A Visit with Lee Falk

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"A Visit with Lee Falk" is an interview with Lee Falk by Anthony Tollin.

Background

In the extensive interview, made in late 1985 to be published in time for the 50th anniversary of "The Phantom", Lee Falk discusses his early career writing radio drama for KMOX. He credits Harry Tuthill with encouraging him to submit "Mandrake the Magician" to King Features Syndicate. and mentions real-life magicians Howard Thurston and Cardini as inspirations for Mandrake. He mentions asking Phil Davis for use of his assistant, Ray Moore for his Phantom strip. He says his original idea was to name the strip "The Grey Ghost."

Falk also discussed the Phantom's wartime impact:

"Lee Falk continued to write The Phantom and Mandrake during World War II while he served in the Office of War Information. "I later learned that The Phantom helped keep up Norwegian morale while they were under the cruel occupation of the Nazis. The Germans controlled the Norwegian newspapers and were publishing false propaganda claiming that New York and Washington had been bombed and that the United States was being defeated by the Nazis. Unbeknownst to us at the time, The Phantom was being smuggled into Norway from Sweden and was being published daily in the Norwegian papers. The German occupation forces paid no attention to the comic strip and never realized it was of American origin, but the Norwegians were assured by the strip's presence that the USA was still going strong. I'm told that it was considered a big joke on the Nazis and that 'Phantom' was one of the passwords of the Norwegian underground."1

In the interview, Falk also talked about the evolution of the Phantom:

"Today, The Phantom is no longer the absolute ruler of the jungle but is instead a friend of the jungle folk. He's no longer feared except by the bad guys. He's more of a peacemaker."

Falk also discussed the marriage of the Phantom and the mock debate about Diana's future in the New Zealand Parliament, the bachelor party held in the big garden in Stockholm the night before, subsequent parties in New Zealand and Australia and contests in Mexico and other countries guessing whether the Phantom's child would be a boy or girl and when the birth would be.

Reprints

Mini sweden.gif Sweden

Mini usa.gif USA

  • "Phantom is 50 – interview with Phantom creator Lee Falk", Comics Buyer's Guide #642 (1986)
  • "A Visit with Lee Falk", Comics Revue #27 (1988)

Footnotes

  • 1.It should be noted that although often repeated, this story has been questioned and referred to as exaggerated or anecdotal. No evidence of the Phantom's impact in wartime Norway has yet been presented that confirm this statement.