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.

A look at the covers.

01 The story of the Phantom

02 The Slave Market of Mucar

03 The Scorpia Menace

04 The Veiled Lady

05 The Golden Circle

06 The Myserious  Ambassador

07 The Mystery of the Sea Horse

08 The Hydra Monster

09 Killer's Town

10 The Goggle-Eyed Pirates

11 The Swamp Rats

12 The Vampires and the Witch

13 The Island of Dogs

14 The Assasins

15 The Curse of the Two-Headed Bull

Of the above, No. 1, 6, 9, 12 and 15 are written by Lee Falk. Remaining are the works of Basil Copper (2, 3), Frank S. Shawn (4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11), Warren Shanahan (13) and Carson Bingham (14).

The name of Falk was so sellable in those days that all the books bore his name on their covers. A small difference, his own writing shows the caption 'by Lee Falk' while others do not show the names of the real authors but simply say 'Lee Falk original story'.

I got a few of these in electronic form at net. Someone had scanned and OCRed them but the formatting was not really good. So I had to spend some time in improving the readability of the works and to give them a proper shape. Now it is in the form of a 92 page PDF file at A4 page size. Those with a laser printer at their disposal may like to have a print copy. So, I am posting the first novel in the series here.

About the book
(Taken from the wikipedia page for this book)

The book tells the story about Kit Walker, son of the 20th Phantom, who will one day grow up to take over the mantle from his father and become the 21st Phantom.

The book starts with Kit's birth in the Skull Cave. Several chapters are dedicated to him growing up in the Bangalla jungle, where the readers get to see events and lessons that shape him to the man he will once become.

When Kit reaches the age of 12, he travels to Clarksville, USA, to receive a proper education (it is a tradition in the Phantom family that the children are sent away to their mother's homeland for education). Kit lives with his mother's sister and her husband in Clarksville.

Kit is a brilliant student, and receives excellent grades in every subject. Kit proves to be a talented sportsman, and is predicted to become the world champion of a number of different genres (he even knocks out the boxing champion of the world in a match when the champion visits Clarksville.

Kit also meets his future wife-to-be, Diana Palmer, on a Christmas party on his school.

Despite being able to choose practically any career he wants, Kit faithfully returns to Bengalla to take over the role of the Phantom when he receives word from his childhood friend Guran that his father, the 20th Phantom, is dying from wounds he received in a battle with pirates trying to rob a jungle hospital.

Falk based the book of his own comic strip story "Childhood of the Phantom". Several flashbacks to the adventures of earlier Phantoms are also taken from comic strip stories.

18 comment(s):

  1. Nice topic to choose for a post.Phantom novels..well,it has been proved that except comics none other canvas(Novels,TV Serial,Movie)for Phantom has proved that much successful.
    The magic,which script netted by illustrations,arose was never been matched by any other media.
    As far as textual presentation of these novels is concerned,personally i would have liked more to witness the opportunity where the original scans of these novels would have been posted rather than the mere textual matter,as these novels also consists some illustrations by MCcoy which are missing in these textual matter.

  2. Well... I read a few pages, and I liked it, though the events depicted are all familiar. They have been taken from old stories of phantom.

    It's not that nothing can be done in other fields, rather it was the case of a very badly made movie (the one we saw with billy zane as phantom). I think it's not impossible to make a decent flick on a character like GWW, as is shown by the success of spiderman movies. They are nice creations, even though the spiderman story lines contain events, scenarios and specially villains in highly exaggerated form you would expect in the normal life.

    All they need is some good research and believe in themselves. I have heard that someone is planning to come with another project on the topic. Let's keep our fingers crossed. :-)

    And I think the scans of the phantom novels might have vintage value but they are hopelessly difficult to read for someone wanting to actually read it. BTW, the ones I got do not have any pictures in them.

    These novels were published in early to mid seventies while McCoy died in 1961. So even if they have McCoy illustrations, probably we have already seen them, nothing new in them.

  3. Thanks for posting this phantom novel. I was searching a long time for them. Hope to see the other too in you upcomminng posts.

  4. @ Jai: Welcome. I'll try to post the others soon.

  5. Yes,i agree with you that it only needs a serious and dedicated try and Phantom magic can also be created on big screen too.
    'The Story Of Phantom' novel was consisting of MCcoy illustrations from S-53 "The Childhood Of Phantom",and were adding quite a charm to the novels.

  6. Some Australian film company has gained/is trying to gain the rights for the next Phantom on screen adventure. Let's hope they come up with a better show this time. The previous one was a disaster both for fans and the production house.

    Thanks for the info. No question doubting any piece of information coming from you. Your word is enough. :-)

  7. TPH, very nice post. Nice download and good information. Actually I loved the Phantom movie. Billy Zane is an Australian and no doubt must be a great phantom fan. Kristy Swanson was a very beautiful Diana Palmer and it was a big break for Catherine Zeta Jones, who looks absolutely gorgeous in the movie.

  8. Thanks Colonel. Yes, no doubt the ladies you mentioned looked astonishingly beautiful in the movie. Even Billy Zane appeared comfortable in portraying Phantom's characters. But the story line was baffling for the Phantom regulars. It resembled more to the current US and European Phantom than the one we know better through decades.

    Somebody had also suggested (after the movie failed to win audiences) that they should have replaced the Phantom costume color from purple to something different (for example gray). I would love to see him in the purple but with a more convincing story.

  9. Thanks TPH for this unique post. Looking forward to reading it. The first time I saw the Phantom movie, I was disappointed but I bought the VCD and have watched it many times since and I have to say I like it now. The storyline talking about magic is not something familiar to us - it has a charm. But I am sure with a great plot and an inspired director and a good production house, we could see a revival of phantom in movies...

  10. @ Old Man Mozz: Welcome. Then I am going to follow your footsteps and going to buy the VCD. Only once I have seen the movie and that was in theater.

    Yes, the story might be nice and engaging but sadly it doesn't connect us well with our Phantom imagination.

    Hope the next flick is an even better one.

    Thanks for sharing views.

  11. hi do you have any Phantom comic in Tamil, if you have please let me know..

  12. @Sanjeevan: If you are talking of original Lee Falk novels, then I don't think they were translated in any other language world wide. So, only available in english.

  13. Thanks a Lot. Really looking forward to the other Novels.

  14. @Ravi: Welcome. I had posted another phantom novel. You can find it here:
    The Veiled Lady (novel)

    Also having few others but improving their formatting is such a headache. I'll try to post them also, let's see when.

  15. if you need a hand with the others, am willing to help.

    if i can get to wellington and find the copies i left there when i went overseas in 1987, i will scan in and provide.

    ive read the first story now three times, and love it.


  16. really no word to praise your work...

  17. Thanks. I had posted another novel from the series which you can find here.

    I am working on yet another novel at the moment and it should be here on this blog before the end of this month if everything goes well.

  18. Hey... its awesome that someone has been able to create a collection of the phantom... I tried the links but it seems they have expired... can u update how can I view all of them... thanks a lot...