With 2017 officially here it is the perfect time to look back at the year that was. 2016 was another big year for not only we here at ChronicleChamber but also the Phantom himself. Join us as we look back at the biggest stories of last year.
February 17, 2016 saw Lee Falk's hero turn 80 years young. Still enjoying any level of popularity after 80 years is an achievement for any fictional character but The Phantom still enjoys on-going publication in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Sweden and Norway. Celebrations for the Ghost Who Walks went on long past February and phans were treated to a host of merch. No only did we get celebratory comics, but stamps, special art prints, a film festival and Pop Vinyl toys. Tributes came from from and wide, from newpapers to YouTubers. It seemed everyone was keen to make sure the Phantom's 80th would be one hell of a bash!
For Aussie phans 2016 began with some uncertainty. Judith Shepherd, who had been part of the company with her late husband and former Frew publisher Jim, stepped down from the company after 28 years. Judith's departure lead to a few months of uncertainty for Frew and their readers as the company looked for new owners. They were finally found in Australian phan Rene White and Australian Phantom artist Glenn Ford . While phans had to wait a little longer for their new comics after Ford and White's purchase of the company it was not long before these passionate phans and businessmen produced the goods.
Passing of Paul Ryan:
Perhaps the saddest moment of 2016 for phans was the shock passing of artist Paul Ryan. Not only a brilliant Phantom artist but a legend in the comics industry, we were indeed lucky to see him depict our hero. For those who had the pleasure of meeting him at the 2015 Lee Falk Bengalla Explorer's Club dinner we remember him as a gentleman, the kind of man you hope someone you look up to turns out to be. For everyone else there will always be Paul's art. Dramatic, beautiful and timeless.
Mike Manley Takes Over as Daily Artist:
After Paul Ryan's passing, King Features Syndicate had to find a replacement for the daily Phantom strips. Filling the huge boots left by Ryan would be no easy task, but KFS found their man in Mike Manley. Himself a seasoned comics artist, it seems that Manley has lived up to phan expectation.
Sammy J is a Phantom Phan!
Turns out that Australian comedian Sammy J is a huge The Phantom phan! After discovering this by way of his recent live show Hero Complex, we were able to invite Sammy to wax lyrical about his love for the purple-clad hero in Episode 45 of X-Band: The Phantom Podcast, which ended up leading to much shenanigans.
The Story Behind the Unreleased The Phantom and Mandrake Video Games:
There are few things more exciting for phans than uncovering a piece of our hero's past, and I was particularly ecstatic to be able to uncover the story behind the unreleased The Phantom: Ghost Who Walks and Mandrake the Magician: Shadow of the Vehme for the Game Boy Advance. Discovering details that no other video game or comic research had, ChronicleChamber was able to bring to light not only interviews with the developers of the games, but an actual, playable version of it!
Glenn Ford is a very busy man. Apart from becoming the new co-owner of Frew Publication, 2016 also saw him open his new production company Phanfare. which specialises in The Phantom related merchandise. With a puzzle already available and a Phantom bust and the second series of The Phantom Gallery forthcoming, 2017 could prove to very unkind to phans' wallets.
Was the First The Phantom Comic Really the First?
With some herculian research efforts, ChronicleChamber team member Jermayn discovered some evidence all but confirming that the long-thought first ever The Phantom comic book, the Italian Collana Albi Grandi Avventure #1 from May, 1937. However, it seems the real first ever Phantom comic was actually O Fantasma Voador from Brazil in April, 1937. Time to re-write those history books!
And the Rest...
As for ChronicleChamber itself, the site saw a lot of change this year. We moved from WordPress to Wix. The new platform allowed me to redesign the site to be more user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Our new focus on news-related content seems to be working as our stats have risen over the last year.
With my move to the UK and handing the majority of reporting over to Dan, Jermayn and Stephen the site has grown in leaps and bounds. No where is this more obvious than with X-Band: The Phantom Podcast. The boys have taken the podcast to heights that I never even dared dream over covering a myriad of topics and interviewing some amazing people, such as Sy Barry. I mean, SY BARRY! I still can't get my head around it!
Thank you to everyone who was part of the CC phan community in 2016, especially those of who who donated to our Patreon - we couldn't do this site without you! I hope that you can all join us again in the new year as we continue to follow our favourite hero wherever he may take us.
Long live The Phantom!