In 1936, Lee Falk created The Phantom, a comic adventure series inspired in part by Falk’s previous success, Mandrake the Magician. The Phantom was the first comic featuring a masked superhero, and with it, Falk was able to successfully combine themes from epic poetry, fairy tales, and stories of chivalry.
Following in The Phantom‘s footsteps, masked and caped demigods capable of larger-than-life heroics came flying and swinging onto the comic pages. The Phantom was the lodestone for what has become an industry built around supernatural men and women. It was also the forerunner of a school of comics which critics see as modern-day interpretations of romantic narratives such as the tales of Homer and Arthurian legends.
The Phantom is the most widely-read superhero comic in the world. King Features distributes it to more than 500 newspapers in approximately 40 countries. It is translated into about 15 languages.
Falk enjoyed collaborating with artists, and partnered with a number of great talents on The Phantom, beginning with Ray Moore, who was succeeded by Wilson McCoy, and then Seymour Barry.
Today, The Phantom is written by Tony DePaul with Sunday artwork by Terry Beatty. Following the death in March 2016 of Paul Ryan, who had drawn the daily comic strip since 2005, Mike Manley assumed that role.