For over 50 years, Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs, based in the United Kingdom, have made their stamp on Phantom collectors worldwide, by producing an array of products, both publications and merchandise, we still find appealing today. Most Phantom collectors are familiar with their comic book series published in 1992 under the label of ‘Wolf Publishing‘.
At the age of 18, Phil Clarke organized the first comic convention in 1968, at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham, United Kingdom. To help promote the event, Mike Higgs published a fanzine magazine, with Mike illustrating both front and back covers (which can be seen below).
They are accomplished artists, authors, editors, publishers and both designed and produced their own licensed Phantom merchandise. They also established the first and only Phantom Fan Club seen in the UK, ‘The Phantom Society of Great Britain‘, in 1992.
Following we see a detailed list of their activities and productions, spanning from 1968 through to 2009, with a focus on the Phantom.
1968 – Comicons
- 1968 – ‘First British Comic Convention’, organized by Phil Clarke.
- 1968 – ‘The Comic Fan Special’ fanzine, 12 pages with original art by Mike Higgs.
- 1970 – ‘3rd British Comicon’, held at Rutland Hotel, Sheffield with original art by Mike Higgs.
- 1971 – ‘Comicon 71’, held at Waverly Hotel, London with original art by Mike Higgs (not shown).
- 1972 – ‘5th Annual Comicon’, held at Waverly Hotel, London with original art by Mike Higgs.
1991 – Nostalgia About Comics
‘Nostalgia About Comics’ by Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs is a 64 page, full color book published by Pegasus in Birmingham, UK with 2 pages featuring the Phantom.
1992-1993 – Comic Book Series
With a King Features Syndicate publishing license, Redan Publishing Inc. was slated to print a UK Phantom comic book series in the early 1990’s. Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs were in contact with publishing heads at Redan Publishing Inc. who agreed to let Phil and Mike publish a 12 issue series under their own Wolf Publishing name.
Whilst the Wolf Publishing comic book series was being produced, at issue number 8, news came in that the King Features Syndicate publishing license held by Redan Publishing Inc. was up for renewal. Redan Publishing Inc. business interests were heading in a different direction and chose to decline the license renewal. This resulted in 4 issues going unpublished in the series, with the final 9th comic being produced for their subscriber base to round off the series, (printed with black and white interior pages).
1992 – The Funtom
Illustrated by Mike Higgs, ‘The Funtom’ was a humorous parody comic strip Phil and Mike wished to insert into their Wolf Publications comic book series. Proof pages were submitted to King Features Syndicate, but were rejected.
1992 – Promotional Card
A promotional card (printed on normal paper and not heavy stock card) featuring Wolf Publishing Phantom comic number 1 on one side and information on the comic book series on the reverse.
1992-1993 – The Phantom Society of Great Britain Fan Club
By joining The Phantom Society of Great Britain fan club, the membership kit contained a club certificate, uncut Phantom trading cards, a badge and a membership card.
1996 – The Phantom Collection Pin Set
Containing 5 Pins, ‘The Phantom Collection’ was presented in a gold stamped plastic case (3.5″ x 3.5″ x 1″) and was issued with a certificate of authenticity personally signed by the designer, Mike Higgs. Below we also see the original art and certificate of authenticity proofs produced prior to manufacture.
2006 – Wolf Classic Comics Album
‘Wolf The Phantom Classic Comic Selection’ is an album style comic book containing 6 unsold Wolf Publications Phantom comics from the 1992 series. Released by Ugly Duckling Press, based in Worcestershire, UK, a limit of 500 edition were produced, with some being personally signed by Mike Higgs. Dean Ormston is the artist behind the unique cover art for the book.
2006 – A2 Phantom Poster
A 70th Anniversary Comic Con Exhibition poster was produced and displayed at the Midland Hotel, Birmingham, UK. It’s A2 in size and is limited to 50. We find an advertisement for the A2 Phantom poster on the back cover of Crikey Magazine number 8 as can be seen below.
2007 – Blase’s Most Wanted Trading Card
Although not officially affiliated with Wolf Publications, the UK publication ‘Crikey Magazine’ issued 16 magazines between 2007 and 2010, with a 9 set of trading cards also issued, with the Phantom featuring on card number 1. The cards promoted comic book’s ‘Most Wanted’ by Blase Books, a UK based retailer. As seen on the above advertisement, Blase Books is promoted alongside the A2 Phantom poster.
2009 – Crikey Magazine #8
The Phantom is featured in a 6 page article in Crikey Magazine number 8, written by Phil Clarke and Mike Higgs. We see the Phantom appear on the front cover, plus on the back cover in an advertisement for the A2 Phantom poster.
Birmingham Post – UK 1992
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.