Thursday, November 12, 2015

Public Talk: Nerd Nite #16 - 1 December 2015 (Melbourne)

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be speaking at Nerd Nite Melbourne #16, being held at Mr Wow's Emporium (97b Smith Street, Fitzroy) on Tuesday, 1 December 2015 (7pm - Entry fee: $5.00). Nerd Nite Melbourne is a lively seminar series, which brings thinkers and experts drawn from all walks of (academic) life, and plonks them in front of a crowd of inquisitive punters inside a dimly-lit pub. The speakers share their wisdom, and the audience gets to ask questions, and engage in raucous debate.

I've been invited to give a talk about a topic close to my heart: Comic books. And, more specifically: Superhero comic books. And, to refine that even further: Australian superhero comic books. Want to know more? Then read on....

Look! Up in the Sky! It's... Doctor Mensana? Uncovering the Secret History of Australian Superheros

Superheroes, it seems, are part of everyday Australian culture. We can thrill to their exploits at multiplex cinemas, buy t-shirts bearing their likeness at department stores, or dress-up our kids in pint-sized versions of their colourful costumes. They are, however, almost without exception American superheroes.
For a country which reveres elite athletes, and pays homage to the heroic deeds of ANZAC, Australia seems strangley bereft of its own superheroes. We laud Australians who can "beat the Yanks" at their own game in film, music and other forms of popular culture. So why are we content to let American superheroes fulfil our collective fantasies?
The truth is that Australian superheroes have taken to the skies since the early 1940s, but most Australians would struggle to name even one (And, no, The Phantom doesn’t count!) Dr. Kevin Patrick asks why Australian superheroes have been forced to hide in plain sight for decades, and what this says about ourselves, and our sense of national identity.

So, if you;'d like to come along and join the fun, here are those details again:

Event: Nerd Nite Melbourne #16
Venue: Mr. Wow's Emporium, 97b Smith Street, Fitzroy
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 2015:
Entry: $5.00 (7.00pm start time).

Hope you can make it!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Oliver Strange, Maurice Bramley and 'Sudden', Revisited

Few posts I've written for this blog attracted more widespread interest than when I wrote about the pulp novel cowboy hero, nicknamed 'Sudden', back in 2007. James Green was a Western gunfighter, nicknamed 'Sudden' because of his lightning-fast gun-draw reflex. He was created by the British author Oliver Strange, and - to the best of my knowledge - first appeared in Strange's 1930 novel, The Range Robbers. In the 1960s, Frederick Nolan, then working as an manuscript reader and editor at Corgi Books (UK), wrote several further 'Sudden' novels under the pen-name "Frederick H. Christian", commencing with Sudden Strikes Back (1966).
I'd previously speculated about whether the 'Sudden' novels were the inspiration for a comic-book series, also titled 'Sudden', written and drawn by Maurice Bramley (1898-1975), which appeared in The Fast Gun comic magazine published by Page Publications (Australia) in the early 1970s. And, thanks to some recent online trawling, I can safely say the answer is "Yes".

I was doing some research into The World's News (1901-1957), a weekly news and entertainment magazine which, by the early 1930s, had been acquired by Associated Newspapers (Sydney, Australia). To the best of my knowledge, Bramley - who'd emigrated to Australia from New Zealand - began working as an artist on The World's News by the early 1930s, illustrating covers and drawing countless interior illustrations for short stories and feature articles appearing in the magazine. Amazingly, the National Library of Australia's Trove website holds scanned reproductions for nearly the entire run of The World's News. Furthermore, a keyword search reveals that Bramley was illustrating episodes of the "Sudden" novels as they were serialised in The World's News from at least the late 1930s onwards, as the double-page spread seen below attests (Apologies in advance for the poor quality image, taken with my ageing smartphone's camera).

The 'Sudden' serials were apparently a popular feature with readers of The World's News, which frequently promoted each new 'Sudden' story with an illustrated front cover, often drawn by Bramley himself. Given his long association with Oliver Strange's quick-draw gunfighter, I think it's safe to say that Bramley used elements of the original 'Sudden' stories as the basis for his own cowboy comic book hero, Jim Sedden, also known to friend and foe alike as...'Sudden'! (Cover image of Sudden - Gold Seeker taken from Good Reads).

'Sudden Rides Again' - The World's News, 14 January, 1939

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fan Scholarship & Australian Comic Fanzines

The Australian Comic Collector,
Vol. 1, No.4, August 1977
My latest academic journal article has just been published in Media International Australia (No.155, May 2015), and is titled ‘(Fan) Scholars and Superheroes: The Role and Status of Comics Fandom Research in Australian Media History’ (pp.28-37). The abstract (summary) of this article is as follows:

Comicoz, No.1, March 1978
Comic books, eagerly consumed by Australian readers and reviled with equal intensity by their detractors, became embroiled in post-war era debates about youth culture, censorship and Australian national identity. Yet there are few references to this remarkable publishing phenomenon in most histories of Australian print media, or in studies of Australian popular culture. This article demonstrates how the history of comic books in Australia has largely been recorded by fans and collectors who have undertaken the process of discovery, documentation and research – a task that, in any other field of print culture inquiry, would have been the preserve of academics. While acknowledging some of the problematic aspects of fan literature, the article argues that future research into the evolution of the comic-book medium within Australia must recognise, and engage with, this largely untapped body of ‘fan scholarship’ if we are to enrich our understanding of this neglected Australian media industry.

Fan-authored scholarship has, and continues to make, an important contribution to the formal, academic study of comic books, particularly in Australia, where comics studies remains a nascent academic discipline. Therefore, I think it's appropriate to acknowledge the diversity of Australia's comic fanzine culture, by showing examples of some early Australian comic fanzines from the 1970s and 1980s.

It's interesting to see some of the earliest published works of Australian comic fans and aspiring artists, who would go on to make lasting contributions to Australian comics fandom. The Australian Comic Collector No.4 (1977) features a cover illustration of Marvel Comics' Thor drawn by Joseph Italiano, who started Images-Images, a mail-order comics subscription service, and later became the proprietor of the specialty comics shop, Alternate Worlds. Comicoz No.1 (March 1978) features a cover depicting two winged superheroes - The Angel (from Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Men) and Hawkman (DC Comics) - drawn by Glenn Ford, who would go on to be a cover artist for the Australian edition of The Phantom comic magazine, and illustrated the third Australian-drawn Phantom story, "The Search for Byron", published in 1996.

The Fox Comic Collector Magazine,
No.2, September 1981
The Fox Comic Collector No.2 (1981) has a cover drawn by Mitchell Dobelsky, pitching Marvel Comics' Spider-Man against his arch nemesis, The Green Goblin. This fanzine was jointly edited by Mitchell and Lazarus Dobelsky, together with David Vodicka. This fanzine would later evolve into the Fox Comics, arguably Australia's leading "small press" comics anthology of the 1980s and early 1990s. David Vodicka would go on to launch the Rubber Records music label and is currently a partner in the Melbourne legal firm, Media Arts Lawyers.

The Australian Comic Reader, No.1, 1985
The Australian Comic Reader No.1 (1985) only lasted one issue, but unlike many Australian comic fanzines which came before it, this 'zine focused entirely on Australian comics and their creators, and featured a diverse range of reviews, articles and interviews dealing with the local comics scene. It was edited by Ian Eddy, who was a frequent contributor to Fox Comics, and produced a steady stream of self-published mini comix (under the "Open Gate Comics" imprint) throughout the 1980s.

These are but a few examples of the dozens of Australian comic fanzines produced and distributed by local comic enthusiasts since the 1960s, some of which were initially distributed via amateur press association networks, and subsequently became available  through specialty comic-book stores around Australia during the 1980s and 1990s. As the Internet grew more popular from the mid-1990s onwards, Australian comic fandom has migrated to the online sphere, and comic fanzines (unlike other forms of "zine" culture) have largely faded from view. Nevertheless, they are fascinating and important historical records of Australian comics culture (Images are taken from the author's collection).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jet vs Sky Riders (Part 2): Who Drew It?

Jet, No.11 (ca.1967)
In a previous instalment of Comics Down Under, I drew attention to the similarities between the Swedish war comic book, Jet (published by Centerforlaget), and Sky Riders, published by Colour Comics Pty Ltd (K.G. Murray Publishing Company). In my efforts to try and establish - or disprove - any commercial and/or editorial links between these two companies, I unearthed my copy of Sky Riders No.3 (circa. 1967), which featured "The Gladiator of Malta (George Beurling)". This story was also published in Jet No.11 (circa 1967), and both editions of these comics used the same cover illustration and the distinctive jet tailplane logo (See at left).
Sky Riders, No.3 (ca.1967)

The story itself is a comic-book biography of the Canadian fighter pilot, George Beurling (1921-1948), a reputedly maverick airman who flew with the Royal Air Force during World War Two, and achieved fame flying the Supermarine Spitfire over the besieged island of Malta, where he claimed the first of thirty-two confirmed "kills". He was subsequently transferred to a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadron stationed in England, where he continued to fly combat missions. He died in an air crash in Rome, in May 1948, reportedly flying to Israel to take up a role as a fighter pilot with the fledgling Israeli air force. There appear to be some superficial discrepancies between the comic-book account of Beurling's life, and other accounts I've read online, which may be due to editorial oversight, or the dramatic demands of the comic-book medium.

I'd previously stated that my recollection of the stories published in Sky Riders was that they were of inferior quality to those appearing in comparable British "pocket-library" comics of the 1960s, such as Commando and War Picture Library. Looking at "The Gladiator of Malta" with fresh eyes, I have to revise this admittedly harsh opinion, and concede this story was well-drawn and certainly on a par with many of the European artists whose work appeared in British war comics throughout the 1960s. While the artist's style is not immediately recognisable (to me, at least), several panels throughout the story bear the artist's indecipherable signature (See below).
Sky Riders, No.3 - page 32

Sky Riders, No.3 - page 23

I'm posting these images online in the hopes that someone may recognise either the artist's drawing style, or help decipher their signature. I'm inclined to think that this story may have been originally published in one of the second-tier British war comics of this era, such as Sabre Library or Club Library. If we can establish whether this story originally appeared in a British war comic, and was subsequently syndicated to Sweden and Australian publishers, this might help us establish the commercial and editorial links between British, European and Australian publishers which seemed to have emerged - and gathered strength - throughout the 1960s and 1970s (Images courtesy of Traderea, and the author's collection).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Art is a Lie: The Lo-Brow Low-Down on High Art

Susan Butcher and Carol Wood were, at spasmodic intervals throughout the 1990s, responsible for Pox, one of the smartest, funniest and most incisive comic magazines ever to come out of Australia. Butcher and Wood were (and remain) true pop culture omnivores, and could capture the visual essence of their favourite media texts (be it a TV show, a comic book or popular music), while conveying their unique styles. Pox was like a grown-up, sophisticated Australian version of Mad Magazine, but without the inside back-cover fold-in poster (Okay, yes, I know we've had an Australian edition of Mad Magazine since 1978, but it apparently no longer publishes Australian content, so they no longer qualify. So, there!)

If, like me, you've been suffering from Pox withdrawals in recent years, don't despair. Butcher and Wood have not gone into retirement, but have instead been toiling away for a US art magazine, Artillery, penning acerbic comic-book styled biographies of famous artists. Have you ever wondered how the life of Picasso would look like, filtered through the prism of Popeye? What about the bohemian antics of Norman Lindsay, recast as The Phantom?

Well, wonder no longer, because local comics artist-turned publishing mogul, Bruce Mutard, has taken it upon himself to collect Butcher and Woods' Artillery strips into a new book, Art is a Lie. But if you want to savour this fine tome, then you're going to have to put your money where your, um, mouse-click thingy is? (Hard to believe I used to edit an Internet magazine back in the 1990s, but there you have it...) Seriously, Bruce needs your help - and hard-earned cash - to help make this book a reality.  If you want to get your hands on a copy of Art is a Lie, along with a bushel of handcrafted Wood & Butcher art goodies, then whip out your credit card and choose from a range of pledge packages via the project's Indiegogo website. If you need further persuasion, then sample some of the preview pages from the Art is a Lie page on Facebook (Here endeth the plug).

Monday, July 13, 2015

Jet vs Sky Riders: A Swedish-Australian connection?

During my research trip to Sweden in 2012 - undertaken as part of my PhD thesis on The Phantom - I had the chance to discover many fascinating examples of Swedish comic books published in the 1960s and 1970s, the contents and appearance of which greatly resembled similar comics published in Australia during this same period. Like their Australian counterparts, many of these Swedish comics spanned numerous genres - war, jungle adventures, romance, Westerns, etc. - and contained a diverse mix of translated comic-book series from Britain, the United States and Western Europe.

As an aviation enthusiast, I was particularly interested in a Swedish magazine titled Pilot (originally titled Pilot-22), an aviation-themed war comic initially published by Centerforlaget throughout 1965-1970, and subsequently by Semic Press (1970-1984), after the latter company acquired many of the titles previously published by Centerforlaget in 1969. To give you some idea of Pilot's unique mix of stories, one issue I picked up during my trip (No.1/1983) contained reprints of the French fighter pilot series, "Buck Danny", the British World War Two hero, "Battler Britton", and a European-drawn comic-book adaptation of "Biggles", the famous aviator hero created by the British author, Capt. W.E. Johns.

I was idly trawling the web, looking for further copies of Pilot, when I came across references to another Swedish air combat-themed comic book, Jet, which was also published by Centerforlaget during 1965-1968. Looking through the (incomplete) cover gallery for this series appearing on the Grand Comics Database, I was struck by how oddly familiar this cover seemed to me. Then I realised why - the revamped logo and cover design for Jet (which seemed to have taken effect sometime around 1967) was adopted for a similar aerial-combat comic book, Sky Riders, published by Colour Comics Pty Ltd (an imprint of the KG Murray Publishing Company), in Australia around 1967-1968. Just compare the following two covers from these remarkably similar publications:

Jet, Vol.3, No.12 - circa 1967 (Centerforlaget)
Sky Riders, No.2 - circa 1967 (Colour Comics Pty Ltd)

Is this evidence of a hitherto unknown connection between Swedish and Australian comic-book publishers? Despite the strong superficial similarities between these two comics, I'm inclined to think not. At present, I can't verify the sources of the stories that appeared in either Jet or Sky Riders; I have two copies of the latter title in my collection, but don't have them to hand as I'm writing this blog post. However, my memory of those Sky Rider comics was that they contained European-drawn stories (most likely produced by one of several Spanish comic art studios active in the mid-to-late 1960s), presumably intended for the British market.

However, my recollection of the contents from these Sky Riders comics was that they were of mediocre quality, and I suspect they would have been used - if they were published at all - by some of the minor British war comics publishers of the period (DC Thomson's Commando and Fleetway/IPC's War Picture Library and Battle Picture Library series, which dominated the British market at the time, typically featured superior artwork supplied by Spanish and/or Italian comic-art studios and European feature syndicates).

If that is the case, then the publication of Sky Riders in Australia is more likely consistent with Colour Comics Pty Ltd's growing reliance on European/Spanish-drawn comics originally produced for British publishers, which was especially evident in the company's range of romance and Western titles from the mid-1960s onwards. However, this would only be confirmed if we uncover any original British war comics of this era which sported the distinctive tailplane logo device used on both Jet and Sky Riders, and could match-up the contents of the British, Swedish and Australian editions to see where any further similarities or differences may lie. As yet, I've not seen any examples of a comparable British title - perhaps someone out there on the Internet reading this might be able to shed more light on this topic?

Yet another intriguing mystery from the publishing history of Australian comics, waiting to be solved! (Images courtesy of Grand Comics Database and

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The "Lost" Phantom Interview (2008)

PREFACE: I wrote the following feature article to coincide with the 60th anniversary edition of The Phantom (No.1518), which was published by Frew Publications on 5 September 2008. This article was scheduled to appear in the August 2008 edition of Collectormania, which was at the time a leading Australian antiques and collectables magazine (I had been writing a regular "Comics Down Under' column for Collectormania for several years at this point). However, the then-editor of the magazine decided to reschedule the article for the following issue; I objected on the grounds that my story would be published several weeks after Frew's anniversary issue would appear on newsstands, and withdrew the article from publication. It was subsequently republished online at, but it was later removed from that website after it underwent a significant makeover. I've decided to reprint the original, expanded version of article intended for Collectormania magazine on this blog (The edited version that was scheduled to appear in September 2008 was trimmed down by nearly 650 words). Obviously, some of the content is a little dated, and, sadly, Jim Shepherd is no longer with us. But I hope Phantom "phans" everywhere will enjoy this long-lost article, which has been updated to include links to relevant Phantom-related websites as well.

Paul Hogan impersonated him on television. Comedian Austen Tayshus immortalised him in song. Test cricketer Bill Lawry was nicknamed in his honour. And former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss was said to be an ardent fan.
The unlikely inspiration for these celebrity accolades is none other than The Phantom – ‘The Ghost Who Walks, Man Who Cannot Die’. No other comic book character has enthralled generations of Australians, who are no doubt eagerly awaiting the 60th anniversary edition of The Phantom comic book, which goes on sale this month.
Published continuously by Frew Publications since its debut on 9 September 1948, the Australian series is the world’s longest-running edition of The Phantom comic book. And publisher Jim Shepherd has some special treats in store for The Phantom’s diehard followers.
“I can now reveal that (former Phantom artist) Sy Barry has been coaxed out retirement to create the covers for this issue – it will be his first published Phantom artwork in 14 years, and I think he is more excited than anybody about his involvement.”
Not only will the birthday special be accompanied by a new edition of The Phantom Encyclopedia (originally released with issue No.1472 in 2007), but it will also feature some never-before-seen Phantom artwork from America, as well as a previously unpublished Phantom story by the late Australian artist, Keith Chatto, which remained incomplete at the time of Chatto’s death in 1992.
The comic book has come a long way since 1987, when Jim, a former TV sports broadcaster and journalist, was brought on board by Frew Publications’ two surviving founders, Ron Forsyth and Jim Richardson, to rejuvenate the magazine.
"I was busy at the time expanding my own book publishing business and thought my own involvement with Frew would last two years or so", he recalls. "However, when the company eventually became available for purchase, I could not resist the opportunity to buy out the two remaining shareholders. Has it really been 21 years? It seems more like five or six! Which means, of course, I have enjoyed every moment!"
The comic’s renaissance began with the inclusion of new stories created by Swedish company, Egmont, for the European market. Although these began appearing before Jim’s involvement with Frew, they have since formed the bulk of all new stories appearing in the Australian series.
"It did take a little time for Australian readers to warm to the European stories," admits Jim, "but it is now safe to say that they are accepted, as much for their artistic quality as the stories themselves."
But it was Jim’s tireless efforts to reprint the original, classic Phantom stories, written by the strip’s creator, Lee Falk, which won back old fans and hooked a new generation of readers, as well. The first fully restored story, 'The Phantom Goes to War', appeared in issue No.910A back in 1988 - and has now become a collector's item in its own right.
'Working on reassembling Lee Falk's old stories was the first challenge - and thrill - as I found new ways to track down artwork missing from the King Features archives," says Jim. "I think we have now brought back all of Lee Falk's stories in their entirety. However, there may still be a few lacking the odd frame. I've just returned from the USA with a collection of discs containing upwards of 25 old stories and checking has begun."
Yet The Phantom is more than just a comic book – he’s a genuine pop culture phenomenon in Australia. For decades, his likeness had been used to sell everything from plastic skull rings and toy guns, to kitchenware and men’s apparel.
The growing Australian market for Phantom merchandise prompted Nigel Johnson, proprietor of Collector’s Paradise, to publish Johnson’s Official Phantom Price Guide, which went into its third edition in 2006.
“There was such a huge variation in prices for Phantom products throughout Australia, and members of the general public were, in my opinion, being duped by some comic shops about the true value of their collections,” he explains. “I thought that a rough [price] guide was better than none at all – which means that dealers can no longer pull the wool over their clients’ eyes when buying from them.”
The interest in Phantom collectables can vary from one group of fans to the next, according to Nigel. “Many will only collect Australian-made Phantom products, because of their affordability and the vast range available, while other diehard fans want the overseas items as well. Then there are those who just want to read the classic Phantom stories, and are happy to collect the recent Frew reprints, rather than buy the early Australian edition comics.”
Just as The Phantom comic book has changed with the times, so too has its fan-base. The late 1980s saw the formation of a mail-order Phantom fan club, but the days of letter exchanges and printed fanzines has given way to the internet.
Joe Douglas set up Australia’s premiere Phantom fan website, ChronicleChamber, in 2006, after negative experiences visiting another Phantom discussion forum. “Some members were very set in their views and came down hard on anyone who disagreed with them,” he recalls. “I didn’t appreciate that blatant disrespect of others’ opinions, so I created an online forum where fans could discuss The Phantom, no matter what their opinions.”
“But there weren’t any true ‘fan sites’ which covered news about The Phantom, so I decided to fill that gap by launching ChronicleChamber,” he explains. “Not only do we publish interviews with writers and artists who’ve worked on The Phantom, but we also cover new Phantom comics published in Australia, the United States and Europe, as well as items about upcoming Phantom film projects and merchandise.”
“The site is completely open to fan submissions, so if you want to review an issue, write an article or have your opinions heard by the wider Phantom community, then just send us an email!”
So, who reads The Phantom today? According to Jim Shepherd, the comic’s readership is predominantly male, comprised of 60% adults and 40% from the 12-18 years age group. “Our biggest-growing market is amongst the 40 years-plus bracket, with the bulk of regular buyers being professional, or semi-professional types – I’m continually surprised to discover just how many school teachers, doctors, academics and stockbrokers are avid fans!”
According to Nigel Johnson, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Phantom fan. “They are drawn from all walks of life, all age groups and all classes,” he says. “It’s good to see grandfather and grandson both buying Phantom comics and t-shirts from me, both with the same level of enthusiasm.”
Indeed, this appears to be the secret to The Phantom’s success in Australia. Just as The Phantom’s own identity is passed down from one generation to the next, so too, has the enthusiasm for The Phantom comic book been seemingly passed on from father to son.
“My dad had a bunch of old Frew issues piled away in his study, which I discovered when I was about seven years-old,” recalls Joe Douglas. “At the time, I wasn’t a very strong reader, but these comics instantly caught my imagination.”
“Even at that age, I was already pretty artistic, so I’d initially just sit and look at the artwork and try to copy it myself. Eventually, though, I wanted to know what the stories were about, so I made myself learn to read, so I could follow the stories in the comics. If it weren’t for those old Phantom comics, my English education would’ve been a lot worse!”
Ironically, comic books like The Phantom were once scorned by educators and psychologists for corrupting impressionable young minds. “Today, however,” according to Jim, “a great many schools subscribe to the magazine and actually encourage students to read The Phantom, because so many of the stories – especially those created in Europe – are linked to historical subjects.”
Because The Phantom is such a compelling figure in his own right, the series has maintained its popularity for decades, despite being illustrated by several different artists, each with their own unique interpretation of the character. But does anyone artist rank above all others as Australians’ favourite Phantom illustrator?
"Our older readers rank the original Phantom artist, Raymond Moore, as No.1, while those in the 30-40 year age bracket place Sy Barry ahead of Moore," says Jim Shepherd. "Jean-Yves Mitton was by far the most popular European artist and I remain a great fan of his work, while today the most popular is Hans Lindahl. Pinned to the wall, I'd have to go for Sy Barry as the most popular artist."
It’s an assessment that Joe Douglas aggress with. “I do think Sy Barry is the definitive Phantom artist, because his work really cemented the character’s look. Ray Moore gave the character his dark, mysterious feel, while Moore’s successor, Wilson McCoy, made him resemble a superhero with his simplistic, powerful style,” he claims. “But it was Barry who moulded these two looks together and made the Phantom look and feel like a ‘modern’ hero.”
Joe also admires the new Phantom comic book stories currently being published in America by Moonstone Press. “It’s great to see a publisher try new things with The Phantom because I think, to some extent, the character has kind of fallen into a kind of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ situation.”
Jim Shepherd, however, doesn’t share this assessment of these new stories. "Few, if any, of the Moonstone creations have rung any bells with me. Far too many of their stories are, in my opinion, too gory and The Phantom character is too often depicted as a dark avenger. I prefer The Phantom to be always cast in the Lee Falk-Sy Barry mould."
Back in 1990, Frew Publications scored an unexpected hit when it published the first Australian-produced Phantom story, ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, in issue No.951A. Written by Jim Shepherd himself, and drawn by Keith Chatto, the story marked a brief experiment with locally-drawn Phantom strips.
"It was a new experience for this old sports writer and the fact that it was our top-seller for that year was gratifying beyond belief," says Jim. "But as much as I'd love to commission more Australian artists and writers to create stories, our current contract with King Features Syndicate does not allow such freedom. The Egmont organization has a hold on this arrangement outside the United States. But I haven't given up hope!"
No matter what the future holds for The Phantom, there can be no doubt that his 60th Australian anniversary issue will become a sought-after edition. When you consider that Frew's 1000th issue, released back in 1991, new fetches up to $100 for a mint-condition copy, comic collectors will be well advised to make sure they grab a copy. In fact, they better make that two copies - one to read and one to put into storage (Image courtesy of the Phantom Wiki website).