History of Female Phantom Writers

Along with the recent release of the Frew Games Treasures of Drakon board game, we have seen the accompanying release of the next trade paperback (click to buy) from Frew Publications which includes a sequel story by the dynamic creative team of writer Julie Ditrich, artist Wendell Cavalcanti and colourist Ivan Pederson. You can see our review of the TPB here.

Julie Ditrich has been great in her promotion of this new sequel. It is good to see The Phantom getting more air time in the media and hopefully we see more of it. The media release promotes Julie's position as the first Australian female writer contributing to The Phantom universe, and the sixth female comic book writer overall. You can read the media release here.

These historical details spark the question - who were these other female writers?

Please note, this is just credited female writers and not uncredited writers or editors. For example, according to legend, Lee Falk's widow Elizabeth Falk finished off some of his scripts when he passed. While this is unconfirmed it is a great story. It is also worth mentioning we are not talking about female editorial staff like Judy Wamsley and Judith Shepherd who both worked at Frew and helped Jim with editing the stories for decades.

Many comic writers until the 1980's did not receive credit - there may be a number of more female authors to add here but to our knowledge none that have been credited. As we find more, we will add.

What follows is our best effort to identify all previous female authors. Have we missed any? If so, please let us know so we can update this article and make the correction. Since the publication of this article, we have found other female writers.

Here is a list of the credited female Phantom writers that we have found. In our list we are including all writers of anything Phantom, which includes three writers who wrote prose stories for Moonstone in 2007.

1) Pat Fortunato (USA) wrote a King Comic back in 1967 featuring the "Girl Phantom". If you read her blog article about this particular Phantom story she wrote, she sort of hints she may have written other Phantom stories as well. This story has always been well received and has been published around the world in 11 countries including twice by Frew.

2) Diane Karlstrom nee Alfredhsson (Swedish American) has been credited as writer on 17 Phantom stories under her own name or the pseudonym Dai Darell. Her first story The White Slave Trade was published in 1983 by Fantomen and her most recent in Frew #1853 (2019) The Pit of Doom.

Interestingly The Pit of Doom was also inked by Coral Martinez (you can read an interview with her here), which may make this the first Phantom story ever to be written and drawn (inked) by a female team.

3) Layla Bess nee Gauraz (France) wrote three stories with her future husband Georges Bess in the 1980's. Layla was not originally on this list.

4) Maureen Abbott, Kim Hill & Kay Moore (Australia) are credited as co writers with three others for the educational Phantom story produced in 1997 for the Family Court of Australia. The story was published in a free giveaway publication.

We have no information on who had what role or whether they where just part of the government project. We are simply assuming they wrote the story.

5) Ingebjørg Berg Holm (Norway) wrote a story which was perhaps even more controversial than the Sandal Singh saga and The Golden Eagle story combined. Titled Giovanna and published in Frew #1358 (2003) and Fantomen 9/2003, it was brought to life by artist Dick Giordano and featured a story about the 4th Phantom falling in love with a cardinal in the Catholic church who turns out to be a woman who is poisoned and killed while carrying the 4th Phantom's child.