White Ghost’s Burden and Colonial Adventures

  • Robert AmanEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels book series (PSCGN)


This chapter analyses the content of Lee Falk’s American scripts, zooming in on the values in terms of race and reductionist stereotyping running through the comic book. This historical contextualization and problematization of the American scripts is key, as the public critique directed towards them partly influenced the decision to produce in-house licensed stories in Stockholm. What this chapter demonstrates is that in Falk’s interpretation, the Phantom dynasty has for centuries shouldered the white man’s burden in Africa. It closes off by revealing the ways in which the Swedish bullpen edited Falk’s original storylines and dialog to emphasize the disastrous legacy of European imperialism.


The Phantom Lee Falk Colonialism Jungle Comics Racism Imperialism 


  1. Adler, P. J., & Pouwels, R. L. (2007). World civilizations: Volume I—To 1700. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Aman, R. (2009). Esclavitud en América Latina: Visión histórica representada en libros escolares suecos y colombianos. Teré: Revista de filosofía y socio política de la educación, 5(10), 31–39.Google Scholar
  3. Aman, R. (2017). Colonial differences in intercultural education: On interculturality in the Andes and the decolonization of intercultural dialogue. Comparative Education Review, 61(2), 103–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aoki, K. (1996). Foreign-ness and Asian American identities: Yellowface, World War II propaganda, and bifurcated racial stereotypes. Asian Pacific American Law Journal, 4, 1–60.Google Scholar
  5. Bhabha, H. (1994). The location of culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Boehmer, E. (2002). Empire, the national, and the postcolonial, 1890–1920: Resistance in interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Boyle, B. M. (2011). Rescuing masculinity. Journal of American Culture, 34(2), 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bressey, C. (2008). It’s only political correctness—Race and racism in British history. In C. Bressey & C. Dwyer (Eds.), New geographies of race and racism (pp. 29–40). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  9. Burbank, J., & Cooper, F. (2010). Empires in world history: Power and the politics of difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, P. (1987). Tarzan and the jungle bunnies. New Formation, 5, 25–30.Google Scholar
  11. Costello, M. (2009). Secret identity crisis. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  12. Dyer, R. (1997). White: Essays on race and culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Fitzgerald, M. R. (2013). The white savior and his junior partner: The long ranger and tonto on Cold War television. Journal of Popular Culture, 46(1), 79–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friese, K. (1999). White skin, black mask. Transition, 80, 4–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goulart, R. (2010). Introduction: Enter the Ghost Who Walks. In L. Falk (Ed.), The Phantom: The complete newspaper dailies, Volume 1—1936 (pp. 4–14). Neshannock, PA: Hermes Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hughey, M. (2014). The white savior film: Content, critics, and consumption. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hållén, N. (2011). Travelling objects: Modernity and materiality in British colonial travel literature about Africa (Dissertation). Umeå: Umeå University.Google Scholar
  18. Kessel, L. (1943). Some assumptions in newspaper comics. Childhood Education, 19(8), 349–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorers Club. Scandinavian Chapter. (2010). Från lila vålnad till blågul hjälte: Lee Falk’s Fantomen. Stockholm: GML.Google Scholar
  20. Lee Falk Memorial Bengali Explorers Club. Scandinavian Chapter. (2011). Lee Falk—Storyteller. Stockholm: GML.Google Scholar
  21. Lundin, B. (1971). Salongsbödlarna och andra betraktelser på temat värderingar i populärlitteraturen. Staffanstorp: Cavefors.Google Scholar
  22. Mbembe, A. (2001). On the postcolony. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. McClintock, A. (1995). Imperial leather: Race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. McKinney, M. (2011). The colonial heritage of French comics. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mills, C. (1997). The racial contract. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Mudimbe, V. Y. (1988). The invention of Africa: Gnosis, philosophy, and the order of knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Nederveen Pieterse, J. (1992). White on black: Images of Africa and blacks in western popular culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Patrick, K. (2017). The Phantom unmasked: America’s first superhero. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Patteson, R. F. (1978). King Solomon’s Mines: Imperialism and narrative structure. Journal of Narrative Technique, 8(2), 112–123.Google Scholar
  30. Said, E. (1994). Culture & imperialism. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  31. Savage, W., Jr. (1990). Commies, cowboys, and jungle queens: Comic books and America, 1945–1954. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.Google Scholar
  32. Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  33. Spivak, G. C. (2008). Other Asias. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Spurr, D. (1993). The rhetoric of empire: Colonial discourse in journalism, travel writing, and imperial administration. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Strömberg, F. (2012). Black images in the comics: A visual history. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics.Google Scholar
  36. Torgovnick, M. (1990). Gone primitive: Savage intellects, modern lives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Wolf, E. (1982). Europe and the people without history. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  38. Young, W. H. (1969). The serious funnies: Adventure comics during the depression, 1929–38. Journal of Popular Culture, 3(3), 404–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioural Sciences and LearningLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

Personalised recommendations