FREW PUBLICATIONS Celebrates 50 Years
On September 9, 1998, Frew Publications celebrated 50 years of publishing The Phantom in Australia with a lavish dinner at Sydney's Taronga Park Zoo function centre. Frew's Managing Director, Jim Shepherd, telephoned me a few weeks beforehand and asked if I would compere the evening - an honour if ever there was one. I had grown up reading the Phantom and ended up co-editing Trielle Corporation's 1997 Phantom Diary, so I had at least some connection.
Guests at the dinner included Australian Phantom artists, such as Glenn Ford, "Tessa" and Antonio Lemos; a generous helping of Australian colleagues, such as Theo Batten, Lindsay Foyle, Tim McEwen and Lee Sheppard; and Phans like Barry Stubbersfield, the newly-married Bryan Shedden, Richard Fry and Pete Klaus & Bob Griffin (both of whom flew in from America especially for the occasion).
Amid jokes about stripey undies, Phantom rings and purple duds, Jim Shepherd spoke briefly, but eloquently - introducing a marvellous video compilation of The Phantom's finest (and not-so-finest) moments in film and television. Well done, Frew!
Legendary Phantom Artist SY BARRY Hits Town
Later the same month, legendary Phantom artist Sy Barry flew into town with his wife, Simmy, to help launch Dietmar Leiderwasch's limited edition Phantom print series. I took Sy, Simmy and Dietmar to dinner at Doyle's Seafood Restaurant in Sydney and we had a ball. A few days later, Dietmar launched the prints in Newcastle, and Sy and I got to know each other better.
Sy's work influenced me greatly while I was growing up - meeting him has been one of the great pleasures of my professional life.
Bumping into another legendary Phantom Artist - BILL LIGNANTE
In May 2000, I travelled to New York for the 52nd. Reuben Awards weekend, the American cartoonists' convention, which was being held at the World Trade Centre Marriott Hotel. While walking between seminars, I met another Phantom legend, Bill Lignante, who was having a drink with his lovely wife Alma.
Bill is known in America for his courtroom drawings, so chatting about The Phantom seemed like something novel for him. A few drinks later, I drew a little memento for him (below).