Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Number 1692: Mooning the Phantom...the Lunar Cult

This adventure of the Phantom, written by Lee Falk and drawn by Wilson McCoy, is taken from scans of an early Indrajal Comic: #6, from 1964. Indrajal was a line of comics, now defunct, published by the Times of India. I have mentioned before that I have never seen an actual Indrajal issue, just what is posted online. So I thank those fans who have made them available.

I believe “The Lunar Cult” is adapted from a story called “The Thuggees,” which appeared in newspapers from August 22, 1949 to February 25, 1950. As Thuggees were an Indian murder cult there was probably some sensitivity toward the original title. There is internal evidence in some speech balloons that something (presumably “Thuggee”) has been whited out and replaced by the world “Lunar.”

The Phantom’s territory was a mix of India and Africa. There is more on that subject in a link below the 16-page story. For more about Thuggee go here.

UPDATE: On February 5 our friend J D LaRue furnished us with information that the story is not from the Thuggee continuity, but instead from “The Crescent Cult,” published as Sunday strips from April 10, 1955 to August 7, 1955. Thanks, J D,  for the information. As J D pointed out, there are many Muslims in India, so the change from Crescent to Lunar was done in response to cultural and religious sensitivies.

As promised, more on the blurring of India and Africa in the Phantom. Just click on the thumbnail. 


Ryan Anthony said...

Boy, their word-replacement lettering is terrible! In my head, I was hearing dubbed dialogue, like a movie censored for TV. "That SLUG IN A DITCH has ruined our LUNAR cult!"
Sensitivity didn't stop Spielberg and Lucas from making the Thugees the villains of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

Edward Love said...

The Phantom is popular in India. When I was there several years ago, I came across the strip in an English written newspaper (the only comic strip in the paper), and picked up several large Phantom comic books at a bookstore. My Indian sister-in-law on seeing one of her uncles for the first time in years commented on his slimming down by asking, "what happened to your 'Phantom' muscles?"

Pappy said...

Edward, the Phantom seems to have appeal in many other countries, but not the US. Odd, because "The Phantom" comic strip is of American origin (the Phantom himself actually being a rich American playboy before Lee Falk changed his mind and the Phantom's origin).

Some of the best Phantom material I have seen has come from Scandinavia, Australia, etc.

Pappy said...

Ryan, the closest modern equivalent to the Thuggees I can see is those SLUGS-IN-A-DITCH of ISIL/ISIS. Their homicidal depradations, done for the Internet and publicity, make me think of them as a murder cult.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

You got an e-mail address Mr Pappy?
I'd like to drop you a line.

Pappy said...

J D, yes.

Justin Metzger said...

One of your best posts so far. I love foreign comics. It is especially fun to see what pieces of American pop-culture translate into pop-culture around the world. Well done, Pappy.