The Phantom is published by Frew Publication in Australia, with edition number 1 on the 9th of September, 1948. Titled ‘Enter The Phantom’, the comic book contains the Lee Falk and Ray Moore comic strip, ‘The Slave Traders’.
The Phantom comic is published in black and white, with color only found on the front cover. It measures 17cm x 26cm in landscape format, containing 32 pages held together by 2 staples on the left margin.
Two versions of the comic were released by Frew Publications, with and without a bullet hole in the skull seen on the front cover. It’s believed that the skull bullet version was the first print run, however reviewed in the second print run due to local censorship.
A comic number was also omitted, traditionally found on the front cover of comic books. It’s believed that Frew Publications weren’t sure on the success of the Phantom comic book series in Australia, hence we don’t see a comic number on editions number 1 and 2. From comic book number 3, a comic book number is published.
In 1991, Frew Publications released a replica of ‘Enter The Phantom’ with the 1000th edition Special Issue comic book, number 972. It was sold in newsagents in a sealed clear plastic bag on the rear of the pack. This is also the first time we see a Phantom comic book sold in plastic packaging.
Frew Publications did an amazing job with the replica edition, with only a few minor indicators separating it from the original.
Visually, the original and replica edition are easily identified, with the original cover print not as vibrant as the replica. Also, holding the two version, the paper quality is easily identifiable, with the original being more fragile, especially considering it was printed over 74 years ago.
Lastly, the best indicator to distinguish between the two, is the inside front cover. The original is printed with an address, ‘Printed by ROTARY COLORPRINT CO. PTY. LTD., 15 Hamilton St., Sydney, for the publishers, FREW PUBLICATIONS, 39 Martin Place, Sydney‘, with the replica version having this line omitted.
Blueline – Replica Printers Proof
A blueline comic is a proof made by a commercial printer and presented to a client for the purposes of checking the elements of a printing job that has been photographed, stripped up, and imaged. The negatives from which the plates for the press will be made are imaged onto thin blue light-sensitive paper. The text and images all appear in dark blue on the light blue paper, hence the proof’s name.
Bluelines are useful to confirm that the fonts have not defaulted to other less-desireable fonts, that the page numbers of a book or newsletter fall in the correct order and that the elements of a print project all seem to be positioned correctly.
The paper that bluelines are made on can be imaged on both sides and then trimmed and folded to show that each page is backed up to the correct page, that all the pages fall in order and that each page is centered or otherwise positioned as intended by the client. A blueline also shows any scratches or defect in the negatives.
When a client approves a blueline proof, the printing plates are then exposed from the same negatives that were used to make the blueline.
The blueline proof used for the replica edition in 1991 can be viewed below. This blueline proof was originally scanned from an original number 1. Interestingly, the inside cover shows the address line, which was omitted from the final print of the replica version released to the market.
The release of the original Phantom comic number 1 in 1948 was advertised on the back cover of various other Frew Publications comics, including Pop-Eye and The Phantom Ranger.