Frew 1754 saw a new cover artist drawing the cover. His name is Shane Foley and the team at Chronicle Chamber interviewed him to find out about him and his long journey to become a Frew Phantom cover artist.
Chronicle Chamber: Were you a Phantom phan growing up or now?
Shane Foley: If a ‘phan’ is the Bandar version of a Marvel Zombie, then no. I have been very hit and miss with reading the Phantom over the years. Having said that, I adore the Phantom up to the early Sy Barry years. I guess I’ve found some of the more modern versions, including Lee Falk’s later stories, harder to embrace – but that happens to all us older guys. It’s the same with my appreciation of Marvel – I’m a Marvel guy who loves the 60’s and 70’s, so I find only a little of the later work resonates with me. I know not everyone’s like that – but I am. But if a ‘phan’ is someone who appreciates and loves and collects at least 30 years worth of Phantom stuff, then yes, I am a ‘phan’.
CC: What was the process like submitting your art to Frew?
SF: Easy. Because I submitted my stuff then moved on, thinking Dudley was one of those editors who responded very promptly and nicely, but then really had no work for me. So I forgot about it.
Back in 2015, I bought a Phantom (as I spasmodically did – which is more than I do for Marvel or DC now. It was issue 1724 – pictured right) and thought the cover was a good idea that could be done better.
It seemed to be simply a smallish panel from the story enlarged, thereby losing detail and clarity.
I did my version of that cover, giving it the detail I thought would make it look better, and then, as an extra, altered the Mr Walker figure to that of the purple Phantom. I sent it to Dudley, saying I was happy to work with whatever layout they liked – either my own, or redoing a panel they liked. He responded graciously, but it went no further than that then. I put it all behind me until that sudden and unexpected phone-call from Dudley in April this year. Having said all that, I had submitted to Frew in the late 80’s and mid-90’s, but Jim Shepherd didn’t seem interested at all. So it’s been a Long time coming and no overnight thing. (Editors note: We have included Shane's second submission to Frew back in 1991 below)
CC: What made you initially submit your art to Frew?
SF: Hmmm – I must have got carried away in the last question, because I think I answered it there. The other reason, of course, is that the Phantom seems to be the only real possibility for any comic work in Australia that I could think of. I’ve been involved in the local industry before, particularly in the early 90’s and 00’s, but I’m a bit more out of touch with it now, so wouldn’t know where else to approach.
CC: What is your background in art? School? Self Learned?
SF: I have been drawing since I can remember – I’ve never been able to understand people who don’t. And from a really early age – probably from after reading my first Phantom – it’s been comic art that galvanized me the most. So much so, I didn’t do art at school because I thought it was more about potato cuts and tie-dying t-shirts, which I couldn’t stand.
Later, when working in a bank, I thought a few times about quitting and going to Art College but never did. And apart from a diploma from an ICS Correspondence Art Course (remember them?), all my work is self- taught.
CC: What comics you read now? and as a kid?
SF: The Phantom was first – I found a copy of #225 in a caravan when I was about 7 and was awe-struck by it. My Dad then bought the Phantom for us regularly, starting with 286, which came out around Easter 1965 (thanks to the GCD for verifying my memory of the issues and giving the dates) and I read the Phantom for years after that – even buying copies that reprinted stories I had, so I guess I had a bit of the collector bug from the word go. In 1968, a friend of my brother’s introduced us to mid-60’s Marvel and the work of Jack Kirby in particular increased that fascination with art and comics. All through the 70s I read mostly Marvel and some Phantom.
I sold all my comics and stopped reading in the early 80’s, then slowly returned to it a few years later. Then, in the late 80’s I came across The Phantom Goes to War! – probably when looking for a Marvel book I hoped I’d like – and rediscovered my fascination with the Phantom and collected everything of Moore, McCoy and early Sy Barry that Frew put out. I love those ‘complete’ versions. Jim Shepherd and his crew did a fabulous job!
Now? Very little. Some Phantom obviously. Hellboy. I’m mainly involved with Twomorrows publications. I read and do spot illustrations for Roy Thomas’ magazine Alter-Ego and the Jack Kirby Collector.
CC: What are your artistic inspirations?
SF: Jack Kirby and John Buscema would have to be the top two! Sy Barry has always been in that next tier of inspiration, alongside Barry Windsor-Smith, John Romita (Snr), Gene Colan, Mike Mignola, Herge, JC Mezieres and so forth. I love looking at how others work too. I find I’m really interested in Keith Giffen’s ‘cluttered’ panels, where he seemed (back in the early 90’s this was) to tell the story while drawing people as little as possible. I love his ‘5 Years Later Legion’ art. I find Bruce Timm inspiring. And I like John Byrne’s and Herb Trimpe’s open, uncluttered storytelling. For Inking, I look mainly to Steve Ditko, Windsor-Smith, Romita (Snr) and I get a lot from Alcala.
I am fascinated by Wilson McCoy’s simple yet so effective art. I have a Phantom friend who still prefers his approach, because it’s so easily readable. And Ray Moore – particularly his earliest work – has a moody appeal that I didn’t like as a kid, but which I adore now. (I’m actually working on a story now where I’m going to try to mimic his inking style. If I can. Ouch!!!)
CC: Do you look to other Phantom artists?
SF: For my own covers? Absolutely! Early Sy Barry! Bam! No question! Island of Dogs – Drummer of Timpenni – Mysterious Ambassador – the stories of this Era have the best version of the Phantom ever in my mind. And since I want to keep the mood of the Phantom and not make him feel like a Jack Kirby creation (which is the approach I can often lean towards), I definitely look to Barry, as well as Moore and McCoy, to get the feel as right as I can. I also look at the work of Leppanen and others to get a sense of where the modern spin on the Phantom differs from the older one – but usually find that taking the older approach is what they generally do as well.
CC: What directions, if any, do Frew give you for a cover?
SF: Frew sent me a PDF of the story – still not translated at that point – out of which I was given freedom to find images that I thought would translate into a strong cover image. I sketched out 3, out of which they stated which they’d prefer for the cover and which for the back. I like that approach. It gives me freedom to work the way I like, but also I know I’m working with images they are happy with. Because if they didn’t think any of them were suitable, it would mean we are on different wavelengths, and/or I wasn’t an appropriate cover artist for them.
They also stated the size they wanted the cover drawn to allow for the necessary bleeding off the sides, the space needed for the logo (but stating it didn’t matter if part of it was covered) and stuff like that. I ended up sending them this massively heavy file which I’ll have to correct next time
CC: Do you ever work with any of the other Phantom artists?
SF: Well since 1754 was my first with Frew, the answer, so far, is no – I haven’t. If I’m asked to though, I see no reason why I’d not want to be involved.
Read more about Frew's latest Phantom cover artist in his ABC News expose here.