Frew’s Phantom issues 1747 & 1749 will contain a new 2-part story with artwork by Alex Saviuk, an epic titled “1943” set in that year and starring the 20th Phantom in France during World War II. To mark this occasion, here are some words from the artist himself!
ChronicleChamber: You have had two stints as Phantom artist for Egmont. What had changed in the period between them (if anything)? Both regarding the way you work in general and the way Egmont’s production of Phantom stories is handled.
Alex Saviuk: When I started my editor was Ulf Granberg and I was able to obtain contact information for him from the late Ed Rhoades who was the chairperson for the fan group called The Friends of the Phantom. My first issue for Ulf i actually sent him the original artwork by Fedex mail to Sweden since i did not have an oversized scanner, but thankfully all following issues were scanned and the artwork remained here in my studio.
Generally, I would receive a script via email with a deadline date and unless I had any specific questions, there was little additional communication. My last issue for Ulf was in 2006 and i never was offered another script citing the fact that sales were down and so were the number of original stories printed and that Egmont had to remain loyal to their stable of European artists, which I completely understood, but I always would send the occasional email that if Ulf ever needed a fill-in story drawn should someone get in deadline trouble i would be available. That never happened so I did not draw another Phantom story until 2012.
When Ulf retired and the editorial reins were given to Hasse Lindahl and Claes Reimerthi, Ed Rhoades informed me of that and i immediately sent out a notice to Hasse and Claes that i would love to draw stories for them if they were available. Coincidentally, Hasse replied that they were going to contact me anyway, because i was high in their list of artists to call to do some new material again. My first story for them was “The Devil Camp” and I have been busy there ever since.
Communication, especially with fellow artist Hasse was more frequent which I enjoyed.I enjoy working with the current editor Micke Sol and we do communicate quite frequently, as well.If anything has changed on the production end, it’s the coloring going from mostly flat colors to some digital tones, and for the most part I like it.
CC: You have worked on a variety of characters for many different publishers. What are the pros and cons of the Phantom in your opinion?
AS: The pros of working on the Phantom are that he is a great literary iconic character that i have loved since childhood –and that goes WAY back to when my father introduced me to him with the Sunday newspaper stories over half a century ago! I became familiar with the artistic genius of Sy Barry and could not wait from Sunday to Sunday to marvel at his beautiful drawings which made Lee Falk’s stories so much more enjoyable and exciting for me.
The cons? Some may say that in this digital high tech world of ours The Phantom does not fit in well with his jungle setting while riding a horse with his sidekick wolf Devil. If that’s the case, then don’t read the Phantom! But they do not know what fun they are missing!