The Phantom (or Fantomen as he’s known in Sweden) first appeared in Sweden in 1940 in a publication titled ‘Vecko-Revyn’. It contained a full page comic strip in color in issue 21 of that year, printing the Phantom story ‘Adventure in Algiers’. Fantomen comic strips would continue to be printed in Vecko-Revyn up until issue 24 in 1976 (edition numbers reset at the commencement of a new year).
Vecko-Revyn (translates to ‘Weekly Review’ in English) was a Swedish lifestyle and women’s magazine published in Stockholm, Sweden by the Bonnier Media Group. It existed between 1935 and 2018. This publication is similar to Australia’s ‘The Australian Woman’s Mirror‘ which was also the first to print a Phantom comic strip in that country.
In 1944, a Fantomen Christmas Album was published by Serieförlaget (same owning family/company as Vecko-Revyn above) which ran for 32 pages and contained ‘The Golden Circle’ story. It was printed in black and which with some areas having red print added.
Fantomen Christmas Albums normally contain a Phantom story that had already been published in Vecko-Revyn and continue to be produced on a yearly basis in Sweden to this day. See below the first 3 Fantomen Christmas Albums produced.
The Phantom would make his first newspaper appearance on the 8th of June, 1942 in Svenska Dagbladet (translating to ‘The Swedish Daily News’ and abbreviated to ‘SvD’). The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper has continually been published in Stockholm, Sweden since 1884.
The first Phantom story to be published was ‘Diana Aviatrix Lost’ and it was printed in Svenska Dagbladet on a daily basis.
You’ll notice that the comic strip is titled ‘Dragos – den mystiske mannen’, which translates to ‘Dragos – The Mysterious Man’. This title will continue to be published by Svenska Dagbladet up until 1980. In other newspapers in Sweden (such as in Norra Västerbotten), this title was still printed up until 2003.
It’s not 100% clear as to why Phantom comic strips in newspapers were published with ‘Dragos’ as the title, however various theories exist:
- The Phantom comic strip could of been confused by publishers due to Lee Falk’s other series, ‘Mandrake The Magician’, which launched in Denmark in 1938 under the name ‘Dragos’ (see Tempo Magazine #22 on the right). This mix-up could of occurred by Svenska Dagbladet (in Sweden), despite the fact that Fantomen was in print since 1940 by Vecko Revyn, two years earlier under the name ‘Fantomen’.
- Another explanation is that Svenska Dagbladet had purchased Mandrake The Magician from Bulls Press Service in Denmark, and Svenska Dagbladet planned to launch the series under the name ‘Mandragos’ in Sweden. Under short notice by Bulls Press Service, they could of incorrectly delivered comic strips of the Phantom instead, with Svenska Dagbladet not able to correct the mistake and simply kept the delivered material, but changed the name of the series to ‘Dragos – The Mysterious Man’ for it’s debut on the 8th of June, 1942. Comic strips were relatively new in Swedish newspapers in the 1940’s and newspaper editors weren’t completely familiar with American comic characters.
- As the region at the time was occupied by Nazi Germany, and the imports of hostile goods and culture were banned, it’s possible that Bulls Press Service adopted the title of Dragos for the Phantom to hide (or camouflage) his cultural origin and the fact that he’s an American comic book character.
In October 1950, Serieförlaget commenced printing a regular series of Fantomen comic books which is still in publication today, with over 1600 comics printed to date.
7 editions were printed in the first year, containing a mixture of comic characters, not just the Phantom.
Read more about this series HERE.