Kari Tapio Leppänen commenced work on his first Phantom story in 1978 for the Swedish magazine Fantomen, published by Semic Press (now Egmont). He has been a regular contributor of Phantom stories over the last 20 odd years, producing a total of 59 stories so far.
After receiving the script for a new story from Fantomen chief editor, Ulf Granberg, Kari has a very free hand to illustrate the story. During his 20 years with Semic / Egmont, he has met only one of the scriptwriters, Norman Worker, and has virtually no contact with any of the other writers. The scripts are usually written in English (Kari is Finnish and does not speak Swedish but can read it), and after reading through it once, Kari's first step is to plan the story in pages, deciding how many panels per page and their overall layout. He then begins with the first page, usually pencilling without the use of a rough. An example of a rough and a pencilled page is shown here. Once about 10 pencilled pages are completed, Kari then starts to ink them. This picture shows the types of pens and brushes that he uses for inking. In the past, the thinnest pen Kari used was 0.15 but this has now changed to 0.2, resulting in a noticeably heavier inking style. After the first 10 pages are completed, he then repeats the process until the whole story is finished. A Phantom story of 30 pages or so takes him about two months to complete. Kari typically works five hours per day, a little in the morning and then later at night, most days of the week. He can produce about one page per day, but there are times when deadlines are pressing and he can finish two pages per day. Despite this busy schedule, Kari has created several other adventure stories for Semic / Egmont, such as Xellana, Achilles Wiggen, and Death Game. He usually works on a couple of stories at the same time in order to make the deadlines and to maintain his interest.
Kari has taken on the role of scripting his own stories in recent times. The first story that he wrote entirely himself was The Ring of Death, published in late 1998. Some small changes to the script were made by Ulf Granberg, but it was essentially Leppänen's creation, and he is especially proud of his effort. Consequently, he was not too impressed when Frew did not give him credit for the script when they printed the story in #1211 and #1212. Obviously just a misunderstanding, but hopefully, Kari will not be too disheartened and will continue to script and illustrate Phantom stories in the future.
A complete index of all Kari Leppänen's Phantom stories is listed below in order of their first publication. The corresponding issue numbers for Fantomen (Sweden), Fantomet (Norway), and Frew's The Phantom (Australia) are included. Some stories have been reprinted in subsequent issues, but these details are not given. Story titles are translated from the original Swedish titles, and where different, the titles used by Frew are given in parentheses.
|1||The False Prince||32||Worker||3/1979||12/1979||1351|
|2||Under the Flag of Perils (*** see note)||32||Worker||11/1979||20/1979|
|3||The Flute of Death||32||Avenell||19/1979||3/1980|
|4||The Treasure from Rhodes||32||Worker||6/1980||15/1980|
|5||The Pirate Inheritance||32||Avenell||22/1980||4/1981||891A|
|6||The Fishing War||32||Worker||2/1981||11/1981|
|7||The Circus Murderer||32||Avenell||22/1981||5/1982||891A|
|8||The Death's Head Mark||34||Worker||7/1982||16/1982|
|10||The Diamonds of Death (Lost on the Phantom Trail)||32||Pelerin||24/1982||6/1983||838|
|12||The Ghost Comet||32||Kharelli||16/1983||26/1983|
|13||Hero's Death Sentence||23||Darell||20/1983||4/1984||1032|
|14||The Malicious Messenger||36||Worker||4/1984||20/1984|
|15||The Snake Ring||32||Darell||14/1984||2/1985|
|16||The First Phantom||36||Tierres||25/1984||10/1985||1051|
|17||The Golden Snake (*** see note)||15||Kharelli/Redno||5-14/1985||4-19/1986|
|18||The Temple Treasure (*** see note)||24||Granberg||9/1985||21/1985|
|19||Return of The Scorpia (*** see note)||32||Worker||18/1985||3/1986||872A|
|21||Duel in Venice||25||Worker||9/1986||20/1986||937|
|22||Battle on Malta||26||Worker||10/1986||21/1986||938|
|23||The Pirate Hunt||30||Worker||17/1986||3/1987|
|26||Forest of Horrors||30||Worker||10/1987||22/1987||924|
|27||The Junky (*** see note)||28||Worker||20/1987||15/1989|
|28||The King is Dead||45||Worker||26/1987||14/1988||1032|
|29||The Golden Rune Mystery Pt.1: Pirates of the Arctic||32||Worker||16/1988||1/1989||940|
|30||The Golden Rune Mystery Pt.2: The Garden of Death||32||Worker||17/1988||2/1989||941|
|31||The Raid in Sanloi||32||Tierres||24/1988||7/1989||948|
|32||The Secret of the Valley of Wamballa||32||Worker||5/1989||16/1989||958A|
|33||The Last Unicorn||32||Worker||9/1989||19/1989||961|
|35||Tirangi's Burial Ground||28||Borgnes||1/1990||12/1990||965A|
|36||The Test (*** see note)||25||Worker||5/1993||9/1993||1032|
|37||Death of a Patrolman Pt.1||28||Avenell||25/1990||5/1991||987|
|38||Death of a Patrolman Pt.2: Tracking the Killers||28||Avenell||6/1991||13/1991||988|
|39||The Doomsday Weapon||28||Worker||1/1992||5/1992||1010|
|40||Secret of the Colossus Pt.1 (Curse of the Granite God) (*** see note)||32||Goodall||13/1992||17/1992||1024|
|41||Secret of the Colossus Pt.2 (Curse of the Granite God) (*** see note)||32||Goodall||14/1992||18/1992||1025|
|42||The Witch Hunt||34||Goodall||20/1992||25/1992||1046|
|43||Mombutu - The Power of Evil||32||de Paul||4/1993||8/1993||1046|
|44||The Ibis Mystery Pt.1: The Evil Paradise||30||Worker||21/1993||26/1993||1064|
|45||The Ibis Mystery Pt.2: Kazcim Master of the Dumb||30||Worker||22/1993||1/1994||1065|
|46||The Ibis Mystery Pt.3: Scarface||30||Worker||23/1993||2/1994||1066|
|47||The Ibis Mystery Pt.4: At the Edge of the Grave||28||Worker||24/1993||3/1994||1067|
|48||The Doomsday Mountain (*** see note)||30||Moberg||3/1994||SP/1997||1077|
|50||The Commander is Dead||33||Avenell||16/1994||22/1994||1091|
|51||Murder in Mind||30||de Paul||25/1994||5/1995|
|52||The Golden Falcon||33||Worker||11/1995||17/1995||1121|
|53||Gullique - The Island of Doom (*** see note)||24||Falk||17/1995||SP/1996||1127|
|54||The Devil's Gentleman (Public Enemy Number One)||30||Reimerthi||24/1995||SP/1997||1132|
|55||Shipwreckers' Town (The Sea Jackals)||30||Avenell||3/1996||3/1996||1138|
|56||The Devil's Library Pt.4: The Secret Chamber||30||Reimerthi||26/1996||26/1996||1160|
|57||The Ghostly Ruins||28||Reimerthi||8/1997||8/1997||1173|
|58||The Ring of Death Pt.1||28||Leppänen/Granberg||17/1998||17/1998||1211|
|59||The Ring of Death Pt.2||24||Leppänen/Granberg||19/1998||19/1998||1212|
|60||The Witches of Bedburg Pt 1||28||Moberg||3/2000||3/2000||1253|
|61||The Witches of Bedburg Pt 2||29||Moberg||4/2000||4/2000||1255|
|62||The Tomb of Tzaka||30||Jönsson||18/2000||18/2000||1272|
|63||The Shuttle (The Terrorists)||31||de Paul||17/2001||17/2001||1300|
|64||The Treasure of Bengali River||25||de Paul||3/2003||3/2003|
|65||The Boy from San Diablo||25||Nolan||10/2003||10/2003|
- Under the Flag of Perils (#2) was titled The Death Ship in the Norwegian edition.
- The Golden Snake (#17) was first published in Fantomen as a miniseries from 5/1985 to 14/1985. These issues had an extra inner cover with two pages of the story. Issue 5/1985 also had a collector's album to mount the pages in. The idea was to cut the pages out and keep them in the separate album. A novel concept, but it was widely criticised and never repeated. The story was reprinted as a special 3D story (the only one of its kind for The Phantom) in Fantomen Nr.16/1989 and Fantomet Nr.17/1989. The 3D effect was achieved with the aid of a set of red/green tinted glasses.
- The Temple Treasure (#18) was adapted by Ulf Granberg and Kari Leppänen from a Swedish musical about The Phantom written by Peter Falck and Urban Wrethagen (1985). The musical was officially sanctioned and commended by Lee Falk.
- Return of The Scorpia (#19) was mistakenly titled Return of the Scorpion in Frew's printing -- presumably a mix-up in the translation. The story featured The Scorpia gang from Lee Falk's 1957/58 classic.
- The Junky (#27) was titled For Dear Life (På livet løs) in Norway.
- The Test (#36) was first published in 1990 in a separate edition called Krönika över en vandrande vålnad (Chronicle of the Ghost Who Walks), and was subsequently reprinted in Fantomen. It appears in the list according to the order of first printing, ie. between Fantomen 1/1990 and 25/1990.
- Secret of the Colossus (#40 and #41) was also printed in Wolf Phantom comic #7 and #8.
- The Doomsday Mountain (#48) was largely rewritten by Kari Leppänen when he drew the story. The giant carniverous plants in the story were originally intended to be dinosaurs! This story was not printed in the Norwegian Fantomet magazine. It appeared later in a special edition magazine published in 1997.
- Gullique - The Island of Doom (#53) was an adaptation of Lee Falk's classic story The Belt. The reworked script was created by Kari Leppänen.
- Gullique - The Island of Doom (#53) and The Devil's Gentleman (#54) were not printed in the Norwegian Fantomet magazine. They were skipped when the schedule for the Norwegian edition was matched with the Swedish schedule, commencing with 1/1996. These stories appeared later in special edition magazines published in 1996 (Gullique - The Island of Doom) and 1997 (The Devil's Gentleman), amongst other stories.
- Kari was the cover artist for a handful of Fantomen issues (two of these had stories he did not create, as shown in italics). The corresponding Fantomet edition is shown in parentheses (note the cover for Norwegian 9/1992 preceeded the Swedish version in 5/1993):
- 15/1982 (23/1982)
- 24/1982 (6/1983)
- 25/1984 (10/1985)
- 18/1985 (3/1986)
- 25/1990 (5/1991)
- 5/1993 (9/1992)
- Although few in number, Kari's covers have been very popular in Norway. They were voted the best covers of the year in 1985 (10/1985) and 1992 (9/1992). His other placings were second for 3/1986, third for 23/1982, and sixth for 5/1991. Impressive!
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