At last—the complete 1937 Lee Falk classic daily adventure, The Diamond Hunters!
Since1961, when Frew published a roughly edited version of the second part only of the story in edition No 196, several attempts have been made to piece the entire adventure together.
The last appeared in issue No 1000 published in 1992.
That effort went close, but nowhere near close enough. The quality of the art was quite good, but the reproduction and especially, the layout failed—on more than a few pages, quite miserably.
There were plenty of reasons. Like all of Lee’s early stories, the strips were designed and drawn to suit daily newspaper comics pages and comic book publishers were not exactly in profusion in those days.
Trying to squeeze such stories as The Diamond Hunters into a standard comic book page format was a challenging task and the problems could only be overcome by resorting to a landscape layout. This technique was in fact adopted by a number of international publishers of Phantom adventure anthologies.
This time around, Frew believes it has overcome pretty well all the problems, with some slightly unconventional tweaks of scanner and computer production techniques.
You be the judge (but first, if you have the issue available, compare what you are now reading, with Frew No 1000).
The Diamond Hunters is historically interesting and the splash page in this issue explains why!
Even more interesting to me is the manner in which Lee Falk and artist Ray Moore were still fine-tuning a comics character who was still in his infancy and yet to become a major international force.
Note, for example, the way Lee had The Phantom literally terrifying jungle native tribes with show-business stage management gimmicks like The Great Skull.
And especially note how Moore depicted the simple natives dropping to their hands and knees and hailing the appearance of The Phantom as some sort of great spirit arising from empty space!
It was an attempt by Falk to explain to his readers how it was that The Phantom managed to win control of the hearts and minds of the jungle people.
When Lee realised it was a bad call, he hastened to change many things to a more socially acceptable level!