"The Vultures" story is coloured by Ivan Pedersen and as we all know, he is a Lee Falk purist when it comes to Phantom lore. This story is produced as it was originally published with colours added. Ivan in my opinion is one of the finest modern colourists when it comes to The Phantom. His colouring style is modern, but still keeps the originality and nostalgia of The Phantom.
On the other hand, in the other story "The Mysterious Passenger" has had some edits made along with the colouring by India’s artist Ankit Mitra.
He has chosen mostly bright colours to match Indrajal Comics, the most popular Phantom comics in India from the 1980s style, still retaining the mystery using blue shades on outdoor night scenes. There are couple of panels where the dark shade has supressed the Sy Barry art to some extent. But overall, the colouring is good and pleasant to read.
There has been some minor editing done in this story. No panels have been removed, and the changes are very minor. This is what we will focus on in this article.
On why I think we should highlight these changes in this article, Ankit Mitra has mentioned that he has edited and corrected in his preface and at the bottom of each page. Some readers will be curious to know what changes were done. Personally I don't think we should "edit" or "correct" Sy Barry art even if it is wrong.
"The Mysterious Passenger" story is presented in comic book format with an average 3 panels in each row as compared to 4 panels as it originally appeared in the newspapers. If you have seen the Frew edition of this story (Frew #1884), the panel and page layout style is exactly the same.
There are two places where Ankit has extended the panel with his artwork. What is interesting is that the Frew #1884 issue also includes the same panel edited. The Regal issue has been edited even further. Below is the example of the extended panel - first is the original from the newspapers. The second is from Frew #1884 and the third is from Regal #27. Can you spot the difference?
The second example of a panel being adjusted is the panel featuring this helicopter. Look at the left side of the panel.
There are several panels where Ankit has corrected small inconsistencies like bangles, patterns on shirts, shoes etc that slipped into the artwork. One example is below when Bella is shown wearing bangles on one arm, in another connected panel the bangles are on both arms, and in other panels no bangles are shown. Ankit has corrected this in his coloured version to maintain consistency.
Below is an example of this compared to the Frew issue which is the same as the original newspaper in this example.
Other minor panel edits includes the shirt changing in design for the bald bad character throughout the story. Backgrounds have also been changed for consistency like door knobs swapping sides of the door and furniture in cabins. Due to the length of the article we cannot show every example so we will only highlight a couple, we recommend going through the story yourself if this interests you.
A good example of Regal and Ankit correcting inconstancies is they have rearranged the panels to maintain consistency in the story flow. The sequence below was incorrect in the original strip and in Frew #1884, but now these are arranged as per story flow in the Regal issue.
Overall, I think these are very minor changes that can easily be missed if you don't pay attention or compare them with the original newspaper printing or Frew #1884. In my opinion, there was no need for these small alterations in artwork.
While these edits may surprise some phans it wont surprise others with these classic newspaper stories been butchered, edited and censored for decades beforehand. It has happened with every publisher prior and likely will continue to happen in the future as well.
All in all, this issue is a treat for Phantom Phans, with two original Lee Falk stories & artwork by the legendary Sy Barry, presented in colour. Do these edits change the story or enjoyment levels for the readers? That is best left for the readers to decide, majority may not even notice them.
Regal has announced that the next issue, their Christmas special will feature two new artists in Simi Muhamma and Anand Kumar who have taken the Indrajal Comics approach and used vibrant colours - example below. Panels also seam to be converted into comic book format. Let's wait for the issue to reach us, and meanwhile, enjoy the current issue.
About Binay Kumar Pandey
Binay is a phan of The Phantom since 40+ years, and claims to be reading Phantom even before he could read. The Phantom comics was read to him by his aunt, and his motivation to learn reading in his childhood was to be able to read Phantom comics on his own! He is a techie by profession, but like his first love, his love for Phantom comics is still as fresh and strong as it was during his childhood. He starts his day with reading the Phantom strip of the day.