To Phantom readers far and wide

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Greetings, all,

Brendan Burford, my editor at King Features Syndicate, asked me to check in here from time to time with the Who, What, Why, When, Where and How of this much-loved universe of characters created by the great Lee Falk. Like so many of you, I started reading the Phantom when I started reading. For me, that was somewhere around 1959. Faraway Bangalla was oxygen to a boy trapped in a city, I can tell you. I spent a lot of time looking out the window in the classroom, daydreaming about a wider world out there somewhere. It was great fun and personal inspiration, really, to read about a fictional character inhabiting a place like that. In a world all about Stand In Line, the droning-on of Listen To Me, the stifling smells of chalk and loose leaf, I was always eager to escape into jungles that smelled of freedom and adventure.

The Philadelphia Bulletin hit our front porch around 4 in the afternoon, and the Phantom was the first thing I’d read when I spread the comics out on the living room floor. I never imagined that, 40 years later, I’d be asked to write the strip. It’s beyond improbable. I’ve never advertised my contact information but I’m not living underground, either; readers can easily get in touch with minimal sleuthing around. I’ve been privileged to correspond with readers from around the world, and many have become friends over time. Some, like Tarquino Felix Flores, of Papantla, Mexico, have even served as advisors on Phantom adventures set in their country.

You already know the astonishing talents that Paul Ryan and Terry Beatty bring to the daily and Sunday strips, respectively. You may be surprised to learn how far ahead we work. The daily strip is already written through May 2, 2015, and the Sunday strip through May 31, 2015. When he brought me on as Lee Falk’s successor, Jay Kennedy, the late King Features editor, asked me to try to bank enough stories to get two years ahead of the curve. I’m not sure I ever did hit the two-year mark, given that I was busy with other things as well: working as a newspaper reporter, raising a family, writing movie scripts, writing Phantom stories for books published in Scandinavia and Australia. And I may disappear on the motorcycle from time to time, to travel alone, sleep on the ground somewhere, in woods, fields and fuel stops, live out of the saddlebags for a while, see new towns, rivers, deserts and mountains, and meet new people and learn about their lives. For a while my record was 78 days on the road. That stood for some years until this past spring and summer when I rode for 83 days, across 41 state and provincial lines in the U.S. and Canada. I stopped to write here and there, mostly in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. I think Oklahoma and Hawaii must be the only states where I haven’t written the Phantom yet, but we’ll get there, too, one of these years.

That’s about it by way of introduction. Ask anything you care to know about the strip, the character or the process.

Cheers from here, and many thanks for your loyalty to Lee Falk’s Phantom!

Tony DePaul, Rhode Island, USA


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14 thoughts on “To Phantom readers far and wide

  1. As a Phantom fan, is an honor to be mentioned as advisor, but as a person is a HIGHER honor to be your friend. Thanks a lot and hope to someday enjoy The Phantom comic strips with my children, like my parents and I did years ago.

  2. Hello Mr.DePaul! Great begining for this page. First I like to tell you that I have enjoy all your Phantom stories specially the latest ones. The Aeronaut and Mandrake’s Bon Voyage. I would like to ask you if you know what is going to happen with the Mandrake comic strip? It will be awesome that you can take that strip and continue to amaze us like you do on The Phantom every day!
    Finally I like to ask if we are going to have access to older Phantom stories on this site like 70’s, 80’s or 90’s? Thank you very much for your time

    • Many thanks for your kind words, Sergio. I’ll ask both questions at King Features in the morning and let you know what I hear back.

      Tony

      • Thank you very much, Mr.DePaul! It wil be Fantastic if KFS Let you do Mandrake! and also will be great to have access to older Phantom stories. I will wait for the answers. Thanks again!

    • Hi there, Sergio!

      The Mandrake comic strip is being retired after many fond years and memories– however, you can keep up to date on Mandrake news by following our blog on the DailyINK website. Link to the DailyINK blog.

      You can get access to loads of old Phantom strips the same way– by subscribing to DailyINK. We have a great library of all kinds of vintage comics there!

      –Tea

      • Thank you Tea for your answers! So sad to hear that news about Mandrake, I will keep an eye on dailyink. I already have a subscription to dailyink, but in dailyink we only have access to two years of current Phantom archives and one year on the vintage archives. On this site we have access from december 1999 to 2013. Thanks again.

  3. I am a member of the fourth generation of my family to follow the Phantom strips. Happily, my children are generation five! Times have changed, and we do not have a newspaper that carries the strips, so we follow on Facebook. I am long a Mandrake fan, also (how could I not be, with my name), and any attempt to continue the strip will be greatly appreciated. It is a great relief to know that the Phantom strips are written so far in advance, ensuring the continuation of the tales of the Walker family. Thank you, every day, and every Sunday.

  4. Thanks for the good word, Derek. As a long-time Phantom reader, you may be interested to hear that the next Sunday story builds upon a Falk/Barry classic from 1989, “Captain Amazon — Pirate Queen.” The new story’s called “Death Stalks the 5th Phantom.” Terry’s been working on it for a couple of months now. I think I sent him the story in July from the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington state, where I was camped with friends while headed home from the motorcycle trek to Alaska. The start date is December 1. There were some interesting challenges to overcome in getting this new story down on paper while remaining true to the original. In the past, other publishers have attempted to “fix” the Falk universe in some regards by attributing the deeds of the 5th Phantom to the 15th! I chose a different course that I hope readers will like.

    All the best, and thanks again for the vote of confidence,
    Tony

  5. I’m from Perth, Western Australia… I got my stable diet from Frew as a kid and now as an adult, I get it from anywhere possible.

    Looking forward to follow the website.

  6. Greetings to you too Mr. Depaul. Writing from faraway India, it is always a thrill for a phan to meet the creator of the cronicles of the ‘ghost who walks’. Your stories are always great. But, I have a question about the sudden change of the location of Bangala in the Falk-era. Wonder if you can answer why he changed it to Africa from Asia. Also wonder could he mean ‘Bangla’, the state I live in?

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  8. I hate to show my ignorance, but what did Guran do to win the race to Phantom Head? My paper only carries Mon.-Sat. No Sundays.

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