A new audio documentary is coming from author and radio personality Maria Lewis, tracking the history of The Phantomthe costumed adventurer who has been gracing the pages of newspapers, comic books, and beyond since 1936. Predating Batman and Superman, The Phantom was crated by cartoonist Lee Falk, and first appeared in 1936. The character has been featured in TV, film , comics, and newspaper strips, but Lewis is looking at the story behind the story, focusing on the creation of The Phantom and how the character became one of the most instantly recognizable characters in the world…and why he doesn’t get as much credit as other characters of his era do.
The author of the Australian Who’s Afraid? series of novels, Lewis has worked as a journalist for The BBC, Buzzfeed, Bloody Disgusting, and numerous other outlets. In 2020, she and Blake Howard released the podcast miniseries Josie and the Podcats, examining the history and legacy of the 2001 Josie and the Pussycats movie, which went from box office bomb to cult classic.
“A significant chunk of my 2020 and 2021 was spent working on an audio documentary green lit by Nova Podcasts called The Phantom Never Dies,” Lewis told her fans via newsletter, adding, “It’s a limited series – so six episodes and then we’re out – and myself and Elise Cooper dip into the history of the world’s first superhero, The Phantom. If you’re Aussie, Indian, or Swedish, the Phantom is probably a character that’s still very important to you. For everyone else, he’s a character time kind of forgot especially when you consider he predates Superman, Wonder Woman, you name it! Through multiple lockdowns, pandemic shut downs, inter-state and international conversations, we dived into the pop culture etymology of a character that once clamped the Nazis, inspired multiple resistance movements, was so popular Batman was created to copy him and much, much more . It’s a pulpy deep dive that we’ve worked on for so long so can’t wait for Phans to have a listen.”
For most Americans, unless you pay attention to the strip, it’s likely that your most recent experience with The Phantom was the 1996 Billy Zane film based on him, which just missed the start of the X-Men/Spider-Man/Blade-inspired revival of non-Batman superhero movies.
New episodes of The Phantom Never Dies started airing on February 15, so you can subscribe to it on your podcast platform of choice now and dig in.
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