer story called The Secret of the Samurai was serialised in the weekly comic, The Phoenix (issues 75-78, Jun 2013) and work has now begun on a second full-length book (a single volume of 60-80 pages in length).

It reminds me of Tintin!

I wanted to invoke the atmosphere found in European adventure albums such as Hergé's Tintin, Edgar P. Jacobs' Blake & Mortimer and Yves Chaland's Freddy Lombard to name just a few. Most British readers cite Tintin because not many other ligne claire comics have made it over from France and Belgium, but it is an entire school of comic strip storytelling with many creators working in the style, just like manga often has a certain look to it, or the recent popularity of an 'animation' or Disney style in comics. The Rainbow Orchid has been compared stylistically to Floc'h's Trilogie Anglaise or Jacob's La Marque Jaune. The better you know Tintin, the more apparent the differences, but I don't refute the similarities - it was a conscious desicion. Related blog entries here and here.

click the image to see examples of strips in the ligne clair school of comics

Is Garen your real name?

It is indeed. If you want to learn more about my name, click here.

Julius Chancer, The Rainbow Orchid, story, artwork, characters and website © 1997 and 2014 Garen Ewing & inkytales