WW Chicago: Dynamite Acquires "The Phantom" Comic Book License

Dynamite Entertainment capped off their spotlight panel at WizardWorld Chicago with the announcement that they'd be rounding out their slate of classic pulp fiction characters with a new series featuring Lee Falk's newspaper strip superhero The Phantom in early 2009.

Created in 1936, the groundbreaking "Ghost Who Walks" has been a newspaper staple ever since, although his comic book adventures have - which have been published by everyone from DC to Marvel and most recently Moonstone - largely fallen flat with American readers, something that Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci is looking to change.

"We're attracted to icons, and this is a character that is assuredly an icon, but he hasn't had that status in comic shops for a while, and every time he has, it's had mixed results at best," he says. "We plan on making sure that he has the same attention and care that we've given every character from Red Sonja to The Lone Ranger to Zorro.

It's all about presenting it to a new audience. The first story arc is going to be called 'Born in Blood' and when you see it, you'll understand how this was truly a character who was born in blood and who found the cave of The Ghost Who Walks. We're going to ensure that the core of the character finds its home in any new shell of a series."

Dynamite's method for igniting reader interest includes a revitalized status quo for millionaire adventurer Kit Walker and a creative hand by "Project Superpowers" creator Alex Ross.

"He's a great character, and we're going back to the basics," Barrucci says of The Phantom. "Originally The Phantom was a character who fought in New York City. He was a millionaire who fought in New York City, and they moved him to the jungle to differentiate him from other millionaire playboys who put on costumes at night and fought in the city.

"If this were a movie, the first 20 minutes would be about him being in the jungle, and then the rest of the movie would be about him being in the concrete jungle of New York City."

As for creative team, it is too early for Dynamite to commit to naming names, however Barrucci does promise "Alex Ross is involved. He's working with us on the covers and he's going to be working with us on the story."

That story will be set firmly in the modern day, although Barrucci confirms that reprints of classic Phantom comics from both the newspapers and Scandinavian and Australian publishers where the hero remains a hit is a definite possibility as Dynamite moves forward with the character. "We're going to explore the legacy of the character, but we're setting it closer to modern times," concludes Barrucci, adding that "The Phantom is going to face a threat unlike anything he's ever faced before."

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