When I was a kid I read a lot of comics. I can still be seen browsing a page or two. I get a lot of artistic inspiration from comic artists in my own work as an illustrator and designer. And The Phantom comic super hero, was probably my most read Superhero, for many years.
Lee Falk and Ray Moore, had a huge impact in that sense, on me as a kid. But I admit, Lee Falk’s name is more top of my mind, when thinking about The Phantom comics. The illustrators where not, and still isn’t, just a few. Plenty illustrators have drawn Phantom comics. And in a way that probably taught me as a young kid, that art and illustration, drawing and painting style, vary a lot. I quickly got my favorites, and one that I simply didn’t fancy as much as the others. When one illustrator especially draw the week’s issue of the comic book, I read and bought it, but I didn’t enjoy his style of drawing as much. And it made it a less fun week. I quickly got my favorites.
In the year 2016, The Phantom is now 80 years in the making. He came to life as a comic book hero, in 1936. Written by Lee Falk. And drawn by Ray Moore. In 1939 he was first published in colour. And the Phantom ‘s suite was coloured Lilac – but not in Sweden. In Sweden he was either black and white in the interior panels, and his suite Blue in colour, on the covers.
Obviously I was a member of The Phantoms club. I still have the good and the bad Rings. The bad with the Skull sign. And the good with four “P” in a round clockwise design. I was never comfortable though with the good ring sign, even as a kid, because it too much resembled a certain symbol a certain dictator used in Germany during the second world war. I was so aware actually already as a kid aged 7. After all not so strange, due to all war action movies shown all the time back then.
I saw that I had a note in the box with the phantom rings, saying in my own writing as a 13-year-old, I placed the rings in the box when I was 13. Funny how alway did that when I was a kid. Making notes for history and the future.
The Phantom made his debut to Sweden in 1940, in a weekly magazine called Vecko Revyn. That magazine changed totally in the 70’s and became a now known girls weekly fashion magazine. In the early 80’s it was just for girls, and still is. Vecko Revyn is often criticised for anorexia effects on young women, due to their constant fixation on diet, being skinny and young women’s fashion.
Back to the Phantom.
I could mention many comics I read, and which influenced me as a kid especially. Many of those comic books were Belgian and French. A others were american. The Phantom was undoubtedly one of the most read.
But always interesting that The Phantom apparently never been such a big thing in America, compared to its huge success in Sweden, Norway and Australia.
According to the editor in the Swedish Phantom edition, he’s live and kicking. And a has a very strong position still. But not in America.
I kind of understood as a young kid and teenager, that the american comic The Phantom was different, in that many illustrators who drew The Phantom, had other nationalities. Not necessarily americans.
1996 the movie The Phantom was released. I watched it. Cool, it became a movie. But that was that. I couldn’t fully accept that he was Purple, to me he had always been blue. And, it wasn’t such a great movie made either. Maybe it had been much better with another team behind the production. Another director. Making it more like the last three Batman movies, had probably made it more interesting.
Happy birthday Phantom! Or like you are called here in Sweden: Fantomen!
PS. 1942, when in the daily newspaper www.svd.se, he was first called Drago! Haha what a name!
Happy that name was short-lived. No offense to Drago, but it would be like if he had been called Stefan. Just doesn’t cut it.
Illustrator artist and graphic designer