We continue with our reviews of India's Regal Publishers' The Phantom ongoing English comic-book series. The release schedule so far has been of two full colour issues, published simultaneously every alternate month.
There is good news for Phans who are trying to procure these comics but live outside India. Frew Publishers has sold issues #1 and #2 in limited numbers on their website.
August, 2020 saw the release of issues #1 and #2, both of which we have reviewed on our website and on video on our YouTube Channel. Issues #3 and #4 were released on 15th of October 2020, and feature two complete The Phantom Sunday Strip stories per issue, all of them written by the present ongoing The Phantom Newspaper Daily & Sunday Strip writer Tony DePaul.
When bought directly from Regal Publishers, the books also come with free supplements of a bookmark and a collectible card. Both the bookmarks and the cards feature artwork from the covers of issue #1 and #2, drawn by artist Vincent Moses Raja.
Issue #3 consists of 52 pages and features the Sunday Stories 'The Iron Python' and 'The Prince Rex Conspiracy', both illustrated by the great Graham Nolan. The cover art is by Indian artist, Abhilash Chacko, and is directly based off some of the interior panels of Nolan's art from 'The Iron Python'. Personally I feel it is a step in the right direction as the cover art relates to the actual content of the book - something that was lacking in the first two published issues.
Issue #4 runs for 56 pages and comprises of 'Plutonium Pirates' and 'The Jungle Lesson', both featuring the art of the late Paul Ryan. A legend of The Phantom Newspaper Strips whose long and illustrious career also encompasses works with some of the flagship characters of both DC and Marvel Comics. I have to make a special mention about the cover art on this particular issue, an original composition by Italian artist Luca Erbetta, which has become my favourite cover among all the Phantom comics ever published in India. Luca is no stranger to The Phantom and has contributed magnificent covers to The Phantom publications of both FREW and Egmont.
Regal Publishers have really outdone themselves with this double release. They have addressed and rectified the printing and colour absorption quality issues in some copies of their first two books. These new books have excellent print fidelity and colour separation, something more noticeable in issue #4 as its stories feature a modern textured colouring style. All colours are from King Features' proofs and have been printed with utmost integrity. The pages feel crisp, ink lines are distinct, and the colours add necessary gradient, depth and nuance with no noticeable bleed. These are some high quality comics in spite of their extremely low price-point, and it makes us eagerly look forward to the continuation of this line.
The price for each issue is 120 Indian Rupees which is about: $2.31 Australian Dollars, $1.6 US Dollars, 1.4 Euro and 14.48 Swedish Krona.
Some not so good news. The distribution and sales woes of Regal Publishers continue in these times of COVID-19. The Indian comics market is majorly reliant on distribution via local roadside magazine and news stalls, a majority of which have closed due to months of downturn during lockdown and subsequent logistic complications. In general Indian consumers are not social media savvy, hence a majority are completely unaware of these comics.
Most casual comic readers don't find it convenient to contact and buy directly from publishers, being used to the habit of picking up books from their trips to the local newsstands. To make matters worse, Kerala - the state where Regal Publishers is based off, is currently one of the most impacted by COVID-19 in India. All these factors have added to the not so satisfactory sales figures of these books.
To increase their reach and visibility to the Indian consumers, Regal Publishers have registered themselves as sellers on the Indian Amazon.in website, and are selling The Phantom along with their other books. All The Phantom issues are in stock at the moment.
Links to each issue:
Issue #1 - https://www.amazon.in/Phantom-No-1-Lee-Falk/dp/8194649714/
Issue #2 - https://www.amazon.in/Phantom-No-2-Lee-Falk/dp/8194649722/
Issue #3 - https://www.amazon.in/Phantom-No-3-Lee-Falk/dp/8194649730/
Issue #4 - https://www.amazon.in/Phantom-No-4-Lee-Falk/dp/8194649749/
For any assistance regarding ordering these books directly you can contact them here: