Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Ghost Who Walks

For the past five years I've been writing scripts for The Phantom, a masked avenger created by Lee Falk that first saw print as a newspaper adventure strip in 1936. This pulp fiction hero - often known as The Ghost Who Walks - has been fighting injustice and tyranny for 70 years and continues to be seen around the world in his strip. But The Phantom has another life, starring in his own fortnightly comic book, originated by an editorial team at Egmont Sweden. Commander of Team Fantomen is Ulf Granberg, a vastly experienced editor and scribe. Five years ago I was looking for more writing work and got put in touch with Ulf by Egmont's comics creation crew in Copenhagen [try saving that five times quickly when drunk!].

Since then I've written nearly two dozen Phantom scripts for the Scandinavian title Fantomen, all but two from my own plots or ideas I've developed with Ulf. The other two scripts were based on plots conceived by regular artist Hans Lindahl. As well as appearing in Sweden, Norway and other Scandinavian territories, these stories are reprinted in Australia by Frew Comics. It's a quirk of circumstance that those reprints are the first time my stories appear in English after they're left my printer. Frew translates the scripts from Swedish into English, after they've already been translated from English to Swedish. As a consequence, I'm lucky if I can recognise a single sentence of my original dialogue in the Frew version - such is life!

This week I'm writing my 23rd and 24th Phantom stories. The first is the concluding chapter of a two-parter called Circe's Island. Unusually, I didn't have both episodes of the story fully plotted before I wrote the opening segment. As a consequence, I'm having to feel my way through the second chapter - but it's coming together nicely now and should be done today. The second Phantom script of the week is based on a Hans Lindahl plot. It features pyramids, mummies and werewolves - oh my! Should be a blast to write, lots of action, lots of mayhem and somebody else has already done the hard work of plotting it all out for me. I simply need to inject characterisation, mood and dialogue. What could be simpler?

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