Following Nat Karmichael’s recent comments about Frew Publications and The Phantom, and their place in Australian comics culture, comic-book writer and pop culture observer Emmet O’Cuana has posted a timely rebuttal on the Hopscotch Friday website/blog (You can read this piece, titled “Phantom Logic”, here). While this debate will most likely be of greatest interest to Australian comic books, I think it’s also a good example of how The Phantom – who is, after all, an American-created hero – has come to assume far greater cultural significance beyond the United States. There have been very few countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia which have not, at various times, published localised editions of The Phantom since the end of World War Two. However, it could be argued that The Phantom has enjoyed greater popularity, and wielded far greater commercial& cultural influence, in Australia, Sweden and (to a lesser extent) India, than any other country (or group of countries). Read, learn, and enjoy, Phantom “phans”! (Image courtesy of The Deep Woods website).
Nat Karmichael is undeniably passionate about Australian comics. For decades now, he’s endeavoured to provide outlets for Australian writers and illustrators, in order to showcase the best contemporary – and “classic” – Australian comics, and introduce their work to the wider public whose main exposure to comics comes from overseas. Nat’s latest project is a comic-book anthology, titled “Oi, Oi, Oi”, which has just gone on sale through newsagents across Australia with its sixth issue. Like most people who are deeply interested in Australian comics (whether they’re writers, artists, readers and/or collectors), Nat is all too aware of how the Australian edition of The Phantom – produced by Frew Publications (Sydney, New South Wales) – continues to dominate the Australian comics landscape, as it has done so for several decades now. Indeed, as I’ve discovered in the course of my own research, many Australians used to believe that The Phantom was an Australian-drawn comic book! But Nat wants to challenge that perception, and has written an interesting essay about The Phantom, and its contribution to Australian comics on his Comicoz website, which can be read here. It’s fascinating, provocative reading, and bound to generate debate amongst Phantom “phans” throughout Australia.