The Phan­tom Un­masked

Kevin Pa­trick

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction - PETER DABBENE

Univer­sity of Iowa Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $25 (262pp) 978-1-60938-500-2

The leg­end of the man in pur­ple con­tin­ues, and fans will ap­pre­ci­ate Pa­trick’s schol­arly ap­proach.

The ori­gin and se­crets of one of the world’s long­est-run­ning comic-strip he­roes are re­vealed in The Phan­tom Un­masked, an aca­demic’s look at the Phan­tom, in the United States and abroad.

Pa­trick’s book be­gan as a doc­toral the­sis ex­am­in­ing the con­tin­ued pop­u­lar­ity of the Phan­tom around the globe, and it is fas­ci­nat­ing to learn that, though the char­ac­ter is still known in Amer­ica, he’s got as much (if not more) of a fan fol­low­ing in Aus­tralia, In­dia, and Sweden.

A large part of the book ex­am­ines how and why this Amer­i­can comic-strip hero trans­lates so well to so many dif­fer­ent cul­tures; a va­ri­ety of de­mo­graphic, cul­tural, and cor­po­rate de­ci­sions seem to be re­spon­si­ble. Although Pa­trick’s re­view of the sur­vey re­sults from his poll of world­wide Phan­tom fans and some­times makes for dry read­ing, the con­clu­sions drawn are in­ter­est­ing. Among the the­o­ries put for­ward re­gard­ing the source of the Phan­tom’s ap­peal are cre­ator Lee Falk’s unique idea of a hero who passes on the man­tle of his mask from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion over cen­turies, and the strip’s in­ten­tion­ally generic jun­gle set­ting.

Pa­trick also pro­vides a thor­ough and en­light­en­ing back­ground on The Phan­tom’s cre­ation and

pub­li­ca­tion history. The book suf­fers some­what by fo­cus­ing ex­clu­sively on writ­ten de­scrip­tion, lack­ing ex­am­ples of the var­i­ous Phan­tom comic strips and comic books, cov­ers of nov­els, and still photos from films. These omis­sions, in an ex­am­i­na­tion of a char­ac­ter so es­sen­tially vis­ual, might pre­vent the book from be­ing fully ac­ces­si­ble to those un­fa­mil­iar with The Phan­tom.

Some may quib­ble with the book’s ti­tle and Pa­trick’s reck­on­ing of the word “su­per­hero”— the Phan­tom pre­dated Su­per­man by two years, but does not wield any pow­ers be­yond a nor­mal hu­man. Yet de­spite an un­cer­tain fu­ture, mainly due to the demise of print news­pa­pers, the leg­end of the man in pur­ple con­tin­ues, and fans will ap­pre­ci­ate Pa­trick’s schol­arly ap­proach.

Anec­dotes and in­ter­views im­part indige­nous per­cep­tions of how out­siders af­fect and con­flict with their com­mu­nity, con­vey­ing a pal­pa­ble sense of a place and a peo­ple.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.