Friday, April 20, 2012

The Ghost Of Pat Boyette!


When Charlton took on the King Features characters, they developed comics for Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, and of course Lee Falk's The Phantom. The former two lasted briefly, but The Phantom found real success in the market. The early issues of Charlton's Phantom are very well regarded as Jim Aparo was brought aboard to draw the character and he gave the world a Phantom they'd never seen before, sleek and sophisticated and which ran for eight issues.

But like both Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, the artist who eventually got the nod to draw the strip was Pat Boyette, and fans still dispute how effective his take on The Ghost Who Walks was. I personally like it, but then I like most of the stuff Boyette did. In some ways, Boyette's Phantom is a glimpse of what it might have looked like if Milt Caniff had drawn character, though of course Boyette had his own distinctive style which departed from his clear inspiration.

Whatever the case, King Features was not happy ultimately with the choice and in fact in at least one interview Boyette has said he wouldn't have selected him for the job, as he considered his style to idiosyncratic. As a result of the displeasure, a youngster named Don Newton was given the nod to draw the Phantom which he did for seven issues.

Boyette drew the most issues of any artist at Charlton, but sadly his work is overshadowed by both Newton and Aparo. But for three years, from 1970 to 1973 for twenty-one consecutive issues, it was Pat Boyette's Phantom who walked across the newsstands. Like Aparo, Boyette did the full artwork and the lettering too, so it creates a specific atmosphere for each comic unlike anything else on the stands by any other artist. You are all in with Boyette, either you like or you don't.

Here's a glimpse at the covers Boyette did for the character.





















Here are a few Boyette Phantom splash pages.





And here is the first page of a Phantom story. Here is a link to the full feature.


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6 comments:

  1. There were at least 38 issues of the Phantom at Charlton?! That blows my mind since all the other Charlton hero comics you've talked about didn't have half that many issues. What were Charlton's best selling comics? Was the Phantom one of them?

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  2. when I was a kid, I loved Pat Boyette. he's one of the most under-rated artists I can think of. he's the artist I automatically think of whenever Charlton gets mentioned, even over Tom Sutton, Joe Staton, and the Steve Ditko stuff. thanks for these.

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  3. Dave - Right off the top of my head, I'd guess the best selling Charlton book started with the work "Fightin'". I'd imagine either the war books or the romance books were the top sellers. But it's worth researching.

    Joe - I fell in love with Boyette right away, even as a kid and I've never been able to see what folks have against him. His work is downright unique and beautiful to boot. Some of his painted covers go beyond mere illustration and get close to fine art in my estimation.

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  4. Make that the "word "Fightin'"! Sheesh I can't spell.

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  5. Dave - I found some numbers for Phantom and it was far and away the best-selling book for Charlton in 1969 with over 190,000 in sales. The next closest books were the war books and they were in the 150,000 range, so Phantom had to be seen as a bonafide bonanza when it hit. I'm guessing sales went down, but I'll have to research some more. I smell a future post.

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  6. Cool, thanks for doing the research. I always figured that Charlton did those short runs of books cause they kept looking for another big hit book and were never happy with the sale they got.

    So, I suspected that "The Phantom" must have sold like hot cakes for them to keep going, but my assumptions and $2 will get me on the subway... So, can't wait to read the future post about Charlton sales.

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