by Rolf Gohs
- The Floating Coffin
- Script: Norman Worker
- Art: Kari Leppänen
- First published in Fantomen Nr.11/1979 by Semic, Sweden (now called Egmont) with the title Under Sails of Danger. Original cover shown on the left, thanks to Phantom Kingdom.
- Message from the Publisher:
Another Golden Oldie from the Egmont archives! The Floating Coffin, by Norman Worker and master artist Kari Leppänen, first appeared in Scandinavia in 1979 and makes its first Australian appearance in this Frew edition.
In part, this adventure pinpoints the marriage of the 16th Phantom to Asta Jensen, a passenger on the clipper, "Barracuda", which is attacked by pirates.
I hasten to point out that the name of the wife of the 16th Phantom was never revealed by Phantom creator Lee Falk!
[Comment from Guran: Sorry Jim, but that's not correct. In Lee Falk's 1994 daily story The Phantom Cowboy (Frew #1092), the 16th Phantom married Annie Morgan. It should be noted, however, that this story appeared 15 years after the Swedish story, and hence Asta Jensen is still regarded as the 16th Phantom's wife according to Egmont lore.]
Writer Norman Worker worked up this possible scenario with or without the approval of Lee. Early in the story, Worker tells us that Asta's father was a Copenhagen merchant and presuming he and his family were born in or near that area, that makes Asta of Danish extraction. I like Worker's idea!
It remains a shame that creator Lee Falk never identified the wives of all the 21 Phantoms. If you delve into his output of Phantom stories, you will never be able to find the names of so many wives! Some are identified simply as a "French Queen", a "Maharajah's Daughter" or, for example, "an opera singer in Rome" (presumably, Italian). Not a hint was ever given about the name or nationality of the 5th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th wives.
So, bear in mind that Worker's nomination of Asta Jensen as the 16th wife cannot be regarded as official. All the known "facts" of all the Phantoms are only to be found in Lee Falk's stories!
I know you will enjoy The Floating Coffin! Kari Leppänen's artwork is superb and Worker's script is perfectly constructed to maintain suspense and arrive at an exciting, believable and satisfactory climax.
We have one more adventure from yesteryear before we return to the series based on the saga of The Phantom's first year as The Ghost Who Walks. In our next edition, on sale 22 October, we will feature another previously unpublished story entitled, The Ambassador. This adventure was written by the current Swedish publisher of The Phantom (or Fantomen as it is known in that country), Ulf Granberg. The plot deals with The Phantom meeting (and ultimately, rescuing) Benjamin Franklin, the American probably best known for his experiments with lightning and electricity, but who also packed into his amazing life, a starring role in the American War of Independence and the invention of such diverse items as bifocal spectacles and a cooking oven, the principles of which are still in use today! The Ambassador is largely based on historical fact, but creator Granberg has injected many fictitious elements into his script to give the adventure extra impetus. I won't spoil the thrills and the fun by revealing any of them just yet. Read the Message From The Publisher in Frew #1398 and I promise all will be revealed! The art, by Jaime Vallvé, is best described as being of vintage style (but fascinating) and Granberg's script takes us from North America to France and England - and back to France again! The main cast has a busy time both on land and at sea!
Always assuming the stories are ready on time, we will return to the first year in the life of The Phantom in Frew #1399 which will go on sale on 5 November. There are two, perhaps three, episodes to come in a series which has generated enormous interest.