Phan and phriend of Bill Lignante, William Higgins, has confirmed that Bill Lignante passed away on the 27th February 2018, about three weeks before his 92nd birthday.
While his Sunday reign was short lived most phans would be aware of his work, if only because of the infamous 1962 Sunday story: Queen Samaris XII. Bill sensationally drew the ears and eyes on his Phantom in the story, which remains the only time The Phantom's eyes in particular have been depicted in the newspaper strip.
Undfortunately some nasty untruthful rumours started in Australia surrounding the story, namely that Bill was actually sacked from the newspaper strip by Lee Falk and King Features as a result
The rumour was first published in a Mallon Diary and has been quoted several times, including in Frew comics.
It is worth noting that if King Features had an issue with the eyes and ears they could have done what Frew did and edited the panels, as they had their own artist and editorial team on staff back in the 1960's .
In our Sy Barry interview Sy helped further clear up the mess by stating that he never took the job off Bill but from Wilson McCoy, and as he was doing assistant work for Flash Gordon at the time, Bill came to the rescue as a temporary replacement.
In a Friends of the Phantom interview (Winter 1998) Bill Lignante explained it to readers personally, via interviewer Ed Rhoades. [ChronicleChamber Patreon supporters can read the whole interview in the Phantom Preservation Project].
Apart from his brief tenor as a Phantom newspaper artist, Lignante also drew more than 45 Phantom comic book stories, authoring several of them, including the Girl Phantom which we recently saw in the 2017 Frew Annual. He also created three covers for Charlton.
In the Winter 1998 Friends of the Phantom interview Bill expressed that the greatest highlight of his time creating Phantom stories was doing the Girl Phantom and was "..an excellent character and should be continued..".
Outside comics, Bill's greatest legacy would probably be his courtroom art for ABC for many famous cases including Sirhan Sirhan, Charles Manson, Rodney King and many more. He covered more than 50 major trials in a 26 year period. On top of that he created six Palm restaurants and an Adelphi Inn which featured some original Wilson McCoy art on a wall.
You can read Bill Lignante's full Phantom bio here.
From everyone from team ChronicleChamber and every Phantom phan, we thank you Bill Lignante for your huge impact and work you have put into the hero we adored over the many years. Our thoughts are with his widow and family left behind.
Thank you to William Higgins for the confirmation of the passing.