Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Want To Own an Original Piece of Phantom Art?


Right now, if you act quickly, you can commission your very own drawing by Team Fantomen artist Sal Velluto!

Visit Sal's blog "The Ghost Who Draws" for details. Sal lists his commission rates here.

Don't let this rare opportunity pass you by!

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Interview With Antonio Lemos

Today, I am very privileged to bring you another interview with a Phantom creator- Mr. Antonio Lemos. Antonio has been the regular cover artist for Australia's FREW Comics' Phantom since 1993. He has dozens of Phantom covers to his credit. Antonio agreed to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to do a short, e-mail interview with me:

Ghost Who Blogs: When and how did you first become interested in art?

Antonio Lemos: I remember drawing since I was in primary school, in Uruguay, but I think it was only when I started high school that I contemplated "doing something about it". Paid tuition in any shape of form was out of the question; my mother, my six siblings and me were barely surviving ,so, no chance in hell of diverting any money I could make into pursuing artistic endeavours. It would even look very odd as no one in my family had any interest in art, and probably regarded my constant drawing as some sort of juvenile fancy that will certainly pass when the raw realities of life and its challenges, started to bite.

I travelled to the capital Montevideo before finishing high school and applied for an apprenticeship at a Naval school. I failed my first attempt, as I couldn’t complete the physical tests on the allocated time. But eventually I was admitted and thus my life as a sailor began. Little I knew it was going to last for …23 years!

It was during my time in the navy when I met a journalist from one of the largest newspaper in Uruguay, and was fortunate enough to be offered a spot in the same newspaper as a freelance illustrator. In between my trips with the navy and some long periods patrolling at sea, I continue to work in that capacity, and then started publishing a comic strip of my creation, called Rocco.

But all this time, although reading art books and copying other artists as we all do in the beginning, I tried to teach myself to draw and improve my technique to reach new levels in my job. Self taught? You bet.

GWB: Were you familiar with The Phantom when you lived in Uruguay? Were you a fan of The Phantom before you became a Phantom artist?
AL: I don’t remember being a Phantom fan when I lived in Uruguay. I was familiar with the character, sure, but not very fond of the artists doing it at the time.

GWB: What drew you to Australia?
AL: I reached an early peak in my naval career. And I knew that if I stayed in Uruguay I’ll eventually have to retire on an ever diminishing pension and I wanted to explore other options for me and my family’s sake. I found out that there was a Uruguayan guy in charge of a Spanish newspaper in Sydney, and I sent him a comic strip that we have done with Eduardo Barreto, whom you surely know from The Titans and Judge Parker. They published the strip for one year in the newspaper, and at the end of it sent me a work contract.

GWB: Do you prefer the Phantom in red, blue or purple?

AL: I am more familiar with the purple uniform. I think the blue looks good too, but again, to me the right colour is purple. They used it on the movie, so it might have been Lee’s favourite colour too.

GWB: How did you come to draw The Phantom professionally ?

AL: I met the man who was doing the lettering for The Phantom in 1993. He told me that the artist doing the covers had passed away, and prompted me to apply for the job. I did, and the rest, as they say, is history. As for doing it professionally, remember I had a number of years of work in newspapers and books, so by the time The Phantom came I was quite ready to meet the challenge.

GWB: Who is your favorite Phantom artist?

AL: No favourite Phantom artist. There are certain things that I admire in some and certain things that I admire in others. And artists from all kinds of mediums have influenced me, not just comic book artists. I try to be the best I can in every job, but I do not aim at duplicating the work of greats such as Felmang or Barry or my good friend Sal Velluto.

GWB: Do you know a lot of your fellow Phantom artists?
AL: I spent an evening with Felmang at his studio in Rome once, and I met Sy Barry here in Sydney a few years back. I corresponded with Lindhal in Sweden and stayed with other artists in Madrid but didn’t meet Carlos Cruz, as he lives somewhere in the east coast of Spain.

GWB: Favorite comic project?

AL: The next one.

GWB: Have you been approached by Dynamite Entertainment about doing any art for their newly-acquired Phantom comics?

AL: No, I have not been approached to do the Phantom outside Australia. There have been what could be regarded as opportunities but I have been a bit reluctant to act on them, as I do not want to live by deadlines again. I love travelling and there where a few places I wanted to see before my 70th birthday, and I did. Greece is the last one on my list, and God willing, I’ll be there in October this year.

GWB: How do you feel about the current state of the comic industry? What, if anything, would you do to improve it?

AL: I think that things changed dramatically since the Golden Era of comics in the fifties, but the genre will continue to exist, no matter what. It is evolving into something different, and the multitude of movies made with characters from comic books speaks by itself of the popularity of the medium. Artists will have to evolve, too, and move with the times, to accompany the metamorphosis.

GWB: What advice would you give to aspiring comic artists?
AL: The one I painfully learned by myself; practice, practice practice. Whether you are studying with the best in the business or battling it alone in the wilderness , nothing will take the place of discipline, observation and hard work. Don’t ever think that you have “arrived”; there is always something new to learn, and different ways to express what YOU feel.

GWB: What would you most like others to know about yourself?

AL: That I always try my best. Some might like the end results, some might think it’s awful. But I try to show that no one could be a harder critic than myself.

I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to Antonio for granting me this interview, and also to Jungle Patrolman Sal Velluto who graciously put me in touch with Mr. Lemos.

Antonio was also kind enough to send me a hand-picked gallery of his work for our enjoyment...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Matinee- The Phantom (1943) episode 9 "The Fire Princess"

Phantom was in danger, blah, blah, blah, escaped deathtrap, etc. Enjoy :

Friday, May 21, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser...

Well, after that sock in the jaw, looks like Jimmy's going "home". Guess he won't be around when The Phantom shows up.

Meanwhile, good ol' Achmed introduces us to his own personal torturer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sinister Goings-on...

Sorry it's been a while between posts, but The Ghost Who Blogs was on a brief vacation with his family (Yes, we had a lovely time-thanks for asking!)

Today we pick up where we left off last week. Prince Achmed reveals his true colors. Interestingly enough, that useless, wealthy playboy type, Jimmy Wells seems to have grown a backbone. Could he be the mysterious Phantom? Only time will tell...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Matinee- The Phantom (1943) episode 8 "In Quest of the Keys"

Falling down a well isn't enough to stop The Ghost Who Walks. Or is that The Ghost Who Treads Water Really Well?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ambergris! That's the stuff they use to make perfume, isn't it?

I'm going to interrupt our story here for the benefit of any readers who don't know what Ambergris is.

from Wikipedia (the sum total of ALL human knowledge):

Ambergris (Ambra grisea, Ambre gris, ambergrease, or grey amber) is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color produced in the digestive system of and regurgitated by sperm whales.

Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. The principal historical use of ambergris was as a fixative in perfumery, though it has now been largely displaced by synthetics.

Ambergris occurs as a biliary secretion of the intestines of the sperm whale, and can be found floating upon the sea, or in the sand near the coast. It is also sometimes found in the abdomens of whales. Because giant squids' beaks have been found embedded within lumps of ambergris, scientists have theorized that the whale's intestine produces the substance as a means of easing the passage of hard, sharp objects that the whale might have inadvertently eaten.

Ambergris is usually passed in the fecal matter. Ambergris that forms a mass too large to exit via the anus is expelled via the mouth, leading to the reputation of ambergris as primarily coming from whale vomit.[1]

Ambergris can be found in the Atlantic Ocean; on the coasts of Brazil and Madagascar; and on the coast of Africa, of the East Indies, The Maldives, China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Molucca islands. Most commercially collected ambergris comes from the Bahama Islands and Providence Island in the Caribbean.

Um... yuck?

Now, back to Diana and her treasure trove of stinky whale puke...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Phantom, plus Moore's Phantom

Today we have the debut of Ray Moore as the regular artist on The Phantom. Lee Falk realized that he was not going to be able to write Mandrake The Magician and The Phantom and also draw The Phantom. Falk decided to bring on artist Ray Moore, who had been working as an assistant on Mandrake.

Moore's art is moody and creepy and while not dissimilar to Falk's art, Moore would bring a new level of sophistication to the art which would remain a halmark of the strip until Moore's assistant, Wilson McCoy took over in the 1940's, putting his own, "cartoonier" stamp on The Phantom.

Now, on with our story.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our story continues...

We pick up today right where we left off. At this point, the strip is still being both written and drawn by Lee Falk. In tomorrow's post, we will see the first of the strips drawn by Ray Moore.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For Those Who Came In Late...

I thought I'd treat everyone to THE original Phantom yarn. So, sit back and enjoy "The Story of the Singh Brotherhood" by Lee Falk, art by Lee Falk and Ray Moore.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All Right, Smart Guy! What Would YOU Do?

I really hadn't wanted to get into this sort of thing. I mean, I'm a blogger, so I guess that means I'm sort of an opinion factory but, I really don't relish the idea of proposing my alternate approach, only to sound like an armchair quarterback.

But, then again, Hell, it's my blog and I have the floor, so to speak.



I would start at the beginning. I would re-tell the original "Story of the Singh Brotherhood" storyline from 1934. I haven't decided yet if I'd make it a period piece or make it modern day. There are distinct advantages to both.

If I made it modern, I'd obviously have to change all the stuff about ambergris to something else of value and interest (oil?) since using whale product is no longer in vogue.

I would, regardless of time-frame, reset the locale. Instead of Africa, I'd move us back to the Indian Ocean. Maybe combine Bengali with the original story's setting of the island of Luntok and call it "Bengali-Luntok" or something. Things there would have a distinct feeling of Southern Asia intermixed with Pacific Island cultures. Elements of both have persisited in modern day "Bangalla" even into the 80's and 90's.

From that storyline, I would let things take their course.

I would get King Features involved in a two-pronged marketing campaign, taking advantage of their vast, newspaper and internet news connections and really talk this re-launch up in advance.

The thrust of my publicity would resonate with the first half of the storyline (Which I would spread out over the first 12-24 issues)- Who IS The Phantom? I'd make the whole thing very mysterious and make it seem a lot more credible that Jimmy Wells could be the Phantom. Using benefit of hindsight, I'd weave the folklore part in a little earlier. Have more scenes of Singh operatives in NYC trembling with rumors that The Ghost Who Walks has followed them from the So. Pacific...

Well, you get the idea. Anyway, that's how I'd do it. Heck, KFS usually only licenses their properties to a comics publisher for 2 years at a time, maximum. Maybe I'll apply for the license next.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

Saturday Matinee- The Phantom (1943) episode 7 "The Mystery Well"

Looks like the Phantom is about to get it from that shotgun booby trap the bad guys left...or is he??

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Sneak Peek at Dynamite's Phantom.- Follow-up

I now feel moved to speak. However, my comments are too long and Blogger is having a brain fart. So here's my comments in a separate post.

Lysdexicus: The first thing I thought of when I saw this was "Predator". I am pretty sure that is just body paint, however and not blood.

Bengali Indrajal Comics: Yeah, I don't care much for the looks of it, either.

Pidde: Ha! "Lee Falk spinning in this grave" Classic.

Anonymous(whoever you are when you're at home): " People should not jumping and throwing stones before watching what is really in store. So far this image seems to want to touch heavily on the Supernatural aspect of the character, which is fair game, its one of the three main aspects of the Phantom as a heroic character."

Fair enough.

What has to be understood about the reactions Phans have to this sort of thing is this: Australia, New Zealand, India and Scandinavia take an almost proprietary interest in the Phantom. While the US has thousands of superhero comics, in the aforementioned places, the Phantom is THE hero. In Australia and New Zealand, most readers only consider Phantom stories written by Lee Falk as "official" and the rest is only okay if you can't get the real stuff. Sweden, Norway and Finland are a little looser about that, as they began writing their own direct-to-comics material a long time ago, but even there there is little deviation from Falk's formula (although the popular influence of espionage comics is pretty obvious- but I digress).

So, yeah, you go messin' around with how the Phantom looks or how the mantle is passed or where he lives and you get a pretty strong outcry from readers. "Alex Ross never deviated heavily when designing iconic characters like these"- well, no disrespect to Alex Ross, why would anyone bother to redesign The Phantom's costume? At all? It is what it is. It's a superhero costume. In fact, it's the prototype for the superhero costume! I cannot for the life of me understand people who approach superhero comics from the viewpoint that they would be better if they were more "realistic". To me, that's just asinine. It's like the people who made the Punisher movie with Dolph Lundgren. Stan Lee went down to see the filming and asked why the Punisher was wearing a biker outfit and didn't even have a skull on his shirt. He was told it was "Too cartoony". Who the F*** do these people think their audience IS?

Add to all of that the fact that Dynamite has already expressed a desire to change the locale to New York city. Hmm. Okay, I tell you what. I'm writing a new Superman series. I think it will be great, because Superman is a great character that's been around for years and millions of people love him worldwide. And I'm going to make him even better. I'm going to get rid of that cape. And I'm going to hire Simon Bisley to design a new costume. Maybe something in leather? Oh! And there are only so many stories you can do set in Metropolis, so I'm going to relocate the series setting to Dubai. Now, why wouldn't everyone want to read that?

Pidde, Sharp and Anonymous: as to the track record of American publishers-

I think the best run ever was still the Gold Key/King/Charlton run. And it lasted for 74 issues over 15 years. Maybe not 60 years, but pretty impressive for a comic book running congruent to a daily comic strip everybody was getting in the paper when people still read the paper! And why did it work? Because it was still recognizable as The Phantom. any changes to the character were homogeneous and happened naturally over time. You can't just force a new version of a character down the world's collective throat and expect it to say "thank you".

No disrespect to Moonstone, their Phantom wasn't a bad comic. It just wasn't all that "phantom-y". It was a joke in Sweden and Norway, from whom I heard time and time again that readers thought Moonstone's changes and new directions were both arrogant and puzzling. Didn't these people know there were still people publishing The Phantom?

Still Scandinavians and Aussies bought Moonstone's Phantom, just like they bought DC's Phantom and Marvel's Phantom. But only because they felt they had to to complete their collections.


"Think of this as the perhaps the "Dark Knight Returns" for the Phantom, with hopefully no pre teen sidekick and a murdering spree, since that would take it way far, and would be a character and writting FLAW, that got really little to do with his look."

I cannot calculate the damage done by that one Frank Miller mini-series in the time I have right now. But, I will say this-

If you want an American audience to like The Phantom, introduce them to The Phantom. Not a "this-year's-model, flavor-of-the-month version of the Phantom drummed up by whatever creative team brought in the biggest sales last quarter. If people like the Phantom, it's because he's the Phantom, not because he's a Phantom you went out of your way to re-engineer for maximum sales return.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Make Your Own Phantom Comic!

I recently obtained this little gem (Thanks, Jermayn) which was included with FREW #1094. FREW Publisher Jim Shepherd teamed up with Glenn Ford (The Illustrator, not the country-western singer and "True Grit" co-star) to produce this nifty booklet about how to write and draw the Phantom. The last two pages are a handy guide to the Phantom's publishing history. At least as far as 1995.

So, here you have it, in a scant 14 pages you will know all you need to know to make your very own Phantom comics!