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Thread: Total Film's fourth greatest superhero

  1. #1

    Default Total Film's fourth greatest superhero

    Picked up my copy of Total Film, apparently the second biggest selling film magazine in the world, where readers had been asked to vote for the 50 greatest superheroes of all time. On places 1, 2, and 3, you obviously find Batman, Superman and Spidey, but on number 4, you find the Ghost Who Walks himself, ahead of less interesting characters like Iron Man and Wolverine.

    I'm glad enough Phans voted for the Phantom to make this happen, it's good PR for a character that just doesn't get enough of it.

  2. #2
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    Ghost, I've never heard of Total Film and don't know where you're posting from, but there's one thing I've noticed about the Phantom, it's that he's MUCH more popular in certain countries of the world -- Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy among the most prominent -- than he is in his country of origin, the United States. I suspect it has something to do with the character having been exported to those countries and become entrenched there prior to WWII. This also applies to other King Features heroes like Flash Gordon, Mandrake, Prince Valiant, and Secret Agent X-9/Corrigan but there's no question that the Phantom is the most popular of those.

    Personally I've always loved the character, but he's had a spotty publishing history in American comic books, switching companies many times, being cancelled for a while, and then being revived, and never being among the best-sellers (although it's still probably the most popular non-humor strip in newspapers with the exception of Stan Lee's Spider-Man). So far the list of American publishers includes David McKay Company, Harvey Comics, Gold Key, King Comics, Charlton, DC, Marvel, Moonstone, and Dynamite.

    It's great to see Hermes Press reprinting the original daily and Sunday strips in hardcover, along with the comic books from Gold Key, King Comics, and Charlton.
    Last edited by positronic; 03-10-2012 at 01:15 AM.

  3. #3

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    I'm posting from Norway, where the Phantom outsells Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, and has had his own comic for almost fifty years now without interruption.

    Like you say, the character has a much bigger audience outside the US, where he is for some reason mostly ignored, seemingly doomed to always be less popular than the countless characters that would not even exist if it wasn't for him. You only need to look at the box office for the Billy Zane film for more proof, it was a huge success in countries like Australia, India and Sweden, but didn't make any money in US cinemas (it did do well on VHS, DVD and Blu Ray, though). I don't know why he doesn't catch on in the US, but that's just the way it is, I guess. I do think King Features doing such a terrible job promoting him has something to do with it, they really do not seem to realize what a potential goldmine they are sitting on.

    I too think it's great to see Hermes doing their wonderful reprints. I was told their books have been more successfull than they ever dared to imagine, which is fantastic.

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    If it's any consolation, the situation is similar to Disney's traditional comics characters, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Uncle Scrooge -- vastly more popular in print publications worldwide today than they are domestically in the U.S. Yet it was not always so -- in the 1940s and early 1950s, the Dell Comics-produced Walt Disney's Comics and Stories was one of the all-time best selling comics, selling a few million copies per issue.

    The same applies to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan in comic books.
    Last edited by positronic; 03-10-2012 at 05:01 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ghost Who Walks View Post
    I don't know why he doesn't catch on in the US, but that's just the way it is, I guess. I do think King Features doing such a terrible job promoting him has something to do with it, they really do not seem to realize what a potential goldmine they are sitting on.
    Now that I think about it, I think the mistake was probably made back in 1966-1967 when King made an abortive attempt to publish their characters in their own King Comics line. The idea was good, the titles chosen were good, and the material (most of it) was good. Those years were a key period in the American comic book industry, and King should have stuck with it longer, and committed more effort to make the idea work. Not sure if distribution was the major problem or competition from DC and Marvel. But the newspaper adventure strip character was just beginning its long slow fade into oblivion, and comic BOOK publishing was probably the only way to keep these characters vital and viable for the future. Of course, the future merchandising and media possibilities were largely unimagined back then. Maybe King Comics should have invented the Defenders of the Earth as a comic book in 1966, gotten some Saturday morning animated TV series going, recruited some young hungry talent before Marvel and DC could hire them, etc. Seems like they just gave up too easily, and became dependent on the whims of mostly smaller publishers (Charlton was considered bottom of the barrel for comic publishing, not to say they didn't sometimes have good talent) to entrust the fate of their characters to. By the time DC and Marvel took a shot at publishing the Phantom and Flash Gordon, they were considered too old-fashioned compared to Marvel and DC superheroes.

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