The Phantom Comic Book Survey: A Statistical Snapshot

The Phantom Comic Book Survey reached 500 completed surveys on 17 September 2012. So, to mark this numerical milestone, I thought I’d take a moment to share some brief statistical insights about Phantom “phans” from Australia, India and Sweden who’ve been kind enough to share their enjoyment of ‘The Ghost Who Walks’ with me for this project.

The majority of respondents were male (84.5 per cent), while female “phans” comprised the remaining 15.5 per – which, based on anecdotal accounts, seems a much higher percentage of female readers than is usually found with most (American) ‘superhero’ comics.¬†Most “phans” were aged between 18-35 years (39 per cent), followed by readers aged between 36-49 years (35 per cent) and 50-65 years (22%).

Most survey responses were received from Australia (53.2 per cent), followed by Sweden (37.8 per cent) and India (4.5 per cent). The remaining 4.5 per cent were a mixture of Finns, Americans, Canadians and expatriate Indians living abroad (whose contributions were, of course, more than welcome!)

Over 56 per cent of respondents first encountered the Phantom in comic books, followed by 24 per cent of “phans” who first read The Phantom comic strip in newspapers or magazines (Interestingly, 9 per cent of respondents said that a family member first introduced them to The Phantom). After their first exposure to the character, an overwhelming majority of readers (76 per cent) followed the Phantom’s adventures in other print media (i.e. after reading the newspaper comic-strip version, they began reading Phantom comic books), as well as other media formats, such as feature films and video/DVDs.

Among the various Phantom titles currently published in Australia, India and Sweden, 32 per cent of respondents read The Phantom (Frew Publications/AU); 24 per cent read Fantomen (Egmont/SE); and 3.3 per cent read The Phantom (Eurobooks/IN). The vast majority of readers (83 per cent) had been reading Phantom comics in their respective countries for 10+ years, while 7 per cent said they’d been reading Phantom comics for between 5-10 years. However, 9.5 per cent of “phans” surveyed said they did not read any currently published editions of Phantom comics. (Of these former readers, 61 per cent stated they’d previously read¬†Phantom comics for 10+ years)

Most “phans” (62 per cent) did read other comics in addition to The Phantom, while the same percentage (62) stated that they’d never joined a Phantom fan club in their respective countries. But 80 per cent of respondents did say they’d purchased Phantom merchandise, with clothing and stationery items being the most popular categories.

And the most popular Phantom “phan” websites (in descending order) were, The Deep Woods and

Now, I should stress that these are just some very basic, top-level, statistical observations, based on the completed surveys received thus far. There are a number of qualifications that should be made about this survey – like the fact that the survey is not (for administrative reasons) open to readers under 18 years of age – which mean that these findings should be treated with caution (The comparatively low response rate among Indian readers – an issue that I’ve canvassed on both and Phantom Phorum – may also inadvertently “skew” my final research findings) . There has also been a good deal of qualitative data generated by these surveys which I’ve not yet begun to analyse, which will hopefully furnish us with a more holistic picture about the international community of Phantom “phans”.

Nonetheless, the survey results received so far have been absolutely fascinating, and I hope to share these with Phantom “phans” – and the wider academic research community – as I drill down further into the data. But in the meantime, keep those surveys coming! (Image courtesy of Patrick Owsley – Cartoon Art and More)