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The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective magazine appeared in February 1933, making it the second pulp hero character to gain his own title. Yet, though the magazineĆ­s title was The Phantom Detective, the character who would grace its pages was known simply as The Phantom. For over 20 years, Richard Curtis Van Loan would battle crime cloaked in top hat, tails and a domino mask.

The character

The Phantom DetectiveThe Phantom Detective
Publisher: Better Publications
Publication range: February 1933-Fall 1953
The Phantom was Richard Curtis Van Loan, the orphaned scion of a rich family. Initially he was a playboy with too much time on his hands. He went to the great war (WWI) and fought as a pilot. After the war he craved the danger and excitement but didn't know how to place those aspects into his life.

Frank Havens, the publisher of the Clarion, a large newspaper in his city (which is never stated as New York, but which is implied in several issues) was a friend of Richard's father and guided him at various times after the death of Richard's parents.

Seeing Richard returning to his pre-war playboy ways Havens challenged him to solve a case the police couldn't. He did it, and in seemingly simple fashion. It was then Richard Curtis Van Loan realized his calling, to become the best crime fighter and detective on the planet.

He learned all aspects of criminal deduction, the criminal mind, forensics, and other items like being able to mimic any voice and disguise himself better than anyone.

He built a reputation world wide, created a special badge by which the police forces around the world could identify him, and became world renowned to the police of the world, and a feared opponent to the underworld.

The magazine

The first issue of The Phantom Detective was February 1933, a full month before Doc Savage. The Phantom Detective continued until Fall 1953, 170 issues.

The first 11 stories appeared under the house name G. Wayman Jones, but are generally credited to D.L. Champion. After those, the stories appeared under another house name: Robert Wallace. Among the fictioneers who wrote those stories were: W.T. Ballard, Edwin Burkhilder, Norman Daniels, Jack D'Arcy, Laurence Donovan, Anatole F. Feldman, Charles Green, Ryerson Johnson and Ralph Oppenheim.


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