Tony DePaul Merging the Team Fantomen and Newspaper Universes


Have you noticed Tony DePaul doing what Lee Falk only did once?

Tony has made a habit of injecting Team Fantomen established story lines / lores into the newspaper universe. Majority of phans may miss these tip of the hat moments, but some have not and are loving the level of care and respect shown to both universes.

Lee Falk to be fair did not have the same access to the Team Fantomen stories that Tony has with the Internet, experience working for Team Fantomen and the easier access to Team Fantomen stories through Egmont and Frew.

When we asked Tony DePaul about these influences coming into the Phantom newspaper stories Tony had this to say:

I’ve always considered the newspaper strip the core universe. It was there at the founding. It’s the dog that wags the tail. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t steal good ideas from Team Fantomen now and again.

The Crocco stories, for example; if a concept proves popular overseas, why not pull it into the King Features end of things? Scandinavia occupies quite a chunk of real estate on the map of Phantom phandom, it’s inevitable that readers there should exert some kind of influence.

Ulf Granberg was the guy standing at the intersection of the two universes. If you think of it as a Venn diagram, Ulf is where the circles intersect. He knew the Phantom universe better than anyone at King ever did. For a time, King relied on Ulf to decide what should be in the daily and Sunday strips. He served as our unpaid editor, basically, and did so much to get things sorted out in that first 18 months or so after Lee Falk died.

Let us go through the elements. This list may not be extensive so if we have missed any, please let us know. To create this list, we have contacted several well-known Phantom historians as well as discussing each of these elements with Tony DePaul himself.

Thanks must go to Andreas Eriksson, Marko and Mikael Lyck who helped out in the creation of this article with their research.

Lee Falk as far as we have found has introduced one Team Fantomen story element into the Newspaper stories. That was the origin story of Devil, the Phantoms sidekick / pet / best friend. You can read about how Lee Falk introduced the origin story as originally told by Semic into his own Newspaper stories here (link to article).

Rodia / Rhodia

Perhaps the biggest inclusion is Rodia / Rhodia which was a Team Fantomen creation from 1971 and has been central in so many story arcs and stories from a mirror of South Africa’s apartheid regimen to being behind Lubanga’s rise to power kicking out Luaga back in the 1990’s. We once interviewed Robert Aman who went into more details about this country and the history of it with our Phantom.

Rhodia (in Newspaper stories) first appeared in a Newspaper story in 3 January 2002 in the 207th Phantom Daily Story titled “Jungle Mystery”.


In the newspaper stories, Rodia / Rhodia is not depicted as practicing an apartheid regime with members of leadership and in the military of colour. However, they are depicted as a military dictator style regime.

Bengete

Bengete is a poor slum suburb of Mawitaan / Morristown. It become a popular place in Team Fantomen stories in the 1990’s especially during Luaga’s exile when he was hiding out helping at the Cartwright’s Doctors Surgery.

In the 2003 classic Sunday story "Terror in Mawitaan" featuring Chatu – the Python for the first time, after our hero is badly injured, he goes to Sarah Cartwright’s Doctors Surgery in Bengete. This below panel is from 31 August 2003 and is the first time Bengete has appeared in the Newspaper stories.

Sarah Cartwright

Sarah Cartwright is a former secret agent for the government of Rodia, under the name "Miss Mist".

She spent the first years of her life with her parents in Marcusburg, Rodia. After her parents, members of the political opposition, were sent to prison camp Sarah grew up in an orphanage, believing that her parents had died in a terrorist attack. We first met "Miss Mist" in a 1986 Team Fantomen story "Deadly Infection" (published by Frew #890 & Fantomen Krönika 1/2007).

After finishing her secret agent career she worked with her father in his medical practice in Bengete, Morristown.

In the 2003 classic Sunday story "Terror in Mawitaan", after our hero is badly injured, he goes to Sarah Cartwright’s Doctors Surgery in Bengete. Sarah makes her first Newspaper story appearance on the 7 September 2003.

The Crocco Creatures

These monsters are a classic tale of 'great minds think a-like'.


When the first Crocco Team Fantomen story was published, Lee Falk with Olesen and Fredericks had a similar themed story running in the Sunday newspapers. DePaul who was then solely a Team Fantomen writer created these mystery men of the deep back in 1997 prior to taking over from Lee Falk (Frew #1186 1997 & Fantomen 15/1997).


The Team Fantomen story was first published July 15, 1997 and the Sunday "Waterman" story by Lee Falk started in newspapers dated August 31, 1997.

They appeared in the 225th Daily Newspaper story "Crocco Island West" which features them finding a new home for these creatures elsewhere away from Bangalla. On the 3 January 2008 in the below panels they made their first Newspaper appearance.


It is worth noting that Paul Ryan, the newspaper artist visually changed the look of the Crocco People from the Cesar Spadari style (above panel) to look more 'human-like'.


Archie

The classic Team Fantomen "Eden" story is one of the best ever created stories which goes into detail on how the magical island of Eden was created. It follows a story of a wild child raised by Apes (Tarzan anyone?) who has this ability to calm and help animals become friendly by seemingly talking to them in a whispering voice. According to Team Fantomen, it was he who created Eden.

This story was published by Frew in #931 (1989) and #1609 (2011) and Fantomen 10/1988 and their 2010 Christmas Album.

The 204th Daily story “The Animal Collector” is a treasure trove of Team Fantomen elements with Archie, Aron and the Unicorn all mentioned and shown in one way or the other. Note only the gravestone of Archie is shown in this story. Archie’s tombstone is alongside Aron’s which is another classic storyline which tests the ability for someone not to cry reading a comic.

These panels are from 27 November 2001 and 25 March 2002.

Aron

Aron was one of those beautifully written stories that sticks in my memory for all the right reasons. "Aron" is a 1993 Team Fantomen story written by Tony DePaul, with art by Hans Lindahl (Published by Frew #1059, 1993 & Fantomen 15/1993).

It makes sense Tony would re-add this character into a newspaper story. I have often wondered why Aron never made more of an appearance in other stories teaming up with the 20th or 21st Phantom helping him battle poachers and rescuing animals.

The 204th Daily story “The Animal Collector” even shows Aron in person. A little surprised we saw no Dodo though. These panels are from 27 & 28 November 2001.

The Submarine Sunk off the Island of Eden

One of the sub plots of the Eden story line was the German U Boat (submarine) being sunk during the story.

"Temple of the Gods, Part 1: The U-Boat Mystery" is the 213th Phantom daily story however the story is more known for Paul Ryan starting his Newspaper reign. However the submarine / U Boat from World War 2 plays a vital cog in the start of a huge crossover between the Newspaper and Team Fantomen stories.

These panels are from 10 and 11 January 2005.


The Unicorns

Fair to say that Tony DePaul among many other creators likes Eden and there are many subplots and stories that can come out from this original Lee Falk creation. Everyone also loves a unicorn and when Semic was going through their environmental phase in the late 1980's, unicorns was added to the Phantom universe.

In the 1989 Team Fantomen story titled "The Secret of the Valley of Wamballa" (Frew #958A, 1990 & Fantomen 5/1989 & 11/2003) we are first introduced to the characters as Luaga and the Phantom have a disagreement between progression and traditions.

Sadly in "The Last Unicorn" (Frew #961, 1993 & Fantomen 9/1989 & 12/2003) all unicorns are destroyed and killed by human greed except one last colt who the Phantom rescues and re homes at Eden.

Interestingly in the 204th newspaper Daily story “The Animal Collector”, the wording could be depicted as that both the stag and colt both survived with the colt making its way to Eden. However in the "The Last Unicorn" story the colt sacrificed his life as he kills the unicorn killer.

Old Man Mozz as a seer

Old Man Mozz was always known as a jungle storyteller and then slowly he became a seer and someone who also had psychic powers. Interestingly in the first two stories he was Moz with one Z and then Mozz with two Z's.

In the 1971 Sunday story "The Tale of the Gooley-Gooley Witch" Mozz comments that he knows the true history of the jungle. This Sunday panel appeared 28 March 1971 and was the first time we see him in a Phantom story.

On 9 November 1971 in the 115th Daily story "The Lost City of Pheenix", he is for the first time introduced as the Storyteller.

According to my research it was Tony DePaul who introduced Old Man Mozz as a mystic and seer in the 1999 Team Fantomen story "The Monument" (Frew #1248 1999 & Fantomen 25/1999).

What is interesting is that this story is one of the few that has appeared created for both Team Fantomen and the newspaper stories. The second panel appears from 6 August 1999.

Dr Axel's First Name

I find this piece of Phantom history very interesting indeed. It took Lee Falk 35 years to give Dr Axel a first name. In that period of time, he had changed appearances a lot including originally being a white man and then depicted as a black man between 1971 and 1977. His colour swapped continuously until the mid 1980's in many stories.

In the 170th Daily story "Attack of the Witchmen" his first name is Bjorn. This below panel was shown on 18 June 1990.

However the problem is that in the 190th Daily story "The Shaman" his name was given as Thor. This panel was shown on 5 August 1997.

So we now have two first names. Team Fantomen has a good history of trying to merge, tidy up and make sense of Lee Falk changing Phantom Lore and the best solution was just to merge the two names. This makes even more sense, seeing that Thorbjorn is actually a common name in Scandinavian countries (wiki link).

It was not an actual story where Team Fantomen first used the merged names but an editorial piece printed in the Fantomen 13/2001. I believe it was created by then editor Björn Ihrstedt, but it could have been written by a ghost writer.

The 190th Daily story "The Shaman" was not published in Sweden until Fantomen 14-15/2019 and the above panel was removed.

Here is a photo of the editorial piece on Doctor Thorbjorn Axel published in Fantomen 13/2001

On 18 March 2018, in the 251th Daily story "Heloise Comes Home", Diana goes looking for a school and enrolls Heloise and Kadia in the local public high school named after the good doctor.

The Bandar Amnesia Powder

Must admit this could be seen as a stretch if the sleeping and amnesia powder are the same thing or different powders Guran uses. Either way, what we do know is that Guran used a powder first in a Team Fantomen story and then a similar powder was used later on in a newspaper story. I will let you be the judge if they are the same or different powders.

The first time we saw this magical powder being used was in a Team Fantomen story "The Ghost of Tawasu Valley" (Frew #1074, 1994 & Fantomen 1/1994). It was used by Guran as he wanted to keep the secret of the Tawasu Valley quiet.

The first time we saw a powder being used in a newspaper story was 7 May 2005 in the 213th Daily story "Temple of the Gods, Part 1: The U-Boat Mystery". It has been used commonly ever since.


The amnesia powder has also been used in the Andreas Eriksson "Blood Rain" storyline which featured eight artists creating a Phantom first 'jam story'.


Viking Forefather


I expect some non-Scandinavian and Falkists not to like this element but it is worth noting that it was not a Scandinavian writer who originally wrote this connection, but Tony DePaul himself.


In the Team Fantomen saga "Mystery of the Golden Rune" (Frew #940-944 & #1726-1734 & Fantomen 16/1988 - Fantomen 19/1988) it was discovered that a viking was buried in the Skull Cave.


In 2004, as Tony recovered from a serious motorbike accident, his Team Fantomen story "The Viking Castle Mystery" (Frew #1172, 1997 & Fantomen 7/1997) was re-imaged with Graham Nolan drawing the story.


That version of the story was titled "The Viking Fortress Mystery" and published by Frew #1403 (2004) and Fantomen 2-3/2014.


In this story it is discovered that the dead viking king is an ancestor of the Phantom linage.


The Jungle Patrol Monument

The Jungle Monument has had several names and guises. It was first shown in Team Fantomen “The Commander is Dead” (Frew 1091, 1994 & Fantomen 16/1994 & 5/2007) story line by Donne Avenell and art by Kari Leppanen.

(This panel above from "Duel on Destiny Top, Part 1" - Frew #1118 (1995) & Fantomen 13/1995)

What is interesting is that the first time it was shown in a newspaper story was 1999 “The Halloween Kidnappers” which was a story original written by Claes Reimerthi for Team Fantomen (Frew 1270 - 2000).

The first Tony DePaul story it appeared in was the 167th Sunday story “Plutonium Pirates” (Frew 1510, 2008 & Fantomen 18-19/2014). It was presented as the Monument to the Unknown Patrolman and the upper part of the obelisk is a bust with the shape of a patrolman.

As discussed above, the Jungle Patrol monument has had various designs and names. Here are a couple of variations:

  • Daily Story “The Halloween Kidnappers” it was shown as an Obelisk - see the first three examples.

  • From the Sunday story “Plutonium Pirates” on wards it was presented as the Monument to the Unknown Patrolman and the upper part of the obelisk is a bust with the shape of a patrolman

  • In the Team Fantomen story “Return of the Commander, Pt 1” it was known as The Grave of the Unknown Patrolman

  • In the Team Fantomen Story “Return of the Commander, Pt 2” it was again named as The Unknown Patrolman's Monument

To most it is splitting hairs with it being known as both "The Unknown Patrolman's Monument" and "The Grave of the Unknown Patrolman". Would be nice to eventually see a story about this monument and how it came about.

As you can see here are a number of important Phantom lores that have been added to the Newspaper Canon that originated from the Team Fantomen stories. Maybe the two universes are closer than most suspect.

© 2020 by ChronicleChamber.com