In this issue—a mix of old and new, with two Lee Falk-Wilson McCoy mini-classics balancing two new daily and Sunday adventures by Tony DePaul and Paul Ryan.
The Female Phantom (the only Lee Falk story which used this theme) is the oldest. It first appeared as a Sunday story in 1952 and at the time was a very brave step by Lee!
At that time, The Phantom was well established internationally as the ultimate man….an athlete and fighting machine who did indeed seem immortal and totally without fear.
For Lee to bring in a twin sister who was his equal in so many ways, but especially in the use of firearms—as the story stresses—and almost as physically strong, may have appealed to women
of the time who were pushing the equal opportunity barrow, but may have upset dedicated male Phantom fans! It’s interesting in hindsight to reflect that Lee never included twin sister Julie in
The Belt appeared as a Sunday adventure in 1954 and remains one of Lee’s best-loved stories,
It is one of the very few Lee Falk stories which vividly depicts the death of a Phantom and possibly for that reason alone, has attained special popularity with dedicated fans.
It is worthwhile carefully comparing McCoy's art in The Belt with the earlier The Female Phantom.
His treatment of The Belt is so much more detailed than The Female Phantom and indicates he may have had some outside assistance!
At the time, McCoy handled the illustration of both the daily and Sunday Phantom strips and the quality of his art varied from story to story as he strived to meet deadlines.
It is known that Dorothy, his wife, helped him with layouts and also lettered both strips for a number of years, but if he had other artists helping him with pencilling and inking, their identities have been lost.
The new daily and Sunday adventures are poles apart in subject matter! The daily story about the young girl and her addiction to spraying graffiti depictions of The Phantom, is partly a social
commentary and partly an example of modern psychology. The new Sunday story, about a disturbed native burial ground and a secret catacomb beneath the Presidential Palace is a traditional
deep and moving Phantom adventure.