is an American adventure comic strip created by Lee Falk, also
creator of Mandrake the Magician. A popular feature adapted into
many media, including television, film and video games, it stars
a costumed crimefighter operating from the fictional African
The Phantom is the 21st in a line of crimefighters that
originated in 1536, when the father of British sailor
Christopher Walker was killed during a pirate attack. Swearing
an oath to fight evil on the skull of his father's murderer,
Christopher started the legacy of the Phantom that would be
passed from father to son, leaving people to give the mysterious
figure nicknames such as "The Ghost Who Walks", The Man Who
Cannot Die and Guardian of the Eastern Dark, believing him to be
Unlike many fictional costumed heroes, the Phantom does not have
supernatural powers of any kind, but relies on his strength,
intellect and fearsome reputation of being an immortal ghost to
defeat his opponents. The 21st Phantom is married to Diana
Palmer, whom he met as a child while studying in the United
States, and the couple have two children together, Kit and
Heloise. Like all previous Phantoms, he lives in the ancient
Skull Cave, and also has a trained wolf, Devil, and the horse
The series began with a daily newspaper strip on February 17,
1936, followed by a color Sunday strip on May 28, 1939; both are
still running as of 2011. At the peak of its popularity, the
strip was read by over 100 million people each day.
Lee Falk continued work on The Phantom until his death in 1999.
Today the comic strip is produced by writer Tony DePaul and
artists Paul Ryan (Monday-Saturday) and Eduardo Barreto
(Sunday). Previous artists on the newspaper strip include Ray
Moore, Wilson McCoy, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, George Olesen,
Keith Williams, Fred Fredericks, and Graham Nolan.
New Phantom stories are also published in comic books in
different parts of the world, among them by Dynamite
Entertainment in USA, Egmont in Sweden, Norway and Finland, and
Frew Publications in Australia.
The Phantom was the first fictional hero to wear the skintight
costume that has become a hallmark of comic book superheroes,
and the first depicted wearing a mask with no visible pupils,
another superhero standard.