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.