This Day in History (17-Feb-1936) – “Phantom” cartoon strip by Lee Falk debuts

Leon “Lee” Falk, is the creator of two of the most successful and longest-running action-adventure strips in the history of comic art: “Mandrake the Magician” and “The Phantom.” He began his career as a 19-year-old college student. “Mandrake the Magician” was the first action-adventure strip in which magic was the main theme. Falk’s mysterious magician was immediately a worldwide sensation.

Just two years later, Falk developed still another blockbuster. “The Phantom” made its debut in newspaper comics pages on Feb. 17, 1936. Falk combined his love of epic poetry, fairy tales and stories of chivalry to create the riveting, myth-freighted legend of the first costumed super hero, ‘The Phantom,” also known as “The Ghost Who Walks,” “The Man Who Cannot Die” and “The Guardian of the Eastern Dark.”

Falk wrote ‘Phantom’ stories for over 60 years until his death in 1999 while he was narrating the next Phantom story. The first Phantom was supposedly first seen in year 1525. His sons have followed him. The current Phantom is supposed to be the 21st. As per the story, during the sixteenth century, a man named Christopher Walker was sailing on the seas of Africa with his father, when they fell prey to pirates’ attack. The pirates slaughtered the ship’s crew and blew up the ship. The only survivor was young Christopher. He was washed up onto the Bangallan Beach. He then took his father’s skull and swore an oath upon it, “I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice! And my sons, and their sons, shall follow me!” Thus originated the first Phantom. He became friends with the various local tribes and dedicated his life to fighting injustice and cruelty.

Originally Phantom’s” outfit was grey but in a colour printing of the comic it looked purple. Falk liked it and decided to keep it purple. “The Phantom” became a lodestar for what has become practically an industry built around supernatural men and women. King Features distributes “The Phantom” today to more than 500 newspapers. It is translated into 15 languages.



2 thoughts on “This Day in History (17-Feb-1936) – “Phantom” cartoon strip by Lee Falk debuts

  1. Pritam says:

    The Phantom used to start with ” For those who came in late…..”. Mandrake used to have ” Mandrake gestures hypnotically…”. Miss those days!

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