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Frontispiece art:
Mark P. Steele, pencils & coloring
John Kovach, inks
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Click here for a vintage Fantom of the Fair adventure from 1940!
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One of the earliest comic book costumed adventurers, the Fantom of the Fair premiered in Amazing Mystery Funnies Vol 2 #7 (Whole #11), July 1939, Centaur Publications. Set at the New York World's Fair, the Fantom fought threats to the Fair and, during the time between the 1939 and 1940 Fair seasons, traveled in a series of stories set outside the Fair. He was often shown during these 'outside' stories in a simple suit, with a hat brim hiding his features.

Originally clad in an all-black hood & body suit, with a purple cape, the Fantom soon adopted an open faced cowl and red cape around the close of the 1939 Fair season. Though seldom displayed with overt powers, the Fantom demonstrated the ability to tamper with people's memories in his initial appearance.

Other skills displayed included a high level of acrobatic ability, boxing, wrestling, and other fighting skills. In his first appearance, the Fantom also used secret trap doors placed around the Fair to convince people that he could pass through walls and disappear.

Though the identity of the Fantom was never revealed, his 1st adventure showed a workman who had found an ancient book beneath the Fairgrounds that indicated that the Fantom was a spirit that had lived in Iceland 1000 years ago.

The Fantom was also the first of comics' masked adventurers to be shown with a subterranean headquarters.

Created by Paul Gustavson, who had previously created the Arrow for Centaur, the Fantom of the Fair appeared in Amazing Mystery Comics until Vol 3 # 8 (Whole #24), Sept., 1940, the final issue, where he was called Fantoman. His adventures were reprinted in Amazing Adventures #1, June, 1940, and in Fantoman #'s 2-4, Aug.-Dec. 1940, before he disappeared entirely. His series replaced one called Skyrocket Steele, Bill Everett's first comic series. Other artists on the series included Frank Thomas, Harry Sahle, and writer George Kapitan.

The Fantom of the Fair was inspired at least in part by the Phantom of the Opera, as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Sr. A sound version of Chaney's POTO movie had been released in 193X.

HISTORICAL NOTES: The July 1939 cover date of the Fantom's 1st appearance is shared by the Masked Marvel at Centaur in Keen Detective Funnies V. 2 # 7 (Whole #11), the Flame at Fox in Wonderworld Comics #3, and the Sandman at DC in Adventure Comics # 40 (though, arguably & appropriately, World's Fair Comics may be his actual 1st appearance).

The original Fantom of the Fair has inspired such characters as DC's Phantom of the Fair, in the Sandman's Secret Origins story in the late 1980's and in Sandman Mystery Theater, and Gravestone in Malibu's Protectors series.

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Update: Mar 09, 2002 5:16a GMT
Web Author: James Allen
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