This is a review of the opening weekend events of "Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery’s exhibit: Phantom: Off the Drawing Board".
For Those Who Came In Late
As the sun set on 17 November 2023 the crowd started growing at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery. Phans from across the country had gathered to celebrate a love we shared – The Phantom!
Some people were working, some had travelled from interstate, some were supporting friends with art in the Gallery, and some happened to wander by and wondered what the fuss was all about. I travelled from Brisbane, knowing I just had to be there.
Fortunately I was there for the opening weekend events, because some amazing phans attended, and the Phantom himself was there to greet them!
Both the quality and the quantity of art and memorabilia on display was astounding. Original art was mainly from the beloved Sy Barry and the local hero Shane Foley, who was interviewed on Saturday 18 November 2023.
Shane is a delightful phellow who, would you believe it, was an ambulance officer before becoming an artist (and writer) for the Phantom. You really never know what the future holds!
A lot of the exhibit (art and memorabilia), including two Phantom Shields, is on loan from collector Paul Moloney, who was also interviewed on Saturday. I, for one, never thought I would see any of the PNG Phantom Shields in person, so I can check that off the list and thank Paul Moloney for his contribution to the exhibit. As for getting my own… to be continued!
Frew Phantom issues no. 1, 2, and 3 are on display – yes, originals, no, not replicas! Need I say more?!
Gary Horne, author of the Phantom Rings book (which you may have heard about here), was also present (and kind enough to sign copies of his book, which were available for sale). A number of rings are on display from, you guessed it, the amazing ring collection of Gary Horne.
Glenn Ford, I am sure needing no introduction, was present and gave one of the brief talks on Friday night. Thank you Frew for helping make this exhibit happen.
The Gallery has four areas to visit.
The first and main exhibit is through a wonderful mural of the Skull Cave by Shane Foley, with The Phantom, Diana, and Devil. The Major Treasure Room being, of course, inside the Skull Cave.
The Phantom Response exhibit is upstairs and contains the work of a number of local artists and their Phantom-inspired pieces. Most of those artists were part of a panel discussion on Saturday.
The Phantom serial of 1943 is being shown on a loop in a theatre inside the Gallery.
Last, and least only in stature, is the Kid Phantom area. This part of the exhibit is interactive in a number of ways, allowing visitors to try their hand at sketching and colouring a comic strip and has a wall with panels and characters to create your own story.
The Kid Phantom artist Paul Mason also attended, being interviewed on Saturday, and signing copies of the Kid Phantom Kollection #1. It would be remiss of me not to mention the Brisbane Pop Culture Meetup on the third Friday of every month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at the Brisbane Square Library.
Saturday had a series of interviews with Shane Foley, Paul Moloney, Paul Mason, and a number of the Response artists.
There were a number of items for sale while a generous benefactor donated Phantom comic books for anyone interested. An impromptu and unofficial dinner was arranged amongst the phans.
As a result of this weekend, I had the good fortune of discovering two things:
1. There are actually a number of other phans in Brisbane. I thought I was the only one! I knew that could not be true, but all the clubs I read about in the comic books no longer existed. I met phans from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, a man with the Phantom bust tattooed on his back, and a lovely pear (sic) from Jindera (I had to look it up too, it is near Albury at the NSW/Vic border). So, there you have it, there are phans around, it is just a matter of finding them.
2. There is a dinner of legend that, I am told, is a not to be missed. The Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorers Club dinner (https://www.lfmbec.org/) is held on the night of Supanova in Sydney (for now!) and includes an auction of donated items where the funds raised go towards the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. I have yet to attend. 2024 is shaping up to be a big year.
Many people have gone unnamed and unthanked in this article, but from the ones mentioned, I have no doubt you can tell it was a splendid time. I may be new to the community but I have been made to feel most welcome. I look forward to meeting many more of you over the years ahead.
The exhibit is ongoing and while you may have missed the opening weekend events, you have until 4 February 2024 to see what Rebecca McDuff, Curator and Gallery Director, has on display. The exhibit is well worth a trip or a detour to Bundaberg!
[Editors note: Along with our X-Band: The Phantom Podcast #267 featuring a video review by Duncan Munro, Christopher D. Schaffer has written through his own review and thoughts on the amazing exhibition. Thank you and we hope it inspires some phans or casual fans the desire to go visit this exhibition.]