Issue 1606 - Fortnightly, 2011


76 pages.

Mint condition.
  • "Romance (and the Vesta Pirates)" - story by Lee Falk and art by Wilson McCoy.
Cover art by Wilson McCoy

The featured story in this issue highlights the fact that Lee Falk was one of the greatest story tellers in the long history of comics.

Romance is a simple enough plot …. The Phantom, noble as an Emperor, wise as a judge, fierce as a tiger, struggles to pluck up the courage to ask Diana to marry him …. and as he dithers, other men come into Diana’s life.

However, throw in a serious misunderstanding between The Phantom and Diana over the appearance of another female, Mama determined to keep The Phantom out of the picture, Diana on the verge of marrying the son of the world’s richest man and a gripping and near-fatal battle with seagoing pirates and you have all the ingredients for a feature motion picture!

Adventures such as Romance were specialities of Lee Falk.

He honed continuity writing skills in his younger years by producing radio serials, studying classic novels and stage plays and movies from the 1930s and 1940s.

The formats he perfected were regularly copied by screen writers and directors of early movie serials and ‘creators’ of rival comic strips and associated paperback thriller novels.

Study the makeup of Romance and one vital thing will strike you immediately .... Lee wrote his scripts to ensure that at the end of every week, newspaper readers were left in suspense …. how will The Phantom escape from his latest predicament …. is it all over between The Phantom and Diana?

In the wonderful old days of movie serials (think Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, The Lone Ranger and of course, The Phantom…) every episode would finish on what was described as a ’cliffhanger’ note with the hero or heroine facing almost certain death.

Today, many movie historians  marvel at the continuity skills of the serial screen writers—completely forgetting Lee Falk preceded them by years with his comic strip creativity!

Serious Phantom comics readers will remember Frew originally publishing this story under the long-winded title of Romance and the Vesta Pirates when it first appeared in edition No 4 back in 1948 and many later reprints.

Not only was the Frew story title concocted, but those early editions carried only the second half of the story!

Check out the first panel of the story in this issue and you will see that the official, original story title was simply….Romance!



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