The Cloud Pirates, written by Norman Worker and beautifully illustrated by Kari Leppanen, originally appeared in Frew No 919.
It was enormously successful and has retained its popularity to the point where we have been almost forced to include it in this year’s reprint list. Such has been the demand!
One of the many reasons, I have always suspected, are the exquisite depictions of vintage aircraft so lovingly penned by Leppanen. (Just how technically accurate they are I will leave for aircraft buffs to judge, but the bottom line is obvious enough…. there was something ultra-exciting and glamorous about the design of 1930s aircraft and Leppanen, who loves drawing vintage aircraft, automobiles and ships, has captured all the charisma!)
There must have been, of course, many other reasons for the wide popularity of The Cloud Pirates and you will have no difficulty identifying many as you read this adventure….strong support characters, exotic scenery, great plot, lots of tension—and a little (slightly stretched!) bit of extra Phantom history….The Ghost Who Walks learning to fly!
The story will doubtless have many Phantom enthusiasts thinking back to some of Lee Falk’s early stories such as The Sky Band (1936-37 daily) and Return of the Sky Band (1941-42 Sunday) in which artist Ray Moore, who was no great shakes drawing anything mechanical, did his best with Lee’s aircraft adventures.
What Moore lacked in making cars, motorcycles and aircraft look realistic, he more than made up for in depicting glamorous women and action scenes— and especially those which featured The Phantom!
When you think about it, it is surprising how many Phantom stories over the years have either featured, or included sections in which The Ghost Who Walks, either as Mr. Walker or The Phantom, either flew an aircraft or was a passenger in one!
And he’s not only flown in all types of aircraft, but parachuted or jumped from them—or shot them down!