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The Phantom

The Phantom

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Phantom

Cover to DC Comics' The Phantom # 1 (1988) Art by Joe Orlando and Dave Gibbons

The Phantom is a comic strip created by Lee Falk (also creator of Mandrake the Magician), recounting the adventures of a costumed crime-fighter called the Phantom. The series began with a daily newspaper strip on February 17, 1936, which was joined by a colour Sunday strip in May of 1939; both are still running as of 2006 and are read by millions of people every day. Lee Falk died in 1999, and the newspaper comics are now written by Tony DePaul and drawn by Paul Ryan (daily strip) and Graham Nolan (Sunday strip). Previous artists on the newspaper strip include Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, George Olesen, Keith Williams and Fred Fredericks. The Phantom is also successfully published in comic books throughout the world, by several different publishers.

The Phantom is credited as being the first "costumed superhero", i.e. the first crimefighter to wear the skintight costume attributed to comic book superheroes, and being the first hero to have white eyes behind his mask, a phenomenon very common with superheroes. Previous fictional crime fighters, such as Zorro and Doc Savage, were not designed especially for newspaper comic strips or comic books.

The characterEdit

The Phantom wears a black mask and a purple skintight costume. Creator Lee Falk had originally envisioned a grey costume and even considered naming his creation "The Gray Ghost" before settling on "The Phantom". It was not until the Phantom Sunday strip debuted in 1939 that the costume was shown to be purple, something that apparently was a printing mistake and Lee Falk himself did not approve beforehand. Lee Falk wanted the costume to be gray, but the colorist while colouring the strip decided that Phantom would look better in purple. Although this was never corrected, Falk continued to refer to the costume as gray in the text of the strip on several occasions after this, but finally accepted the purple costume. In a retcon 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.

Publishers that printed color comics with the Phantom before 1939 chose costume color based on their own preference, and even later various publishers throughout the world picked different costume colors; e.g. – blue in Scandinavia (this was because the purple colour wasn't possible to print initially), red in Italy, Turkey and (formerly) Brazil, and brown in New Zealand. In one of the European nations the Phantom was never printed in a purple costume since it was the colour used for mourning.

The Phantom carries two .45 pistols. Unlike many costume heroes, he has no superhuman powers, and rely only on his wits, his fists, and his feared legend to fight crime.

His base is in the Deep Woods of Bangalla (originally Bengali, renamed Denkali in the Indian edition), a fictional country initially set in Asia somewhere near India but later moved to Africa.

The Phantom is also the unknown commander of Bangalla's world famous Jungle Patrol. Due to a betrayal leading to the death of the 14th Phantom, the identity of the commander have been kept hidden from members of the patrol ever since. The 6th Phantom originally formed the Jungle Patrol with the help of former pirate Redbeard and his men back in 1664.

The Phantom lives in the fabled Skull Cave, where all previous Phantoms are buried.

Another character who aided the Phantom is the Chief of the Pygmy tribe, Guran. Guran is the Phantom's best friend since childhood, and he has been a valuable support in the hard battle against evil.

LocationPhantom

Map of countries printing The Phantom. Green countries have regular Phantom publications, while blue countries print the dailies/Sundays in newspapers.

In the African jungle, the Phantom is called "The Ghost who Walks" and "The Man who Cannot Die" because he seems to have been around for generations. This is because the Phantom is descended from twenty previous generations of crime-fighters who all share the same persona. When a new Phantom takes up the mantle, he has to swear 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" Frequently the strip highlights the adventures of previous Phantoms, set in the past, and some European publications have featured the Phantom's children as future crimefighters. Two signatures of the character are two rings he wears. One has a pattern that he leaves on visitors to his region he approves of, which marks the person as under his protection. The other has a skull shape and is worn on his favored punching hand, which leaves a skull like scar on the enemies he punches.

The Phantom has two helpers, a mountain wolf, Devil, and a horse, Hero. He also has a trained falcon named Fraka. From 1962 on, The Phantom raised an orphan named Rex (now Prince of Baronkhan).

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 Mandrake the Magician, and the Presidents of Bangalla and Ivory Lana; Luaga and Goranda.

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 his young charges, first Rex, then Kit and Heloise.

"There are times when the Phantom leaves his jungle home and travels as an ordinary man." When he does, he wears a fedora, a trench coat, and sunglasses, and is known as "Mr. Walker". References to "Mr. Walker" are traditionally accompanied by a footnote saying "For 'The Ghost Who Walks'", although some versions of the Phantom's history suggest that Walker was actually the surname of the man who became the first Phantom. Like The Lone Ranger, the Phantom does not allow his unmasked or undisguised face to be seen except by close friends or members of his family.

OriginEdit

ThePhantom

The Phantom, drawn by Jerry DeCaire

The story of the Phantom started with a young sailor named Christopher Walker. 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 Maria when he discovered America.

Christopher Jr. became a shipboy on his father's ship in 1526, of which Christopher senior was Captain.

In 1536, when Christopher was 20 years old, he was a part of what was supposed to be the last voyage of his father. On February 17, the ship was attacked by pirates of the Singh Brotherhood in a bay in the (fictional) African country of Bengalla. The last thing Christopher saw before he fell unconscious and fell to 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.

A time later, Christopher had a walk on the same beach that he had been washed ashore on, and found a dead body there, who he recognized as the pirate who killed his father. He allowed the vultures flying around the body finish their work, took up the skull of the killer, raised it above his head, and swore a sacred 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 found out that they were slaves of the Wasaka tribe, a tribe consisting of what the Bandars called "giants". The Bandars who had found him was only a small group of people who had managed to escape from the village of the Wasaka. Immediately, Christopher walked into the village of the Wasaka, and asked them to set the Bandars free. Instead of achieving this goal, 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, the Wasaka allowing them to eat him. Christopher was quickly saved by a group of Bandars before the vultures or the Wasaka could do him any real harm. They managed to escape from the village of the Wasaka unharmed.

Christopher learned about an ancient Bandar legend about 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 Bandars (armed with their newly discovered, extremely poisoned arrows, 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, was 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 brought on to the generations to come after them.

The Bandars showed Christopher to a cave, which resembled the look of a human skull. Christopher later carved it out to make it look even more like a skull. What was later on known as the 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, and when the 2nd Phantom died, his son took over. And so it would go on through the centuries, causing people to believe that the Phantom was immortal, giving him nicknames as "The Ghost Who Walks" and "The Man Who Cannot Die".

The legendEdit

Over the course of more than seventy years' worth of stories, the "legend" of the Phantom grew to become an integral part of the series' raison d'être. 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 has helped maintain his appeal through the present day.

The Phantom is feared by criminals over the entire world, and he knows how to use his frightening image and reputation against them. As things turn out, the idea of him being an immortal ghost haunting evil men is much more effective than any supernatural power could have been.

The Family of The PhantomEdit

See also: Family tree of the Phantom

Kit WalkerEdit

The 21st Phantom's birth name is Kit Walker. Kit spent his first years in the jungle in Bengalla, but went to USA for studying when he was 10 years old, living with his aunt and uncle, Lucy and Jaspher, in the little town of Clarksville. Here, he also met his wife-to-be, Diana Palmer. Kit was an extremely talented sportsman, and was predicted to become the world champion of many different genres (he even knocked out the boxing champion of the world in a match when the champion visited Clarksville). Despite being able to choose practically any career he wanted, Kit faithfully returned to Bengalla to take over the role of the Phantom when he received word that his father was dying.

Newspaper stripsEdit

19390528

The first Phantom Sunday strip from May 28, 1939. Art by Ray Moore.

The Phantom started out as a daily strip on February 17, 1936, with the acclaimed story "The Singh Brotherhood". It was written by Lee Falk and initially also pencilled and/or laid out by him. The first major Phantom artist was Ray Moore. At the time, Lee Falk was already the creator of the successful Mandrake the Magician newspaper strip. Ray Moore was previously assistant to Mandrake artist Phil Davis. A Sunday strip version of the Phantom was added on May 28, 1939.

During the war, Falk joined the Office of War Information where he became chief of his radio foreign language division. It is rumored that during this time the Phantom strip was at least partially written by Alfred Bester, but this is still somewhat disputed by those who say Bester wrote Mandrake instead.

Ray Moore also was also active in the war and during that time left the strip to his assistant Wilson McCoy. Moore returned after the war and worked on the strip on and off until 1949, when he left it completely in the hands of McCoy.

During McCoy's tenure the strip was at its peak, appearing in thousands of newspapers worldwide. His stories are still printed over the whole world in comic books and hardcover collections.

McCoy died suddenly in 1961. Carmine Infantino and Bill Lignante (who would later draw Phantom stories directly for comic magazines) 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 would continue working on the strip for over 30 years before retiring in 1994.

Barry's longtime assistant George Olesen remained on the strip as penciller. New inker for the daily strip was Keith Williams. The Sunday strip was for some time inked by Eric Doescher before Mandrake the Magician artist Fred Fredericks became the regular inker in 1995.

Phantomdaily

Phantom daily strip from 2005. Art by Paul Ryan.

Lee Falk continued to script the Phantom (and Mandrake) until his death on March 13, 1999. His last Daily and Sunday strip stories, "Terror at the Opera" and "The Kidnappers", were finished by his wife, Elizabeth Falk. After Falk's passing, King Features Syndicate began to cooperate with European comic publisher Egmont; publisher of the Swedish Fantomen magazine which has contained original comic book stories since 1963. 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. Today De Paul is the regular writer. Some of the 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, whose goal was to give the series a slightly more filmatic look. A few years later, Olesen and Williams left the daily strip, after Olesen decided to retire. A new artist was found in Paul Ryan, who by then already was a Phantom veteran after having worked on the Fantomen comic stories for a couple of years. Ryan's first daily strip appeared in early-2005. Both Nolan and Ryan have grown to become very popular with fans of the strip, giving the strip a more filmatic look than what was common earlier.

ReprintsEdit

Cr138c1

The Phantom by Romano Felmang.

The entire run of the Phantom newspaper strip, up to and beyond the death of creator Lee Falk, has been reprinted in Australia by Frew. Edited versions of most of his 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.

Comic booksEdit

USEdit

Moonstonephantom

Cover to The Phantom # 4 (published in 2004 by Moonstone Books). Art by Doug Klauba.

In the U.S., 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, then King Comics in 1966, then 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 was written by Peter David and drawn by Joe Orlando and Dennis Janke. The regular series that followed lasted 13 issues and was written by Mark Verheiden and drawn by Luke McDonnell. The series had The Phantom being involved with real world problems, like racism, toxic dumping, hunger, and modern day piracy. Despite critical acclaim, the series was cancelled in late 1990, due to declining sales and licensing issues.

Dcphantom

Cover of The Phantom #1 (published in 1989 by DC Comics). Art by Luke McDonnell.

In 1987, Marvel Comics did a series based on the Defenders of the Earth TV series (written by the legendary Stan Lee). Only four issues were published. Another mini-series released by Marvel in 1994-1995 explored a more futuristic, high-tech version of the Phantom in three issues (apparently the 22nd Phantom). Later in 1995 Marvel also released a 4-part mini-series based on the Phantom 2040 TV series, pencilled by none other than legendary Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man. One issue even featured a pin-up drawing by Ditko and another legend, John Romita, Sr.

The gadgets used by Marvel's 22nd Phantom were remeniscent of those in Phantom 2040, only less advanced. For instance, while the 24th Phantom had a talking AI built into one of his wristbands, the 22nd's wristband contained a sophisticated, but clearly present-day, palmtop computer.

In 2002, Moonstone Books in the United States began publishing original graphic novels based on The Phantom, and a comic book series followed in December 2003, to critical acclaim. Among their stories is a new version on The Phantom's origin story by Ben Raab and Pat Quinn, called "Legacy", and a series of books introducing an all new format to comic books, called wide-vision books, which aims to look like widescreen films. In late 2005, Moonstone hired "Lions, Tigers and Bears" writer Mike Bullock and Carlos Magno as the new creative team on the book, with Joe Prado and Doug Klauba being responsible for the covers. As this is written in April 2006, Moonstone is in the process of making two collections of prose stories with The Phantom. Possibly because of huge interest from comic book publications and websites, The Phantom is to date Moonstone's most successful title, and it is considered to be the reason why the small independent publisher's popularity and fame have increased the last years. Although Moonstone's regular writer is now Mike Bullock, several others have participated, like Chuck Dixon, Ron Marz, Rafael Nieves, Joe Gentile, Tom DeFalco, and Ron Goulart. Some of the artists who have participated are Gabriel Rearte, Nick Derington, Jerry DeCaire, Rich Burchett, EricJ, and Eisner award winner Paul Guinan.

ScandinaviaEdit

In addition to the two newspaper strips, original stories are published by Egmont Publications in Scandinavia (where the Phantom is very popular). Egmont publishes a fortnightly Phantom comic book in Norway (as Fantomet), Sweden (as Fantomen), and Finland (as Mustanaamio {"Black Mask"}Template:Fn). Egmont has been publishing their own Phantom stories for over forty years. They continue to sell well in a market mostly populated by humor comic books.

Fantomencover

Cover to Swedish Fantomen # 8 (2003) (# 1303 since the start 1950). Art by Hans Lindahl. Published by Egmont.

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 close to 900. The average length of a Fantomen story is 30+ pages (compared to 20-24 pages for most U.S. 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 (comics artist)|, 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 nick-named Team Fantomen. In later years, the Team have started to experiment more with the character and his surroundings, in more emotional and challenging stories than what was common before. Egmont have also been trying to dvelve deeper into the character's psyche lately, often giving him personal problems as well as his crime fighting.

Phantom 74 01

Don Newton's cover to The Phantom #74 featuring the Phantom of 1776.

AustraliaEdit

Another country where the Phantom is popular is Australia, where Frew Publications has published a fortnightly comic book, The Phantom, since 1948. Frew's book mostly contains reprints, from the newspaper strips and from Fantomen (in English translation), but has occasionally also included an original story. The editor-in-chief is Jim Sheperd. Frew's The Phantom is the longest running comic book series with the character in the world.

IndiaEdit

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 Sundays. Indrajal Comics took up publication of Phantom comics in English and other Indian languages in 1964. They ceased publication in 1990. This same year Diamond Comics started publishing Phantom comics in digest form, 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. Today they only bring out reprints of their earlier stories with new covers and formats. The only regular publisher of the Phantom left in India is Rani Comics which started publication in 1990. However, these comics are available only in the Tamil language. It may be noted that Indrajal Comics, Diamond Comics and Rani Comics, all published reprints of Lee Falk's daily or Sunday strips. Only Egmont Imagination India printed the Scandinavian work.

OthersEdit

Italian publisher Fratelli Spada in Italy also produced a large number of original Phantom stories for their L'Uomo Mascherato series of comic books in the 1960s and 70s. Among the artists that worked for Fratelli Spada were Guido Buzzelli, Mario Caria, Umberto Sammarini (Usam), Germano Ferri, Senio Pratesi, Mario Caria and Felmang. Ferri, Usam, Felmang and Caria have all later worked for the Swedish Fantomen magazine.

Brazilian publisher RGE and German publisher Bastei also produced original Phantom stories for their comic books.

Other mediaEdit

NovelsEdit

Main article: Phantom novels

The first novel about the Phantom was published in 1944 by Whitman Publishing Company, and was called "Son of the Phantom". It was 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.

Avon Publications in the U.S. put out 15 books based on Lee Falk's stories. These ran from 1972 to 1975, and were written by Lee Falk or a ghost writer. The covers were done by George Wilson. Many of the books were translated into foreign languages.

  1. The Story of the Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks 1972, Lee Falk
  2. The Slave Market of Mucar 1972, Basil Copper
  3. The Scorpia Menace 1972, Basil Copper
  4. The Veiled Lady 1973, Frank S. Shawn
  5. The Golden Circle 1973, Frank S. Shawn
  6. The Mysterious Ambassador 1973, Lee Falk
  7. The Mystery of the Sea Horse 1973, Frank S. Shawn
  8. The Hydra Monster 1973, Frank S. Shawn
  9. Killer's Town 1973, Lee Falk
  10. The Goggle-Eyed Pirates 1974, Frank S. Shawn
  11. The Swamp Rats 1974, Frank S. Shawn
  12. The Vampires & the Witch 1974, Lee Falk
  13. The Island of Dogs 1975, Warren Shanahan
  14. The Assassins 1975, Carson Bingham
  15. The Curse of the Two-Headed Bull 1975, Lee Falk

In 2006, some of the novels were released as audio books in Norway and Sweden, as part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the character.

Moonstone Books, the current publisher of US Phantom comics, are also intending to release two collections of short stories with the Phantom; so-called prose anthologies, written by a large set of writers, including: David Bishop, Martin Powell, Mike Bullock, Ron Marz, David Michelinie, Grant Suave, John Ostrander, Len Wein, Steven Grant, Ron Goulart, and Tony Bedard.

MoviesEdit

Phantomzane2

Billy Zane as The Phantom

See also: The Phantom (1943 movie serial), The Phantom (film), and The Ghost Who Walks
A fifteen-part movie serial starring Tom Tyler was made in 1943, with Jeanne Bates as Diana Palmer, and Ace the Wonder Dog as Devil. The story featured The Phantom in his search for the lost city of Zoloz. Strangely enough, the Phantom's real name was in the serial Geodfrey Prescott, but this was because the Kit Walker name had not been mentioned in the strip at that point. A sequel was filmed in 1955 starring John Hart, but after problems with the rights to the character it was partially re-shot and re-named The Adventures of Captain Africa.

The Phantom was also made into a movie in 1996. The movie was set in the 1930s, and incorporated elements from several of the Phantom's earliest comic-strip adventures. It starred Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones and was directed by Simon Wincer. It 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 ended up getting the part because of his convincing screen-test, good looks and knowledge to the Phantom comic. After his casting , he feverishly pumped iron for a year and a half to fill The Phantom's costume. Many scenes developing the relationship between The Phantom and Diana Palmer were cut, to make the film more fast-paced. The movie was the reason why Billy Zane was cast as Caledon Hockley in James Cameron's Titanic, according to the actor himself, which to this date remains his best known characterization.

In 2002, it was announced that Hyde Park Entertainment and Crusader Entertainment had acquired the feature film rights to the Phantom, with the intention of making a new movie in a contemporary setting. As of March 3, 2006, the movie's working title was The Ghost Who Walks and is scheduled for release in 2007. Two-time 1992 Olympic gold medalist Mel Stewart had been announced as a screenwriter for the production, although the latest information posted on the Internet Movie Database does not mention him in this role. In an interview, Stewart described the film as a combination of X-Men and Tom Clancy.

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, meaning Red Mask). The Phantom was played by Ismet Erten and Irfan Atasoy. In 1971, another movie called Kızıl Maske'nin Intikamı (The Phantom's Revenge) was made.

It is also known that unauthorized Spanish and Italian Phantom movies exist, although there are almost no information on them available.

TelevisionEdit

A TV pilot was made in 1961 starring Roger Creed (best known for his work as a stuntman) as the Phantom, with Lon Chaney Jr., Paulette Goddard as the main villains and Richard Kiel as an assassin called "Big Mike" in supporting roles. The pilot, which never aired anywhere in the world, was called "No Escape", and saw the Phantom trying to break up a slave camp in the jungle. The pilot also featured the Phantom's horse Hero and his wolf Devil. It was made on a very low budget, and therefore, it only featured small-budget action, like the Phantom fighting a crocodile, the Phantom fighting Big Mike, the Phantom riding on Hero, and the Phantom hunting down the bad guys in the jungle, taking them out one by one, like he is known to do in the comics. In total, scriptwriter John Carr wrote scripts for four episodes, but due to the fact that the pilot never aired, they were never filmed. Although it was never aired, the pilot was shown at the San Diego Comicon.

Paul Hogan 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 1996, the A&E Network made a long Phantom-biography for television, called "The Phantom: Comic strip crusader", which featured interviews with people like creator Lee Falk, actors Billy Zane and Kristy Swanson, director Simon Wincer, Frew-editor Jim Sheperd, George Olesen, Keith Williams, and the president of the US Phantom fan club Friends of the Phantom, Ed Rhoades. A&E Network's biography programs normally focus on real-life persons, and the Phantom is one of the very few fictional characters to get his own program.

To promote the 1996 Paramount Phantom movie, numerous TV-programs about the Phantom were made. One of them was an HBO special called "Making of The Phantom", which featured behind-the-scenes information on the movie and the comic.

An Indian TV serial named "Betaal Pachisi" (meaning Phantom XXV), starring Shahbaz Khan, Tom Alter and Sonu Walia, and directed by Sunil Agnihotri, was inspired by the Phantom. It was first aired in May, 1997 on the Doordarshan TV network of India. Each episode was half an hour long and in the Hindi language. There were 49 episodes in total.

AnimationEdit

Main articles: Phantom 2040, Defenders of the Earth

Phantom2040

Phantom 2040 logo

The Phantom has appeared in two animated series. In Defenders of the Earth from the 1980's, the 27th Phantom, teams up with fellow King Features adventurers Flash Gordon and Mandrake the Magician. 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 episode "Return of the Sky Band" also featured flashbacks to the Phantom of Lee Falk's comic strip; the 21st Phantom, and his wife Diana Palmer.

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 strength of ten tigers" (or "the speed of the cheetah", etc.)

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".

In the cartoon, The Phantom was voiced by actor Peter Mark Richman. Like Phantom 2040, Defenders of the Earth spawned a lot of merchandise.

The Phantom also 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 called Yellow Submarine, together with other fictional characters.

Premiering in the mid-1990's, Phantom 2040 is about the adventures of a descendant, the 24th Phantom. Young Kit Walker, living happily with his aunt Heloise, knows nothing about his family's legacy, when one day, The Phantom's faithful friend Guran turns up to tell him the secret of his life. Kit takes up on the mantle of The Phantom, and starts a battle against the evil company Maximum Inc., and their plans to destroy earth's resources. He also tries to solve the mystery of the death of his father, the 23rd Phantom. The series lasted for two seasons, and spawned a large number of merchandise. The Phantom/Kit Walker was voiced by actor Scott Valentine, while other names like Mark Hamill, Ron Perlman, and Margot Kidder lent their voices to other characters.

StageEdit

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. The Falck-Wrethagen musical was also performed in Perth, Western Australia in 1989. It was not well received, mainly due to the poor acting ability and physique of the local lead actor, Robert Peron.

Another musical called "Fantomets glade bryllup" ("Phantom's happy wedding") was made in Norway, with Jahn Teigen as Fantomet. It was a humoristic take on the character, and also featured Tarzan and other fictional characters.

Video games Edit

The Phantom have 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, featuring a number of his special skills and high-tech gadgets from the Phantom 2040 TV-series. The game was acclaimed by critics for its complexity and intelligent gaming experience by the time it was released.

In 2003, a video game made for Game Boy Advance was announced, simply 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. Under the development process, Microids went bankrupt, and the game was never released (7th Sense's game based on Mandrake the Magician suffered the same fate).

In 2006, a The Phantom Mobile Game became available for Cellphones, where the Phantom fights zombies, undead mages, floating skulls and other strange, magical creatures to find his kidnapped wife, Diana Palmer. Like the canned Game Boy Advance game, it was described as a free-roaming jungle adventure, with a film-like plot.

Rumours have been going about a Phantom PC-game, but nothing have been confirmed.

Theme park Edit

The Phantom has his own theme park attraction in the Swedish amusement park Parken Zoo, Eskilstuna, where visitors can take a closer look at the Skull Cave, and several other places known from the Phantom comics, and talk to the Phantom "himself" in person. The park was inaugurated by Lee Falk himself in 1986.

TriviaEdit

  • The 1943 Phantom serial is so far the only film to actually show the iconic handover of the Phantom legacy from the dying father to his son.
  • In the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros., the character The Phantom Limb is a direct parody of him, 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. (The name is a parody of the phantom limb syndrome amputees experience.)
  • Sy Barry came to draw Diana Palmer after the Charlie's Angels-star Jaclyn Smith.
  • Donna Marabella, the wife of the first Phantom, resembles Marilyn Monroe.
  • Maude Thorne McPatrick, wife of the 20th Phantom and mother of the 21st Phantom, resembles Rita Hayworth.
  • Flame Stanbury, the wife of the ninth Phantom, resembles Jane Russell
  • Lee Falk originally intended the Phantom's alias to be the rich playboy Jimmy Wells (years before the similar Batman was created). However, halfway through his first story, "The Singh Brotherhood", he decided to move the Phantom to the jungle and gave him the name of Kit Walker.
  • On the premiere of The Phantom movie starring Billy Zane in 1996, creator Lee Falk received a telegram from President Bill Clinton congratulating him.
  • According to the 1996 A&E Network Phantom biography, the Phantom strip was smuggled by boats into the Nazi-occupied Norway during World War II. The Nazis controlled almost everything in the Norwegian newspapers, and continued to publish fake news about the United States' fall. However, Norwegians knew better, as they knew the Phantom, still seen in the papers, was an American creation, therefore giving them hope in a difficult time. The word "Phantom " was also used as a password for the Norwegian Resistance.
  • Lee Falk was a huge admirer of William Shakespeare, and left several tributes to his hero in his stories throughout the years, even going as far as having the 3rd Phantom work as an actor for Shakespeare and marry his niece, Rosamunda.
  • The Phantom have been featured as a guest character in a few Mandrake the Magician stories, where the two crime-fighters, both created by Lee Falk, co-operate. It is unclear if they are considered to be part of the Phantom-canon.
  • In Sweden, early in the 1990s, there was a soft drink called Fantomenläsk (Phantom soft drink) featuring the phantom on the label. The soft drink itself was relatively opaque and was colored azure blue.


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