We are saddened to announce that Les Grey, Phantom collector, historian and phriend to many, passed away peacefully on Tuesday 13th August.
Hailing from Adelaide South Australia, Les was renowned as an avid collector and devoted historian who gathered much information about Phantom comics and their history for the Phantom Wiki and before that for the Deep Woods website, run by Bryon Shedden.
I first met Les, at Supanova Sydney in 2009 and was immediately drawn to this kind hearted gentlemen who took time to spend with myself and other young collectors. My first impression was when it came to swapping our "wish lists" with each other. Most phans had a list of what they had, Les had a list of what he needed, and he was down to like 10 things. Les collected everything - he had two rooms full of Phantom collectibles and comics, and looking through the photos everyone was very jealous and impressed.
Les Grey (standing, far left) at Supanova 2009
For those who knew Les, he did not seek the limelight as a Phantom collector and historian. He had several great loves including his wife, family and working at the Adelaide Oval. He worked at the Oval for 43 years. One of the stories I loved about his time at the Oval was how they gave him a framed picket from the fence surrounding the oval before it was redeveloped, as a thank you gesture for his work.
Occasionally his love for the Adelaide Oval and the Phantom crossed paths. Les worked as a supervisor for an international Rugby game between Australia and the Pacific Islands. A customer spotted his Phantom watch and commented that he used to read them years ago. He was the Fijian Consul from Canberra. The two of them bonded so much over the Phantom that he took Les' address and promised to make some inquires. A couple of months later Les received issues #3, #4, #5 of Bera-Na-Liva as thanks for the way Les had treated him.
Les was a phriend to many phans from around the world. I have asked some phans who had friendships with Les to leave their messages of respect and love towards him.
I hope you enjoy reading some stories about one of the nicest Phantom phans and historians that ever lived.
One of the best things about comic collecting is that we make friends from around the world. Les was the first overseas friend I made. Besides being a giant among collectors, he was extremely helpful in hunting comics on behalf of friends. He had a uncanny knack of remembering what friends are after and find them for you or make introductions to other people who can help.
My favourite thing about Les is he was an incredibly upbeat and cheerful man with a brilliant sense of humour. He told me a story where he was hospitalized. He convinced the staff to let him go home at 2-00 in morning, tripped in his garden, hurt himself and was back into hospital looking like the man in the iron mask. He was so hilarious narrating this and ended by saying “Keep well and off any gardens as they are dangerous”.
We usually discussed The Phantom, our families, his collecting days and cricket. He knew Sir Don Bradman and fondly recalled the chats he had with the Don on Wednesdays at the Adelaide Oval. He was amused how when he retired from Adelaide after 43 years, the local TV stations, newspapers, websites did interviews with him.
He was very happy about the joys he derived while collecting over the year. In 2018 the collecting bug bit him again and he started off with New Zealand comics. In 3 months he had collected 546 of the 556 comics in the series.
Les was a true gentleman and a classic collector. The thrill for him was in the chase for something that he didn't have. That drive was second only to his eagerness to help other collectors fill gaps in their collections. It wasn't unusual during our frequent chats for him to tell me about a phan he was helping out by keeping an eye out for items from their wants list or for him to have put together a run of New Zealand issues for them.
I'll fondly remember our discussions about his work as bar supervisor of the famous Adelaide Oval scoreboard, as a bread delivery driver and his interactions with Don Bradman. One thing he said still brings a smile to my face years after he uttered it....."mate don't ever start collecting those Italian comics.... there's too many series and thousands of the buggers!!" Collecting sure can be a slippery slope.
Les to me was typical of most phantom people. Kind and generous and always keen to discuss new additions to his collection, especially his New Zealand issues. I believe at the peak of his collecting, Les’s collection would rival the best. Safe travels mate to whatever journey you are now on!
A true gentleman. He had am amazing way of making contacts with all sorts of people from all over the world in his collecting of comics and memorabilia. He compiled a complete Commando Comic collection in 18 months.
My wife and I visited Les and Norma in Adelaide some years ago and were blessed by their hospitality and friendship. His outhouse/skull cave was a little “slice of heaven” (iconic Kiwi song) for a novice Phantom collector like myself.
I count myself privileged to have known Les and to have partnered with Les in the pursuit of NZ Phantom comics.
One of my favourite chats with him was about mutual Phantom phriends! One in particular was Swaroop. Les really valued and loved his passion and interest in the phantom. I can’t recall exactly, but vaguely recalled how he mentioned his family and how he had made a great friend through the Phantom. My chats with him were more about the good old days of collecting and help he gave me trying to finish my Frew collection.
We thank all of the above phans with their beautiful memories of the man and we wish Les Grey's family all the best as they deal with their loss. His service is being held today, Thursday 22nd August in Adelaide.
Rest in Peace.