Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sy Barry :The man Behinds our Modernized Phantom!

A rather infamous quote that many fans of Phantom -the GWW having these days,it's like "Sy Barry had a complete team of assistants working for him and majority of his strips are actually the work of those assistants" It's a VERY KNOWN n TERRIBLY WRONG NOTION that many Phans have throughout the world !
Now FACE IT.....Barry did have some Assistants as doin' a series of Dailies and Sundays simultaneously is a much tough thing than one guess!
Now, due to mere assistants,many claimed Barry did only Inking those Sunday strips later,and had nothin' with art-works!!!!

What a S-H-A-M-E!!!

One ,who claims himself Phan,should know that 'Olesen/William' with some others were Barry's Assistants for some decades....n MOST OF THE TIME the art-work in Barry's period (1962-1994)were fabulous....

Then what happened when Barry LEFT KFS in 1994?? Those SAME Olesen/William had took the charge of Illustrator and as a result a series of CRAPPIEST PHANTOM STRIPS were for Phans (specially dailies,though Sundays were managed somewhat when Fred Fredricks,the Mandrake-illustrator,took the charge up to 2000,then another artist,Nolan,was introduced!) .Anybody who've read '94s onwards dailies r knowin' it well... :)

*'SHOCKING' INFO: Olesen as 'Assistant of Sy Barry':

  • [1]Daily :1966 -71(alternate with another one)
  • [2]Daily/Sunday:1979 -1994
  • [3] Daily (after Barry quited):1994 -2005 (with William )
  • [4] Sunday: 1994 -2000 (Fredricks as Major illustrator)

Yet to confirm?? Then let's check some of these strips .....

  • Olesen IN Barry's ERA (1979 -1994'April):

  • Olesen IN 'Post-Barry' ERA (AFTER June'1994):

 So, by now,may b Phans GET THE POINT that I'm trying to convey,I guess! ;-))
Thus what we can conclude??
It's very clear that,Barry had the final touch on the EACH n EVERY strips in his 32-year-period and thus bein' assisted by same O/W ,we got nice strips....
So,give Barry what he deserves..... may b he had assistants BUT without his active presence,Phantom would reach the CRAPPY-LEVEL in '60s ...that happened in '90s!! ;-)
Sy Barry was a great Artist indeed....wish he continued his legacy even after '94 (like Fredricks still doing for Mandrake).


comicrazee said...


Thanks for your superb research supported with the finest examples. SyBarry was the best for his modern touch which convinced Lee Falk immensely. His so called assistants could never come anywhere closer to him. Graham Nolan was slightly better, but his style was bit overshadowed by his own Batman style and influence. SyBarry's Phantom was simply superb and down to earth, yet sophisticated in style.

Comic World said...

Its very common and usual to have assistants,with famous artists,writers etc,who are mainly deputed to finish up small patch works such as outlining,continuity,panel sequencing etc..but the main and final touch is of the artist in chief who is overall responsible for the job.So its inappropriate to quote that Sy Barry's legendary success was only because to his assistants.
Phantoms strips after Barry era are living example of the point,those strips,as rightly posted here,clearly depicts the gigantic difference between pre and post Barry's work.
If anybody haves a impression that assistants can create a impact bigger than artists himself than he/she is living into a world of illusions.

comicrazee said...


Thanks for your superb research supported with the finest examples. SyBarry was the best for his modern touch which convinced Lee Falk immensely. His so called assistants could never come anywhere closer to him. Graham Nolan was slightly better, but his style was bit overshadowed by his own Batman-style and influence. SyBarry's Phantom was simply superb and down to earth, yet sophisticated in style.

Chandan said...

Well,i do agree with CC and CW.
Pupils nowhere close to their master.
Great post,Dara.Fascinating.
Even the present strips don't have the same taste as strips of before.
They are available everyday,I don't feel like reading them.
There's no magic in them.

Dara said...

Thnx for input.That's what I wanna convey here!
How one even think that ALL THOSE Art-work done by others,even if there's so many Crapy Example in Post-Barry era???

Some 'so-called' Phan even went such xtent that ,said "McCoy was BEST," OR "All Barry Assisitants's left KFS with him" ...
BOTH R shear lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thnx 4 visit n keep visit sometimes... :-))

Dara said...

I knew what wud b ur opinion,as we've discussed it earlier!

Its very common and usual to have assistants....but the main and final touch is of the artist in chief ...

Rightly said!!
Only if, SOME Foreign Phans (MANY frm AUS ---- the Phantom Craziest Country!!)wud understand it! :-/
But then,it reqrs some MORE THINGS than MERE Comic READING!Ain't??

P.S.- I cud upload MORE Post-Barry strips,just strenghthen my pt,. but just after uploading Two...I felt so irritated that stopped it!! ;-))

I wanna Phantom UPTO Barry only n that's cover a good 58-year worth!

Dara said...


Thnx mate 4 understanding...we r like-minded pple over this issue!!

It's really feels good! :-))

R ANY ignorant Aus/Norway or even some Indian 'Phans' listen...err...reading these comments??

Then have some knowledge from today!!

comicrazee said...

Beleive me, I even stopped reading Phantom in DailyInk, just because I couldn't stand the style; and the dragging stories as well. Now-a-days Phantom looks like some 'phantom-impostor'.

Comic World said...

Few months ago i subscribed to Indian Express newspaper only 'coz of Phantom strips,which are published in it,but after going to a couple of month strip reading i stopped the subscription just because in these Non-Falk strips i couldn't able to find even a fraction of joy which i use to get in Falk strips.
For me Phantom was Falk,with the death of Falk in 1999 Phantom has gone along with him and now only nostalgic memories of him are left behind.
Whenever i wish to meet the real Phantom i use to read the Falk's IJCs,which can be successfully read umpteen times without getting bored because the magic of Falk's pen can never be outdated or superseded.

Dara said...

I stoppped too!! I just read now Mandrake Dailies by Fred Fredricks,which r far better than Phantoms!!

Now-a-days Phantom looks like some 'phantom-impostor'.


comicrazee said...

Talking about Mandrake by Fred Fredricks, that is the best example of 'beauty of originality'. You still enjoy them, even though he puts only a fraction of efforts in the finishing of illustration. Where as the AESTHETICs of current Phantom illustration and style look PATHETIC. :(

Dara said...

best example of 'beauty of originality'. You still enjoy them, even though he puts only a fraction of efforts in the finishing of illustration

CC ,that's it!!But,as Fred has to do the scripting (n you may realised he does a good job),so art-work sometimes bit lapse-ful,,but that make-up with terrific coloring!!


I even asked in 'Phantom Forum' to ask P.Ryan (current one) for quit!!It's better to have a '6-decade Falk-strips' in our custody than these craps!!

Keep comin'....

comicrazee said...

Wish Seymour Barry comes out of his retirement and continues like Fred.(He's only 79 and one year older than FF)

JOEY said...

I agree that Paul Ryan's art is very pedestrian.. much like Pat Boyette's work of Charlton Comics. Ryan's Phantom is an expressionless dummy and his Diana is the ugliest Diana I have ever seen. But Ryan does have a fan following, as is obvious from posts in the Phantom Phorum. I have repeated myself many times over this issue in the Phorum, but sad to say, the majority of Phans are great supporters of Ryan's inferior art..

tcc said...

The strips from D-144 are penciled by Andre LeBlanc.
Keith Williams never was one of Sy Barrys assistants, he was the inker after Sy Barry.
Fred Fredericks did ink the sundays 1994-2000.

Giuseppe Lippi, Milan, Italy said...

Although I have appreciated your Barry defense (I am myself a fan who grew under his influence from 1963 on, and immensely enjoyed his strips), I must confess I did
some little research myself and the tableau is just a bit more complicated than you show here. For instance, you seem not aware that some BIG names in the comics
industry helped Great Sy in the '60: among them Joe Giella and Carmine Infantino. The Sixties were, to me, stylistically superior to any other era in the long Barry tenure. (Phantom wore a large mask which literally lighted his face instead of shadowing it -- a black pair of drops with huge mysterious space in the middle, under which a frank JFK-kind of a smile showed through a beatiful set of teeth.) George Olesen was
just a helper at this time and other artists said the master often had to fix his pencils.
In the Seventies, however, the drawing style changed because another man took charge of the pencils: André Le Blanc. Looking for him in the internet, you'll find interviews where he admits of having drawn several key-episodes of the time, among which Phantom's wedding! Here, all the pencils were his. Le Blanc's style emphasized Phantom's cheekbones (which were sometimes exaggeratedly high) and diminished dramatically the mask's size, which became little more than a domino. Moreover, he never drew the extremely close-ups for which Barry had become legendary in the Sixties: those sopisticatedly designed panels where the Ghost Who Walks appeared as just little than a trangular black mask and a portion of the hood to fill the frame -- and the big fighter nose just hinted at under the mask.
André Le Blanc's Phantom was, above all, a less North-American one. Being a non-American myself, I can tell you the differece was quite obvious.
Certainly, with all his limitations the '70s Phantom was better than the late '80s and '90s one, when Le Blanc retired and Sy Barry left Olesen do much more pencilling than at any other time. George Olesen was perhaps the first of the Phantom artists who didn't know how to draw his anatomy in a credible way. After him, the disproportions in the famous spherical head and other anatomical aberrations became quite the norm in so many panels... (Nolan excluded!) It is a sad sign of the industry's
growing lack of interest in classic icons of the syndicated comics. Today, the not-so-bad Paul Ryan is incapable of consistently portray Phantom's face, especially in the close-ups: now it is angular, now it's round, and the spherical back of the caped head is almost invariably truncated too high on the neck. It looks like he has a giraffe neck with a watermelon stuck on it!
If these criticisms seem too harsh or cruel to you, please feel free to tell me so. No harm nor offense intended to anyone!
To close my post, I would suggest that Sy Barry was undoubtedly the soul and inspiration of the strip for more than 33 years and its director: but that, with the alternating artists who took the pencil in the years under him, the feeling and many details changed dramatically, even if the general style SEEMED to remain the same.

Dennis said...

I like Giuseppe Lippi's comment. The bit about Andre LeBlanc and the wedding story can be read here: http://www.spacca.com.br/mestres/leblanc%20english.htm.

I had not noticed the difference in style between Barry and LeBlanc, and that was very informative. Still I do consider them both master Phantom artist. Unlike Olesen.
I bought a Danish comic book fanzine about 10 years ago (titled 'Strip') where Olesen claimed that he had been the man behind the strip all those years and that Barry could only ink, and that, according to Olesen was all that barry and Gelia did. That disappointed me to read beacuse Barry had always been my favorite Phantom artist. Then I read the Le Bllanc interview,which stated that Olesen had not been that prominent on the strip. Le Blanc stated that he had been working with Bary for long periods without Olesen, that Olesen had some problems with proportions and perspective, whereas Barry would often go in and correct a lot of Olesen's panels. This reaffirmed my belief in Barry.

So to me the best Phantom artist are Barry and Le Blanc. Being a Scandinavian I grew up with the European produced stories as well, and there are two European artists I like a lot also: Jaime Vallve and Georges Bess, who in my opinion come in # 3 and 4 respectively on the list of good Phantom artists.
That said, I have never read the stories drawn by the two great Batman artists Dick Giordano and Don Newton. I would like to get my hands on those. Batman is a character partially inspired by the Phantom, and considering how much I liked their work on Batman, it could be interesting to see Giordano and Newton on the Phantom.

On the writers front, apart from Falk obviously, I have noticed some good stories from Europeans Norman Worker and Ida Kharelli.

Giuseppe Lippi, Milan, Italy said...

In the meantime (another year has elapsed!), I have read several Falk & Barry stories from the late Eighties and early Nineties (both daily and Sundays). This showed me that, after the retiring of André Le Blanc, Sy Barry came back to pencilling - or inking & fixing - many excellent adventures, thus bringing the Phantom to a new period of glory. Although Olesen was probably "behind the scenes" all the time, his shortcomings never showed again. The sole licence that Barry allowed himself, even at this blessed time, consisted in showing the face of the Phantom with some wrinkles and sometimes an expression of perplexity which he never had in more mature times. In certain panels it looks as if the Phantom were bored of it all, or simply,that he "rose his eyebrows" (under the mask, obviously) to indicate bafflement. This tendency to semi-caricature and grotesquerie was obvuously inherited by George Olesen in the late Nineties and greatly exaggerated...
All in all, starting with 1983 circa, in my opinion Sy Barry put greater care in giving us a better Phantom, and this lasted until the early Nineties. He undoubtedly had assistants even then, but controlled them better and worked himself with augmented enthusiasm. Anyone who agrees with me?

Jostein Hansen said...

Sy Barry was the real Master behind the modern Phantom.

Sy changed his style several times through his career spanning 33 years and he build up two teams to reign control to both the daily and Sunday versions.

These adventure strips were full of details and it was impossible for one man to face deadlines without assistants.

George Olesen admitteed that he worked only on the Sundays in the first two decades of Sy Barrys tenure, first in late 1980 he started on the dailies (the story "Gooroo's Jungle Muggers"). Olesen teamed-up on the Sundays from 1962-70, 70-74, 79-86, 88-94.

My favorite periods with Sy Barry are from the dailies in the years 1961-74, 1978-80 and from 1989-94. As late as 1989-93 he made splendid work on stories like "Massacre at Walker's Table" and "Nukes", among others.