Monday, January 23, 2012

The Phantom


Over four-hundred years ago, a large British merchantman was attacked by Singg pirates off the remote shores of Bangalia.  The captain of the trading vessel was a famous seafarer who, in his youth, had served as cabin boy to Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to discover the New Word.  With the captain, was his son Kit, a strong young man who idolized his father and hoped to follow in his footsteps as a seafarer.  But the pirate attack was disastrous.  In a furious battle, the entire crew of the merchantman was killed and the ship sank in flames.  The sole survivor was young Kit, who, as he fell off the burning ship, saw his father killed by a pirate.  Kit was washed ashore, half dead, and friendly pygmies found him and nursed him to health.
Walking on the beach one day, he found a dead pirate dressed in his father’s clothes, and realized this was the pirate who had killed his father.  Grief-stricken, he waited until vultures had stripped the body clean.  Then, on the skull of his father’s murderer, he swore an oath by firelight as the friendly pygmies watched.  “I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty, and in justice, and sons and their sons shall follow me.”
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And thus we come to an exciting day in the life of the twentieth generation of Phantoms; the birth of a boy baby.  It is this boy baby who will grow up to become the twentieth generation of Phantoms, the Phantom of our day, whose adventures we know and follow.  And the tale we are about to tell is his story as he grows from that baby boy in the mysterious Man Who Cannot Die, the Ghost Who Walks – the Phantom.
                                                          from The Story of The Phantom
                                                          A novel by Lee Falk
Lee Falk began writing and drawing The Phantom comic strip in 1936.  When he died, in 1999, he was still telling the story of The Phantom.  The Phantom comic strip continues to run today.  From 1972 to 1975, Lee Falk, and four friends, all internationally renowned authors, recorded the legend of The Phantom in fifteen novels. 
The Phantom is the reason you’re reading this.  I was born in 1942.  One of my earliest memories is sitting in my Daddy’s lap, every day, while he read the latest adventure of The Phantom to me.  At least once during each daily session, my mother would call out from the kitchen, “Bert, you shouldn’t read that to him.  He’s too young.
In 1946, my younger brother was born.  With more demands on his time and the constant criticism from my mother for reading The Phantom to me, our daily sessions came to an end.  But there was no way I’d give up The Phantom.  I learned to read.  As a byproduct of learning to read, I learned to write.  That’s why The Phantom is the reason we are sharing this moment.
The Phantom is testimony to the power of storytellers in our life.  I’m a storyteller, the real oldest profession in the world, and I’m proud to be one.  This site is a series of stories, snapshots of my life and work.  Thanks for taking the time to walk along my path, with me, and The Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks.


Welcome to my Skull Cave….          

10 comments:

  1. Wow...just realized...I could belong to two of the oldest professions! Glad I chose the write one (wink).
    Thanks for sharing your inspiration, Bert.

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    1. Mary Katheryn,
      You made the right choice and you made the first comment on the first post on my new blog.
      Thanks my friend.
      Bert

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  2. The Phantom - great reason for writing. More children should read comic strips or be read to by parents.

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    1. David,
      We have a day job that takes us into to day care centers (taking portraits of the children). I know for a fact, a child will put down their high tech toy to hear someone reading a book or telling a story.
      Thanks for the comment my friend.
      Bert

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  3. What a wonderful story, Bert! We usually never know what particular impetus spurs a writer to do what he/she does. Thank you for this peek into your beginnings as a wordsmith!!

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    1. Here's another peek - when I did start to school, it was only with great protest. If I'd been bigger they would have never made me do it. After all, I knew how to read, what was school going to do for me. The first few times mother walked me to school and by running down the alleys I was home before her. After a few spankings I figured, what the hell, I have my lunch in my Phantom lunchbox, I'll just go across the street from the school, sit down in the alley, read a book, eat my sandwich, and go home when the last bell rings. Of course my first grade teacher, Miss Tillman, saw me. She didn't call my mother. Instead she walked across the street and told me that if I would come inside I could stop by her house after school and play with her two dogs.
      Don't know where I'd have been without Miss Tillman and her two Scotties.

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you very much - sorry about tweaking it when you were on it - now I know what redirect means and I won't do that anymore.

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  5. I grew up with the Phantom, the Shadow, Mandrake the Magician, Batman - these were my favorites. No super powers. Just mortals, fighting the bad guys with brains and courage. Thanks for the insight into another hero - a mere mortal who could conceive of such things...

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    1. Jack,
      I've never read Mandrake - I've been trying to find an old book - no luck so far, but the hunt continues.
      Thanks for the comment my friend.
      Bert

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