2020 looms as a year of sentimentality and celebration in Sweden as we lead up to the 70th Anniversary of the Fantomen magazine, first published way back on October 5 1950.
We are led to believe that throughout 2020 we will see nostalgic reprints and new surprises. This begins with the very first issue of the anniversary year, which included a very special version of their traditional "Schedule" poster, featuring a previously unseen Jaime Vallve painting (see bottom of page).
Issue 1/2020 includes the full story about how the original artwork came to be, it's rediscovery by a Phantom phan, and how it became the Schedule poster for 2020. You can read the full story in the issue itself; a brief summary is included below.
The comic will not be on shop shelves for much longer, so if you have missed out or are an international collector, you should look to purchase the comic from special shops including Serie Kallaren, Serier & Sant, Bosses Comics and Tradera (a Swedish style eBay).
If you wish to organise your own subscription to Fantomen, you can do so here.
The story goes that in the middle of the 1970's, at the height of Jaime Vallve's popularity, he had a summer house in the south of Sweden. During his visits over the years he formed a friendship with his Swedish neighbours - the Bolinder's. As a gift for their friendship he painted this picture for them.
It was not until 2011 when Elias Bolinder, the grandson of the original owners, contacted the Fantomen staff and showed them the original. After some research from Andreas Eriksson and then editor Ulf Granberg, they decided the image could have been inspired by the story The Ghost Pirates, originally published in Fantomen 15/1977. It was also only the sixth Team Fantomen story that was reproduced in Australia by Frew, in issue #765 (1983).
It must be stressed that this fresh image is not simply a cover, sketch or preliminary cover that was rejected by the editorial team. Ulf has confirmed it was never presented to him and he had never seen it before.
Fast forward to 2018 and planning the 70th Anniversary of Fantomen. On a suggestion from Andreas Eriksson it was decided that this image would have a great nostalgic feel for the start of the anniversary year of 2020, along with a reprint of The Ghost Pirates - this time in color.
Fantomen 1/2020 also includes a reprint of Lee Falk & Wilson McCoy's Danglor, International Bank Thief, which has never before been published in the Fantomen magazine. All this behind a Henrik Sahlström cover that features Mr Walker wearing a McCoy era chequered coat, drawn in Sahlström's own style.
Fantomen's anniversary year continues in issue 2-3/2020, with two recent KFS daily strips (A Reckoning with the Nomad and Kit's Letter Home) and the Frew story Jungle Love by Pidde Andersson and Shane Foley. This marks the first time ever that a Frew story has been printed in Sweden.
Big thanks to Mikael Lyck and Andreas Eriksson for their help contributing to the article and providing scans.