The Phantom:
A Publishing History in Australia

by Bryan Shedden

The Phantom Adventures (1955-56)

(Frew Publications Pty. Ltd.)

"Tales to be READ that tell the adventures of the World's Greatest Comic Book Hero"




Launched in December 1955, The Phantom Adventures was an experiment for Frew Publications, aimed to capitalise on the enormous popularity of The Phantom in Australia. This series was a departure from the traditional Phantom comic, as each monthly issue contained a prose adaptation of one of Lee Falk's stories. The intention of the new format was spelt out in an introductory passage on the inside front cover:

This book of PHANTOM ADVENTURES does NOT replace the famous PHANTOM COMIC. The ADVENTURES are written to be READ. Pictures can only show you WHAT people are doing, but written stories tell you WHY they do things. Learn the reasons for the Phantom's fast-moving action! Read his plans before his enemies know them! We hope you'll like these "new-way" PHANTOM ADVENTURES just as well as you do the PHANTOM COMIC. In any case, both kinds of Phantom Books, each as enjoyable as the other in its own way, are on sale at all newsagents now and there will be new issues every month from now on.

Each story was illustrated sparingly with pictures by one of the many freelance artists who submitted covers for Frew's still large range of comics. The Phantom Adventures boasted striking glossy colour covers and ran to 28 pages. Owing to the extra expense of writing the prose adaptations, these comics were priced at one third more than the normal Phantom comic -- one shilling compared with ninepence. Sadly, the experiment did not work, and the series lasted only 3 issues. Unlike the Tarzan devotees who loved the paperback novels and the comic books, it seems that Phantom enthusiasts were only interested in comics.

Issue #1

An adaptation of the 1947 Sunday story The Dragon God (S18). Frew had printed the comic strip version of this story four years earlier in #39.

Issue #2

An adaptation of the 1944/45 daily story The Maharajah's Daughter (D22). Frew had printed the comic strip version of this story five years earlier over two issues; #25 and #26. However, this prose version included the final scenes in which the Maharajah of Nimpore gave Hero to The Phantom as a reward for his services.

Issue #3

An adaptation of the 1943 daily story Bent Beak Broder (D17). Frew had printed the comic strip version of this story four years earlier in #33.


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Bryan Shedden /
Last updated 15 September 1997