An Interview with the Italian Master - Felmang (Part 2)

In the conclusion of this extensive interview with the renowned Italian Phantom artist Felmang, we ask about his favourite stories, his penchant for drawing beautiful women, and creating new stories for Frew.

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, do yourself a favour and check it out first!

ChronicleChamber: What are some of The Phantom stories that you're most proud of?

Felmang: The Lee Falk reprints including Queen Samaris (Fantomen 25/1993 & Frew #1070, #1712), The Mermaids of Melo Straits (Fantomen 26/1995 & Frew #1139, #1795), The Tiger Girl (Fantomen 1/2000 & Frew #1252, #1789) as well as the Kingdom of Amazons (Fantomen 10/1991 & Frew #993, #1651) and The Parrot (Thief on Board) (Fantomen 6/1992 & Frew #1110).

CC: Many phans love those! Was it your idea to redo these stories with your twist? Did you refer to the original stories at all, or work from the script for these? What was your process?

Felmang: The Semic art director Ulf Granberg, the most competent man in his role I have ever met and worked with, had the idea to do Lee Falk remakes, we started with Queen Samaris XII. He rewrote the scripts and furnished me a modern version of them. I drew these remake episodes, along with the help of my inker, and the results were excellent.

Even Lee Falk was very satisfied of these remake stories, and wrote some beautiful notes in support (see below).

CC: You are renowned for your beautiful imagery, especially when it comes to drawing the female form. It seems that you particularly enjoy drawing female characters?

Felmang: I love all beauty and in my comic strip I try to include my professionalism but also the beauty including: beautiful landscape, animals, jungle, and why not, gorgeous women? Please consider too that I am Christian and the woman is a creature of God. I think, it is right to respect the woman and portray her as beautiful is possible.

Unfortunately not all the Phantom artists are able to depict beautiful women as Sy Barry and Wilson McCoy did. I have seen some Phantom artists who do not have the ability to draw beautiful women including Diana - it is a real pity.

I enjoy putting female characters in my stories, and this is an added value to the comic. A Phantom episode without a woman is (for me) like a day without sun. Sometimes I try to add a little bit of sensuality to the female beauty also and believe me, this is not always easy to achieve.

I believe adding romance to my stories also adds appeal to the female readers who love these situations.

CC: Do you use models or photographic sources for your art?

Felmang: Yes, I have used models throughout the years. I started using models and photographic sources from 1970 onwards. Below are a few examples including one of my Thai friends who became Glowing Lotus for The Triads saga back in the 1990's (Fantomen 19/1994 - Fantomen 23/1994. & Frew #1096 - #1100).

CC: Have you ever had any of your work censored?

Felmang: Just the once I am aware of.

I submitted an image (right) to be used for Frew's 2017 Girl Phantom Annual. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me, it was censored and not included. I am led to believe it was originally going to the back cover.

CC: Interesting. So, tell us about your ideal style of the Phantom.

Felmang: The Phantom must be handsome, smiling and not look like a sack of potatoes in action or an a ugly Phantom without a neck. In my opinion he is not a superhero, he is not Hulk, and his mask must be well done to have the right expression on his face.

In my opinion, not all the artists are able to draw The Phantom in the right way. I agree with Joe Giella (assistant of Sy Barry for many years) who said that The Phantom is a very difficult strip to illustrate.

CC: Do you collect art yourself? Phantom or other art?

Felmang: I am a collector of original art, mainly comic covers, painted or not, and also original movie posters. This is my favourite hobby, I'm doing it with great passion - or is it an illness?

For me collecting comic art was a natural step after collecting comics. This phenomena is very different in Europe (especially in France). In my collection I have many Phantom covers and also complete Phantom episodes drawn by other artists.

CC: Hahaha, yes it's an illness that we also suffer from! Tell us about the importance of covers.

Felmang: The cover is a very important product. It is not just an enlarged picture of a panel inside or a good illustration full of many and many detailed elements. When I have done a cover, I always try to do it in a “pulp style”. Covers are able to capture the attention of our eyes in the kiosks and in the comic book shop. A good cover really helps the magazines to sell more copies.

CC: Australian phans were delighted when Frew announced that you would be drawing complete Phantom stories for Frew, and your issues have been very well received by readers. Can you tell us how that happened?

Felmang: It starts all the way back in May 1994 when Jim Shepherd and his wife Judith visited Rome and met me on their travels. The same Jim put me in contact with various American and Australian phans.

After this visit I received a phone call from Glenn Ford who was looking for illustrations for Phantom cards. I also had a visit from Rene White in 2000, who came to Rome and visited me in my studio with his daughter. Rene is a great Phantom fan and a great collector of comics. He has large collec