|Fantom of the Fair|
Cover art for Amazing Mystery Funnies (Vol. 2) #7.
|First appearance||Amazing Mystery Funnies #7 (vol. 2) (July 1939), revived in 1992 as Gravestone in the Protectors of Malibu Comics|
|Abilities||Stealth, teleportation, and emotional manipulation (feelings of fear to people close to him)|
The Fantom of the Fair was one of the earliest published Golden Age superheroes. He debuted in Amazing Mystery Funnies Vol 2 #7 (Whole #11), July 1939, Centaur Publications. He premiered, according to cover dates, the same month as DC Comics' Sandman and Fox Publications' The Flame, and Centaur's The Masked Marvel. He was created by Paul Gustavson, who had previously created The Arrow for Centaur. His series replaced that of Skyrocket Steele, Bill Everett's first comic series. His early adventures were set fighting threats at the 1939 New York World's Fair. During the time between the 1939 and 1940 Fair seasons, he traveled in a series of stories set outside the Fair. He was often shown during these 'outside' stories in a simple suit, with a hat brim hiding his features.
He was originally clad in an all-black hood & body suit, with a purple cape. but soon adopted an open faced cowl and red cape around the close of the 1939 Fair season. The Fantom was seldom displayed with overt powers, but demonstrated the ability to tamper with people's memories and displayed incredible strength in his initial appearance. He also used secret trap doors placed around the Fair. His first adventure showed an ancient book that indicated that the Fantom had lived in Iceland 1000 years ago. He was possibly the first comics hero with a subterranean headquarters.
The Fantom of the Fair appeared in Amazing Mystery Comics until Vol 3 # 8 (Whole #24), Sept., 1940. In this final issue, he was called Fantoman.
His adventures were reprinted in Amazing Adventure Funnies #1, June, 1940, and in Fantoman #'s 2-4, Aug.-Dec. 1940. Other artists on the series included Frank Thomas, Harry Sahle, and writer George Kapitan.
The Fantom of the Fair was inspired at least in part by The Phantom of the Opera, as portrayed by Lon Chaney, Sr. A sound version of Chaney's POTO movie had been released in the 1930s.
The original Fantom of the Fair has inspired such characters as DC's Phantom of the Fair, in the Sandman's Secret Origins story in the late 1980s and in Sandman Mystery Theater, and Gravestone in Malibu Comics' Protectors series.
Gravestone: Malibu Comics
Very little is known about Gravestone, other than the fact that he appears to be hundreds—possibly thousands—of years old. He comes and goes at will, favoring the cloaking shelter of night and shadows. Gravestone is a true mystery man in every sense of the term. There are rumors that men who have tried to uncover his secrets have disappeared, never to be seen again. It is rumored that he may actually be from another dimension or world other than our own. Of the two, this rumor has garnered the most support for truth.