It may only be September 2017, with over three months left in the year, but we are already starting to see the release of some 2018 focused Phantom products.
This is not as crazy as it sounds, as it's calendars and diaries that are starting to emerge onto the market.
Mallon Melbourne has been a reliable producer of Phantom diaries over the last 20 years or more, and their latest version, The Phantom Diary 2018, has appeared in Australian newsagents in the last few days. The front cover image is a Glenn Ford interpretation of a scene from the 1943 story Bent Beak Broder.
As you can see from the images below, the 2018 Phantom Diary is a spiral bound edition; each opened page typically contains an iconic Phantom cover on the left hand side, with the days of the week on the right. These covers are from around the world, with Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South America, Spain and the United States all represented. The Diary pages are slightly larger than A5 size (ie, slightly larger than A4 when opened).
Sitting side by side on most newsagent shelves right now is Mallon's The Phantom Calendar 2018. This really is an exciting moment for Australian phans, as a calendar has not been anywhere near as regular as the diary.
The top half of each page in the 12-month calendar features large images of non-Australian and historical covers. The first three months feature Hermes Press Daily collection covers; the remainder of the year predominantly showcases Italian comic covers. All of the stories represented by these covers are Lee Falk originals, with Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy art.
The lower half is typical month layout, with plenty of room for users to jot down important dates. These pages also feature a single panel from various Phantom stories, each one a Sy Barry image.
While it is certainly fun to see these in stores already, it must be said that these two products both miss the mark in a way that would seem to be incredibly easy to address: they could or should feature significant dates in the Phantom world.
The calendar, for instance, proudly boats that public holidays have been identified. However, surely of far more interest to phans would be the reminder that 17 February is the anniversary of the first appearance of the strip in a newspaper, that Sy Barry took over the strip from 21 August 1966, or that we should all pause for a moment on 13 March to remember the death of the creator, Lee Falk, in 1999. This would seem to be an opportunity missed.
Either way, completist phans will still add these to their collections, and hopefully many of the diaries and calendars will be purchased as Christmas presents or other, and be used faithfully for their intended purpose.
The Mallon Diaries and Calendars can be purchased in Australian newsagents now - the Diary retails at $29.99, and the Calendar is $25.
They are also available on the Frew website as well, by following the links below: