Saturday, December 26, 2009

Completed (Phantom Sunday Strip #136 Full)

Hi friends!

Today I am feeling extremely happy and proud to present the complete Phantom Sunday strip #136, The Return of the Thuggees, in colour, for my esteemed readers and loving friends. It took much more time than I had initially expected, but at least I have able to produce it within this calendar year.

I thank all the visitors and downloaders of previous segments of the strip. Special thanks are due to all those who spared their time not only to write a comment and provided feedback, but also came up with valuable suggestions, which I undertook while moving on to next sections. All these wonderful people have kept the flame of desire burning constantly within me and have encouraged me to produce more, even though it was not easy for a novice like me to enter the field of comics colouring. Considering my (bad) nature of getting bored easily with new experiments and a tendency to leave it unfinished, personally I feel it is not a small achievement to finish a large comic comprising of none less than 65 pages for an amateur like me.

The opportunity has provided me some valuable experience in digital graphics art as I spent a lot of time with Photoshop. Most part of the strip was done with PS 6. It was after I purchased a new PC in October that I switched to PS CS4. Last quarter of the strip is being done with the newer version.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Heading towards completion (next set of pages from phantom #S136)

Click on the above pic to see a much larger view
One of the more challenging tasks in coloring a comic book is to keep the consistency and continuity with the coloring patterns of those characters and places which occur intermittently. If some character reappears into picture after a few pages, then it is important to check what color that character was wearing when it last came along or what is the general presentation routine for some particualr topographical unit.

The process demands its share of patience and becomes time consuming for someone who believes in perfection of the work. That slows down the overall processes a bit. I have tried to device some techniques/tricks to overcome the hurdle by  creating few image files with major characters in them. Everytime some particular character is required, these files are taken for reference. All regular characters are there, Phantom, Diana, Rex, Guran, Mozz and Devil of course. The super stallion Hero has been very supportive by not giving trouble for his coloring, being as white as milk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Phantom Sunday Strip #136 - More Coloured Pages

It is really a long strip, and I am slightly getting bored now with the repetitive job of coloring the same characters and same scenarios. Looking for something new. Still wonder, was it a mistake to select this long story as my first shot in coloring.

Was only able to produce 5 pages this time. Wanted to make it 10 but it is taking more time now and I don't want to keep this unposted for long. So here is whatever I could. Only 10 more remains after this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TPH #069: Phantom Daily Strip (D-208 "The Hit Men")

Continuing the series on Phantom Daily Strips. Here comes another one, D-208, "The Hit Men".


Cici, a young and innocent teenager, accidentally becomes an eye-witness to  a murder order by a highly placed underworld agent. She is encouraged by  her mother to stand by the truth and to testify in the court against the  evils. Courageously she follows the advice and becomes star witness in  the case.

Her testimony in the case could prove fatal for a number of high  positions. So, A plan is carefully laid to get rid of her, but her death  should not arise any doubts, so an accident is planned. She, along with  few of her friends, is sent to Bangalla jungle in the name of a high  adventure trip where two professional killers are in wait for her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trailer from the new Phantom series and The Veiled Lady (Adaptation of Lee Falk's original story in Novel Form)

A new TV series on The Phantom by RHI entertainment (official website, wiki page) is about to be launched next year (i.e. in 2010). The miniseries will be aired on SyFy Channel (official website, wiki page) that specialises in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming.

A trailer has just been released. Watch it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TPH Exclusive: Novel by Lee Falk - The Story of the Phantom

Few phans know that between 1972 and 1975, Avon publications in USA had brought out a series of Phantom books (novels, not comics). Total 15 books were released in the series out of which some were written by Lee Falk himself and others were done by ghost writers for him. [Ghost writing on ghost who walks. Funny, isn't it? :-)]

The covers for the series were created by George Wilson, who was also attached with Gold Key publications and had previously illustrated several excellent Phantom covers for them.

While most of the books in this series are regarded as just average by the literary perspective, those written by Falk himself are considered better works.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TPH #068: The Albees (Phantom daily strip D-194)

Today I am going to talk about another Phantom daily strip coming from Mr Lee Falk's own pen. While reading this story one thing which kept coming to my mind, and confirmed my believe, is that the magic of Falk was certainly on a decline during his last phase. He only appears as a shadow of himelf in the stories he created during the 90s. The special Falkian flavour which kept the readers glued to his creations for so long (almost 5 decades) is completely missing. It seems he was finding it difficult to cultivate new ideas and to develop them in some interesting manner, once Sy Barry bid a farewell to the illustration job. That's why we often get to see either the repetition of past events or long references to them. It's tolerable or even good upto some extent but when it overshadows the main storyline the things start to turn boring.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TPH #67: Phantom daily strip by Lee Falk (D-193, The Dakk Pirates)

A repeatitive theme in Phantom stories is 'the eastern dark' and the evildoers belonging to that land. For centuries phantoms have been fighting a constant battle against the ever upsurging crime-waves from the lands of dark. Lee Falk created at least four different stories on this topic.

One of the titles that Phantom holds declares him "the guardian of the eastern dark". The age old rivalry between the pirates/thugs of eastern dark and phantoms have provided Phantom lovers with some great stuff to read. The last of these (from Falk's pen) was the daily strip number 193, "The Dakk Pirates". This is presented in the current post.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TPH #066: Another Phantom Daily Strip (D-222, The New Recruits)

Another phantom daily strip. This time one created by Tony DePaul and Paul Ryan.


Jungle Patrol second in command, Colonel Worobu, is facing a unique situation. T wo young ladies from Mawitaan (capital city of Bangalla), tired of their boring routine work life, one working as a policewoman and the other a waitress in a restaurant, want to join the famed organisation, patroling the borders of 7 countries.

The girls are fed up with their current jobs and are in search for some stiff challenges and excitement in their lives. The two happened to be friends of Diana, from whom they get to know about the strange history of the only guarding unit of 1000 miles spreading jungle.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

TPH #065: Now you can read it, actually (Phantom Daily Strip D-211, The Locust god)

Presenting a Phantom Daily Strip from post-Falkian era.


Of late, Phantom and Diana are missing the warmth of love as they are routinely finding it difficult to spend enough time together alone. Diana is busy with her UN work assignments and phantom is involved in his jungle activities as ever. Finally they decide to go to walker's table for a two day journey where only two of them could be alone for some time.

Here on the top of the mesa, they meet a strange and mysterious person who calls himself "the locust god". he asks phantom to help him nab a fugitive murderer. phantom is amazed to see that the person is well aware of his ancestral trail and also knows about the myth of his immortality. but he promises to help him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Phantom Sunday Strip 136 in Color: page 41 - 50

The next set of pages from the ongoing project (coloring the Phantom S136). Had promised an early delivery, but, better late than never. :-)

This time I have used even more brighter colors. Any suggestions/ideas would be most welcomed as they'll help me improving.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TPH #064 Hatyara Dasyu Dal

(top) First day page from phantom daily strip #074 "The Swamp Rats". Indrajal version of this story is being presented in this post.
I came to realise today that mediafire has disabled (to peek into) the number of download feature from its free account. Now to check how many downloads took place for any file, one has to grab a pro account ticket. That means spending a few bucks on a regular basis. Sorry, I am not interested in that at the moment.

But I am sad. Since a very few downloaders actually pay the courtesy to acknowledge the download through comment, now I am left with no option to judge the success of a particular post (or comic). It used to be a nice way to assess the popularity of a comic post by noting the number of downloads, and to take inspiration from that. That also suggests the trends in the readers taste, which eventually directs the blogger in the right direction. Sadly, it had to go.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Continuing with the passion

Hi friends, July is in passing phase and my personal busy period is soon going to be over (april to july is generally the time when I am at my busiest). So, here I am, ready with yet another set of colored pages from the Phantom Sunday Strip #136 "Return of the Thuggees".

It took me some time to adjust to the coloring work again and achieve the same speed of 2-3 hours per page. But now it's on the right track. Hopefully the complete story will be here in the month of August. What a mammoth story of full 65 pages this is, one of the longest running Phantom Sunday Tale.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Colored Phantom Strip #S136 - Next Set of Pages

Always admired Sy Barry's artwork on Phantom Comics but now as much I work on these black and white pages for coloring, I get a chance to look at his drawings in much more detail and I feel truly amazed at his ability to work on the intricacies and his willingness to draw the illustrations in so much detail. Quite unmatched.

Presenting the third set of pages (21 to 30) of this very interesting sunday strip.

Enjoy friends.

(Phantom Sunday Strip #S136, Return of the Thuggees)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

TPH #063 Andheron Ki Rani - Flash Gordon indrajal comics from year 1985

The name of Flash Gordon is counted among more popular characters of Indrajal Comics. This space - traveler hero has been a tremendously popular figure in science fiction stories and also featured in many films and serials. In the seventies of last century, when the curiosity of the human mind and its growing appetite for new discoveries of the outer world was opening new frontiers of space, it used to be very exciting to read his space adventures in these highly imaginative stories.

Today's story is from the year 1985 Indrajal Comics, titled 'Andheron Ki Rani' in hindi, . Let's enjoy this one:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Phantom comics coloring: Other publications

Last time I discussed the coloring of some phantom publications, namely, Harvey-hits, Gold-key, king, charlton, indrajal comics and also the coloring of some newspaper and magazine strips. Continuing with the discussion, here are few more publications and my opinion about them.

5. Diamond Comics: If I have to choose the worst phantom publication from the coloring point of view, then without doubt the prime contendent for the crown will be Diamond Comics publications. Not only the coloring, the overall printing quality of most of the phantom comics they published was far below even the ordinary level. The only consolatory thing in their favour is that they printed far less edited versions of original Phantom dailies compared to indrajal. Look at the sample here. How terribly they have treated the great Sy Barry's artwork. Miserable job.

6. Wolf: Now this is the best. Very eye-catching color selection with excellent blending of colors in panels. The perfection with even the very small and delicate objects are painted makes it almost perfect job. They have a very different style than others. Superimposing a similar (or in some case contrasting) color over a light background produces excellent effect. I just want to learn this style.

7. Egmont: We see a large variation in color quality of egmonts. Sometimes they come up with very good coloring but in some other comics their work is pretty ordinary.

8. Defenders of the earth series (1987): Normal quality work. Less than one's expectation.

9. DC (1989): Illustrating a comic book is highly different than drawing the panels for a daily or sunday strip. While in strips the diamension of the panels are fixed, comic book artist have liberty of using more work-space because of the big panels available. The same thing reflects in coloring also. Have a look.

10. Marvel (1995): To make the soulless stories sellable, the publishers opted to go for much darker/brighter coloring, something which closely resembles todays TV shows which are as dull and ineffective in catching public attention and to pull the public to the shows they rely on making it as much shiny as possible. Average work, no marvels done.

11. Moonstone (2008): The worst stories. Probably more matching the today's public taste in US, but for the old lovers of phantom they are a complete no-no. I don't like their coloring work either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Coloring of Phantom Comics: A short comparative study of various publications

I rose this morning and to my utmost horrific surprise witnessed the deletion of my very last post (of 2nd March, 2009) from the blogger. I have no idea at all how it happened. But thankfully I always keep a back up of all my posts and through them I am able to restore any post if need be. The post when got deleted was also having few very interesting comments. It's appropriate to add them to the post.

As I had imagined, with a little practice and experience, now I am able to achieve a speed where one page is not taking more than 2-3 hours to color. That too when minute details are also taken care of. Now my next target is to minimize the time further to something one and half hour per page without compromising with the quality.

Couldn't resist myself from some experimentation, purely for fun. So, in one panel I have used a real life picture as the background. The pic was taken by my daughter a few days ago on a colorful spring evening from the terrace of the home.

Friends, I am feeling very happy in presenting next ten pages (page 11 to 20) of the current strip, Phantom #S136 "The return of the Thuggees". Hope everyone like them. Your feedback will help me improve the quality. Specially, if you can point out any short-comings in the work. So, I am looking for it.

Phantom #S136 "The Return of the Thuggees"

The link for page numbers 1-10:

Download complete strip here:
Meanwhile I was taking a deeper look at some of the phantom books from different publishers from the perspective of coloring. While most of the coloring work is just OK, some of the publications appear better than the others.

Harvey hits 1958
1. Harvey Hits: A very old series. They published original Falk stories with Wilson McCoy artwork. It seems that coloring plainly without much experimentation was the established rule in those early days. So we see a minimal use of colors. The entire page is filled using only 4-5 colors but the selection of colors is soft and easy on eyes.

2. Gold Key/ King/ Charlton Series: Most of the work was from Bill Lignante, another of phantom artist which is often not considered among the more popular people, but who produced some very good drawings. Unfortunately, the coloring of these series was sub-standard and that also caused the artwork to appear ordinary. Take a look.
Gold-Key 1963
King 1966
Charlton 1974

3. Indrajal comics: During my childhood, I always found the colorful presentation of indrajal stories very exciting. But looking at them now in light of others work, it seems indrajal was highly inspired by the order of those olden times, i.e., coloring with minimum of effort, choosing only a handful of vibrant colors. Surprisingly they continued in the same style for their entire publication life. Minor mistakes were routinely overlooked.
A very early indrajal. Only 5-6 colors are being used here though the colors are soft. Look the color of the horse in the last panel. Too much of liberty the coloring artist takes sometime.
#007 Man Eating Plant (1964)
#134 The Crime School (1971)
Now one from early seventies. More dark colors were in use as can be observed here. Though there was opportunity to show some fine coloring, but indrajal contended themselves with only the basics.
Late seventies show some kind of improvement. Light colors are used nicely. Good reflection effect has been created using white.
#275 The Masked Assasin (1977)
#394 The Call of the Jungle (1982)
And they are at it again. Too dark coloring with amateurish touch in leaves. Blue and orange/red is used only to make the page more vibrant but depth is missing generally. This is early eighties work.
And finally one from late eighties. Still we see the same pattern while printing technology was improved considerably worldwide.
#V25N08 The Masked Avenger (1988)
Financial constraints might be the reason behind indrajal's simple coloring. They were selling their product at quite low rates and this can be easily imagined that putting more money for improving coloring quality might have been difficult for them.

4. Newspaper Strips: Those were good indeed as can be seen here in the samples. Some of these are from illustrated weekly (an indian publication) and others from foreign newspapers. I like them over most comic books.
* Illustrated Weelky scans taken from CWs post. Thanks are due to him.

Will continue the topic in the next post - Next time, some very good and some very bad coloring work examples from other publications.

The following comments were there on the post when it got deleted:

2. JP: Very interesting read! I was a huge fan of comic strips in Illustrated weekly of India. Keep up the good work.
3. The Phantom Head: @Rakesh: Thanks and welcome. I'll try to speed up so that whole strip can be completed in quick time. But it is a mammoth 65 page story. Your support through feedback is much appreciated. @JP: Thanks. Illustrated Weekly of India was one of those rare publications which carried full colored versions of phantom strips. They were very good indeed. The larger than life phantom picture against the backdrop of jungle in the title panel was very exciting. I just loved it. Thanks for your visit and comment.
4. Comic World: Again nice performance TPH.Illustrated weekly was the 1st magazine in which Phantom strip did appeared in India,its coloring was very good and the glossy page of IW gave it a much better appearance,though later on IW shifted on publishing strips in B/W but still they remained quite better in terms of page and printing technology.
5. The Phantom Head: @CW: Thanks and welcome. Excellent info. I didn't know that they also published in b/w. You are having a good collection of IWs. Do they have any complete strip? In case you have it why not post it? It would be an exceptionally good post and unique also. Even if some pages are missing, you can replace them with b/w strip or ijc version. consider it a request.
6. Ciro: Interesting article! interesting experiment!
i hope you continue on this way!!
7. The Phantom Head: @Ciro: Welcome Ciro. I am very happy that you liked the coloring. I'll continue and possibly with increased speed.