|Publisher||King Features Syndicate, Egmont
and many others
|First appearance||February 17, 1936|
|Created by||Lee Falk|
|Alter ego||Kit Walker|
|Team affiliations||The Jungle Patrol
The Bandar tribe
|Notable aliases||Mr. Walker, Kit, The Ghost Who Walks, The Man Who Cannot Die, Guardian of the Eastern Dark|
Highly skilled martial artist and marksman
Uses a tight-fitting costume for maneuverability
The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also creator of Mandrake the Magician. A popular feature adapted into many media, including television, film and video games, it stars a costumed crimefighter operating from the fictional African country Bangalla.
The Phantom is the 21st in a line of crimefighters that originated in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed during a pirate attack. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father's murderer to fight evil, Christopher started the legacy of the Phantom that would be passed from father to son, leaving people to give the mysterious figure nicknames such as "The Ghost Who Walks", "The Man Who Cannot Die" and "Guardian of the Eastern Dark", believing him to be immortal.
Unlike many fictional costumed heroes, the Phantom does not have any superpowers, but instead relies on his strength, intelligence, and fearsome reputation of being an immortal ghost to defeat his foes. The 21st Phantom is married to Diana Palmer, whom he met while studying in the United States; they have two children, Kit and Heloise. Like all previous Phantoms, he lives in the ancient Skull Cave, and has a trained wolf, Devil, and a horse named Hero.
The series began with a daily newspaper strip on February 17, 1936, followed by a color Sunday strip on May 28, 1939; both are still running as of 2013. At the peak of its popularity, the strip was read by over 100 million people each day.
Lee Falk continued work on The Phantom until his death in 1999. Today the comic strip is produced by writer Tony DePaul and artists Paul Ryan (Monday-Saturday) and Terry Beatty (Sunday). Previous artists on the newspaper strip include Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, George Olesen, Keith Williams, Fred Fredericks, Graham Nolan and Eduardo Barreto.
New Phantom stories are also published in comic books in different parts of the world, among them by Dynamite Entertainment in the United States, Egmont in Sweden, Norway and Finland, and Frew Publications in Australia.
The Phantom was the first fictional hero to wear the skintight costume that has now become a hallmark of comic book superheroes, and was also the first shown wearing a mask with no visible pupils, another superhero standard.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Comic books
- 4 In other media
- 4.1 Novels and short stories
- 4.2 Live-action adaptations
- 4.3 Television
- 4.4 Stage
- 4.5 Video games
- 4.6 Theme park
- 5 References
- 6 External links
After the success of his Mandrake the Magician, the King Features newspaper syndicate asked Falk to develop a new feature. His first attempt was a strip about King Arthur and his knights, which Falk both wrote and drew. However, King Features turned this down, and Falk developed the idea of The Phantom, a mysterious, costumed crimefighter. He planned the first few months of the story and drew the first two weeks as a sample.
Inspired by his lifelong fascination with myths and legends, such as those of King Arthur and El Cid, as well as modern fictional characters as Zorro, Tarzan, and The Jungle Book's Mowgli, Falk envisioned the Phantom's alter ego as rich playboy Jimmy Wells, fighting crime by night as the mysterious Phantom. Partway through his first story, The Singh Brotherhood, before revealing Wells was the Phantom, Falk changed the setting to jungle and made the Phantom a seemingly immortal mythic figure. Deciding there were already too many characters called the Phantom (including the Phantom Detective and the Phantom of the Opera), Falk had thought of calling his hero "The Gray Ghost" (which later became the name of a Batman character, a fact alluded to in the first episode of Phantom 2040). However, Falk could not find a name he liked better and finally settled on the Phantom.
In the A&E American cable TV documentary The Phantom: Comic Strip Crusader, Falk explained Greek busts inspired the idea of the not showing the Phantom's pupils when he was wearing his mask. Ancient Greek busts displayed no pupils, which he felt gave them an inhuman, awe-inspiring appearance. In an interview published in Comic Book Marketplace in 2005, Falk said the Phantom's skin-tight costume was inspired by Robin Hood, who was shown wearing tights in films and on stage.
The Phantom started as a daily strip on February 17, 1936, with the story "The Singh Brotherhood", written by Falk and drawn first by him, for two weeks, followed by Ray Moore, who was an assistant to artist Phil Davis on Falk's Mandrake the Magician strip. A Sunday Phantom strip was added May 28, 1939.
During World War II, Falk joined the Office of War Information, where he became chief of his radio foreign language division. Moore also served in the war, during which he left the strip to his assistant Wilson McCoy. On Moore's return, he worked on the strip on and off until 1949, when McCoy succeeded him. During McCoy's tenure, the strip appeared in thousands of newspapers worldwide, and The Phantom strip was smuggled by boats into the Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II. The word "Phantom" was also used as a password for the Norwegian Resistance, leading the character to receive iconic status in the country.
McCoy died suddenly in 1961. Carmine Infantino and Bill Lignante (who would later draw several Phantom stories directly for comic books) filled in before a successor was found in Sy Barry. During Barry's early years, he and Falk modernized the strip, and laid the foundation for what is considered the modern look of the Phantom. Barry's tenure would see Bengalla turned into a democracy, with the character of President Lamanda Luaga being introduced. Barry would continue working on the strip for over 30 years before retiring in 1994, having drawn around 11,000 Phantom strips in total.
Barry's longtime assistant George Olesen remained on the strip as penciller, with Keith Williams joining as inker for the daily strip. The Sunday strip was inked by Eric Doescher until Fred Fredericks became the regular inker in 1995.
Falk continued to script Phantom (and Mandrake) until his death on March 13, 1999. His last daily and Sunday strip stories, "Terror at the Opera" and "The Kidnappers", respectively, were finished by his wife, Elizabeth Falk, after the hospitalized Falk had literally torn off his oxygen mask to dictate the adventures. After Falk's passing, King Features Syndicate began to cooperate with European comic publisher Egmont, publisher of the Swedish Fantomen magazine, which now went from only publishing Phantom stories in licenced comic books to providing the stories for the newspaper strip as well, by adapting their own Phantom comic book stories into the comic strip format. Fantomen writers Tony De Paul and Claes Reimerthi alternated as writers of the newspaper strip after Falk died, with De Paul handling the daily strips and Reimerthi being responsible for the Sunday strips. De Paul would later assume duties as the sole writer of the strip. Some stories have been adapted from comic magazine stories originally published in Fantomen.
In 2000, Olesen and Fredericks retired from the Sunday strip which was then taken over by respected comic book artist Graham Nolan, who had previously drawn three covers for issues of Fantomen. A few years later, Olesen and Williams left the daily strip after Olesen decided to retire and artist Paul Ryan, who had worked on the Fantomen comic stories and had been a fan of the character since childhood, took over the daily strip in early 2005. Ryan succeeded Nolan as artist on the Sunday strip in 2007. On Sunday July 31, 2011, Eduardo Barreto became the Phantom Sunday page artist. Barreto died after only a few months of working on the strip however, and Ryan temporarily took over the Sunday page duties again starting with the January 15, 2012 edition, which carried a memoriam for Barreto. The following week's strip was also handled by Ryan, before Terry Beatty became Barreto's permanent replacement.
The Phantom is one of few adventure comic strips still published today.
Fictional character biography
In the jungles of the fictional African country of Bangalla, there is a myth featuring The Ghost Who Walks, a powerful and indestructible guardian of the innocent and fighter of all types of injustice. Because he seems to have existed for generations, many believe him to be immortal. In reality, the Phantom is a legacy hero, descended from 20 previous generations of crimefighters who all adopt the same persona. When a new Phantom takes the task from his dying father, he swears the Oath of the Skull: "I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty, and injustice, in all their forms, and my sons and their sons shall follow me". The first Phantom married Christina, the daughter of a Scandinavian sea captain, Eric the Rover. The second Phantom married Marabella, the granddaughter of Christopher Columbus.
(The comic sometimes runs flashback adventures of previous Phantoms written by various authors who sometimes confuse Phantom history. Current stories have Marabella as the daughter of Columbus and marrying the first Phantom. As Columbus died in 1506 while, according to the new history, Marabella first meets the Phantom in 1544, this results in another inconsistency, requiring her to be at least 38 years old despite being depicted as in her early 20s. Inconsistencies in storylines and histories are not corrected as a mark of respect to authors, but Falk's original history takes precedence.)
The Phantom of the present is the 21st in the line. Unlike most costumed heroes, he has no superhuman powers, relying only on his wits, physical strength, skill with his weapons, and fearsome reputation to fight crime. His real name is Kit Walker. References to "Mr. Walker" are in the strip often accompanied by a footnote saying "For 'The Ghost Who Walks'", although some versions of the Phantom's history suggest that Walker was actually the original surname of the man who became the first Phantom.
The Phantom Rings
A signature of the character is his two rings. One has a pattern formed like four crossing sabres, "The Good Mark", that he leaves on visitors whom he befriends, placing the person under his protection. The other, "The Evil Mark" or "Skull Mark" has a skull shape, which leaves a scar of the corresponding shape on the enemies he punches with it. He wears the Good Mark on his left hand because it is closer to the heart, and the Evil Mark on his right hand. The Skull Ring was given to the first Phantom by Paracelsus. The original owner of the Skull Ring was Emperor Nero of the Roman empire and it would later be revealed that the ring had been made from the nails that hung Jesus to the cross. The Good Mark ring was made after the sixth Phantom founded the Jungle Patrol.
His base is in the Deep Woods of Bengali (originally "Bengalla", or "Bangalla" and renamed Denkali in the Indian edition), a fictional country initially said to be set in Asia, near India, but depicted as in Africa during and after the 1960s. The Phantom's base is the fabled Skull Cave, where all previous Phantoms are buried. For a period of time, he also lived with his family in a tree house built by the Rope People — a tribe he had assisted. The Phantom has an Isle of Eden in which he has trained animals that are natural enemies to live in harmony, a mesa in America called Walker's Table and a castle in the Old World.
The Phantom is the commander of Bangalla's world-famous Jungle Patrol, who never know his name but answer consistently to his orders. Because of a betrayal leading to the death of the 14th Phantom, the identity of the commander has been kept hidden from members of the patrol ever since. The Phantom uses several ways to stay in contact. These include radio and a safe with a false bottom. On a few rare occasions the Phantom has also visited the patrol wearing his patrol uniform. The sixth Phantom originally formed the Jungle Patrol with the help of former pirate Redbeard and his men back in 1664.
Another character who has aided the modern-day Phantom is Guran, chief of the local pygmy tribe, who are the only tribe to know his true nature. Guran is the Phantom's best friend since childhood, and a supporter of his cause.
The Phantom has two helpers, a mountain wolf called Devil and a horse named Hero. He also has a trained falcon named Fraka. From 1962 on, The Phantom raised an orphan named Rex King, who was later on revealed to be the prince of the kingdom of Baronkhan. He also has two dolphins named Solomon and Nefertiti, and numerous other animals kept on the island of Eden.
In 1978, he married his sweetheart since his days in American college, Diana Palmer, who works at the United Nations. Guran, his best friend since boyhood, was best man. The guests present at the wedding included President Luaga of Bengalla, President Goranda of Ivory-Lana, and Mandrake the Magician (the Phantom would later be a guest at Mandrake's wedding when he married in 1997).
A year later, twins were born to the Palmer-Walkers; Kit and Heloise.
The Phantom's family have always played a significant role in the series. His romance with Diana Palmer was an ongoing part of the story from the beginning, and many later stories revolved around the Phantom becoming involved in adventures as a result of young charges including his children.
When the Phantom leaves the jungle, he frequently dresses in a fedora, a trench coat, and sunglasses. The Phantom usually does not allow his unmasked or undisguised face to be seen except by close friends or members of his family. Even readers of the comic have never been shown the Phantom's unmasked face clearly.
The story of the Phantom started with a young sailor named Christopher Walker (sometimes called Christopher Standish in certain versions of the story). Christopher was born in 1516 in Portsmouth. His father, also named Christopher Walker, had been a seaman since he was a young boy, and was the cabin boy on Christopher Columbus's ship Santa María when he sailed to the Americas. Christopher Jr. became a shipboy on his father's ship in 1526, of which Christopher Sr. was Captain.
In 1536, when Christopher was 20 years old, he was a part of what was supposed to be his father's last voyage. On February 17, the ship was attacked by pirates of the Singh Brotherhood in a bay on the coast of Bengalla. The last thing Christopher saw before he fell unconscious and into the sea was his father being murdered by the leader of the pirates. Both ships exploded, making Christopher the sole survivor of the attack. Christopher was washed ashore on a Bengalla beach, seemingly half dead. He was found by pygmies of the Bandar tribe, who nursed him and took care of him.
Some time later, Christopher took a walk on the same beach, and found a dead body there, whom he recognized as the pirate who killed his father. He allowed the vultures flying around the body to eat its meat, took up the skull of the killer, raised it above his head, and swore an oath:
"I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty, and injustice, in all their forms! My sons and their sons shall follow me."
After learning the language of the Bandar tribe, Christopher learned that the majority of their people were slaves of the Wasaka, a tribe consisting of what the Bandars called "giants". Immediately, Christopher walked into the village of the Wasaka, and asked them to set the Bandars free. He was taken prisoner and laid before the Demon God of the Wasaka, Uzuki, who was supposed to decide his destiny. Christopher was tied up and laid on an altar made of stone, where vultures surrounded him. Christopher was quickly saved by a group of Bandar before the vultures or the Wasaka could do him any real harm. They managed to escape from the village of the Wasaka unharmed.
Christopher later learned of a Bandar prophecy that featured a man coming from the ocean to save them from their slavery. He made a costume inspired by the look of the Demon God of the Wasaka and went to the Wasaka village again, this time with a small army of Bandar armed with their newly discovered poisoned arrows, which were capable of killing a man in a few seconds. The Wasaka, shocked at seeing what many of them thought was their Demon God come alive, were fought down, and the Bandars were finally set free after centuries in slavery. This resulted in a dedicated friendship between Christopher and the Bandars, which would be continued in the generations to come after them.
The Bandars showed Christopher to a cave, which resembled a human skull in appearance. Christopher later carved the features out to enhance this. This Skull Cave became his home.
Wearing the costume based on the Demon God, Christopher became the first of what would later be known as the Phantom. When he died, his son took over for him; when the second Phantom died, his son took over. So it would go on through the centuries, causing people to believe that the Phantom was immortal. These people gave him nicknames including "The Ghost Who Walks" and "The Man Who Cannot Die".
Over the course of more than seventy years' worth of stories, the back story "legend" of the Phantom grew to become an integral part of the series. The legend of the "Ghost Who Walks" made the character stand out from the innumerable costumed heroes who have battled crime throughout the 20th century, and helped maintain his appeal through to the present day.
Much of the underlying, continuing plots and "themes" of the series focus on the continuing legend of the Phantom. The series regularly quotes the "old jungle sayings" surrounding the myth of the Phantom. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the tradition that anyone who sees the Phantom's true face without his mask will certainly "die a terrible death".
Not all stories were set in present time, but included earlier generations. While the costumes looked the same, the weaponry varied with the age, such as revolvers and pirate flintlocks.
The Phantom is feared by criminals over the entire world and knows how to use his frightening image against them.
Kit Walker, the 21st Phantom
The 21st Phantom's birth name is Kit Walker, as was the name of many of the Phantoms before him. Kit was born in the Skull Cave, and spent his first years in the jungle of Bengalla. His mother, Maud Thorne McPatrick, who had previously worked as Rita Hayworth's stunt double, was born in Mississippi, where Kit went to study when he was 12 years old, living with his aunt Lucy and uncle Jasper in the town of Clarksville.
Here he met his wife-to-be, Diana Palmer. Kit was an extremely talented sportsman and was predicted to become the world champion of many different events (even knocking out the world heavyweight boxing champion in a sparring match when the champion visited Clarksville). Despite the opportunity to choose practically any career he wanted, Kit faithfully returned to Bengalla to take over the role of the Phantom when he received word from Guran that his father was dying from a knife-wound.
One of Kit's first missions as the Phantom was to find his father's killer, Rama Singh, who had betrayed and murdered the 20th Phantom by first helping him to blow up a fleet of ships owned by the Singh Brotherhood, only to then stab him in the back, stealing his special gunbelt in the process. The 21st Phantom eventually found him and reclaimed the belt at the island of Gullique, but before he could avenge his father and bring the killer to jail, the desperate Rama blew up his lair, killing himself and his henchmen in the process.
Costume and weapons
As part of the official uniform, the Phantom wears a black mask and a purple skintight bodysuit. He also carries period-appropriate sidearms, currently two M1911 pistols, in a special belt with a skull-like buckle. Falk has insisted that the Phantom only uses his guns to shoot out the guns of his opponents, a fact that writer Peter David was unaware of when he wrote DC Comics' 1988 four-issue Phantom miniseries, in which he had the Phantom shoot to wound his enemies. However, there are some early instances of the Phantom using his guns to shoot and kill people (sometimes in self-defence).
While there had been masked crime fighters like the costumed Zorro or the business-suited The Clock, the Phantom was the first fictional character to wear the skintight costume and eyes with no visible pupils that has become a trademark of superheroes. Creator Lee Falk had originally envisioned a grey costume and even considered naming his creation "The Gray Ghost". It was not until the Phantom Sunday strip debuted in 1939 that the costume was shown to be purple. Falk, however, continued to refer to the costume as gray in the text of the strip on several occasions afterward, but finally accepted the purple color. In a Sunday strip story published in the 1960s it was shown that the first Phantom chose the costume based on the appearance of a jungle idol, and colored the cloth with purple jungle berries.
Given his oath to fight all evil in the world, The Phantom faces a vast array of villains. The most dangerous and lasting enemy of the Phantom is the Singh Brotherhood, which have been active for centuries and were responsible for the pirate attack that resulted in the death of Christopher Standish's father and the beginning of the Phantom legacy. In Egmont's Phantom comics, the brotherhood has evolved from merely being pirates into a modern company called Singh Corporations, led by Sandal Singh, who is the daughter of former leader Dogai Singh and also the current President of Bengalla.
Another major threat against the Phantom and his country was Kigali Lubanga, the President of Bengalla for several years. Other recurring villainous characters are General Bababu, The Python, Manuel Ortega, Ali Gutalee, Goldhand, Bail, HIM and - in the movie - Xander Drax. The Phantom has also fought numerous crime-organizations such as the Sky Band, the Vultures, Hydra and The Flame.
In the United States the Phantom has been published by a variety of publishers over the years. Through the 1940s, strips were reprinted in Ace Comics published by David McKay Publications. In the 1950s, Harvey Comics published the Phantom. In 1962, Gold Key Comics took over, followed by King Comics in 1966 and Charlton Comics in 1969. This lasted until 1977, with a total number of 73 issues being published. Some of the main Phantom artists during these years were Bill Lignante, Don Newton, Jim Aparo and Pat Boyette.
DC Comics published a Phantom comic book from 1988 to 1990. The initial mini-series (dated May–August 1988) was written by Peter David and drawn by Joe Orlando and Dennis Janke. The subsequent series, written by Mark Verheiden and drawn by Luke McDonnell, lasted 13 issues (March 1989 – March 1990). It depicted the Phantom fighting such issues as racism, toxic dumping, hunger, and modern-day piracy. According to Verheiden, the series ended because of licencing issues as much as dropping sales. The final panels of issue 13 saw the Phantom marrying Diana.
In 1987, Marvel Comics published a four-issue miniseries based on the Defenders of the Earth TV series, written by Stan Lee. Another three-issue Marvel miniseries, The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks (Feb.-April 1995) followed, written and drawn by David de Vries and Glenn Lumsden, it featured the 22nd Phantom, with an updated, high-tech costume. Marvel later released a four-part miniseries (May–August 1995), pencilled by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, based on the Phantom 2040 TV series. One issue featured a pin-up by the original two Spider-Man signature artists, Ditko and John Romita, Sr.
The gadgets used by Marvel's 22nd Phantom were slightly reminiscent of those in Phantom 2040, only less advanced. For instance, while the 2040 Phantom had a talking artificial intelligence built into one of his wristbands, the 22nd's wristband contained a sophisticated, but clearly present-day, palmtop computer.
Moonstone Books published Phantom graphic novels beginning in 2002. Five books, written by Tom DeFalco, Ben Raab, and Ron Goulart, were published. In 2003, Moonstone debuted a Phantom comic-book series written by Raab, Rafael Nieves, and Chuck Dixon, and drawn by artists including Pat Quinn, Jerry DeCaire, Nick Derington, Rich Burchett, and EricJ. After 11 issues, Mike Bullock took over scripting, with Gabriel Rearte and Carlos Magno creating the artwork before Silvestre Szilagyi became the regular artist in 2007. Bullock's stories often feature topical issues based on real-life African conflicts. In a 2007 three-part story arc called "Invisible Children", the Phantom fought a fictional warlord called "Him", loosely based on Joseph Kony.
In 2006, Moonstone published a retcon of the Phantom's origin, called Legacy, by Raab and Quinn. That same year, the company published a hybrid comic book and prose book it called "wide-vision", premiering the format with the Phantom story "Law of the Jungle". Moonstone also released the first American Phantom annual. A second annual teamed the Phantom up with Mandrake the Magician.
In 2009, Moonstone re-launched the series as The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks, starting with issue 0, a retelling of the origin of the first Phantom. The goal of this launch was to make the comic darker, grittier and more realistic, like the stories of Lee Falk and Ray Moore from the 1930s. It also updated the character of the Phantom by giving him more modern day accessories, and introduced many supporting characters and villains. The Phantom frequently fights reality based enemies in the series, such as modern day terrorists, organ-smugglers and Somalian pirates.
2009 would see Moonstone Books launch the 21 issue maxi-series Phantom Generations, with each of the twenty one Phantoms spotlighted in their own story, crafted by different creative teams including writers such as Ben Raab, Tom DeFalco, Tony Bedard, Will Murray and Mike Bullock. Artists on the project include Pat Quinn, Alex Saviuk, Don Hudson, Scott Brooks and Zeu.
Moonstone also published "Phantom Action", a story written by Mike Bullock that saw the Phantom meeting Captain Action, a five-issue miniseries in black and white called "The Phantom Double Shot: KGB Noir", and a two-part miniseries called "The Phantom: Unmasked".
Dynamite Entertainment debuted the monthly comic book series The Last Phantom in August 2010, to strong sales. The book is written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Eduardo Ferigato, with covers painted by Alex Ross. Featuring a modern reboot of the 21st Phantom, the series tells the story about how Kit Walker, now a philanthropist and head of the Walkabout Foundation, has forsaken his family's legacy, and shows his journey to become the Phantom again, set in motion when his family is murdered.
Egmont Publications has published original Phantom stories in a fortnightly Phantom comic book published in Sweden as Fantomen, in Norway as Fantomet, and in Finland as Mustanaamio ("[the] Black-Mask").
The first issue of Fantomen was cover-dated October 1950. Over 1600 issues have been published. Because of limited printers[clarification needed] in the 1950s the Phantom's costume was printed in dark blue and has stayed that color in Scandinavia ever since.
The first story created originally for the Swedish Fantomen magazine was published as early as 1963, and today the total number of Fantomen stories is over 900. The average length of a Fantomen story is 30+ pages (compared to 20-24 pages for most American comics). Among the most prolific artists and writers that have created stories for Fantomen are: Dick Giordano, Donne Avenell, Heiner Bade, David Bishop, Georges Bess, Jaime Vallvé, Joan Boix, Tony DePaul, Ulf Granberg, Ben Raab, Rolf Gohs, Scott Goodall, Eirik Ildahl, Kari Leppänen, Hans Lindahl, Janne Lundström, Cesar Spadari, Bob McLeod, Jean-Yves Mitton, Lennart Moberg, Claes Reimerthi, Paul Ryan, Alex Saviuk, Graham Nolan, Romano Felmang, and Norman Worker. The artists and writers working on these stories have been nicknamed Team Fantomen. In later years, the team have started to experiment more with the character and his surroundings, by having Singh Brotherhood member Sandal Singh taking over as President of Bengalla, giving the Phantom and Diana marriage problems, and exploring the Phantom-canon more.
Egmont are also well known for their numerous historical Phantom adventures, detailing the lives and deaths of former Phantoms and having them appearing in real historic events, meeting countless historic figures in the process. The use of historical adventures ties in with the library of chronicles (diaries) written by past phantoms, consulted by the current phantom as a frame story to tell a flashback story. Similarly, a series of books with chronologically ordered adventures released in Sweden between 1993 and 1999 aimed to replicate this, and covered events from 1536 to 1885 until production was stopped.
Another country where the Phantom is popular is Australia, where Frew Publications has published a fortnightly comic book, The Phantom, since 1948, celebrating 60 years of uninterrupted publication in September 2008. Frew's book mostly contains reprints, from the newspaper strips and from Fantomen (in English translation) and other The Phantom comic books, but has on a few occasions also included original stories, drawn by Australian artists, such as Keith Chatto. The editor-in-chief was (until recently) the late Jim Shepherd. Frew's The Phantom is the longest running comic book series with the character in the world, and is Australia's best selling comic. The Frew comics are also imported and sold in New Zealand. The comics appear in numerous Perth Royal Show showbags.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2011)|
The Phantom also has a long publishing history in India. The Phantom first appeared in India in the 1940s via a magazine called The Illustrated Weekly of India, which carried Phantom on Sundays. Indrajal Comics took up publication of Phantom comics in English, Hindi under the name Vanbhairav and other Indian languages in 1964. They ceased publication in 1990. This same year, Diamond Comics started publishing Phantom comics in digest format, again in many languages including English. This continued until 2000, when Diamond Comics stopped publishing Phantom comics; Egmont Imagination India (formerly Indian Express Egmont Publications) took up publication the same year. They published monthly comics (in English only) until 2002. Since then they have only brought out reprints of their earlier stories with new covers and formats. Rani Comics published Phantom from 1990 till 2005. However, Rani comics were available only in the Tamil language.
Ananda Publishers, an Indian publishing house based in Kolkata, used to publish "The Phantom" in Bengali, under the name Aranyadeb (the lord of the forests) in their magazine "Desh", their newspapaper, "Anandabazar Patrika", and later in their children's magazine Anandamela. Though the comic was discontinued in "Desh", it still appears in the newspaper as well as the children's magazine.
It may be noted that, for the most part, Indrajal Comics, Diamond Comics, and Rani Comics all published reprints of Lee Falk's daily or Sunday strips. Egmont Imagination India printed the Scandinavian work. Euro Books India has launched 15 titles of the Phantom comics in large format along with compilations in 2007.
Italian publisher Fratelli Spada in Italy also produced a large number of original Phantom stories for their L'Uomo Mascherato (The Masked Man) series of comic books in the 1960s and 1970s. Among the artists that worked for Fratelli Spada were Raul Buzzelli, Mario Caria, Umberto Sammarini (Usam), Germano Ferri, Senio Pratesi, Angelo R. Todaro, Mario Caria and Felmang. Ferri, Usam, Felmang and Caria have all later worked for the Swedish Fantomen magazine.
Different Phantom comics are published and have been published in England, Mexico, Israel, Spain, Poland, Russia, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, New Zealand, Iceland, South America, France, Thailand, Singapore, Netherlands, Chile, Greece, Yugoslavia, Fiji and Venezuela. In Turkey, where the comic has been very popular for decades, the Phantom is mainly known as "The Red Mask" (Kizil Maske), and published under that title.
The entire run of the Phantom newspaper strip has been reprinted in Australia by Frew Publications. Edited versions of most stories have also been published in the Scandinavian Phantom comics. In the United States, the following Phantom stories have been reprinted, by Nostalgia Press (NP), Pacific Comics Club (PCC), or Comics Revue (CR), all written by Lee Falk.
- "The Sky Band", Ray Moore, 9 November 1936, CR
- "The Diamond Hunters", Ray Moore, 12 April 1937, PCC
- "Little Tommy", Ray Moore, 20 September 1937, PCC
- "The Prisoner of the Himalayas", Ray Moore, 7 February 1938, NP
- "Adventure in Algiers", Ray Moore, 20 June 1938, CR
- "The Shark's Nest", Ray Moore, 25 July 1938, PCC
- "Fishers of Pearls", Ray Moore, 7 November 1938, CR
- "The Slave Traders", Ray Moore, 30 January 1939, CR
- "The Mysterious Girl", Ray Moore, 8 May 1939, CR
- "The Golden Circle", Ray Moore, 4 September 1939, PCC
- "The Seahorse", Ray Moore, 22 January 1940, PCC
- "The Game of Alvar", Ray Moore, 29 July 1940, PCC
- "Diana Aviatrix", Ray Moore, 16 December 1940, PCC
- "The Phantom's Treasure", Ray Moore, 14 July 1941, PCC
- "The Phantom Goes to War", Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy, 2 February 1942, PCC
- "The Slave Markets of Mucar", Sy Barry, 21 August 1961, CR
In the October 2009 issue, Comics Revue began reprinting the Sunday story "The Return of the Sky Band" for the first time in color.
|This article is outdated. (August 2013)|
Lee Falk's entire run of Phantom adventures up until Sy Barry's final story is set to be reprinted in hardcover books by Hermes Press, starting in 2009. The publisher will issue three volumes of daily strips each year and one volume of Sunday strips collecting five years of the strip, in color. Press proofs will be used as the primary source for these reprints so the strip will look better than when it was originally printed. All of the Sundays will be digitally recolored.
Hermes Press will soon start a hardcover archive reprint series of 8 volumes of the US Phantom comics, starting with those published by Gold Key and continuing with the ones published by King Comics and Charlton Comics.
In other media
Novels and short stories
The first novel about the Phantom was published in 1944 by Whitman Publishing Company, and was called "The Son of the Phantom". Written by Dale Robertson, the book was based on Lee Falk's comic strip story "Childhood of the Phantom", although Falk had no involvement with the novel. It featured a cover drawn by Wilson McCoy.
Avon Publications in the United States put out 15 books based on Lee Falk's stories. The series ran from 1972 to 1975, and were written by Falk himself or other writers. The covers were done by George Wilson. Many of the books were translated into foreign languages.
- The Story of the Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks 1972, Lee Falk
- The Slave Market of Mucar 1972, Basil Copper
- The Scorpia Menace 1972, Basil Copper
- The Veiled Lady 1973, Frank S. Shawn
- The Golden Circle 1973, Frank S. Shawn
- The Mysterious Ambassador 1973, Lee Falk
- The Mystery of the Sea Horse 1973, Frank S. Shawn
- The Hydra Monster 1973, Frank S. Shawn
- Killer's Town 1973, Lee Falk
- The Goggle-Eyed Pirates 1974, Frank S. Shawn
- The Swamp Rats 1974, Frank S. Shawn
- The Vampires & the Witch 1974, Lee Falk
- The Island of Dogs 1975, Warren Shanahan
- The Assassins 1975, Carson Bingham
- The Curse of the Two-Headed Bull 1975, Lee Falk
In 2006, the books The Story of the Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks and The Veiled Lady were released as audio books in Norway and Sweden, as part of the celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the character.
In 2007, Moonstone Books released The Phantom Chronicles, a collection of short stories written by authors Mike Bullock, Ron Fortier, Jim Alexander, David Michelinie, Craig Shaw Gardner, CJ Henderson, Clay and Susan Griffith, Will Murray, Mike Oliveri, Nancy Kilpatrick, Ed Rhoades, David Bishop, Grant Suave, Trina Robbins, Richard Dean Starr, Dan Wickline and Martin Powell.
The book was released in both a softcover and limited hardcover edition, and featured an introduction written by Lee Falk's daughter, Valerie Falk.
In Umberto Eco's novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, the main character describes his childhood experiences of reading The Phantom, as well as other comic strip characters like Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. The book also features illustrations of the Phantom, drawn by Ray Moore.
The Phantom serials
A fifteen-part 240 minute movie serial starring Tom Tyler, in the title role was made in 1943, with Jeanne Bates as Diana Palmer, Frank Shannon as her uncle Professor Davidson, and Ace the Wonder Dog as Devil. The story shows the 21st Phantom's first mission after taking over the mantle of the Ghost Who Walks from his murdered father: to find the Lost City of Zoloz and prevent the evil Dr. Bremmer, played by Kenneth MacDonald, from building a secret airbase in the jungle. The original chapter paly was released by Columbia Pictures Ltd. It has been been released on DVD through BSV.
The Phantom's real name in the serial was Geoffrey Prescott, as the alias of Kit Walker had not been mentioned in the strip at that point. However, he goes by the alias of Mr. Walker after having become the Phantom.
Two episodes loosely adapted Lee Falk's story "The Fire Princess" for the screen, and fit it into the plot of the Phantom's fight against Dr. Bremmer.
The serial was a success, and a sequel, to be called Return of the Phantom, was filmed in 1955 starring John Hart, but after problems with the rights to the character it was partially re-shot and renamed The Adventures of Captain Africa.
The Phantom (1996)
The Phantom was also adapted into a live-action movie in 1996. Produced and released by Paramount Pictures, the movie was set in the 1930s, and incorporated elements from several of the Phantom's earliest comic-strip adventures. It starred Billy Zane in the title role, Kristy Swanson as Diana Palmer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala, an aviatrix. It was directed by Simon Wincer, after director Joe Dante and producer Michael Douglas dropped out of the project, and was written by Jeffrey Boam, who also wrote Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Cult-icon Bruce Campbell was another choice for the role, but Zane, already a huge fan of the comic strip since being introduced to Australian Frew comics on the set of Dead Calm, ended up getting the part after actively lobbying for it for years. After his casting, he feverishly pumped iron for a year and a half to fill the Phantom's costume, refusing to wear a Batman-like costume with moulded muscles. He also closely studied panels of the comic to capture the character's body language. Though the film did not become a success in its theatrical release, it was the reason why Zane was cast as Caledon Hockley in Titanic, the world's second most commercially successful film, and has sold well on VHS and DVD.
The movie was filmed on location in Australia, Thailand, and in Los Angeles, and featured the Phantom in his attempt to stop madman Xander Drax (Treat Williams) from obtaining a weapon of doom, the legendary "Skulls of Touganda". The story also features the Singh Brotherhood, the all-female clan of air pirates known as the Sky Band, of whom Sala is the leader and a subplot wherein the 21st Phantom recovers his father's gunbelt and avenges his father's murder, inspired by the Lee Falk/Wilson McCoy story "The Belt". The film also has elements taken from the 1936 story "The Singh Brotherhood", the first Phantom story, and its 1937 continuation "The Sky Band".
In 2008, syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith claimed that Paramount was putting a sequel into development, with Zane returning to play the title role, because of the good VHS and DVD sales of the first film. The Phantom was released on Blu-ray February 2010 by Lionsgate.
The Phantom: Legacy
On December 15, 2008, it was announced that Sherlock Symington Productions had secured the rights to the Phantom, and are set to make a film called The Phantom: Legacy (unrelated to the Moonstone Books 2006 graphic novel of the same name and any other screen incarnation of the character). The film is set to have a budget of $130 million, and is written by Tim Boyle.
Bruce Sherlock, executive producer and head of Sherlock Symington Productions, said that The Phantom: Legacy would follow the lead of films like The Dark Knight and Iron Man, and present a serious treatment of the character. The film will be set in the present day, and revolves around the relationship between the Phantom and his son, and what it means to be the Phantom. Work on the film was expected to begin in 2009. Filming is scheduled to take place in Australia, and producers are in talks with both Australian and international actors to work on the film.
In an interview with Dark Horizons, Boyle said the film will feature two main antagonists, one taken from the comic and one created for the movie. The Phantom's costume is also expected to be updated for the screen, with Boyle seeking to make it more reality-based. Characters such as Diana Palmer, Kit and Heloise Walker, Colonel Worubu, President Lamanda Luaga, and Guran will also appear. The film is said to be heavily focused on the mythology of the comics, with a lot of screen time expected to be devoted to the origin of the 1st Phantom. The Phantom's eyes behind his mask will also be white, unlike what it has been in previous film-versions. Actor Sam Worthington is considered to play the Phantom, after having worked with Boyle on the film Fink.
Boyle was originally considered to direct the movie, but has confirmed he is only attached as the writer.
The Phantom made an appearance alongside other King Features characters in the 1972 animated movie Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter. He also appeared in the animated Beatles movie Yellow Submarine.
At least three unauthorized Phantom movies were made in Turkey. Two were made in 1968 and both were titled Kızıl Maske (the Turkish name for the Phantom, translated as "Red Mask"). The Phantom was played by Ismet Erten and Irfan Atasoy. The costume worn by Irfan Atasoy bears little resemblance to the one seen in the comic strip, but the uniforms worn by Ismet Erten and in Kızıl Maske'nin Intikamı (Revenge of the Red Mask), released in 1971, stayed close to the original outfit.
An unaired color Phantom TV-pilot was made in 1961 starring Roger Creed as the Phantom, with Lon Chaney Jr., Paulette Goddard as the antagonists and Richard Kiel as the assassin "Big Mike" in supporting roles. Called "No Escape", and the pilot saw the Phantom breaking up a slave camp in the jungle.
Made on a limited budget, the pilot features fight scenes and the Phantom terrorizing villains in the jungle. Writer John Carr originally wrote four episodes, but because the pilot was not picked up by a network, the remaining three were never filmed. Actress Marilyn Manning had originally been cast as Diana Palmer, but never appeared in the pilot. Devil, Hero and the Jungle Patrol all appear throughout the course of the story.
Defenders of the Earth
In Defenders of the Earth, which ran from 1986 to 1987, the 27th Phantom, voiced by actor Peter Mark Richman, teams up with fellow King Features adventurers Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and Mandrake's bodyguard and assistant Lothar. The cartoon also featured a daughter, Jedda Walker, who briefly took on the Phantom mantle in an episode where she believed her father to have perished.
Other episodes of the series featured classic Phantom villains like the Sky Band, the Phantom's evil older brother Kurt Walker (created specifically for the show) and a flashback to the days of the first Phantom. The episode "Return of the Sky Band" also featured lengthy flashbacks to the Phantom of Lee Falk's comic strip; the 21st Phantom, showing him and his wife, Diana Palmer, and their encounter with the original Sky Band.
In the original presentation pilot for the series, The Phantom had a son, Kit Walker, and Flash Gordon had a daughter, but this was changed for the final series.
In Defenders of the Earth, The Phantom was able to use supernatural means to give himself increased strength and speed, by saying the incantation:
"By jungle law, the ghost who walks calls forth the power of ten tigers!"
It is only in this cartoon series that the Phantom has such an ability. In the series, the Phantom also used a special helicopter nicknamed "The Skull Copter", and had an updated Skull Ring that would shoot a laser on to the faces of antagonists, marking them for life.
The complete series has been released on DVD in several editions, the latest in 2010.
Premiering in 1994 to critical acclaim, Phantom 2040 depicts the adventures of the 24th Phantom. Young Kit Walker, living happily with his aunt Heloise (daughter of the 21st Phantom) in the city of Metropia (previously known as New York) in the year 2040, knowing nothing about his family's legacy, when one day, The Phantom's friend Guran turns up to reveal the secret of the Phantom legacy. Kit takes up the mantle of the Phantom, and starts a battle against the evil company Maximum Inc., and their plans to destroy Earth's ecosystem while a select few seal themselves in a controlled environment. He also tries to solve the mystery of the death of his father, the 23rd Phantom.
This animated series lasted two seasons and spawned a large number of merchandise tie-ins, a comic book series and a video game. The Phantom/Kit Walker was voiced by actor Scott Valentine, Margot Kidder voiced main antagonist Rebecca Madison, Ron Perlman played tortured cyborg Graft, Debbie Harry played Vain Gloria, and Mark Hamill lent his voice to the character of Dr. Jak.
The first five episodes of the series were edited into a feature length film and released on DVD in 2004, called "Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks". Other episodes of the series were released on VHS in 1997.
A series aired on Doordarshan depicting the 25th Phantom played by Shahbaz Khan. He is shown fighting poachers and supernatural entities. Krutika Desai Khan plays Naina Jogan, the jungle spirit in love with Betaal(Phantom). Sonu Walia plays a TV reporter who becomes his love interest.
The Phantom (Syfy)
On July 29, 2008, screenwriter Daniel Knauf announced he and his son and collaborator Charles Knauf had completed a four-hour TV-movie script for SCI FI Channel, later renamed Syfy, starring the 22nd Phantom. On March 23, 2009, Sci Fi Channel announced that they formally ordered a 4-hour mini-series in two parts, which also served as a backdoor pilot. The mini-series, simply called The Phantom, was produced by Muse Entertainment and RHI Entertainment. It premiered in Canada on The Movie Network in December 2009, as a two-part mini-series, a total of three hours.
The story sees law student Kit learning that he was adopted, and that he is actually the son of the 21st Phantom and Diana Palmer Walker. He joins the Phantom team in the jungles of Bengalla (in this version, Bengalla is a small island in Indonesia), and is trained in martial arts and combat, emerging as the next Phantom to battle the Singh Brotherhood and save the only man who can bring peace to the Middle East. The 22rn Phantom wears a modified costume that is highly resistant to bullets, blades and falls, doubles his strength and can make him move faster.
Paul Hogan, of Crocodile Dundee fame, continually parodied the Phantom on his Australian TV-show, The Paul Hogan Show. He would dress up in the purple Phantom costume, and act out different humorous situations. The Phantom has also been frequently parodied on Scandinavian television, in different humour programs.
In 1984, Australian stand-up comedian Austen Tayshus released a single Phantom Shuffle in the video of which he appeared in Phantom costume, wearing sunglasses instead of a mask. Many elements of the Phantom myth are parodied, such him being "Mr Walker, the man who cannot drive".
In the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros., the character The Phantom Limb bears a strong visual resemblance to the Phantom, right down to the same purple suit and mask, except that the Phantom Limb's limbs are invisible, making him look like a floating torso. However, The Phantom Limb is a villainous character.
The myth surrounding the Phantom also provided Turkish humorists with a lot of material. The humor magazine Leman has published many comic strips some of which were inspired by the (imaginary) saying "in the jungle, it is rumored that the Phantom has the strength of ten tigers" where Phantom runs into trouble with 11 or more tigers.
In 1996, the A&E Network created a documentary about the history of the Phantom for television, called The Phantom: Comic strip crusader. Narrated by Peter Graves, it featured interviews with creator Lee Falk, actors Billy Zane and Kristy Swanson, director Simon Wincer, Frew-editor Jim Shepherd, George Olesen, Keith Williams, and president of the US Phantom fan club Friends of the Phantom, Ed Rhoades. The documentary was released on DVD in 2006.
To promote the 1996 Paramount Phantom movie, a HBO special called "Making of The Phantom" was made. It featured behind-the-scenes information on the movie and the comic.
An original documentary presentation called History of the Phantom was shown at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September 2008.
MythBusters "Superhero Hour"
On MythBusters season 5, episode 17 "Superhero Hour", it was tested whether the Phantom's skull ring would make an imprint on someone when you punch them while wearing it, as it does in the comic. The result was the myth was "busted", in that hitting a person in the face hard enough to leave a ring imprint on the skin requires more than enough force to crush a human skull.
In the comic, it has been revealed that the Phantom's ring actually has sharp edges and is covered with a permanent ink synthesized from plants found in the depths of the Bengallan jungle, leaving a permanent scar-like mark. It is, in effect, an instant tattoo.
A musical about the Phantom was produced in Sweden in 1985. It was written by Peter Falck and Urban Wrethagen and starred Urban Wrethagen as the Phantom. A recording of the songs was released on LP and a comic adaption of the story was published in the Swedish Fantomen magazine.
Another musical called "Fantomets glade bryllup" ("The Phantom's Happy Wedding") was made in Norway, with actor Knut Husebø as Fantomet and popular Norwegian singer Jahn Teigen composing the music and playing the antagonist. This humorous take on the character included the Phantom clashing with Tarzan. Teigen also had a hit song about the Phantom's relationship with Diana Palmer.
In the 1990s, Toadshow produced a Rock Opera entitled Phantoad of the Opera, about the Phantoad, the Ghost Who Hops, a masked musical genius wanted to appear on Broadway. The show uses elements of many different stories including The Phantom, Phantom of the Opera, Greystoke and even The Pirates of Penzance. This rock opera continues to be produced by schools.
The Phantom has appeared as a playable character in two video games, Phantom 2040 and Defenders of the Earth. Both were based on the animated series with the same titles. However, in Defenders of the Earth, the Phantom was not the only playable character, as players were given the choice to control Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon as well.
In Phantom 2040, released on Sega Genesis, Game Gear and Super NES, the Phantom was the only playable character. He had use of a number of his special skills and high-tech gadgets from the Phantom 2040 TV-series. The game had a complex storyline, and featured several different endings, dependent on the choices the player made during the game.
In 2003, a video game made for Game Boy Advance was announced, called "The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks". It was developed by 7th Sense, and produced by Microids, and was described as a free-roaming jungle adventure. During the development process, Microids went bankrupt, and the game was never released.
In 2006, The Phantom Mobile Game became available for cellphones, where the Phantom fought zombies, floating skulls and other magical creatures to find his kidnapped wife, Diana Palmer. It was described as a free-roaming jungle adventure, with a film-like plot.
"Fantomenland" ("Phantom Land") was a part of the Swedish zoo Parken Zoo, Eskilstuna, where audiences could visit the Skull Cave, and several other places from the comic, like the Whispering Grove and the headquarters of the Jungle Patrol. Visitors could also meet actors dressed up as the Phantom, and witness short plays featuring the characters of the comic. Fantomenland was inaugurated by Lee Falk in 1986. Fantomenland closed in April 2010 because The Phantom is not as well known among children as it used to be.
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- Comicon.con Pulse News (March 8, 2006): "Bullock & The Phantom Help Invisible Children", by Jennifer M. Contino
- PhantomWiki – Huge Wiki (over 15.000 articles) dedicated to everything related to The Phantom world