The chain of patience first appeared in the 1953 Sunday Story "The Chain" created by Lee Falk & Wilson McCoy.
The adventure features a story of the 21st Phantom's mother and father were a Misty Mountain prince named Prince Hakon kidnapped the 21st Phantom's mother and she was taken to his highland palace. She refused to marry him, so he kept her locked in a cell until she changed her mind. Upon hearing of the kidnapping, the Phantom rides to the highland kingdom and attempts a rescue, however, due to his rage he rushes things and is captured by the palace guards.
Instead of imprisoning or executing the Phantom, the Prince puts him to work pushing a mill in plain view of his fiance's cell. With each turn of the mill, the Phantom notices that the chain catches a little, scraping against stone, weakening the links. Month after month the Phantom labors, knowing that with each turn, he comes closer to freedom.
This story has been published in 16 countries in comics and newspapers including Australia, Ireland, Brazil, France, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Italy and many others.
Majority of phans love this story however what is surprising to many is that the chain on the throne has only been seen once in a newspaper adventure. Since this adventure in the newspapers it was seen once on a cover, once in the Avon novel and once in a comic and then never seen again in any form of mediums until 1996.
What follows is an investigation into this popular Phantom element that has largely been forgotten about. First of all let us focus on the cover and comic it has appeared in after the newspaper story.
In 1964, Fratelli Spada published comics through out Italy and France. In L'Uomo Mascherato #73, "The Chain" story was published and the front cover by Mario Caria, depicts the throne with the chain on it.
In the 1960's, the USA publisher Gold Key published several of Lee Falk stories with new artwork by Bill Lignante. In 1966 this story was republished in issue 16. Interestingly, even Bill Lignante did not show the chain in any of his other stories that where published by Gold Key & Charlton.
What I find interesting, is that even with 40+ known comics featuring these two variations of the same story, only the Fratelli Spada L'Uomo Mascherato #73 cover depicts the chain on the throne.
The first time the chain on the throne was re-seen was in The Phantom movie in 1996. The first time it was seen again on a comic was Fantomen 10-11/2007, Fantomet 9-10/2007 & Mustanaamio 10-11/2007 and was drawn by Sal Velluto. From an Australian point of view, Frew #1526 (2008) was the first time the chain was shown on a cover.
Apart from the 40 odd times "The Chain" story was published in a dozen plus countries the first time another story featured the chain on the throne was "Blood Diamonds" drawn again by Sal Velluto and written by David Bishop. It was published in Mustanaamio 24/2008, Fantomet 23/2008, Fantomen 24/2008 & Frew #1526 (2008).
One other story the chain has been featured in is "Kid Phantom #1" with it appearing in issue one and also on the cover of issue 2 drawn by Paul Mason.
[Editors Note: Image examples in below gallery]
Naturally we asked Sal Velluto, on why he included the chain on the throne on his Egmont / Team Fantomen work and he has this to say:
That covers, as you remember, were my try-outs for Egmont [Editors note: discussed in X-Band: The Phantom Podcast #125]. As such, I tried to include as much iconography from the world of The Phantom, as I could. ( To show that I was familiar with its history) So I used references from the movie, as well as a tribute not just to The Phantom but to his generations of phans.
In the 1990 Sunday Story "Captain Amazon: Pirate Queen" by Lee Falk & Sy Barry. The story of the 20th Phantom being captive was retold but the chain on the throne after the capture was not.
Surprisingly, the chain has never been re-seen in any Newspaper stories. Tony DePaul has made an effort in reintroducing forgotten elements like the Vault of the Missing Men and I wonder if it is time for him to reintroduce the chain as well.
Currently the chain has been shown in more non-Falk stories than Newspaper stories. Can you remember any other stories or covers were the chain has appeared?