Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Phantom and Black Lightning



I recently purchased and thoroughly devoured a hardcover copy of The Phantom: The Complete Series - The Charlton Years: Volume One.  It was great to finally have all those Jim Aparo illustrated tales in one place, I had been wanting to track these issues down for years.  One part depressed me a little though.  As an added feature, a few black and white pages featuring Aparo's original art for the series were included.  When I compared these pages to what was actually printed, it was a crime how much loss of detail there was!  The muddy printing techniques and shoddy coloring that was used back when these comics came out did so much to obscure the fine line work of Aparo, and truly did a disservice to the artist.  I have to wonder how much better his body of work would look with today's reproduction and coloring capabilities.  It is a tribute to Aparo that his pencils and inks still looked so great despite these major obstacles that he had to contend with.

6 comments:

John Platt said...

Sadly, I imagine that's the case for all of Charlton's art at the very least. And I also image we'll never see any of these stories the way the artists drew them. The art, if it still exists, has been scattered to the four winds. A shame.

Walaka said...

A fifth-generation photocopy of Aparo artwork printed on a grocery bag wold look better than most other stuff that's getting printed.

Bob Greenwade said...

One thing that's bothered me about the Phantom is that Lee Falk (the original creator) built a legacy system into the character, but while he was in charge of the character the Phantom (as far as I'm aware) never aged, and never died to pass on the title to his son. Had he taken this missed opportunity, it would have resulted in a very different landscape for costumed crimefighters today -- one that would have required far fewer reboots and retcons that have become the unfortunate hallmark of DC and Marvel in recent decades.

As for today's cover, the craftsmanship is great, though I'm not clear on why Black Lightning was chosen to partner with the Phantom. They don't strike me as a natural combination, and the story doesn't seem to bring them together in an "Oh, yeah!" way like most of your odd team-ups. I may be missing something, but it seems that you could drop in just about any hero into his slot and still have the same story. If you wanted to use an Aparo-drawn character, I think Aquaman would have been a better choice, and given a more compelling spin on the tale.

(In fact, now that I think of it, a sequel to this story where those assassins are either trying to get to Aquaman or actually working for him would be quite interesting!)

Ross said...

Bob - I used BL because I thought it would be cool, nothing deeper than that! I always start with "what comic would I want to read?" Aquaman/Phantom is a good pairing though, I'll have to try that one day.

Anonymous said...

I just always thought it odd for someone to wear a 1) purple colored 2) body suit & cowl & mask 3) in the middle of a jungle/rainforest or desert to fight crime. Being a "barely dressed" crime fighter in a jungle is frankly quite practical. Rima, Sheena and Tarzan weren't trying to show "skin", they wanted to prevent dehydration and exposure! So what the heck was Lee Falk thinking??

Anonymous said...

Again....he wears a mask with the afro attached to it!!! Take that Groucho glasses! I'm glad to see Black Vulcan...er Black Falcon...darn it! Black Lightning get some shine! Sweet Christmas and an even sweeter New Year!

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