Years to come 25 of August 2020 will always be remembered when we found out that we sadly lost one of the greatest Phantom artists ever in Rolf Gohs.
From a Phantom perspective Rolf was awarded ‘Best Fantomen Cover’ (Sweden) on twelve occasions and ‘Best Fantomet Cover’ (Norway) ten times between 1971 & 2012. He drew well over 900 Phantom covers and drawings not to mention the other hundreds of covers, stories and drawings he has done for Scandinavian publishers through out a very long and decorated career.
We were lucky enough to communicate with Rolf a few times and privledge enough to interview him. You can read a full interview with Rolf Gohs here.
To celebrate his life we have contacted several Phantom phans and creators from around the world who have all been touched with his artwork. They have shared their stories, favourite covers and memories with him. Some are lucky enough to own some of his artwork in their collection and some have meet him personally as a phan but also as a phriend.
We thank everyone who in their time of grief has given us their time. If you would like to submit your own favourite stories and covers, please contact us or leave them in the comments section on our social media.
My favourite cover has to be the christmas issue for 1980. I was 5 years of age and it really spoke to me. This cover made me start reading The Phantom.
I was lucky enough later in life to met Rolf at his place in Solna a couple of times. Conversations were always great, and we had a very friendly brotherly tone. We had many great laughs.
Rolf lived very close to the German border as a kid, and during WW2, he came to Sweden at a young age. Ulf Granberg was the guy who knew him the most, and he trusted him a lot. They always had coffee on a weekly basis. I would say that Ulf was the person Rolf mentioned most in terms of friendship in his life. I never heard him talk about anyone else during our meetings at least not on the subject of friendship.
We had many good laughs and I'm really sad about him passing away. As most, I loved his art and I grew up looking at his work. The illustrations and storytelling of his phenomenal story Mystiska 2:an was so dark, but man as a young kid, I loved it. A legacy and a huge tallent has left us.
I'm really sad recieving this news, but I know his legacy will continue through the passion of the Phantom fans all over the world. I will miss being able to pick up the phone and hear him say, "Sure Erik, just common over".
Steve Seabert, Australia
My favourite three Rolf Gohs covers are the following. First one is because of my two loves: The
Phantom and trains. Second is iconic with the eyes showing and such an amazing portrait cover. Third one is because it’s an early phantom and I enjoy older phantom history story’s from the chronicles.
Andreas Erikkson, Sweden
Such a hard task just coming up with one as I have lots of favorites, but Fantomen 15/1973 cover was used for the diploma of the Fantomen club when I first joined - it stayed on my wall for many years. It may also be the most re used Phantom cover with it being used on at least 15 comics and illustrations around the world from Russia to Sweden.
Pidde Andersson, Sweden
My favourite cover from Rolf is Fantomen 5/1978 which is very moody and atmospheric. It promises thrills and mystery, even if the cover had nothing to do with the story.
It was voted as the best cover for 1978 and the poster hung up on my wall when I was younger.
Aman King & Swaroop Chand, India
When asked what was their favourite Rolf cover, both Aman and Swaroop choose the same cover for the classic sequal story "Hoogan's Revenge' which appeared in Fantomen 12/1992 . It also appeared in 2000 The Phantom #1, Book 2 and for both phans it was the return of The Phantom to India and played a key moment in them becoming Phantom phans. It was also the first time they were both introduced to Rolf Gohs work.
Aman went on to say: I still remember that evening when, from a distance, I spotted his vibrant Phantom and Devil cover hanging at a bookshop and I felt a rush about Phantom being back in India. I almost ran to the shop and then bought a dozen copies to send fellow-Phans across the world!
Duncan Munro, Australia
What I really like is his how Rolf plays with shadows to enhance the character like the Mr Walker cover above (Fantomen 5/1978).
I like the cover for Fantomen 1/1993 because it influenced other artists like Antonio Lemos with the compilation images where there is a background and either Mr Walker and The Phantom in the foreground etc. I think he was the master of this technique. A sad passing of a brilliant talent who left an enduring legacy on the depiction of the character.
Mikael Lyck, Sweden
That is such a hard question. He made so many wonderful covers!
The Fantomen 16/2004 has such sentimental value to me, and I love the cover. But I think the best cover that appeals to me is the Fantomen 7/1971 cover which is such a classic image and has also been used multiple times including for Frew #1125.
Henrik Shalström, Sweden
If I had to choose it would be Fantomen 1983/12 due to the striking colours of the red making the iconic stoic pose of the Phantom stand out. Rolf was great at using bold colours and stoic poses of the Phantom to make the cover stand out.
Such a shame he passed.
Jermayn Parker, Australia
It is cruel to try and narrow it down to just one cover, so I have cheated and picked three that speak to me.
Fantomen 4/1965 has been used countless times including recently for the Mallon wall calendar and 2019 Mythos Crônicas do Fantasma #2. The Phantom, Hero and Devil in shadows works so well with the moon bringing contrast. The Flame story is one of my all time favourites and the cover grabs your attention with two Phantoms fighting. It has been used several times and to me is a sign of its popularity.
The third is a heating decal that was included with Fantomen 14/1977. The double Phantom, Hero and Devil all are primed for action and it screams for your attention like majority of his work. I am glad and happy that I got to communicate with one of my all time phavourite Phantom artists.
Paul Andreas Jonassen, Norway
Fantomen 7/1996 has to be my favourite of his covers. It is also one of the most underrated Phantom stories.
I love the powerful interpretation of the character on this cover, which was recurring in his work. As a bonus, his Phantom always looked strong and imposing without the need some artists have of giving him typical "superhero poses" or an exaggerated physique.
Ulf Granberg, Sweden
Ulf Granberg, needs no introduction and along with his personal reflection (used with permission from Ulf) which will be included in a special upcoming Fantomen memorial comic. When asked about his favourite cover, Ulf had this to say:
"A favourite cover among all the more than 900 cover illustrations that Rolf did? Hmm, that's not easy, but in the book "Rolf Gohs - ett tecknarsliv" I have picked 4 favourite covers (issues Fantomen 15/1973, Fantomen 19/1975, Fantomen 11/2003 and Fantomen 15/2004) and of these four I would name the cover of Fantomen 15/1973 and Fantomen 19/1975 as my absolute favourites. I can't choose one over the other, however."
Ulf's personal reflection on Rolf Gohs, a great artist and a dear friend
Rolf Gohs is no longer with us. One of our most talented artists and a close friend has passed
away in the age of 86 years. This sombre news reached me on august 24. We had been
talking on the phone only the week before. In these hard times of Covid-19 the phone was the
only way to keep contact with Rolf, whom I up till then used to visit twice a month ever since
I retired as Editor of the Fantomen comic book in 2012 – the same year in which Rolf did his
last cover illustration for the book.
Rolf Gohs was born in Estonia in 1933 and came to Sweden as a refugee together with his
family in 1946 after the war.
Comics was Rolf’s greatest interest and just 17 years old he was hired at Press & Publicity,
the biggest comic book publisher in Sweden, in the Spring of 1951.
The first time I ”met” Rolf was in 1952 in the comic series Kilroy, which he drew for the
comic book Seriemagasinet. I was 7 years old and had just learnt to read at school. A few
years later Rolf’s series Mannen från Claa (The Man from Claa) was published and it made a
lasting impression on me – and ever since Rolf Gohs has been one of my greatest idols in the
comics medium. Rolf’s series Mystiska 2:an (The Mystery 2, or Mystery Seekers) in the late
60’s and early 70’s lifted Rolf to stardom.
When I started my career as a comic book Editor at Semic Press in 1970, one of the very first
persons I met and said hello to, was Rolf Gohs. I told him he was one of my greatest idols and
that I had been admiring him since I was a kid in the 50’s. He was very flattered.
Rolf was a freelance, doing the cover illustrations to the Fantomen bi-weekly comic and he
showed up regularly at the editorial office to deliver his original art to the Editor– and every
time when Rolf had left, I went up to the Editor’s desk to look at, and admire, Rolf’s artwork.
Two years later when I in turn took over as the Editor of the Fantomen comic, I had the
privilige to order cover illustrations by the artist I had been admiring for so many years. For
this I’m very greatful.
You’re leaving a great blank behind you, Rolf, as an artist and as a friend. It’s been a
privilige to have known you and during these last years to support you in different ways and
give you good advice. Thank you for your friendship.
Sleep peacefully now, my friend.
A huge thank you everyonel who contributed with their favourite cover and memories. Rest in peace Rolf Gohs and thank you for your input to our character.
If you would like to watch the review of the biography Rolf Gohs book, here is our review. These can be purchased via contacting Ulf Granberg.
We have also included two videos which include some shots of Rolf Gohs original art and comics. It also has footage of Ulf Granberg also. Copies of the Phantom only content will be added to future Phantom Preservation project updates. Thank you to Pidde Andersson for the videos.