Sunday, October 03, 2010

Phantom nostalgia

I happened to watch some parts of the movie,“Phantom”, starring Billy Zane on TV. And suddenly I became nostalgic for the “real” Phantom---the comic book one, by Lee Falk. A long time ago, there was this magazine called The Illustrated Weekly of India. And every issue had half a page of the Phantom comic. It would be a serialised story and I could hardly wait from one Sunday to the next. The wonder and the flights of fancy that the words and illustrations brought about ! The Phantom, wearing a purple body suit, with black (leather?) briefs worn over it. The briefs had holsters too. And he wore a mask over the eyes. And his features were chiselled.
The world of the Pygmy Bandar--- the little people with the poison arrows, faithful only to the Phantom. The world behind the waterfall. The skull cave. The table mountain. The treasure caves-minor and major. The minor one had merely gold and jewels. The major one had Alexander’s drinking cup (hollowed out of a huge diamond if I remember right), the preserved asp that bit Cleopatra, the cup of poison that Socrates was given, and so on. Then there was the jade hut, and the golden sands of Keela-wi, which was real gold dust. And Phantom’s horse Hero, and his dog which was really a wolf, Devil. Sometimes when the need arose, the Phantom went to the city, dressed in ordinary clothes, and an overcoat and dark glasses to hide his masked face. Devil would be by his side. Invariably, he would be stopped by a train/ boat attendant---- “Sorry Sir, no dogs allowed,” he would say. And then Phantom would say nonchalantly, “Oh that’s all right---he’s not a dog---(pause)---he’s a wolf.”
I could go on, but I’ll do that next time. Until then, “Phantom moves faster than the eye can see----old jungle saying.”


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