Jan 27, 2014

Phantom's not good enough for my Granddaughter.

The Phantom was both a daily comic strip and a weekly Sunday strip. The Sunday strips were originally presented in glorious full colour. But they also get printed in black and white. The strip I wanna look at today is from 1955, and it's called A Proper Husband.

The Phantom comic strips had two driving forces for drama back in the day. There were the adventure plots that the Phantom was involved in. Fighting pirates -- that sort of thing. But there was also his romance with Diana Palmer. In fact the romance with Diana was often front and centre as the spur that got him INTO adventures and strips quite often barely had the Phantom in it, for weeks on end, as we followed Diana.

So let's do that. Let's follow Diana for a few weeks, waiting for the Phantom to show up.

Hooo boy. I can already tell this is gunna be good!

Diana's family usually consists of her mother,who hates the Phantom, and her uncle Dave, who really likes the Phantom. So if you question why her mother allows her to do crazy things for a man she hates a) she doesn't hate him as much as she claims and b) Uncle Dave is usually a mitigating force.

Notice that this entire Sunday strip (presented here as it was reprinted in Frew #1684) has no appearance by the Phantom outside of the logo box. That's because Diana is awesome enough to hold the strip by herself, and people cared enough about her that Falk could just rely on her as a lead character.

Here we have a classic recap strip -- but notice that the actual recap forms the spur for the drama. That's pretty damned clever, I think.

I won't lie, this strip and the one that follows are why I wanted to scan this. Falk takes the scenario he's set up and just makes it get more and more insane as things go along.

Oh my god. Alphabet dates. I just can't... so good. Also notice how Wilson McCoy uses doorways and windows to create real depth in some of the panels. I really like when he does that.

Oh shit! The Phantom's home! What's going to happen next?! Son I ain't telling you that. This was meant as an illustration of how Lee Falk used to build his stories even when they didn't have the lead character in them. Since he's back, who cares? (Well, I care... but I also own the comic, so that's fine for me.) Just pick up Frew #1684 and find out more. Or, I dunno, find a full scan of A Proper Husband.

--Andrew S.

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