King Features Syndicate has some real issues with The Phantom license.
A month ago Shakti Comics from India announced they would be publishing The Phantom in Hindi, Bengali and.... English!
Everyone was taken aback as The Phantom was already being published by Regal Comics who had out out 15 comics from the previous year and already in English!
Two licensees of the same character in the same country in the same language??
It's not a new situation. King Features has always been short sighted. The infamous Moonstone / Dynamite situation 10-12 years ago comes to mind. It was an extremely sad and unfortunate way that Moonstone wrapped up their comics to just finish with their license. Dynamite debuted with the criticised 'The Last Phantom' series and it got worse with every comic that came out afterwards.
The sheer move of giving the same license to two publishers in the same region for the same language seems like a real unprofessional move.
Back to the Regal and Shakti situation...
Initially the speculation was that KFS did some sort of division in terms of content between the two companies but then Shakti announced they are also reprinting current running dailies too. Does this make sense to you?
Here are two active publishers in the same country putting out the same material from a shared content pool! How does it benefit either publishing house? Can they both survive? In the end it is likely that one of Regal or Shakti will fold. Shakti publishing the comics in 3 different languages seems less likely.
Who knows what plans from Regal have now gone awry thanks to another licensee being given the same license and same library to print from.
It is this writers opinion that KFS has blundered their Phantom license and left many phans bitter many a time with some of their decisions bordering on self destruction.
It had come to light later that DC Comics' Phantom run didn't come to an end due to low sales, but rather KFS' greed to hike up the license money once they got wind the series was gaining acclaim. They lost writer Tony DePaul for a brief moment (corporate greed on creator rights) before somehow managing to right all wrongs and get him back. Moonstone's exit is still something many phans are sore about (including from the Chronicle Chamber team).
It seems KFS over the decades has hardly been active in promoting or pushing The Phantom license and preferred staying with the status quo. This is the reason why The Phantom readership continues to dwindle and the new generation of comic lovers are completely ignorant about the character.
In a country like India where generations have treated the character as almost an Indian one, he has been neglected for too long. Regal and Shakti, could have been a harmonious relationship of cultivating new readers but are now reduced to competitors - thrown into the colosseum of Indian Readership to battle it out while KFS sits back and watches from the stands.
This begs the questions. How can KFS make such decisions with a clear conscience? What security do future licensees have?
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