It may be outside the normal interest of many Phantom phans but the Autumn 2017 issue of Inkspot, the quarterly magazine publication of the Australian Cartoonist's Association (ACA), is something that we would recommend you get your hands on if you can.
Why? Because highlighting the current issue is a 10-page Special Feature section on our purple-clad hero!
For those who came in late, there is a Historical Overview of Frew by Daniel Best, which covers the near-70 year history of the Australian comic book publishing company.
This is followed by a two-page piece written personally by Antonio Lemos in which he recounts his history as a The Phantom cover artist for Frew. Long time ChronicleChamber readers may be familiar with some of the information in this feature, as much of it was revealed in Kevin Patrick's in-depth interview Antonio Lemos: The Man From the Islands published on this website in 2007. However, the reflection of Antonio's incredible journey in his own words is simply a fascinating read.
Another highlight is the two-page feature written by Frew co-owner Glenn Ford. In the wide-ranging article, Glenn provides a absorbing insight into the first year of operations under the new Frew Crew. He details the excitement and challenges of making decisions that impact a "highly recognisable product that's as iconic as Bonds and Vegemite, a title with world record of an unbroken print run of over 1700 issues and a fiercely loyal fan base". As you read the piece you certainly get a feel for the pros and cons of that loyal fan base!
Constrained by convention on the one hand yet compelled to innovate and grow on the other, the balancing act that must be taken by Frew is made clear. Difficulties in satisfying existing phans are laid out. However the extensive list of all the new artistic contributors to Frew's endeavors, the accompanying images (Giantsize, Kid Phantom, Phantom by Gaslight), together with the the extended explanations of the new features, give a strong indication as to which direction Frew intends to head.
Of special interest was the revelation, certainly previously unmentioned on ChronicleChamber, that Frew will soon release a graphic novel, The Sword of the Caliph. Written by Henriquez (who also penned Kid Phantom #1) and illustrated by Italian artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo, this is planned for publication later this year.
Inkspot's The Phantom: Special Feature concludes with a descriptive piece by Dietmar Lederwasch, who outlines The Phantom Art Show, particularly as it will appear at Newcastle 10 June - 20 August in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Newcastle Art Gallery.
We should note that the Special Feature might be even considered 12 pages long, with the Bunker Cartoon Gallery story immediately following. Of course, this currently also has a strong The Phantom theme!
Naturally, throughout the Special Feature section there are many relevant and striking images. Some of these will be familiar to long term Phantom phans, but with their pleasing presentation, the fact that so many are brought together in the one place, as well as the inclusion of some previously unseen images, they certainly add a special appeal to the publication.
It does seem fitting then that the character that that has meant so much to so many Australians, together with Frew the iconic Australian company that has brought him to us for so long, should headline this issue of Inkspot that is, "for the first time in its history ... being made available in many Australian libraries and comic book shops" (from ACA Deputy President Nat Karmichael's editorial). This is particularly significant, as the magazine has been published for over 30 years without ever being offered to non-members of the Association before.
Collectors hoping to purchase their own copy of this phantastic and ground-breaking issue of Inkspot should email ACA President Jules Faber here. Pending availability, the issue costs $10 (+ postage).
Copies are limited though, so don't delay! No completist, or anyone else who wants to be part of the modern day resurgence of Frew, should be without one.