One of the emblems of the Phantom is more remarkable than any of the others - his SKULL RING !  So its curious that  Lee Falk,

the creator of the masked character didn´t go further to explain the ring´s history but only in one story - in the Sunday story "The

Phantom´s Ring" which first ran in newspapers from October 29 1950 to June 10 1951. In this story Lee Falk vaguely says that the

first Phantom received the "ancient death´s head ring from the Jungle Kings".  There was no further explanation !!!

Lee Falk never went too far in revealing more about The Phantom´s ring, preferring to devote more storytime to elaborating on the

equally famous Good Mark ring.  Thus the origin and history of the Skull Ring was left open for other scriptwriters to play with their

own theories. The writers working for Swedish Semic and Egmont could not resist this possibility while creating new Phantom adven-

tures. There are three main ideas about the origin of the ring, and the mysterious "Jungle Kings" were totally forgotten.


                          McCoy´s first Phantom from an early story.               The mark of the Skull Ring in the very first Phantom story

                                                                                                           "Singh Brotherhood" in 1936. 


                            A couple of examples of the most typical skull ring of later times. The type used by Sy Barry who

                            was a longtime artist of Phantom and changed the style of the serie to much modern after McCoy

                            and Moore.  He commenced to draw the Phantom in 1962 and went on until 1973. Lee Falk was so

                            inspired from the Barry´s style that he created new characters, included the president of Bengali.


   It is not known whether Lee Falk (his real name was Leon Harrison Gross) who died 1999 planned more unveiling stories to

handle with the origin of the ring, but the lack of information about the matter has inspired later scriptwriters to use it in their

stories.  Here are the three principal wild theories I have seen...

                                              THE  THEORY  OF  ULF GRANBERG :


    Ulf Granberg, who 1973 became the editor of swedish Phantom magazine in Semic Press, wrote several Phantom-scripts during his

first years od his job.  In the story "Ringen" (the Ring) he disregards the "Jungle Kings" of Lee Falk and tells, that the first Phantom

got his ring from Paracelsus,  the famous 16th Century alchemist.  In the sequel story "The Mystery in Rome" the Phantom uses the

ring, which had earlier been a property of the emperor Nero, to open a secret vault in the catacombs of Rome.  Both stories were il-

lustrated by Jaime Vallve. But Granberg did not tell from where Nero had gotten the ring.  So it was easy for Kari T. Leppänen  to go

on further into past history when he planned his own story about the mysterious skull ring...



                              The  theory  of  kari t. leppänen 


    Finnish Phantom artist, who had been illustrating numerous  Phantom-stories after scripts by  many scriptwriters, decided 1997

to make a Phantom story of his own creation.  Favoring historical adventures,  he made a two-part story taking place during  The 

Thirty Years War.   To make a stronger plot for the story he used the Phantom´s Skull Ring.    He accepted Ulf Granberg´s  idea,

that the ring had been in emperor Nero´s possession,  and introducted a history of the ring before that explaining a thrilling origin

for the skull ring.  To have a most potential origin for it he told that the ring was made from the nails used in the crucifixion of the

Christ. Peter took the nails to Rome and when he was captured, the nails ended into hands of Nero, who made the ring from them.

How it fell into the possession of Paracelsus, he left open.

   This two-part story of Phantom has been the only own work with Phantom by Leppänen.  Even he had other ideas to product

his own scripts and illustration of the masked hero, his interest was killed by the translater of his manus.  Because the translater

was the same person who was the chief editor of the Fantomen magazine, that egosentric person added his name in the printed

magazine as rewriter and when the adventure was published in FREW´s Phantom the misunderstanding had made the mere trans-

later as the original writer of the story.  It is no wonder that Leppänen lost his interest to product more Phantom works of his own

as long as this person, named Ulf Granberg was in the payroll of the publisher.



                                                      CLAES  REIMERTHI´S  THEORY: 

   The swedish writer Claes Reimerthi, who had worked with Phantom-stories since 1984, also made his own explanation of the origin

of the skull ring. In his recently publiced trilogy of Rome he made a very ancient ancestor of Phantom to wear it. That person was a

celt from Britannia occupied by Romans. The trilogy was mainly based on a revenge and the ring did only a little part of it. Also in this

story emperor Nero had the ring, but it wasn´t made by him. Reimerthi tells that it had been made from " the metal from a particle that

had fallen from the sky" by ancient egyptian priests. The trilogy was illustrated by Kari T. Leppänen, who this time changed the look

of the ring. Because the ring was in the possession of druids in the beginning of the story, and without any knowledge of the coming

story, Leppänen made it look something like to be made by celts.  To reveal a secret, he used the form of SS-ring of Nazi-Germany

as an example for it.



  The next step of Claes Reimerthi to go on in the history of the Skull ring appeared in his next trilogy about the very ancient ances-

tors of the Phantom.  This third trilogy takes place in ancient Egypt at the time of Akhenaton´s reign. This time the mysterious ring

has an remarkable part in the story.   It gets started when the main protagonist Rahotep and his father find from an old grave of an

Egyptian prince a papyrus-schroll that turns out to be the secret Book of Thoth. With a spell from this book is possible to create an

invincible man of clay ( Claes has borrowed the idea from the old Golem-legend).


   The important part of the ring is that whoever possess it, can command the clay monster.  So here Claes bring into light what he

just hinted in the previous Roman trilogy, that the ring had a malignant background and was made by Egyptian priests from a stone

fallen from the sky. 

   In the next story which is called Save Jerusalem Claes returns back to his second trilogy of the Crusaders. Chevalier Christophe

d´Errant is still in the Holy Land and is involved with the malicious plans of Templars, who have found a papyrus that tolds about the

horrible clay creature which is in a temple in the middle of Egyptian desert. Also the leader of notorious hashashins, the Old Man of

the Mountain is informed about it and both parts want the creature to aid their plans.  Christopher has the ring that can mobilize the

creature and this is needed also. So we go back to the temple of the Crocodile God in this story.


       The Grand Master of  Templars invites Christopher to the headquarters of the Order, that was Al Aqsa Moskey in Jerusalem. He sends

       him to a mission in Egypt, and Christopher didn´t know the true purpose why The Grand Master had send him there. The reason was his

       magic ring to bring the clay monster alive aganin...

       The story of the ring goes on in the next episode called "The Secret of Knights Templar", which takes place 1307 in France

 where the King Philip IV destroyed the Order of Templars. Again powergreedy persons are after the Thot´s Book and the ring,

 The main character is later descendant of d`Errand family Christian d`Errant who follows his father as a notorius Phantom Rider.


        Swedish and Australian covers of this adventure made by K.T.Leppänen.  On the right The Phantom Rider in his job to punish Highway robbers.


                                                    The mysterious old man who firstly appered in the Egyptian trilogy, materialize

                                                    again in this story.  There has not been yet any explanation who he is and why

                                                    he helps the ring bearers.

        Claes Reimerthi´s odysseia goes on, no one knows how long, dealing with the history of Skull Ring.  Many faithful friends of the

        Phantom do not like these stories which try to find explanations to Lee Falk´s invention of Phantom´s Skull Ring, which origin he

        left open for speculations.


   The great interest to find new explanations for the history and origin of the Phantom´s skull ring propably urge other scriptwriters

to create still different backgrounds for it in the future.  We´ll see...


                                                        return                               to the links of my pages