The cancellation of a comic book publication that has been running for over five decades was always going to be big news, and in the world of the Phantom the ramifications are beginning to sink in. Fantomet is dead.
The iconic Norwegian Fantomet magazine, running for 54 years, has been cancelled. The Phantom is iconic in Norway; according to legend, a resistance password during the WWII occupation by Nazi Germany was 'Fantomet'.
The population of Norway may only be 5.25 million, but a surprisingly high proportion of them were phans. To get a feeling about the impact of Egmont's decision, we got in touch with several Fantomet phans from different walks of life. We asked them some questions and for their opinions and thoughts.
Kjell Steen (aka Sjefen) has been a long time fan and member of the editorial team of Fantomet Magazine. He was the leader of the Fantomet Club which boasted 135,000+ members.
ChronicleChamber: How long have you been working with the magazine? Can you tell us about your role with the magazine?
Kjell Steen: I have been working for the Fantomet since 1984, until 1994 as assistant in editorial work, from 1994 as Sjefen. That means the leader, the boss, for Fantomet klubben with 135,000 members, and contacting readers and writing of all editorial material, articles and such. Many readers bought Fantomet to read the leader first, and the pages with "Sjefen svarer", "Fantomet fakta", articles about comics and " Fantomet klubben", then they went to read the comic itself.
As a member of Fantomet klubben, you went from novise to bronze, then silver and gold member, to become a grandmaster and got your name in the magazine. Real "Fantomologists" (Fantomet Experts), continued to Stormester with star, then two stars and beyond. We also had Norway Championship, no later than 2017 in Bergen (Norwegian city), where the Norwegian champion 2017 was won, with great prizes for the champion, and also for the second and third place.
I have also written forewords and articles in several Egmont comic books, cartoon releases and of course in other Fantomet releases, such as albums, chronicles, this chronology that is ongoing now and much more. I have also written a lot in the Swedish Fantomen and other Swedish releases, as well as in English, Danish, Belgian magazines about fiction figures.
I have also published books with comics, most recently with 3 books in 2016 and 2017. I often perform at festivals about comics with lecture and talk on comics. I have written many articles and such about James Bond, about the movies, the books and the comics. And of course, written articles in the Agent X9 magazine for many years.
CC: Is there any way this could just be hiatus? I am lead to believe Agent X9 was renewed. Could it happen with Fantomet?
KS:: An old jungle saying says: It's hard to predict, especially about the future.... What can happen in the future, nobody knows, but I'd assume that Fantomet as a regular edition is is over and done.
CC: What about the quarterly reprint magazine Fantomet Kronologisk? Will that keep going?
KS: Four editions of Fantomet Kronologisk are planned in 2019. What will happen next knows nobody
CC: Why is the magazine being cancelled? Is it because of low sales?
KS: Understanding, or figuring out why the magazine had to end, requires insight into what is happening in closed rooms at the top. And, such insight, I do not have. Number 13-2018 was sent to the printing company when the order came for closure. So this came like lightning from clear sky
CC: Was the number of issues produced annually being reduced 26 to 13 a sign this cancellation of the series was a possibility?
KS: Going over to 13 thirty issues a year was an advantage for both sales and readers. Today's society requires thick releases, therefore, such 13 issues were a success. Thin issues of 32-36 pages belong to the past, at least in Norway.
CC: How do you feel to see this magazine end after 54 years?
KS: Of course, it is sad for all that such a well-known and loved magazine ends.
Thomas Askjellerud: A 25+ year regular reader and subscriber of the Fantomet Magazine, and administrator of a Scandinavian based Phantom Facebook page.
I am not surprised at all with this decision. I am really glad Fantomet lasted so long. Comics do not sell anymore, and trending has been downhill for many years. I will follow Frew and Fantomen, and have been subscribed for Fantomen for last two years.
I've been reading and interacting with Fantomet for 25 years, through letters, drawings and discussions, so it will be weird to not have it in the mail any longer. Although the Fantomet Kronologisk will still come out, along with planned thick softcover books (TPB), it will never replace the issue we all loved.
Paul Andreas: Most famously known for winning a Moonstone competition that saw him feature in a story. Has written articles for CC in the past and will be a future podcast guest discussing one of his articles.
Fantomet is dead. Long live Fantomet.
Last weeks cancellation felt almost like learning about the death of a dear friend. While I can’t say it was completely unexpected (the signs have been there for years for any reader to see, with reduced number of issues, reduced number of story pages, and so on), it was still a shock to me.