Spotlight on Adapted Novels: The Phantom - Flash Gordon - Mandrake the Magician

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Country: Mini usa.gif USA / English

Playing into the wave of nostalgia for Thirties and Forties pop culture "Avon Publications", in the years 1972-1975, published: 15 novels based on Lee Falk's Phantom stories and 6 novels based on Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon stories. The series was a co-published by Avon Books and King Features Syndicate.

Book List

The Story of the Phantom

The Story of the Phantom is a series of 15 novels, published by "Avon Publications" in the U.S. from 1972 to 1975, based on Lee Falk's Phantom stories.

The series has an interesting link to Alfred Bester, who had previously worked on the Phantom and Mandrake when Falk served in the army. In an interviw[1] Ron Goulart later remarked that Falk originally asked Alfred Bester to ghost-write a few novels. Bester was not interested and recommended Goulart for Falk.

The prologe "How it all began" by Lee Falk is printed in all issues of this series. The article "With the Phantom, everything is possible - except boredom" by Francis Lacassin is printed from issue 9 and on. In addition there are an "Author's note" inside some issues (eg. 4[footnotes 1] , 12, 13, 14 and 15) where Lee Falk clarifies who adapted the previous stories.

Issue (Avon) Date issue Title Adapted by Note
1 (V2460) September, 1972 "The Ghost Who Walks" Lee Falk Dedicated to: ".. the three foremost authorities on the Phantom in the whole world - my children - Valerie, Diane, and Conley."
2 (V2470) November, 1972 "The Slave Market of Mucar" Basil Copper [footnotes 2]
3 (V2481) December, 1972 "The Scorpia Menace" Basil Copper
4 (14498) March, 1973 "The Veiled Lady" Frank S. Shawn [footnotes 3]
5 (14894) May, 1973 "The Golden Circle" Frank S. Shawn
6 (15545) July, 1973 "The Mysterious Ambassador" Lee Falk Dedicated to: "..Marie-Louise, Antony, and Rondi - my own beautiful little people of the Deep Woods - of Xanadu."
7 (15867) August, 1973 "The Mystery of the Sea Horse" Frank S. Shawn
8 (17061) October, 1973 "The Hydra Monster" Frank S. Shawn
9 (17731) December, 1973 "Killer's Town" Lee Falk Dedicated to: "..those good friends and bold pioneers who first introduced "The Phantom" to Europe and Latin America so many years ago: Paul Winkler of Paris, the late Bjarne Steinsvik of Stockholm, Salvador Mendoza of Mexico City, and Percy Forster of Buenos Aires."
10 (18184) February, 1974 "The Goggle-Eyed Pirates" Frank S. Shawn [footnotes 4]
11 (18820) April, 1974 "The Swamp Rats" Frank S. Shawn
12 (19406) June, 1974 "The Vampires and the Witch" Lee Falk Dedicated to: "This Book is for Elizabeth, My Favorite Witch"
13 (23085) February, 1975 "The Island of Dogs" Warren Shanahan
14 (23283) April, 1975 "The Assassins" Carson Bingham
15 (24729) July, 1975 "The Curse of the Two-Headed Bull" Lee Falk [footnotes 5] Dedicated to: " the loving memory of my beautiful mother and dad."

Flash Gordon

Issue (Avon) Date Title Adapted by Note
1 (18515) March, 1974 "The Lion Men of Mongo" Con Steffanson [footnotes 6]
2 (19166) May, 1974 "The Plague of Sound" Con Steffanson
3 (19695) July, 1974 "The Space Circus" Con Steffanson
4 (20446) September 1974 "The Time Trap of Ming XIII" Carson Bingham [footnotes 7] [footnotes 8]
5 (21378) 1974 "The Witch Queen of Mongo" Carson Bingham
6 (22335) January, 1975 "The War of the Cybernauts" Carson Bingham

Mandrake the Magician

Looking at translated stories from these novels it looks like Mandrake also was part of the publishing program with paperback adventure novels chronicling the exploits of King Features' three most famous comic strip heroes. According to Óscar W. Benítez Dick Fulton who wrote the Mandrake novel "Chamber into the X Dimension" was living in New York.


  1. Interesting issue 4 has a correction for the adaptors of the six first issues. Which may indicate at least two editions of the first six books?
  2. The adaptor is not credited in the book
  3. Pen name of Ron Goulart
  4. The adaptor is not credited in the book
  5. The adaptor is wrongly credited as Carson Bingham in the book
  6. Pen name of Ron Goulart
  7. Pen name of Bruce Cassidy
  8. The adaptor is wrongly credited as Con Steffanson in the book

Cover gallery

The covers for the novels were done by George Wilson, previously known for his work on US "The Phantom" comic books.

The Story of the Phantom

Flash Gordon


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Hemus-Livraria Editora

In 1975 Hemus-Livraria Editora released two of the Avon books. They were translated to Portuguese by Attilio Cancian and Lauro S. Blandy. A third book, translated by Attilio Cancian, was released in 1977. The books were distrubuted by Editora Golfino.

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Avon Books

Identically books were made for the Canadian market. The only difference is that the text "Printed in the U.S.A." are replaced with "Cover printed in the US, book in Canada" in the Canadian versiones.

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Two unnumbered issues, released by Interpresse in 1973.

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Kustannus Oy Semic

In 1975 Kustannus Oy Semic released the first book in their "Mustanaamio" series. The books were translated into Finnish by T. Marjanen.

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In 1981 Euredif released the first book in their "Gut L'Eclair" series. C. Robertson translated "Le pendulum de Ming XIII" into French, and Pascal Manoukian the other five.

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Kelter Verlag

In 1974 (to 1978) Kelter Verlag released "Kelter Abenteuer", a series of 52 issues featuring several figures as: "Phantom" (15 issues), "Geisterkrimi" (15 issues), "Ren Dhark" (6 issues), "Piraten" (6 issues) and "Richard Blade" (10 issues). Kamela Kiel translated the first book, Alice Wrede and Ray Abell issues 2, 4, 6 and 8, Waltraud Morrison #7, Kurt Hansen #10, Ilse Zielke issues 11 and 15, Bernhard Willms #12, Friedel Jünemann #13 and Heinz Kliem the last one.

Theese books, in German language, were also sold in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Bastei Lübbe

in 1979 Bastei Lübbe released four of the "Flash Gordon" issues in the "Bastei Lübbe Science Fiction Action" series, with covers made by Melvyn Grant.

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Regal Publications

According to Aroon Kalandy Regal Publications published around 10 novels with "The Phantom" in about 1986.

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The first Phantom novel was released in the "Collana Oscar Mondadori" series (#692) by Mondadori in July 1976. It was translated into Italian by Giovanni d'Eramo. The cover was made by Ferenc Pintér.

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Nordisk Forlag

In 1973 "Nordisk Forlag" A/S released the first book in their "Fantomet" series. All books were translated into Norwegian by Jan Henrik Jensen.

Hjemmet - Bladforlaget

In 1978 A/S "Hjemmet - Bladforlaget" released the first book in their "Super-pocket" series. It was translated into Norwegian by Øystein Svarød. The second book was the first book from the "Flash Gordon" series and it was translated by Gunnar Bråten. The two last one were translated by Arne Ernst.

Audio CD

In 2006, two audio cd with the first Phantom book ("The Ghost Who Walks") were released in Norwegian language as supplements in the "Fantomet" magazine.

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Portugal Press

In July 1974 Portugal Press released the first book in their "O Fantasma" series. The third book was translated into Portuguese by Elsa Figueira.

Interesting in May 1975 Portugal Press released a first issue of a Mandrake series, with a cover by Carlos Alberto Dos Santos. The book was translated into Portuguese by L. Costa.

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In 1973 Editorial Pala released "Pulp Colección" (de novela popular), a series that printed the first issue from the Phantom series. The Flash Gordon issue was a translated version of "The Caverns of Mongo" (Grosset & Dunlap, 1936). The covers were made by Enrique Torres. The two first books were translated into Spanish by Rolando Hangling, and the last one by Carlos Pumares.


The books also have some articles:

  • "La historia del Hombre Enmascarado": "El origen del Hombre Enmascarado" by Román Gubern, "El Hombre Enmascarado en el cine" by Luis Gasca, "El Hombre Enmascarado en España" by Antonio Martín, "La historia del Hombre Enmascarado" by Rolando Hangling and some pictures from the 1943 serial.
  • "Flash Gordon en las cavernas de Mongo": "Alex Raymond novelista" de Román Gubern, "Flash Gordon en el cine" Luis Gasca, "Flash Gordon en España" Antonio Martín and some pictures from the 1936 serial.
  • "Mandrake: la dimensión X": "Mandrake el Mago" by Óscar W. Benítez.

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In 1973 "Semic" released the first book in their "Fantomen böckerna" series.

In 1978 "Förlags AB Semic" released the first book in their "Fantomen" series. All books were translated into Swedish by Lennart Allen.

These issues, in Swedish language, were also sold in Finland.

Audio CD

In 2006, two audio cd with the fourth Phantom book were released as supplements in the "Fantomen" magazine.

Mini uk.gif United Kingdom


in 1977 Star released the "Flash Gordon" series, with covers made by Melvyn Grant. This series was also sold in Australia, Malta and New Zealand.

A second print was released in 1980, this time with covers lifted form the "Flash Gordon" movie from 1980. This series was also sold in Australia and Malta.


The Phantom series is reprinted in the years 2016 to 2020 by Hermes Press as part of their "The Complete Series".