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.
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”.
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!!