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On a Phantom Comic Hunt in Germany

A few days ago I returned from Germany after a short vacation. While visiting cities like Berlin and Leipzig, I also used the opportunity to look for the new Phantom publications.

Germany has a Phantom tradition. It is mostly linked to the Bastei Verlag, which published several series during the 1970s and 1980s. In the various Bastei magazines and books, you could read American newspaper stories, Phantom comic book stories published on license for Italy, Sweden and the United States and new stories for a German readership.

Since the Bastei comics stopped publishing, only a few Phantom comics have been released in Germany. This year the situation is changing. Both Wick Comics and Zauberstern Comics have started separate comics series, and a book about The Phantom by Christian Blees has been published by Edition Alfons (review to come).

There is a large and varied output of comics in several genres in the German language. Comics are distributed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and some titles can also be found outside these countries in specialty stores. Many internet based book stores also sell comics in German.

In Germany, comics are easy to find if you know where to look. Many supermarkets sell some comics, but most of them are the ones meant for young children. These comics are often wrapped in plastic with a toy. The big deal for comics in Germany, is to check out the railway stations. The bigger railway stations have news agencies (German: Bahnhofskiosk) selling newspapers, books, magazines and various comics. It is here you go to find German language comics such as Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, superhero comics, manga and French-Belgian titles such as Tintin, Spirou, Lucky Luke and Asterix.

The Phantom comic books from Zauberstern are also sold at these news agencies, and I will say that they were easy to find during my visit. I also found some copies in specialty stores for comics.

The Phantom comics from Wick Comics were not that easy to find. The best bet is to order them directly from the publisher. I visited several speciality stores for comics in both Berlin and Leipzig, and they were not for sale in any of them. Nor did I find the Silberpfeil or Bastei Freunde titles published by Wick Comics. In one of the comics shops I visited in Berlin, I was told that the Phantom comics from Wick Comics were sold out, but that they would reorder for customers.

The same situation was for The Phantom book by Christian Blees. It was not to be found in any of the stores I visited. Several shops had already sold their copies and were going to reorder books from the publishers. Two of the shop owners told me that this was unpredicted. They did not believe in advance that the copies would be sold so quickly.

The Phantom is on the rise in Germany. Perhaps the character is going to become more than a cult hero in Central Europe? Time will show.


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