At first it started with rumours, then Facebook posts and by midnight Australia time on the 12 November 2018, news had officially broken that the Fantomet magazine in Norway is ending with issue 13/2018. Only Donald Duck has published a longer magazine in a country rich with Phantom history.
We can confirm that the quarterly reprint magazine Fantomet Kronologisk will be continuing. There are also promises by Fantomet editor Hege Høiby to publish regular or semi-regular ongoing trade paperbacks.
Note that the Fantomen magazine in Sweden WILL continue as usual, meaning that the production of Team Fantomen stories also continues.
One of the first questions we had about the difference in language between Norwegian and Swedish seeing the Swedish Fantomen magazine is still being produced and going strong. We at Chronicle Chamber are not language experts but in asking several Norwegians, they will still be able to continue reading the adventures of the Phantom in the Fantomen magazine.
Fantomet 13 / 2018 will feature an advertisement for a subscription to the Fantomen magazine. I expect majority of the hardcore fans will pick up this option. It is very unlikely shops in Norway will be stocking the Fantomen magazine however which will have a knock down effect on potential new phans.
We have asked several Fantomet readers for opinions and the common thread is great sadness among them all.
One fan Thomas Askjellerud made mention it has been a 25-year journey reading and sending in letters, drawings and having great fun discussing in the magazine letters and the Norwegian Fantomet club.
Other fans are now fearful the Fantomen magazine will be cancelled but, in a Facebook reply by editor Mikael Sol he squashed those fears saying it will not happen. We are led to believe that 2019 will be a year of extending the Swedish legacy with a few big announcements to come.
History of the Fantomet Magazine from 1964
The Fantomet magazine in Norway started in 1964. Although already popular in Norway - and with a very special history during World War 2 where "Fantomet" was used as a password for the resistance movement, and Diana Palmer was renamed Sala(!) - the Phantom's own comic book stumbled a bit in the beginning.
After eight issues, Fantomet took an extended break after an issue released in February 1965. The next issue wasn't released until October 1966, 20 months later. The delay may however have been not due to low sales, but rather a practical matter as the magazine adjusted to releases in other countries. The 1966 issue was identical to issues released in Finland and West Germany at the same time. The contents of these issues were put together in Sweden, where the similarly named Fantomen magazine had been running since 1950.
In time, it was evident that the Norwegian version was a big success, and the contents were then put together by a Norwegian editorial staff instead. This included unique covers by Norwegian creators and back-up comics only published in Norway and not in Sweden. This was a golden age for Fantomet, where several creators (such as Knut Westad and Eirik Ildahl) also produced stories for Team Fantomen - one such story was recently reprinted by Frew; The Ladykiller in No. 1811.
In 1996, Fantomet joined a co-production with Sweden's Fantomen and Finland's Mustanaamio. From then on, the contents of the Norwegian magazine were mostly identical to its sister publications.
Perhaps a sign of things to come, Mustanaamio was cancelled in 2010, and things began to diverge again between Fantomen and Fantomet in 2012, when the Norwegian version published fewer issues than the Swedish. This decline of issues continued in 2013 when only 13 issues were published, a frequency that remained until 2018. Issue 13/2018 will be the 1217th and last of the 55-year old publication. This was due to sales falling significantly and it was more cost effective to produce 13 issues than 26 issues.
So is this the definitive end of Fantomet in Norway?
No! As mentioned earlier in this article, there was a 20-month gap between Fantomet's last issue of 1965 and the first of 1966 and Fantomet editor Hege Høiby has promised they will be releasing future TPB’s and the quarterly reprint magazine Fantomet Kronologisk.
One recent example of a magazine being renewed in Norway is the magazine Agent X9 (featuring Modesty Blaise) which was cancelled in 2015, after 42 years of continuous publishing.
It was replaced by an album format series which only lasted a year, before returning as a comic magazine again. The new magazine is published less frequently than before, but four issues a year is probably better than nothing for the Norwegian Modesty Blaise fans. Let's hope the Phantom fans in Norway also see the return of Fantomet soon in some way.
Australians also experienced a mini hiatus ourselves between the Shepherd and the Frew Crew reigns back in 2015-2016, we can only imagine how painful every Fantomet fan is feeling at the moment. I have heard stories of Australian phans going to the Frew office knocking and demanding answers plus many angry phone calls being dodged and left for the answering machine. I can only imagine the Fantomet Norway team are experiencing the same in the next few days.
Some links to read:
You can read the English translated version of these articles by using Google Chrome and right clicking and press “Translate to English”.
We thank several Norwegian Fantomet phans who gave us their time during this sad period of their life. We hope to bring some more phan reactions to this decision to our readers in the near future.