Although the Phantom has been published extensively in both newspapers and comic book series, the Phantom seems to resonate on a greater level with fans outside of America, most notably Australia, Sweden, Brazil and various European countries.
‘The Phantom: Why Has America Ignored This Proto-Superhero?’, written by Joe Douglas, gives us an interesting insight into the Phantom’s history and his greater popularity outside America.
Joe gives us some interesting information on the Phantom’s influence around the world:-
Since the strip’s debut The Phantom has never been out of print somewhere in the world. Interestingly, though, the countries where The Phantom has consistently been most popular have not been America. In Australia, Frew Publication’s The Phantom series has been going uninterrupted since 1948 and the character is a household name in the country. Even Australians not interested in comics would have at least heard of The Phantom. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries the character has seen constant publication since the 1950’s, with original stories being produced for the Scandinavian The Phantom comics since 1963. In India the character has seen popularity since 1964, and in Brazil since 1953.
We also see some solid rational proposed:-
Another reason has been suggested; The Phantom just “isn’t American enough.” In his article on the subject, Anu Kumar suggests that the initial ambiguity of The Phantom’s home country may have alienated US readers who were used to seeing their heroes as distinctly American, fighting crime in American cities, or cities clearly based upon those found in America. Originally, Falk said that The Phantom’s home country of Bengalla was somewhere near India, but then in the 1960’s moved the location to Africa where it has since stayed.
Lastly, Joe offers us his view on why America hasn’t embraced the Phantom to the same extent as that seen in other countries:-
So why doesn’t America embrace The Phantom? Perhaps it’s because he’s from a time too long past. A time when things were more simple, when the distinction between good and evil was black and white and heroes did not question their own actions, but rather believed in the simple act of righting wrongs.
Or, perhaps, to the people of a country which claims to embrace the tired, poor and those yearning to breathe free, The Phantom is just to dissimilar to themselves.
Joe touches on several interesting points in ‘The Phantom: Why Has America Ignored This Proto-Superhero?’ and the article is well worth a read.