Jun 22, 2010

A collection that gives me a bad taste!!

long wait has finally come to an end.

I am talking about the promised Phantom collection from Hermes Press. For the first time in history the Phantom would get his own complete collection in his own country, in fact in the rest of the world as well.
Already back in February 2009 we could read the following:

Hermes Press will collect the complete run of daily and Sunday The Phantom newspaper strips, beginning with a first volume of dailies in September.
The full project will collect over 70 years of The Phantom, from the original Lee Falk and Ray Moore strips that began in 1936, to the Sy Barry strips from 1994.
Because the daily and Sunday strips ran in two different continuities, Hermes plans three volumes of dailies each year, and one volume of Sundays collecting five years of the strip in full color.

The Phantom the Complete Newspaper Dailies: Volume One 1936-1938, the first volume in the series, will street on September 30th at $39.99. The 320-page 9” x 11.75” landscape format hardcover, with deluxe dustjacket and endpapers and 100# matte finish coated stock paper, will include a 16 page color section with an introduction by Ron Goulart.
Press proofs will be used as the primary originals for the reprints, with special care taken with the Sundays.
“Hermes Press will digitally recolor all of the Sundays so our complete version of The Phantom will be the definitive version of the most important action/adventure strip ever,” Hermes Publisher Daniel Herman said.

Well, today I got the book. Not back in September, and not 1936-1938. The first disappointments were the delays, and then we got the message that the first volume would be some smaller than first expected.
Well, fans can wait for the ultimate collection of their hero! But did we get that?? I have now been looking through parts of the book. And will shortly give my opinion, let me first show what Dan said some weeks ago.

Hi, Dan Herman from Hermes Press here. I know many of you have been patiently waiting for The Phantom V.1, well, the wait's over. First, as many of you already know we were unable to obtain press proofs for the first two continuities of The Phantom V.1, The Singh Brotherhood and The Sky Band. Our solution was to get (this means borrow and purchase) tear sheets, scan them, take the best panels from each of the examples we had and reconstruct each strip using the microfilm copies of the proofs on file at King Features. I know what you're thinking, why not use the microfilms?
They're damaged, scratched and not adequate to reproduce a book from BUT they can be used as a guide to make sure everything is accurate. So the The Phantom was finished at the end of January; we premiered it WonderCon and sent copies to various people for comment. Everyone who has it is ecstatic.

Well, I wonder about that!
By the first look at the strips some facts was clear. The strips are small, with that size we should have got three strips pr. Page instead of two. Also, I have the book from Frew Australia and the strips look very similar, my guess is that Dan just borrowed the source from them and scanned them, fast and simple, with no “care taking” for every panel and/or strip. It is a guess of course, but I have some indicia that make my guess not so wrong I think. I found an “error”, not an error from scanning, but a “bad editing” done by Frew when they published the first time some years ago.

Surprisely enough the error was not in the two first stories, but in the third one. I got the impression that Dan had proofs from that one.

From Hermes Press

The old Frew-version

By looking at that example alone it is clear to me that the publisher did not spend hours examine the strips against news prints, or use proofs. This “error” is done by Frew in their edition alone, so at least that strip is from their print and not their “original”.

The closes we have to the original.

I don’t blame a publisher for putting out a collection with a few “errors” when the original material is bad and it is hard to find a better strip to use.
But I do not care about a publisher bragging about how much care they have for the material and how nice it ends up to be. I simply want the truth from a publisher and not lies when everything turns out to be a bit “not so high class”!!
In the end I will say, the book is nice. There are some articles. We get a collection with the three first stories, and that is good. My regret is that when a publisher start on such work, and promise us a definitive collection of high class art (reproduction) and caretaking to make everything right.
I have all these strips from Frew and other simpler (but correct) collections, but I would had bought the new books simply to make sure I get the best in my book shelve, but a collection made in a hurry, with errors copied from Frew is nothing to collect.
I have not looked for more errors, this one is more than enough for me!!

I had also been hoping for a bit better reprint of some panels that came bad out in the Frew print back in 1996, but no. These are the same. It is clear that the “looking around for the best” statement from Dan is pure nonsense.

Sorry Dan, this is not good enough!!


  1. Anonymous2:44 PM

    More observations for the aforementioned catastrophic strip in the Hermes book, volume 1:

    1. The wide gap in the middle of the strip between the first two panels and the rest betrays [i]immediately[/i] that someone has tinkered with the strip (in this case to provide space for a moved speech balloon from the right to the extreme left).

    2. The last panel has been clipped into two! (originally this was done to preserve the Frew comic book layout, as described above). The tell-tale sign here is that the second of the two "manufactured" panels contains no text or sensible visual information whatsoever (a pathetic by-product of the aforementioned clipping). A common, and very bad, mistake amongst trigger-happy editors.

  2. Dan Herman3:43 PM

    I'm glad to hear that just about everyone is really charged up and enthusiastic about our new Phantom reprint. Everybody, of course, but
    Ivan. The world's squeaky wheel. Well, folks, Ivan hated our reprint before we announced we were doing it. He hated it when we said we
    were going to do it, we took too long, and he knew he was going to hate it when it came out. When he got his copy, guess what? He hated
    it. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Now through some nasty and petulant posts on this list Ivan tried to engage me to argue. Won't happen. I'm going to write this post and get back to work. Ivan will fume and dare me to respond but I'm 53 years old, I've been around, I've dealt with bullies, and I'm not going to engage. This morning I got a post from Ivan showing what purports to be the strip printed on page 224 of our Phantom reprint. Wrong. A little fairness and truth would be nice Ivan; the strip on the top in your example is NOT the strip in the book. Guys, compare the two, you will see the strip on the bottom of Ivan's example is different for our bottom strip on page 224 but our version is not the one on the top of his xample. We didn't just scan the Frew strip and put it into our book. Our strip is a variation on both and is a composite from the material we
    collected. Shame on you Ivan for misrepresenting what is in our book! Shame, shame, shame. Now the Michigan State University proofs start on page 234 and book Two has all material directly from the MSU proofs. So, that's it guys, I"m through with this "thread" and Ivan;
    I'm really growing bored with your whining, so

    I'm switching channels, Best to all (including Ivan), Dan Herman

  3. Hi
    Well, hard words from a publisher who did not like the truth. Well he has one thing right, I did not use the scan from his book, but a very close one, from Frew. Well I have corrected it now, and also put up a scan from another publisher who did it right!

    Wonder why Dan did not ask him for help! :)

    Well, Dan can call me what ever he like, the fact remind, there is an error in a book he spent very long time on promised it would be the best there is!

  4. Anonymous12:45 AM

    I'm really disappointed. Please see this post (in italian, but with english translation on the bottom):

  5. I am no expert or anywhere close, but I am really glad to know about the error.
    Of course I wont buy it, I prefer to wait.

  6. Anonymous2:41 PM

    This book was a disappointment. The excessive whitespace between the strips was a distraction... I can only think the more than two strips will appear per page as the strip shrinks in subsequent years. If not, this book's dimensions should've been better planned out.

    Further--and this applies to Hermes' Buck Rogers books--the graphic design is pedestrian to the point of being distracting. Way too much empty blue space (especially on the Sundays Buck book), and a strange fascination with Impact as the font really make for collections that look like they were done by a first-year art student. The black text on a dark blue background on the dustjackets should've been corrected as well. Some paragraphs were indented on the Buck Sundays dj, and some were not. Again, sloppy.

    Perhaps the recent Terry & the Pirates books have spoiled me, but after a year delay on these, I expected such issues to not exist. At least they look better than their Star Hawks collection...

  7. Anonymous9:16 AM

    This is the best collection of early Phantom strips ever released. It has several errors. These are facts, and not a contradiction. Since no proofs exist for the first two and a half stories, it is a painstaking process to put these stories together in the first place, and to have it "error free" is something near impossible for any book, let alone one of this kind! Other publishers of strip reprints (Peanuts, Rip Kirby, Dick Tracy) have had errors in their reprints - and have received fair critisism for the errors but still deserved praise for the books and series on a whole. Among some Phantom fans, the understanding for errors seem to be very low despite knowing the background, and one error is more than enough to wish the book had never been published at all.

    There are individual strips that can be found of higher quality in other reprints - thus, this book could have been better. I was still apalled that several of the comments pointing out errors have used words like "catastrophic", "terrible" etc. When strips where proof sheets couldn't be used are not perfect, and the whole book, series and publisher are deemed "terrible" and all of us "losers" I just think all sense of proportion has been lost. Hey, we are getting a chronological reprint of the Phantom newspaper strips! In hardback, large format, and proofs used wherever available! I certainly don't feel like a loser when I'm holding this in my hand. Some might see me as not being a big enough fan of the Phantom, I see it as being too much of a fan to not like it. I am also more of a reader than a collector, so I have actually used this book mainly to read the stories, and not seen it as a collection of newspaper strips that might aswell have been a collection of stamps. As a book for readers, it's a wonderful book I highly recommend. For strip collectors who want every dot and line to be in the exact right spot, I guess I won't recommend it.

  8. Anonymous9:17 AM

    ... continuing
    I had expected those with such interest in strip restoration and corrections to offer their assistance to Hermes the minute the series was announced - and Hermes did ask publicly for assistance in interviews published here on CC for example: "We can't do this without the assistance of the Phantom fan community". With all the delays, there was plenty of time to do so. Some who have voiced their complaints the loudest now (not necessarily in this thread) are those I had expected to volunteer to be at least proof readers, if not suppliers of material. The more important a thing like this is for a person, the more important it would be to participate early in the process, right? The time spent after the book came out to find errors could have been spent before the book came out. I mean, we are talking about reprinting Phantom strips here. It's not a huge publishing giant with enormous resources catering to millions of buyers and getting rich in the process. It's an enthusiastic publisher doing their best to bring a good product to dedicated fans, who compared to fans of many other comic strips are small in number. We are all, publishers and active fans on the Internet, pretty much on a first name basis with each other. It's non an anonyomous mass of people on either side.

    I have only seen Dan from Hermes respond publicly to one provocative review, and he didn't say that no errors existed but that the strip in question was not taken from Frew as speculated, instead it was assembled from several sources of material they had collected. That no proofs existed for the first stories has been mentioned in interviews, messages from Hermes (posted on CC several times) and in the book itself. And in all the fuss about the strips with errors, we seem to be forgetting that the strips we find correct now, may have had many errors that were fixed before the book even reached us.

    I agree that for a second edition of the first volume, it would be nice if these errors could be fixed based on suggestions and help from fans. But will there ever be a way of reprinting these early strips and make everyone happy? And does the knowledge of that make people who could be of assistance stay away from being part of the process to avoid being a participant in a book that is bound to be critisized no matter what?

  9. At last we got words from a major speaker of the Phantom in Sweden, and also a profiled member of the "Scandinavian Chapter", typical enough posted in CC where the person know he will not get any debate from me since honest opinions are not welcome in that forum:

    First of, I think Andreas has kept his head in the sand for some time, and are assuming to much.

    As I have said in several posts, I am willing to "forgive" Dan for every error, as the book is indeed nice enough. But Dan has shown no interest in discussing this and his first words were denials and "no errors exist"!!

    What do Andreas know about the "offer of help" part?? Should such be done in a public forum?? I have never denied to lend a helping hand, in fact I was asked from Dan what I got of strips, and told him very politely, but did not get a word back. Well, no wrong in that, but I have not been refusing anything. Anyway, why offer help to a person who tell us about all the nice proofs he has and how well the book will be?? I admit I may have been a bit naive here, but I actually did believe Dan.

    Dan clime my reviews is about hate from the start!! How wrong can a person be?? If there is a reason other than wanting to review a new publication it is disappointment and perhaps a bit anger for destroying such a fine collection where there is no need to.

    Finally, I have never said Dan copied from Frew. But it is clear that Frew is the only place you see such an "error", and it looks like Dan had something from Frew. Of course it is not copied, but ...!!!

    About the reading of the book!! Well, reading the strips in a nice way have been possible for more than 10 years, now it was time for a correct collection edition.

    And I think it is sad that Egmont Sweden listen to Andreas and co, and deny the errors in the book. Even the "title" stating that the books have a year more than it has has not been changed. And no words about the errors on their forums, why I wonder???

    I was hoping, but not expecting Andreas to be brave enough to publish his opinion in a forum where everyone could answer, and not where he knew that any disagreement would not exist because of the banning policy of Dougy and his pack!!

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