|"Pistol" Pete Klaus and Ed Rhoades (mustache) with Lee Falk and Sy Barry.|
Back in 2007, soon after I started working on my first Phantom story for Egmont, I became acquainted with Ed Rhoades and “Pistol” Pete Klaus.
“For those who came in late” these two gentlemen happen to be two of the foremost Phantom historian, collectors and promoters. They were also the co-founders of the “Friends of the Phantom Society” which has sponsored numerous charitable initiatives along with a traditional annual luncheon at Sardi's Restaurant in New York with guests such as Lee Falk (who created The Phantom in 1936) and Sy Barry. (One The Phantom’s most iconic artists)
Ed and Pete quickly became my Guardian Angels. They educated me on The Phantom’s history, his heritage and what he represented for generations of fans worldwide.
Even after the untimely passing of Ed Rhoades (July 30, 2012) “Pistol Pete” kept the “Friends of The Phantom” going by keeping in touch with a lot of creators, editors, publishers and collectors from all over the world.
I was fortunate enough (and still am) to get periodical phone calls from Pete who encouraged me along the way, while sharing with me some rare reference material and even some Lee Falk and Sy Barry originals which are proudly displayed on my studio wall.
In one of these phone calls, ( in the later part of 2013) Pete mentioned that he had recommended my services to Dan Herman, the publisher of Hermes Press, a Pennsylvania company specializing in art books and classic comic book reprints.
Pete and Dan had been long time friends and had collaborated in the recovery of original material to be used in the reprints.
I told Pete that I would be willing to talk to Mr. Herman and I waited for his call for a few months, until that faithful day arrived, in February 2014.
Dan was calling me from his cell phone, on the way back home. That was the reason for the bad connection. “Saaal- bzzz- I heard good thingzz about you from our mutual friend Pete… Bzzzz…Anywayszz- zzzz- I have an offer for you, if you’re interested…”
Coming up, next: “Your mission, if you decide to accept it…”