The Phantom:
A Publishing History in Australia

by Bryan Shedden

The Australian Woman's Mirror Phantom Comics (1938-40)

(Henry Kenneth Prior Publishers)






Thanks to Colin Williams, David Budds, and Dietmar Lederwasch for covers

The popularity of The Phantom in The Australian Woman's Mirror was such that in May 1938 history was made when the publisher collected several stories which had appeared in serial form in the magazine and bound them into a comic book. This was the first Australian Phantom comic book, and only the second in the world. The first ever compilation of the Phantom's adventures into a single volume was the 1936 American Big Little Book printing of the first 16 weeks of continuity. However, it was a prose adaptation with only a fraction of the original artwork, and therefore cannot really be considered as the first "Phantom comic book". This title belongs to the Italian comic L'Uomo Mascherato, published in 1937 by Casa Editrice G.Nerbini.

The first Phantom comic published by the Woman's Mirror ran for 100 pages and sold for sixpence. The artwork in this volume was later used by Frew for their 1988 "complete" reprint of The Singh Brotherhood (#918A). It included all the Woman's Mirror's original modifications to the dialogue and, for this reason, it is interesting to compare it with the more recent reprint (#1128), which is definitely complete. A second Woman's Mirror comic book appeared in November 1938, and a third in June 1939, but as Australia had still not recovered from the Depression, these editions were reduced to 68 pages, while still selling for sixpence. These two comics featured the first Australian appearance of Little Tommy (D4) and The Shark's Nest (D7), which had been skipped in the regular magazine. The Woman's Mirror published two more Phantom comics in April and then September 1940 (still 68 pages for sixpence). Issue #5 finished with the first 12 weeks of The Seahorse, and the last strip in the comic (13 April 1940) was followed by these comments from the publisher:

DIANA PALMER is certainly in a tough spot. BARON DANTON has provided very black evidence against her and, with her mother and uncle, she is in prison awaiting trial on a charge of spying.

If she is unable to prove her innocence she may even be sentenced to death under war-time laws against Fifth Columnists. Will she escape?

And THE PHANTOM ... Alone on board the BARON's yacht he apparently intends to secure evidence of DIANA's innocence and bring DANTON to justice. How will he do it?

THE PHANTOM's adventures appear every week in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMAN'S MIRROR, price 3d. Buy it TODAY.

The rest of the story could be read in the weekly pages of the Woman's Mirror, but the strips were never to be compiled again into a single volume by this publisher -- edition #5 was the last. The world was then at war, paper supplies were restricted and publishers began scrounging for any quality of supply they could find.

A complete list of the stories contained in each of the five Woman's Mirror Phantom Comics is shown below:

IssueDatePagesNoted Story TitleOfficial Story TitleCode
1May 1938100none givenThe Singh Brotherhood
The Sky Band
The Diamond Hunters
D3 (4 pages)
2Nov 193868War in the Jungle
From Luntok to London
Diana's Wedding
The Diamond Hunters
Little Tommy
The Prisoner of the Himalayas
D3 (from start)
D5 (3 pages)
3Jun 193968The Rajah of Barogar
The Pirate Baron
The Pirate Baron
Back to the Jungle
The Prisoner of the Himalayas
Adventure in Algiers
The Shark's Nest
Fishers of Pearls
D5 (from start)
D8 (4 pages)
4Apr 194068Jungle Justice
Diana & the Slavers
A Lapse of Memory
Fishers of Pearls
The Slave Traders
The Mysterious Girl
D8 (from start)
D10 (17 pages)
5Sep 194068A Lapse of Memory
The Golden Circle
Diana & the Fifth Column
The Mysterious Girl
The Golden Circle
The Seahorse
D10 (cont'd from #4)
D12 (18 pages)

Thanks to Barry Stubbersfield for his list of stories in The Australian Woman's Mirror Phantom Comics


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Bryan Shedden /
Last updated 16 March 2006