“Phantom Jack,” a new comic book from Image Comics, tells the story of a news reporter, Jack Baxter, who always seems to get the impossible stories. How can he do it? He can make himself invisible. And in the first issue, Jack Baxter is wearing a Temple-hooded sweatshirt.
Temple graduate and creator of the comic, Mike SanGiacomo said, “It was done purposely. I brought my old Temple hoody to my artist and asked him to draw it on Jack.”
He said Jack is also a Temple graduate and will mention Temple throughout the comic.
SanGiacomo, a former journalism major, graduated from Temple in the winter of 1973. “Temple is a good journalism school,” he said. “I learned a lot from guest lecturers and it was great that they kept bringing in new people.”
The colorist for the comic, Jaime Jones, is only 18 years old and recently applied to Temple’s Tyler School of Art, but is still weighing his options.
“I received Jaime’s samples and thought they were wonderful,” SanGiacomo said. “I didn’t find out he was 17 until a few months later, and I just asked him ‘where did you learn to do this so well?'”
SanGiacomo worked at a number of newspapers, including Today’s Post in King of Prussia, Pa., and The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. He also taught beginner journalism courses from 1980-1986 at Temple’s Ambler campus. In 1993, he began working as a comic critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
SanGiacomo frequently criticized Marvel Comics in his articles for the Plain Dealer. Then Marvel called him. They wanted to know if he could do a better job. Marvel asked a number of comic critics to submit comic ideas. At first, SanGiacomo turned down the offer, but the idea for “Phantom Jack” – originally named “Nowhere Man” – popped into his head and he send them his story.
“Invisibility was never properly used in comics, so I took a realistic approach to what would happen if a real person got these powers. Phantom Jack is not a superhero but will do heroic things,” he said.
Marvel loved the idea. Out of 150 scripts they received, they chose two. One was “Phantom Jack.” But the Marvel employee running the project was fired and his replacement decided against the script.
So SanGiacomo took his comic to Image Comics and got published. He explained that the first two issues of the comic are very Marvel-style but that Image Comics has given him more artistic freedom for future issues. There will be at least five issues of “Phantom Jack,” but another 10 more have been written. The future of the series will depend on the comic’s sales.
The first issue of SanGiacomo’s “Phantom Jack” was released at the end of March; the second issue is due in late April.
Jillian Swanson can be reached at PhilliesGrl408@comcast.net