Saturday, February 12, 2005

"A good spanking"

While searching for "The Phantom" comics, I came across quite a few classics. The above is straight from Lee Falk's 1950s "spanking" phase. A more disturbing fan image can be found here.

I plan on making up some t-shirts at some point in semester 2 along these lines

I am trying to find a picture of "Phantom: Rough on Roughnecks", where he beating up some thugs, then replacing the faces with those of Jo-Ho and some other Libs.

Possibly a picture like this:

How cool would that be?

As we all know, the Phantom was the first costumed super-hero in the world. He predates Superman and Batman by several years, and although characters such as The Sandman and other WWI characters do precede him, they don't wear a costume.

The Phantom is one of those comic heroes that always struck a deep chord with me due to the incredible nature of what he stood for: " devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed and cruelty." He helped Bengalla, the made-up African nation where his Skull Cave resided, make a transition from colonial-imperial rule from England, to democracy under its first African president Lamanda Luaga, after a brief stint under the dicator General Bababu.

In 1977, he married the first feminist I came across in pop culture, Diana Palmer, a gold-medal olympian, a committed humanitarian, WWII war-hero and human rights monitor for the United Nations. When he proposed, she asked if he expected her to move into the Skull Cave and give up her job. He answered (somewhat naively) that since every other "Phantom wife" had done so, it stood to reason that she would too. She basically said that "it's 1977" and there was no way she was going to leave her job to live in a cave and produce children. Fantastic!

I also loved how in the comics around that time (ie, when Diana became a human right's monitor), she used to get kidnapped by dictators who would try to "force themselves upon her", and the Phantom would burst in just in time to find her beating the shit out of the dictator (since she was a hard-core martial artist). A woman in comics who could look after herself and gave a shit about human rights... it was a breath of fresh air compared to most of the dross in other comics, where women were either meat-headed superheroes or helpless victims for the male heroes to rescue.

The Phantom also went through a very interesting environmentalist phase. A series of comics emphasised the destruction of corporate greed to the natural beauty of Bengalla. A particular comic demonstrated human greed not caring that one of the rarest and most beautiful animals in the world would be wiped out to make a quick buck. Phantom of course defied the government (President Luaga was unfortunately implicated, but absolved himself by the end of the comic) and the corporation and helped save the animal (although many were killed in an explosion).

Additionally, the Phantom went on an anti-drug kick, which was a long-lasting theme, fighting drug barons in South American island nations, drug runners in Mawitaan (the capital of Bengalla) or drug runners in Sydney! (Note: that was the famous comic where the Phantom meets Bob Hawke. I should try to track it down. It's great!)

Of course, with all the Phantom's good politics, as the first comic above shows, Lee Falk was not always the pro-feminist he became in the 60s. As I recall, that frame is from a story where he was kidnapped by a spoiled princess from a small nation in Africa. It was a very moralistic story involving unrequited love, the kidnap of Diana and a chase scene through the mountains. And at the end, a good spanking!


  • At February 13, 2005 6:41 pm, Blogger Max Soy said…

    Hi Alex, nice to catch up yesterday.

    Interesting reading about the Phantom. I wasn't really into it but a friend of mine was, back in the early 1990s. Incidentally, last night, AC, BD and I were talking about He-man/She-ra cartoons and imagining Hordak as Howard (hmmmm....)

    By the way, as for spankings, I read in the Herald Sun last week that while paediatricians find that it does not benefit the child, 80% of parents remained in favour of being able to spank their children. I am on the doctors' side in this matter. What is your view? (Interestingly I have also read that Latham once came out in support of bringing back whipping, just like Dolores Umbrage in HP4.)

  • At February 13, 2005 9:21 pm, Blogger Alex said…

    I'm against beating up on children.


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