‘For Those Who Came In Late’ – 80 Years Of The Phantom
“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of all forms of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, and my sons and their sons shall follow me.”
Batman and Wonder Woman have been cornerstones of Precinct1313 since this website sprang into existence almost two years ago. They are as vital to this blog as oxygen is to a drowning man… though there is another masked man who didn’t originate from the same wellspring as Bruce and Diana, and yet is as popular in the Precinct’s comic crypts as the big two. In fact, it was the ‘Guardian of the Eastern Dark’ that was the first costumed crime-fighter we ever wrote a post about here in the hallowed halls of Precinct1313.
Today marks the astonishing 80th anniversary of Lee Falk’s ground-breaking character, The Phantom. The Phantom was the first of what later became a barrage of Superheroes, preceding DC’s Man of Steel by a full two years, and was also crucial in the development of The Batman (Batman co-creator Bill Finger cited The Phantom as a major influence on the Caped Crusader’s creation.)
It was the ‘Ghost Who Walks’ who originally donned a colourful costume and mask, and fought an eternal and ceaseless quest against crime, injustice and evil-doers with just his quick wits, martial skills and a courageous Wolf companion named Devil. The Phantom really is ‘He Who Came First’ in the popular world of the Superhero, the template for all costume clad heroes that arose in his image thereafter.
The Phantom was created by Lee Falk in 1936, and made his first ever appearance this very day eighty years ago in a newspaper serial strip. Falk was an American writer and artist who had previously created the character Mandrake the Magician in 1934 before going on to develop The Phantom just two years later. Lee Falk was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1911 and spent much of his youth there, he was a gifted writer and pitched his idea for Mandrake to King Features Syndicate, Falk was a huge fan of of stage magicians and actually based the look of Mandrake upon himself. The Phantom sprang from Falk’s love of myths and legends such as King Arthur, plus popular fictional creations like Tarzan and Robin Hood.
Kit Walker is The Phantom, 21st in a lineage of costumed crime-fighters that first began in 1536, when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed by the Singh Brotherhood. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer he became the first Phantom, beginning a legacy that would pass on from father to son for generations. The outside world though believed it was the same man, an immortal, a Ghost Who Walks, fighting injustice and piracy from his secret Skull Cave deep in the heart of the Bangalla Jungle. Fighting alongside his pet wolf Devil and white steed Ghost, the ‘Man Who Cannot Die’ instils fear in the corrupt and hope amongst the innocent, in his never ending pursuit against the evil that men do.
To commemorate this astounding comic book feat, Precinct1313 will become a ‘Phantom Zone’ in honour of his 80 years of crime busting we will be giving over the entire site to nothing but posts about the ‘Ghost Who Walks’ for the next 7 days, from classic Bangallan “Old Jungle Sayings” to a new review of the fantastic 1996 Phantom movie. So stay with us ‘Phantom Phans’… because no-one refuses the Phantom (old jungle saying!)
The Phantom Copyright: King Features Syndicate.