It's 2017 and it seems that almost everyone with an Internet connection has a social media account. And, as we have seen in recent stories, even the Phantom uses the net; he has a a PC in the Skull Cave, uses a smart phone and steals external hard drives from the bad guys.
So it only makes sense that he's on social media too!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more - The Phantom may be 81 years old but thanks to the efforts of some intrepid phans, he really is beginning to embrace the modern jungle drums! A little searching reveals quite a number of Phantom and Phantom-related social media accounts.
So today ChronicleChamber is launching what will hopefully be an on-going series of interviews, in which we talk to the brains behind some of these accounts.
"Before there was Superman, before there was Batman, before there was Spider Man... there was The Phantom."
ChronicleChamber: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! First up, can we ask a little about yourself? Age/Sex/Location/Profession/Family?
PhantomComic: Male / 37 / Australia / Management Position / Not Married
CC: So what is your history as a Phantom phan? When did you start reading the comic? Are you a collector?
PC: I was introduced to Phantom comics by my father approximately 27 years ago. The stories and adventures intrigued me as a young person, especially the fact that the Phantom had no ‘super-powers’ and would use his smarts and strength to ‘save the day’. As time went by, I continued to grow my Frew collection, mainly buying from markets or second hand shops and would enjoy reading the older stories. Then eBay came along and opened up the possibility of growing my Frew Phantom collection even more, plus add Phantom comics from overseas. My collection is mainly made up of Phantom comics, both domestic and international, but I do have some Phantom merchandise that I've picked up over the years, including trading cards, posters, rings, ceramics and glassware.
CC: Would you consider yourself to be a Falkist, a modernist, or somewhere in between?
PC: I've never thought about it really. As long as the Phantom’s values are upheld as initially created by Lee Falk, and the consequent comic writers remain true to the Phantom heritage, I enjoy reading and collecting it.
CC: Did you have a personal Twitter/Instagram account before you started the Phantom Comic accounts?
PC: I did/do have personal Social Media accounts, however I do keep the accounts separate. Social Media is a great way of staying in touch with people and getting real-time information.
CC: When did you first open your Phantom Comic account? Was Twitter first, or Instagram?
PC: I created the Twitter account first (in May 2015), then Instagram soon after. As Instagram is primarily a photo sharing platform, it only made sense to create an Instagram account as well. I haven’t created a Phantom Facebook page at this stage as Facebook seems to have enough phan pages which contain great content. The accounts aren’t linked and I don’t use any specific software to post new content, I post and share images manually. I have the opportunity to control filters and cropping of images by posting manually.
CC: Can you describe your approach to the @Phantom_comic accounts? How many hours a week do you spend curating them?
PC: I generally share images that are circulating the web at the time, or take photos of my own comics and add a digital twist via an image enhancement application. Simply adding filters or manipulating the original art can change an image to present the Phantom in a new light. It really doesn’t take much time - like anything, if you enjoy what you do, it’s not a burden in any way.
CC: Given that your accounts are heavily image focused, it would be remiss of me not to ask who your favourite artists would be. Also, do you have any particularly favourite stories?
PC: Top artists for me that come to mind are Glenn Ford, Jamie Johnson, Sal Velluto, Sy Barry, Henrik Sahlström but not limited to just these artists. I sway more for the modern style of art, however that's not to say the classic artists weren't great success as Wilson McCoy and Ray Moore. I enjoy stories that are intertwined with historical facts with the Phantom travelling to exotic lands. The Phantom dressed in armour as a knight look amazing....
CC: Why start (and continue) these Phantom Comic accounts? What do you get out of it, personally?
PC: I struggled to find dedicated Phantom related accounts to follow on Instagram and Twitter which were constantly updated with new content, hence I started up my own accounts. Being a collector and ‘phan’ for so long, it was disheartening that The Phantom wasn’t represented on these platforms as other comic heroes are (such as Batman, Superman or Spider-Man).
CC: Are you aware of any other "Phantom" social media accounts?
PC: I do constantly search for the Phantom on social media platforms. I do come across postings that fans or collectors post. Obviously the ChronicleChamber are present on various platforms (Twitter @Chronicle_Tweet and Instagram @ChronicleChamber), always sharing up-to-date and informative news. There’s also a Twitter account named Kit Walker (@_GhostWhoWalks) which posts interesting content. There are various Phantom artists who have amazing Instagram accounts (such as Jamie Johnson @quickdraw13 and Dr. Paul Mason @pmason83) however they post other content/heroes on their feeds, not just Phantom.
CC: With almost 6000 Twitter followers and 850 Instagram followers at the time of writing, you run easily the most popular Phantom accounts on these platforms (from what I've seen, anyway!!) - what is your secret to these large followings?
PC: No secret really. I post on a constant basis and what I post is what I feel other fans want to see (I would like to think anyway): the Phantom presented in the best light possible.
CC: Can you give us any indication of where your followers are around the world?
PC: I'm not sure where my account followers are from. The great thing about images is the fact that they translate into any language....
CC: What are highlights of your time running these accounts?
PC: It’s always a pleasure being tagged in a Phantom related post. It’s always good to see what other fans are posting or what they’re commenting on. Sometimes I post a picture that I think has been in mainstream media for a while which I think will get average reactions on, but the opposite occurs and it's really popular.
CC: Obviously you think there is some hope in terms of bringing an 81 year old comic strip to a modern audience? What do you think KFS / Frew / Egmont need to be doing to help capture this audience?
PC: I’m certainly in no position to tell a publishing company how to operate, however….. we very much live in a digital world and social media is a simple way to engage a younger audience. I strongly believe comics need to remain in paper form (I'm not a big fan of digital comics). However in respect to getting in touch with fans and building a fan base, these publishers can create some amazing content (behind the scenes of creating a Phantom comic, upcoming comic art, facts and figures, etc) which I know would be extremely favorable and create ‘buzz’ online with fans. Also, Frew’s presence at Supanova last year seemed to be a great hit, amazing PR within an environment specifically targeted at pop-culture fans. Frew is certainly in great hands with the ‘Frew Crew’, with an amazing future ahead for the Phantom here in Australia…..
CC: Thanks so much for your time, and keep up the great work. I for one really enjoy the content you put up and seeing @Phantom_Comic popping into my Twitter feed!
PC: No worries at all, thanks for making contact. Happy collecting!!
If you have a favourite social media "Phantom" you'd like us to talk to, please suggest their handle in the Comments below!