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My Online Writings - 2004 - '07

Part 3
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Do I miss the old comics?

The Phantom

In my childhood, I did not have the chance to read the great variety that must have existed in the English West.

What I did get were the [I]Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Tarzan, Casper, Spooky, Windy the good little Witch, Richie Rich etc. Sometimes I used to get Donald Duck [I]and Mickey Mouse[/I]. Tintin and Asterisk, I came across when I was in the college.

Now my daughter avidly watches the Cartoon network, and is enthralled by the modern cartoon characters, who come with the wizardry that computer based animation has gifted. Sometimes I also watch the same. Possibly, they are good, yet I feel they do lack a certain amount of mystique that the old comics used to give me.

I used to like The Phantom. The mysterious person who comes riding out of the Denkali jungles in perfect purples, on his white horse, accompanied by his dog-which-is-not-a-dog-but-a-wolf, used to charge my imagination with the most enchanting of themes. No one knew what he was made of, but he was the Ghost-who-walks, and the man who couldn’t die. And many of his themes simply were wild, and wilder still were the areas he roamed. He was Mr. Walker when he roamed not only the cities, but also when he came to his strange abode in the American deserts, that stood towering as a pillar-the Walker’s Table.

Yet, over the years, this image of Phantom was driven to the ground. He married, had kids, and every part of family life came out with the danger that portended staleness. The mystique nature was lost and now the modern Phantom cannot entice me; but still the ancient one,-who came mixed with the themes of Undersea Gangsters, Hijackers, Oil thieves, Women of Gold, Shakespearean dramas, the Tom-Tom beating in the deep jungles that moved messages over the grasslands and through the dark woods, the Pygmy Bandar and their poison arrows, the Good Sign that lent security through the generations with spectacular commitment, the Bad Sign that lingered on, the whispers that rang through the ancient ports in the Seven Seas about the exploits of the Phantom-the Ghost Who Walks, the Jungle Olympics where the games were not just a competition between the competitors but also with perils that could make a even a brave man pause, Guran the ancient man, who knew all the tales of the past,-well the list is long- still fascinates me.

Then there were the very brief talks that Phantom was a White colonialist, who held his colonial sway over the black natives, and the jungle tribes with his tomfoolery. I don’t know whether he was one. Possibly! For he had an uncanny resemblance, to at least some of them.

Yet, when the film of Phantom came, it was a complete disaster for my imagination. It punctured it. I cannot say if I liked it or not. It was a very funny Phantom, to say the least. Had it been a tale of some other person, it might have not hurt. But this film Phantom was not the person who had the mystery about him, rather he was a most common person, with some muscles, who moved not faster-than-lightning (as the -old jungle saying-goes) but literally ran and climbed, with the most ordinary of gaits and efforts.

In the modern days, with its Internets, mobile phones, satellite TV, and vile bureaucracies, how can the Phantom (living in the Skull Cave, sitting on the Skull Throne) and his Jungle Patrol exist?

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