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The Phantom, 5/23/05

Here’s a good example of why it would be incredibly unwise of King Features to cater to my secret desire to take over the writing duties at Apartment 3-G: I’d want to change stuff around, put my own imprint on it, realize my artistic vision. Most readers at home would be horrified. “WHAT? Tommie has a nose ring now? Margo wears high heels? Lu Ann isn’t a total moron? What the hell is this?”

Here’s something that’s been bothering me for the past few weeks in The Phantom: the Bandar have been looking especially short ever since the new artists took over. In fact, before Walker’s plucky African friends made their appearance in this storyline, I didn’t think they were supposed to be little people. Offensive ethnic stereotypes in bizarre hats, yes; actual Pygmies, no. This strip illustrates that they were always supposed to be short of stature, but apparently the previous artists didn’t feel a need to be all in-your-face about their Pygmosity. The new guy (or guys, or gals, or whatever) clearly had a vision for the strip, though, and it involved the Bandar being extra Pygmy-y. And what thanks do they get from longtime readers like myself? Nothing but complaints and disgruntlement and confusion.

Of course, the seven-foot-tall candle in panel two may indicate that the new team is just another tragic victim of Jack-Elrod-Crappy-Perspective-itis.

Incidentally, faithful reader Sue Trowbridge, currently serving as a foreign correspondent for TCC in Stockholm, writes to inform me that the Swedes, or at least the Swedes who read the same newspaper as her aunt, love The Phantom; she promises to scan and send in some Swedish-language Phantom action upon her return to the States. She doesn’t mention any Swedish versions of Hagar the Horrible, but presumably the Swedes’ proud Viking sense of honor, combined with their well-known dislike for Norwegians, precludes them from following his adventures.