The 'Lost' Phantom
Back in 2004 inker Joe Rubinstein was approached by King Features to produce images for a Phantom style guide. As Joe tells it, "King Features Syndicate hired me 2 years ago to do a selection of pin ups for a style guide, but after OK'ing it all they pulled the plug and went with Sy Barry clips." Three of those pin-ups were penciled by Norm Breyfogle in 2005, better known for his stellar work on DC Comic's Batman, along with equally as good work at First Salvo, Marvel and on the title Of Bitter Souls to name just a very few. Incredibly Norm had never drawn the Phantom previously but, like most people, has known about the character since his youth. "I first became aware of the character back in high school, when for many years my local newspaper ran the strip." In response to Joe Rubinstein's offer Norm penciled the three images you now see on this blog, working from reference that Joe himself supplied. All told Norm penciled between ten to fifteen seperate images. Hpefully those images will surface in the very near future.
The first image is as good as anyone's interpretation of the Phantom that I've seen. It captures the classic feel of the character whilst retaining Norm and Joe's overall artistic style. Plus it's damn good to see Norm inked by Joe once more - they're a pair of artists with a lot of respect for each other's work. This is what Norm had to say about Joe back in 2004 when I interviewed Joe for my site; "I have only good things to say about Joe's inking and his art in general. Besides myself, he's my favorite artist yet to have inked my pencils on any consistent basis (the artist who inked my Anarky miniseries' covers - Kevin Nowlan is the only other one I'd put in his class so far). And I'd bet it's because Joe's an excellent, classically trained artist; his paintings, for instance, are fantastic.
"He always inked just what I penciled, but with the certainty of someone who really understands the subtleties of light and shadow.
"I always name him as my first choice when an editor wants me to name an inker other than myself for my pencils."
Hopefully this won't spell the end for what could be one of the most exciting art teams to hit The Phantom in recent times. Certainly artists such as Paul Ryan, Ron Frenz, Alex Saviuk and others have all drawn for Egmont's edition of The Phantom, Moonstone in the USA also produce full length comics, and Norm is certainly up for it. I asked him if he'd consider drawing The Phantom as an on-going concern, or as a one-shot. "Depends on the offer and if I could fit it in my schedule," he says, "but I'd love to do it if I could, sure. I'd love to draw the jungle scenes with all the animals and the rest." I wonder how hard it'd be to get a petition up to see if Moonstone, Egmont, Frew or King Features would be interested in hiring Norm and Joe to do a full Phantom story?
Feel free to comment on this article, either on this blog, or over at Norm Breyfogle's forum.
If you're wanting to get in touch with Joe, then he's passed this email address on as a point of contact. Just tell him where you found it.