Frew in 2001: The Year in Review

Frew published 31 editions of The Phantom in 2001, with a total count of 1692 pages - the lowest pagecount since 1992. The year started with the Blockbuster edition on 5 January, which contained only 268 pages qualifying it as the thinnest of the 11 Annual Specials since they began in 1991. There were also a total of 25 regular 36-page editions this year, which is the highest tally since 1992. The remaining 5 issues were 100-page specials. Meanwhile, the net cover price for an annual supply of Frew Phantom comics has continued to rise. This was caused by a 15% price increase for the regular 36-page issues (from $1.92 to $2.20), starting with #1290 on 4 May 2001. The combination of reduced page numbers and increased prices means that the average price per page has finally risen above the 1988-90 peak. However, after CPI adjustment the current average price is still below comparable 1986-91 levels. Now with the launch of the new comic book The Panther ($2.00 for 28 pages, A4 size), Frew can no longer claim that The Phantom is the lowest priced comic book on the Australian market.

There were a total of 54 stories this year (including the replica edition). As usual, the Lee Falk classics deserve first mention. A total of 22 stories were reconstructed Lee Falk classics (see table below). Stories were selected mainly from the period between 1957 and 1966, covering the last few years of Wilson McCoy's stint, and the start of Sy Barry's long reign. Frew also presented us with the latest 5 newspaper strip stories written by Claes Reimerthi and Tony De Paul. Combining these with the edited version of The Sea Horse in the #10 replica edition (included with the Annual Special #1280), brings the total number of newspaper strip stories in 2001 to 28, spread out over only 8 issues (Annual Special, five 100-page specials, and 2 regular issues). Lee Falk's stories represented 43% of the total number published - a slight improvement on last year.

Of the 346 newspaper strip stories credited to Lee Falk, over 300 have now been reprinted in complete unedited form in Frew's Phantom comic. A list of the remaining stories is available here. Frew are likely to have reconstructed ALL Phantom newspaper strip stories in complete unedited form by early 2004, or perhaps even Christmas 2003. This is an anxiously awaited milestone that is yet to be reached by any comic book publisher in the world, and once reached, Phantom Phans the world over will be indebted to the efforts of Jim Shepherd at Frew Publications.

Newspaper strip stories reconstructed by Frew in 2001
YearCodeStory TitleArtistIssue #
1946D28Queen Asta of TrondelayMcCoy1310
1950S27Jungle KingMcCoy1297
1957D65Wambo the GamblerMcCoy1297
1958S51The Plant God of The MassauMcCoy1280
1959/60S53The Childhood of The PhantomMcCoy1280
1959/60D75Oogooru and the WitchmenMcCoy1280
1960S54The River GangMcCoy1280
1960/61S56The Goggle Eye PiratesMcCoy1280
1961D80The Iron DragonMcCoy1280
1961S58The LimperMcCoy/Infantino/Lignante1297
1961/62S59Queen Samaris XIILignante1297
1962/63S61The Astronaut and the PiratesBarry1286
1963/64S63The Giant Bird of GandorBarry1291
1964/65S64The Founding of the Jungle PatrolBarry1291
1964/65D90The Bad OnesBarry1280
1966D93Bullets' TownBarry1302
1966D94The KillerBarry1280
1971D113The Mysterious Passenger (The Tourist Invasion)Barry1302
1971D114The VulturesBarry1294
1972D118The Keeper of the PeaceBarry1293
2000S152The ShipwreckersOlesen/Fredericks1280
2000/01S153Woduro's Secret Nolan1286
2000/01D201Valley of the GorillamanOlesen/Williams1291
2001S154The Lion's Head TamarineNolan1310
2001D202Ghost QuestOlesen/Williams1302

During 2001, Frew printed 25 stories originally published by Egmont, Scandinavia. There was only one 2-part story (The Lady Luck by Felmang), and all others were single-part stories. All of Egmont's new feature stories from issue Nr.24/2000 through to Nr.25/2001 were reproduced in Frew's Phantom comic. There were also three classic Egmont stories from the 1974-82 period published in #1295, #1309 and #1310. Full details of the publishing schedule are available here.

The 25 Egmont stories printed by Frew, were created by no fewer than 13 writers and 11 artists - surely, a new record for variety! Claes Reimerthi was once again the most prolific of the Egmont writers, with 6 stories. Positioned a distant second with 3 stories each, were Tony De Paul and Mats Jönsson. The other stories were written by Phantom veterans such as Worker, Granberg and Lundström, in addition to Phantom newcomer Per-Erik Hedman. Sharing the workload between a greater number of writers certainly frees up more time for Claes Reimerthi and Tony De Paul who continue to write the newspaper stories.

Argentine César Spadari equalled Italian Romano Felmang as the most prolific Egmont artist this year. This probably reflects the increasing popularity of Spadari's artwork in the Scandinavian Phantom comics. Don Perlin and Paul Ryan are both veterans of the American comic book industry, but had their debut on The Phantom this year.

A summary of the contributions this year for all Egmont writers and artists is shown below.

Writers Artists
Claes Reimerthi 6    César Spadari 5
Tony De Paul 3    Romano Felmang 5
Mats Jönsson 3    Hans Lindahl 3
Hans Lindahl 2    Joan Boix 3
Ben Raab 2    Kari Leppänen 2
Per-Erik Hedman 2    Carlos Cruz 2
Falk/Granberg * 2    Heiner Bade 1
Ulf Granberg 1    Don Perlin 1
Terrence Longstreet 1    Paul Ryan 1
Janne Lundström 1    Jaime Vallvé 1
Th Pelerin 1    Bertil Wilhelmsson 1
Norman Worker 1     
* Remake of Lee Falk story with script adaptation by Ulf Granberg

That makes a total of 53 stories. The remaining story was a reprint of The Girl Phantom by Bill Lignante, reprinted from Mandrake #4. This brief but interesting 4-page story was used as a filler in Frew #1291.

Last but not least ... the covers. Jim Shepherd continues to take on more and more of the cover art duty, presumably in an effort to keep down production costs. It would be fair to give the lion's share of credit for Jim's covers to the artists of the stories in those issues. This is because Jim simply extracts panels from the stories and adds a few minor touch-ups to fill the page. Many artists in America would see this practice as plagiarism, but to his credit, Jim is not initialling as many of these covers as he has done in the past. Antonio Lemos, Glenn Ford and "Tessa" were the only other Frew cover artists this year.

Cover Artists
Jim Shepherd 21
Antonio Lemos 5
Glenn Ford 3
"Tessa" 2

The Phantom Poll 2001

Between 24 December 2001 and 31 January 2002, visitors to The Deep Woods were asked to vote for the Best Phantom Story, Best Frew Cover and Best Fantomen Cover for the year 2001. The full results of the poll can be found HERE, and a summary is shown below:

Best Phantom Story 2001
Outright Winner: The Founding of the Jungle Patrol by Falk and Barry (#1291)
Best Egmont Story: The Invisible Phantom by Raab & Ryan (#1289)
Best Newspaper Story (New): The Ghost Quest by De Paul & Olesen/Williams (#1302)

Best Frew Cover 2001 Best Fantomen Cover 2001
#1289 by Antonio Lemos Nr.14/2001 by Hans Lindahl

More Frew stuff ...

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Bryan Shedden /
Last updated 14 April 2002