February 17, 2016

THE PHANTOM AT 80

Lee Falk's costumed crime fighter, The Phantom, made his debut on this day 80 years ago in 1936! The first hero to go incognito in skin-tight fashion and with a mask that hid his pupils (inspired by ancient Greek busts!), the "Ghost Who Walks" was a key transitional character in pop culture, linking the conventions of Pulp fiction to the superhero genre of today. Although The Phantom had no super powers per se, he was shrouded in mystery as the "Man Who Cannot Die." Creator Lee Falk wrote an awesome backstory, establishing that many men had taken up the mantel of The Phantom in a long tradition dating back to 1536. Other fun elements included his secret lair, Skull Cave, and his trained wolf, Devil! The Phantom has been widely syndicated in newspapers and has spawned many comic adaptations around the world, with particular success in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, India, Scandinavia, and other areas. Espionage-related stories have appeared in the series as well, including counterintelligence and saboteurs during WWII and the post-war era, and even ex-KGB agents and WMD published in 2010.Hermes Press is currently releasing a beautiful archival series of books that chronicle The Phantom's adventures in both comic strips and comic books, as well as producing a new comic book series. These collections are printed with great attention to detail and design- they come highly recommended! Details at Hermes PressThe Phantom also appeared in live-action adventures, including a fun 1943 cliffhanger serial produced by Columbia Pictures starring Tom Tyler (and Ace the Wonder Dog as "Devil"). The Phantom most recently appeared in a feature film (1996/Billy Zane) and a mini-series (2006/Ryan Carnes). Below: some of my favorite Phantom images from the Spy Vibe Phantom board on Pinterest. More details at The Phantom Comics and 80th Anniversary posts at Comics Alliance and The Daily TelegraphEnjoy!


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