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
Year Code Story Title Artist Issue # 1946 D28 Queen Asta of Trondelay McCoy 1310 1950 S27 Jungle King McCoy 1297 1957 D65 Wambo the Gambler McCoy 1297 1958 S51 The Plant God of The Massau McCoy 1280 1959/60 S53 The Childhood of The Phantom McCoy 1280 1959/60 D75 Oogooru and the Witchmen McCoy 1280 1960 S54 The River Gang McCoy 1280 1960/61 S56 The Goggle Eye Pirates McCoy 1280 1961 D80 The Iron Dragon McCoy 1280 1961 S57 Fluffy McCoy 1280 1961 S58 The Limper McCoy/Infantino/Lignante 1297 1961/62 S59 Queen Samaris XII Lignante 1297 1962/63 S61 The Astronaut and the Pirates Barry 1286 1963/64 S63 The Giant Bird of Gandor Barry 1291 1964/65 S64 The Founding of the Jungle Patrol Barry 1291 1964/65 D90 The Bad Ones Barry 1280 1966 D93 Bullets' Town Barry 1302 1966 D94 The Killer Barry 1280 1971 D113 The Mysterious Passenger (The Tourist Invasion) Barry 1302 1971 D114 The Vultures Barry 1294 1972 D118 The Keeper of the Peace Barry 1293 2000 S152 The Shipwreckers Olesen/Fredericks 1280 2000/01 S153 Woduro's Secret Nolan 1286 2000/01 D201 Valley of the Gorillaman Olesen/Williams 1291 2001 S154 The Lion's Head Tamarine Nolan 1310 2001 D202 Ghost Quest Olesen/Williams 1302
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.
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.
* Remake of Lee Falk story with script adaptation by Ulf Granberg
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
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 ...