The Phantom

From SM-201
Jump to: navigation, search
The Phantom
Phantomcomics2.jpg
Promotional art for DC Comics' The Phantom vol. 1, #1 (May 1988), by Joe Orlando and Dave Gibbons
Charachter information
Publisher(s): King Features Syndicate, Egmont
Frew Publications
Moonstone
and many others
First Appearance: February 17, 1936
Created by: Lee Falk
Power(s): Is at peak physical and mental fitness, has quick reflexes, and is a sharpshooter.
Real name(s): Kit Walker
Alias(s): Mr Walker; Christopher Standish
Alliances: The Jungle Patrol

The Phantom is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also creator of Mandrake the Magician. A popular feature adapted into many forms of media, including television and film, it stars a costumed crimefighter operating from the African jungle. 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 2008.

Lee Falk died in 1999. As of 2008, the comic strip is produced by writer Tony DePaul and artist Paul Ryan. Previous artists on the newspaper strip include Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, George Olesen, Keith Williams, Fred Fredericks and Graham Nolan.

New Phantom stories are also published in comic books in different parts of the world, among them by Moonstone Books in the U.S., Egmont in Scandinavia, Frew Publications in Australia and Eurobooks (Egmont imprint) in India.

While the Phantom is not the first fictional costumed crimefighter, he is the first to wear the skintight costume that has become a hallmark of comic-book superheroes, and the first to wear a mask with no visible pupils, another superhero standard.

Publication history

Creation

After the success of his Mandrake the Magician strip, the King Features newspaper syndicate asked Lee Falk to develop a new feature. Falk's first attempt was a strip about King Arthur, which Falk both wrote and drew. When King Features turned him down, Falk developed what would become The Phantom, about a mysterious, costumed crimefighter. He planned out the first few months of the story and drew the first two weeks of a sample strip.

Inspired by Falk's lifelong fascination with such myths and legends as that of El Cid and King Arthur, and such modern fictional characters as Zorro, Tarzan, and The Jungle Book's Mowgli, Falk originally envisioned the Phantom's alias as rich playboy Jimmy Wells, fighting crime by night as the mysterious Phantom; partway through his first story, The Singh Brotherhood, he moved the Phantom to the jungle. He had tinkered with the idea of calling his hero The Gray Ghost (which later became the name of a Batman character, and was alluded in first episode of Phantom 2040) after thinking there were already too many Phantoms in fiction, such as The Phantom Detective and The Phantom of the Opera. He could not, ultimately, come up with a name he liked better than 'The Phantom', and therefore retained it.

In an A&E American cable TV documentary about the Phantom, Falk said Greek busts inspired the idea that the Phantom's pupils would not appear when he wore his mask. The Greek busts had no pupils, which Falk felt gave them an inhuman, interesting look. In an interview published in Comic Book Marketplace in 2005, Falk also told that the Phantom's skin-tight costume was inspired by the legendary figure of Robin Hood, who often wore tights in film and stage adaptations.


Newspaper strips

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 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 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, with Keith Williams joining as inker for the daily strip. The Sunday strip was inked by Eric Doescher until Mandrake the Magician artist 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 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. As of 2008, 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. 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, took over the daily strip in early 2005. Ryan succeeded Nolan as artist on the Sunday strip in 2007.

The Phantom is one of few adventure comic strips still published in the mid-2000s.

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. Because he seems to have existed for generations, some believe him to be immortal. In reality, the Phantom is descended from 20 previous generations of crime-fighters 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 comic strip sometimes runs flashback adventures of previous Phantoms.)

The Phantom of 2008 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.

A signature of the character is his two rings. One has a swastika-like pattern, "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.

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 a commander of Bangalla's world-famous Jungle Patrol, who never see him or know his name but answer consistently to his orders. Due to 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 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 support of his cause.

The Phantom has three helpers, a mountain wolf called Devil, a horse named Hero, and 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.

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, the Presidents of Bangalla, 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 young charges including his children.

When the Phantom leaves the jungle, he dresses in a fedora, a trench coat, and sunglasses, and is known as "Kit 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. In the newspaper strips, even the readers were never shown the Phantom's unmasked face clearly.

Origin

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.

A 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 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 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".

Mythos

Over the course of more than seventy years' worth of stories, the backstory "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 has 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 gives quotes from "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". This is true only for those whom he cannot trust, whom he kills or in whose deaths he is involved soon after their seeing of his face.

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 twenty-first Phantom's birth name is Kit Walker, as was the name of all the Phantoms before him. Kit was born in the Skull Cave, and spent his first years in the jungle in Bengalla. His mother, Maud Thorne McPatrick, was born in Mississippi of the United States, where Walker 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 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 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 stabbing him in the back, stealing his special gunbelt in the process. The Phantom eventually found him and reclaimed the belt at the island of Gullique, but before he could avenge his father and bring Rama to jail, Rama blew up his lair, killing himself and his henchmen in the process.

Costume

As part of the official uniform, the Phantom wears a black mask and a purple skintight bodysuit. He also carries period-appropriate sidearm(s), currently two M1911 pistols, in a special belt with a skull-like buckle. 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 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 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.

The Phantom's costume is colored blue in Scandinavia, red in Italy, Turkey, and formerly in Brazil, and brown in New Zealand.

Reprints

The entire run of the Phantom newspaper strip has been reprinted in Australia by Frew Publications. 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.

  • "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

Comic books

United States

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 McDonnellm lasted 13 issues (March 1989 - March 1990). It depicted the Phantom being involved with such issues as racism, toxic dumping, hunger, and modern-day piracy.

In 1987, Marvel Comics did a four-issue miniseries based on the Defenders of the Earth TV series (written by Stan Lee). Another four-issue Marvel miniseries, Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks (Feb.-April 1995) followed. The latter series was written and drawn by Dave DeVries and Glenn Lumsden and explored a futuristic, high-tech version of the Phantom in three issues. Marvel later released a four-part miniseries (May-Aug. 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 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 featured topical issues of real-life African conflicts. In a 2007 three-part story arc called "Invisible Children", the Phantom fought a fictional warlord called "Him", 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 U.S. Phantom annual.

Scandinavia and Nordic region

Egmont Publications has published original Phantom stories in a fortnightly Phantom comic book published in Norway as Fantomet, in Sweden as Fantomen, and in Finland as Mustanaamio ("[the] Black-Mask").

The first issue of Fantomen was cover-dated October 1950. Over 1,400 issues have been published.

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 over 800. 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)|Bob McLeod, Jean-Yves Mitton, Lennart Moberg, Claes Reimerthi, Paul Ryan (comics)|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. Instead of the American purple version, the Scandinavian Phantom's costume is dark blue. 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 more personal problems beside his crime fighting.

Australia

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 on a few occasions also included original stories, drawn by Australian artists. The editor-in-chief is 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.

India

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 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. 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. 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. Eurobooks India has launched the Phantom comics in large format in 2007.

Others

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. In Brazil the Phantom is known as o Fantasma.

Different Phantom comics are published and have been published in England, Israel, Spain, Poland, Russia, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Jugoslavia, New Zealand, South America, France, Thailand, Singapore, Netherlands, Hellas, Fiji and Venezuela.

In other media

Novels and short stories

Whitman

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

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, Ron Goulart|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, 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.

Moonstone Books

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, Jim Alexander, 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.

Other appearances

In Umberto Eco's novel The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, the main character describes his childhood experiences of reading The Phantom in great detail, 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.

Movies

The Phantom serials

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 jungle-city of Zoloz. The Phantom's real name in the serial was Geodfrey Prescott, as the alias of Kit Walker 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 (1996)

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 in the title role, Kristy Swanson as Diana Palmer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala, an aviatrix. It was directed by Simon Wincer, after Joe Dante 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, 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. 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 Sengh Brotherhood, a fraternity of pirates who are held to be the killers of the first Phantom's father; the all-female clan of air pirates known as the Skyband, of whom Sala is leader; and the subplot wherein the 21st Phantom recovers his father's gunbelt and takes revenge for his father's murder.

In 2008, syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith wrote that Paramount was putting a sequel into development, with Zane returning to play the title role, due to the good VHS and DVD sales of the first film.

The Ghost Who Walks

Hyde Park Entertainment and Crusader Entertainment announced in 2002 that they had acquired the feature film rights to the Phantom, with screenwriter Steven E. de Souza hired to script a movie in a contemporary setting. As of March 3, 2006, the movie's working title was The Ghost Who Walks. Two-time 1992 Summer Olympics|1992 Olympic gold medalist Melvin Stewart|Mel Stewart had been announced as a screenwriter for the production, replacing de Souza.

Cameos

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 Yellow Submarine, together with other fictional characters such as Mandrake the Magician.

Unauthorized versions

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, respectively. In 1971, the unauthorized Phantom movie Kızıl Maske'nin Intikamı (The Phantom's Revenge) appeared.

Television

1961 pilot

A 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 an assassination|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 limited budget and only featured small-budget action. Scriptwriter John Carr originally wrote four episodes, but due to the fact that the pilot was never broadcast, they were never filmed. Actress Marilyn Manning had originally been cast as Diana Palmer, but never appeared in the pilot.

Defenders of the Earth

In Defenders of the Earth from the 1980s, the twenty seventh Phantom, voiced by actor Peter Mark Richman, 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 the Original Presentation Pilot for the series, The Phantom had a son, Kit Walker, and Flash Gordon had a daughter. This pilot featured music from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and can be found on the Volume 1 DVD set.

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"

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".

Phantom 2040

Premiering in the mid-1990s, Phantom 2040 is about the adventures of a descendant, the 24th Phantom. Young Kit Walker, living happily with his aunt Heloise (daughter of the 21st Phantom), and knows 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 on 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.

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.

Sci Fi Channel

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, starring the 23rd Phantom.

Betaal Pachisi

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, after the producers failed to obtain the rights to make an actual series about the character. 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. 49 episodes were made.

Parodies

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 the Adult Swim show The Venture Bros., the character The Phantom Limb is a direct parody of 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 Venture Brothers' 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.

Documentaries

In 1996, the A&E Network made a documentary about the history of the character for television, called The Phantom: Comic strip crusader, which 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, 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 original documentary presentation for "The Phantom" is scheduled for the non-profit Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September of 2008. The event will be filmed and a 16 mm master of the TV pilot (in color) will be screened.

Mythbusters

On Mythbusters season 5, episode 17 "Superhero Hour", they tested whether or not if you punch someone while wearing a ring, if it would make an imprint them (as it does in Phantom comics). The result was the myth was "busted".

Stage

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|Perth, Western Australia in 1989. The Phantom was played by Robert Peron.

Another musical called "Fantomets glade bryllup" ("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.

A parody called The Phantum was written and directed by Zac Gillam and performed in 2002 by UDS with Brendon Fisher playing the lead as "The Ghost who Baulks".

Video games

See also: Phantom 2040 (video game)

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. Although the game enjoys somewhat of a cult following, it received luke-warm reviews from critics (it has an aggregated score of 6/10 at GameRankings.com) and did not sell as well as other super hero titles of the time such as The Death and Return of Superman or Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage.

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 (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 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.

Theme park

"Fantomenland" ("Phantom Land") is a part of the Swedish zoo Parken Zoo, Eskilstuna, where audiences can visit the Skull Cave, and several other places from the comic, like the Whispering Grove and the headquarters of the Jungle Patrol. Visitors can 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.


References

External links



Chain-09.png

Jump to: Main PageMicropediaMacropediaIconsTime LineHistoryLife LessonsLinksHelp
What links hereReferences and SourceseMail The Wiki StaffContact Info