Is Sweden about to make this comic book icon a woman?

The Swedish version of long-running comic strip The Phantom could be poised to break new ground by backing a woman to become the next full-time incarnation of the eponymous hero.

Is Sweden about to make this comic book icon a woman?
Who's going to be the next Phantom? Photo: Egmont Publishing

Created by American Lee Falk in 1936, The Phantom focuses on the 21st in a line of masked crime-fighters who use strength and intelligence to defeat foes – until the inevitable day that a foe comes out on top, and the title is given up to an heir.

For years, readers have speculated over what would happen when the main hero of the comic eventually dies. Would his daughter Heloise, or twin brother Kit take over?

It looks like fans in Sweden are about to get an answer to the big question. The Scandinavian nation, which has written its own timeline of the comic since the 1960s, has now started to produce editions set in the future, covering the events after the 21st Phantom’s disappearance.

The Phantom creator Lee Falk pictured in 1977. Photo: Gunnar Lantz/TT

The people behind the Swedish comic have now hinted heavily that Heloise will emerge victorious in the battle to become the 22nd Phantom.

“The Phantom creator Lee Falk created Heloise, and as such he established the possibility of a female Phantom,” Andreas Eriksson, editor of the Swedish version of The Phantom said in a press release.

“It would be illogical to expect Heloise would step away from the possibility of becoming the Phantom without a fight. She grew up in the jungle and is equally trained for the task as her brother,” he added.

Diehard fans will know that the comic’s backstory did already feature one female version of the Phantom in the past, but that incarnation was only a temporary one. When the 17th Phantom Kit Walker took ill, his sister Julie donned the suit until he had returned to health.

Swedish editor Eriksson told The Local that a new full-time female Phantom would be a natural next step for the series.

“The prospect of a female Phantom has been around for a long time and is part of the concept of the series. As such it would be a natural development for the next Phantom to become a woman,” Eriksson explained. 

While a change of direction for the full-time Phantom may be on the cards in Sweden, fans of the classic 21st Phantom shouldn’t be too concerned. The Swedish writers have promised that they will continue to produce editions focusing on the old Phantom, with the future-based instalments released sporadically.


Stockholm Pride is a little different this year: here’s what you need to know 

This week marks the beginning of Pride festivities in the Swedish capital. The tickets sold out immediately, for the partly in-person, partly digital events. 

Pride parade 2019
There won't be a Pride parade like the one in 2019 on the streets of Stockholm this year. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

You might have noticed rainbow flags popping up on major buildings in Stockholm, and on buses and trams. Sweden has more Pride festivals per capita than any other country and is the largest Pride celebration in the Nordic region, but the Stockholm event is by far the biggest.  

The Pride Parade, which usually attracts around 50,000 participants in a normal year, will be broadcast digitally from Södra Teatern on August 7th on Stockholm Pride’s website and social media. The two-hour broadcast will be led by tenor and debater Rickard Söderberg.

The two major venues of the festival are Pride House, located this year at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull in Södermalm, and Pride Stage, which is at Södra Teatern near Slussen.

“We are super happy with the layout and think it feels good for us as an organisation to slowly return to normal. There are so many who have longed for it,” chairperson of Stockholm Pride, Vix Herjeryd, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Tickets are required for all indoor events at Södra Teatern to limit the number of people indoors according to pandemic restrictions. But the entire stage programme will also be streamed on a big screen open air on Mosebacketerassen, which doesn’t require a ticket.  

You can read more about this year’s Pride programme on the Stockholm Pride website (in Swedish).