Not wanting to rest on their laurels with the Phantom by Gaslight series, the crew at Frew have continued to hint at what is in store for the year ahead.
It looks like the "Phantom Kids" concept which has been teased in several of Dudley Hogarth’s Message From The Publisher, as well as in the responses to Phantom Forum letters, has really taken shape. While there have been hints through the past weeks that an Australian creative team has been commissioned by Frew to create the series, today co-owner Glenn Ford has officially announced the series in a typically detailed Facebook post.
Kid Phantom comic approved by King Features!
Kid Phantom is a new comic from Frew, aimed at a younger audience, which will chronicle the adventures of the 21st Phantom when he was a young boy.
Here’s the pitch, as it was given to King:
“In the famous and much-loved Phantom Sunday comic strip story, ‘The Childhood of the Phantom’, by Lee Falk and Wilson McCoy, the current Phantom, 21st in the line, is shown as a young boy growing up in the Deep Woods, playing with his pygmy Bandar friends and training with his father, the 20th Phantom.
It is quickly established, at the beginning of the story, that his education is sadly lacking and that he also needs to start developing his own set of values and learn some humility along the way, SO…it is decided to send him to to the States, to begin his schooling.
Accompanied by his lifelong friend, Guran, the son of the Bandar chieftain, they sail to America, to stay with his aunt and uncle. Upon arrival, he finds he has trouble settling in to a suburban lifestyle and adapting to the ways of Western civilisation. He enrols in high school and soon runs afoul of his classmates. He is taken under the wings of his physical education teacher and the headmaster, and very quickly acclimatises to the ways of the west. He still has a wild and restless nature, though, as most young boys do in their early teens and is soon having his own adventures disguised in the ‘Kid Phantom’ costume that he has packed away, and brought with him, on his journey.
In the'Childhood of the Phantom’ story, 6 years pass in 2 panels. The new Kid Phantom comic will tell us what happened in between those panels. He will have an opportunity to learn some valuable life lessons and establish a foundation for the traits and qualities that we associate with the adult Phantom. In short, we will see how the Phantom became a hero.”
Kid Phantom is illustrated by Queensland comic artist, Paul Mason, whose lively, energetic style has given our young hero a fresh, new look that will set this title apart from anything else out there. The first issue is written by the mysterious ‘Henriquez’ and he has hit the ground running. Subsequent issues will be written by Sydneysider, Andrew Constant. It will be published quarterly in the popular ‘digest-size’ format and available at newsagents and online, of course, at: phantomcomic.com.au
We hope that, although aimed at a younger audience, a lot of our regular Phantom readers may find it a fun read, as well.
In a post on Facebook a few weeks ago, co-owner of Frew Rene White wrote:
"When Frew releases the Kid Phantom Series aimed at the younger generations, we may see some new Phans. No doubt us older Phantom Phans will also collect the new series."
In response to phan Jon Cookson’s question, “Will they be Australian created stories?”, White replied, “We have commissioned the writer and the artist to draw the new stories. They will be the first time ever published anywhere in the world.”
While the Scandinavian Egmont team in the past have done an awesome job keeping up the legacy of Lee Falk's creation, there has been a chorus of Australian phans wanting more of an Australian influence in the comic. Looks like phans like Jon Cookson will soon see it.
It is a real innovative move from Frew. We have confirmed that Kid Phantom will be full colour. Given it will be published four times a year in a kid's digest-size comic, this clearly identifies it as separate from the regularly numbered Frew series - a completely new The Phantom publication!
The premise of the story is undeniably clever. To have identified this 6 year gap in the tale of The Childhood of The Phantom is a masterstroke and has provided the creators with a real opportunity to explore the character.
We have also been able to confirm that the series will be set in the 1960's.
ChronicleChamber hopes that Frew are also checking out alternate sales points - Kid Phantom sounds like the kid’s magazines you can buy at the checkouts of supermarkets and fuel stations, which would normally come with the puzzles and giveaways that encourage pester power.
With the limited information we know, the team at ChronicleChamber has raised several questions about the series and what has been announced so far:
When will it be released?
Why the change in the author? Will it always be Paul Mason as the artist?
How many books will there be in the series? Will it be ongoing?
How can we make sense of the 1960's setting? What about the 40's/50’s newspaper stories? Will this be disruptive?
Would the Phantom kid stories have been better if it was the 22nd or a modern/future Phantom, where the stories could be set more in today's modern world which arguably, today's youngsters could be more interested in.