The 31st issue of Regal Publishers' Phantom Comics was released on July 15th. Recently celebrating 3 years of publishing the phantom in English, Regal has become a phan phavorite for their phantastic products. With their incredible dedication to quality they haven't failed to impress phans with their latest issue as well.
This issue contains two Phantom stories, the first being a classic Daily Strip story 'The Drummer of Timpani' by Lee Falk and Sy Barry and a Sunday story 'The Wharf Rats' by Lee Falk, George Olsen and Fred Fredericks.
The cover done by Ankit Mitra is quite nice, based upon the Drummer story, the cover captures the essence of the story quite brilliantly. The use of circles to highlight various moments from the story and the drumbeat is a very nice effort. The face and figure of the phantom reminded me of Joan Boix's Phantom.
We also get a stamp based on the cover as a freebie with the comic. It is a nice looking stamp and I appreciate them giving this away as it is far better than a black and white print out of the cover (like last issue). Its also probably a coincidence that both the Indian publishers decided to give away stamps as freebies at the same time.
The story 'The Drummer of Timpani' is the 87th Daily strip story and regarded by many phans as one of the classic stories. The story being a daily strip story originally, was in black and white. In order to publish it in colour, Regal had to commission a colourist. And this time instead of using a local colourist, they got Ivan Pederson to do it. Ivan's colouring of this story was previously used in Frew #1895 from 2021.
From my understanding, Regal has used the same colouring with some tweaks by Ivan and of course with a far better presentation with glossy papers compared to the newsprint paper of Frew.
The story is presented in its original format of four panels per row, as it was originally printed in the newspapers and with zero editing, making it a pure representation of the story. A comparison between the presentations of the same story by some publishers have also been discussed on the video review.
The story 'The Wharf Rats' is the 151st Sunday strip story, a remake of the original Daily story illustrated by Sy Barry. After Lee Falk had passed away, this version of the story was made as a filler for the Sunday pages.
The artwork is quite good, but if compared to the original, it feels odd. But keeping in mind of the situation the story was created, it is very much understandable. It also makes sense as it was one of Olsen & Fredericks last works on the Phantom. I highly appreciate Regal bringing out these Sunday stories in a comic book format as they were never published before in India aside from the magazines and Newspapers.
Regal's latest issue doesn't disappoint with the same superb quality carried over from the last issues. However, a few criticisms or suggestions can still be made. Even though Regals softcover format is good, the volume of these is gradually becoming less and less. For comparison, the last issue (#30) had 96 pages, which was already much less than the previous issues and the latest issue (#31) only has 40 pages. Even though Regal has decreased the price accordingly, it isn't about the pricing that I have a problem with. My main concern is that if they decrease page count like this, we will end up with a much smaller issues even compared to the Regular 3 or 2 issues that they used to release.
Even though this softcover format is very good, I miss those regular issues. It also makes sense to have two or three issues after months of gap to make up for it.
Regal has announced that there's another Phantom comic on the way, while celebrating their 3rd anniversary of publishing the phantom in English. I hope they will deliver 2-3 issues at once or increase the number of stories in the comic book to make up for it. Wishing them the very best for the future.