He was the world's first masked superhero to feature in comics and continues to be the most popular in the genre despite, or possibly because of, his absence of super powers. Now The Phantom comic book character has inspired an art show for the truly young at heart, a nostalgic, surprising and fun exhibition that celebrates the evolution of a unique heroic character over the past 80 years.
The Phantom Art Show is on display at Tweed Regional Gallery from 9 December 2016 to 26 February 2017. More than 40 artists have contributed their various interpretations of the 'Ghost Who Walks', through a variety of media and styles. Participating artists include Charles Blackman, Kevin Connor, Elisabeth Cummings, Reg Mombassa, Euan Macleod, Paul Ryan, Garry Shead and Greg Weight.
When Lee Falk created The Phantom in 1936 he was the first costumed 'superhero', followed soon after by Superman (1938) and Batman (1939). The same year that the 'Ghost Who Walks' first walked, Gone with the Wind was published, the Queen Mary set sail on her maiden voyage, German boxer Max Schmeling defeated African American Joe Louis, Hitler presided over the opening of the Berlin Olympics and the US was just beginning to emerge from the Great Depression.
According to exhibition co-curators Peter Kingston and Dietmar Lederwasch: "This exhibition is dedicated to the first two Phantom artists, Ray Moore and Wilson McCoy. Us Phantom artists grew up before the digital age, when comics were king: Superman, Batman, Nancy and Sluggo, The Little King, Captain Marvel … but none resonate like the Phantom. Youthful obsessions with him linger, taking root in impressionable consciousness and refusing to budge."
In an essay written for the exhibition catalogue, Matthew Holle writes: "Why The Phantom? Why not Superman? Or Batman? Why does a comic book character created prior to World War II still resonate strongly with so many generations nearly 80 years later? Is the appeal just an antipodean anomaly or something more? Could any other fictional comic book character so easily attract so many artists to reinterpret his image in an exhibition?"
Everyone is invited to an official opening of the exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery by Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST on Saturday 10 December 2016. Join special guest The Phantom (and his true love Diana Palmer) for this celebration.
On Sunday 11 December at 11am DST, Curator and artist Peter Kingston will share his thoughts during a talk titled The Phantom - The Enigma of the Ghost Who Walks. All are welcome to join the discussion and play the giant Phantom Snakes and Ladders game.
As a special treat, the Gallery will host Phantom Fridays for Families from 10.30am - noon DST on 13 and 20 January 2017. Join a special kid's tour through the exhibition. Use your superhero powers to investigate the artworks closely, flick through our comics and make Phantom-inspired art. Feel free to wear your superhero costume or play dress up with our Phantom suits!