In Love With a Ghost Who Walks

When I was about 11, I fell in love with a ghost in purple tights.

The object of my affections was The Phantom. The Ghost Who Walks: guardian of the eastern dark and man who cannot die.

The Phantom was a comic created by American writer and theatre director Lee Falk – who also created Mandrake the Magician.

Phantom Rings
The phantom wore two rings – the good mark and the skull ring – which left a permanent mark on the chins of evil doers who were punched by the Phantom

The eponymous hero wore purple tights and, like the best comic book heroes, a mask. But unlike Superman or Spiderman – he had no super powers. Unlike Batman or Iron Man, he had no gadgets. He was just a smart strong man who fought for justice. Sometimes those evil forces were supernatural – a ghost or a monster, but The Phantom always won.

Phantom  colour
Of course, along the way, he rescued more than a few damsels in distress – but always remained faithful to his true love

The younger me was terribly excited by the fact that he lived in a skull shaped cave somewhere on the coast of Africa, with a trained wolf called Devil and a white stallion named Hero. I thought it would be so cool to live there with him – after we were married of course.

The Phantom legend began when Chris (Kit) Walker’s father was murdered by pirates in 1536. The young man swore on the skull of his father’s killer that he would devote his life to fighting injustice… and his sons would follow him.

Phantom Oath
As I child, I didn’t find the number of skulls in the comic at all scary

To get those sons, of course, the Phantom had to take a wife. The women who captured the phantom’s heart were amazing – strong, intelligent and beautiful women including a Queen of France, an opera singer and a pirate.

Phantom Wives
Our current Phantom (the 21st in his line) is married to an Olympic diving champion and UN worker, Diana Palmer. How I envied her!

The art of the Phantom comics varied greatly from publisher to publisher – but in my Australian Frew editions, it was incredibly simple. The stories for the most part appeared in newspapers, so they are black and white. It all seems a bit tame compared to the magnificent artwork of modern graphic novels.

Which brings me to why I am talking about The Phantom here.

The hero of Bring Me Sunshine is Christopher Walker – also known as Kit. He has a habit of leaving sketches of skull rings and masked men on bar napkins on board the ship where the book is set. He is my salute to the comic book that taught me an awful lot about heroes.

Phantom at Sea
Just like my hero – the Phantom had adventures aboard a cruise ship

My Kit Walker (like the Ghost who Walks) is a mystery and a rescuer of damsels in distress. Well, one special damsel…

Phantom Kiss
Was it really strange for a young girl to dream of being kissed by a masked man?

Check out the Phantom legend here and if you like the cut of his purple tights, I hope you might just like Bring Me Sunshine too.