"What did you say?"
"I said: Fantomas."
"And what does that mean?"
"Nothing... And everything!"
"But what is it?"
"Nobody... And yet, it is somebody!"
"And what does that somebody do?"
("Fantômas"- Chapter 1)
Created by: Marcel Allain (1885-1970) & Pierre Souvestre
Fantômas was the brainchild of Marcel
Allain and Pierre Souvestre. Fantômas was created in 1911 and appeared in a total of thirty-two volumes written
by the two collaborators, then a subsequent eleven volumes written by Allain alone after Souvestre's death in 1914.
Allain went on to become the prolific author of well over 500 adventure, romance, detective novels and serials.
His best-known achievement, however, remained the Fantômas series.
Arch-criminal Fantômas was one of the most popular characters in the history of French pulp literature. Fantômas
appears to have been born in 1867. Later, it was revealed that his nemesis, the determined French police detective
Juve, is his twin brother.
In the books, it is established that c. 1892, the man who later became Fantômas called himself Archduke Juan
North and operated in the German Principality of Heisse-Weimar. There he fathered a child, Vladimir, with an unidentified noblewoman. In circumstances unrevealed, he was arrested and sent to
C. 1895, Fantômas was in India. There, an unidentified European woman gave birth to a baby girl, Hélène, whose father might be Fantômas,
or an Indian Prince who was Fantômas' acolyte. The girl was raised in South Africa.
In 1897, Fantômas was in America and Mexico. There, he ruined his then-business partner, Etienne Rambert.
In 1899, he fought in the Second Boer War in South Africa under the name of Gurn. He fought in the Transvaal as an artillery sergeant under the command of Lord Roberts. He
became aide-de-camp to Lord Edward Beltham
of Scottwell Hill and fell in love with his younger wife, Lady Maud Beltham.
Upon their return to Europe, soon before the first novel begins (c. 1900), Gurn and Lady Beltham were surprised
in their Paris love nest, Rue Levert, by her husband. Lord Beltham was about to shoot Maud when Gurn hit him with
a hammer then strangled him.
Fantômas then impersonated Etienne Rambert and framed his son, Charles
Rambert, for a murder he had committed. His adversary, Juve, truly obsessed
with his capture, exposed Fantômas and turned young Charles Rambert into a journalist, Jerôme
Fandor, now working for La Capitale.
Lady Beltham remained constantly torn between her passion for the villain and her horror at his criminal schemes.
She eventually committed suicide in 1910 after killing the son of one of Fantômas' earlier victims who was
Fandor fell in love with Hélène and, despite Fantômas repeated attempts to break them up, married
Fantômas' evil son, Vladimir, reappeared in 1911. Vladimir's girl-friend, Firmaine, was murdered by Fantômas and ladimir is shot and killed by Juve in No. 29 just as he
was about to shoot Hélène.
Both Fantômas and Juve are reputed to have died aboard the Titanic in 1912.
The first Fantômas book cover, showing a contemplative masked man dressed in a dinner jacket and holding
a dagger, boldly stepping over Paris, was so well known that it has almost become a cliché today. Just as
was the archetypal modern detective, Fantômas was the archetypal modern arch-villain. Among his better-known
(and even more horrific) literary descendents were the Italian super-villains Diabolik, Satanik,
FOR SPECULATIONS ON FANTOMAS' REAL IDENTITY AND HIS CHILDREN, SEE OUR ARTICLE
THE TANGLED WEB.
FOR MORE ABOUT MARCEL ALLAIN AND HIS OTHER SERIES,
TIGRIS, FATALA AND MISS TERIA.
TO FIND OUT MORE, BUY THESE BOOKS
By Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre:
(Fayard, 1911; transl. as Fantomas, Stanley,
Paul & Co/Brentano's, 1915; retransl. Ballantine, 1986)
2. Juve contre Fantômas [Juve vs. Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911; transl. as The Exploits Of Juve, Stanley, Paul & Co/Brentano's,
1916; retransl. as The Silent Executioner,
3. Le Mort qui Tue [The
Dead Man Who Kills] a.k.a. Fantômas Se Venge [The
Vengeance Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911; transl. as Messengers
Of Evil, Stanley, Paul & Co/Brentano's, 1917)
4. L'Agent Secret [The
Secret Agent] a.k.a. Une Ruse de Fantômas [A
Ruse Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911; transl. as A
Nest Of Spies, Stanley, Paul & Co/Brentano's, 1917)
5. Un Roi Prisonnier de Fantômas
[A King Prisoner Of Fantomas] (Fayard,
1911; transl. as A Royal Prisoner, Stanley,
Paul & Co/Brentano's, 1919)
6. Le Policier Apache [The Apache Policeman] a.k.a. Le Policier Fantômas
[Fantomas Policeman] (Fayard, 1911; transl.
as The Long Arm Of Fantomas, Macaulay
7. Le Pendu de Londres [The Hanged Man Of London] a.k.a. Aux Mains de Fantômas
[In The Hands Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911;
transl. as Slippery as Sin, Stanley, Paul
& Co, 1920)
8. La Fille de Fantômas [The Daughter Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911)
9. Le Fiacre de Nuit [The Night Hansom Cab] a.k.a. Le Fiacre de Fantômas
[The Hansom Cab Of Fantomas] (Fayard,
10. La Main Coupée [The Severed Hand] a.k.a. Fantômas à Monaco
[Fantomas In Monaco] (Fayard, 1911; transl.
as The Limb Of Satan, Stanley, Paul &
Co/Macaulay Co, 1924)
11. L'Arrestation de Fantômas [The Capture Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1911)
12. Le Magistrat Cambrioleur [The Burglar Judge] a.k.a. Le Juge Fantômas [Judge Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
13. La Livrée du Crime [The Livery Of Crime] a.k.a. La Livrée de
Fantômas [The Livery Of Fantomas]
14. La Mort de Juve [The
Death Of Juve] a.k.a. Fantômas Tue Juve [Fantomas
Kills Juve] (Fayard, 1912)
15. L'Evadée de Saint-Lazare [The Escapee From Saint-Lazare] a.k.a. Fantômas,
Roi du Crime [Fantomas, King Of Crime]
16. La Disparition de Fandor [The Disappearance Of Fandor] a.k.a. Fandor Contre
Fantômas [Fandor vs. Fantomas] (Fayard,
17. Le Mariage de Fantômas [The Wedding Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
18. L'Assassin de Lady Beltham [The Assassin Of Lady Beltham] a.k.a. Les Amours de Fantômas
[The Loves Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
19. La Guêpe Rouge [The Red Wasp] a.k.a. Un Défi de Fantômas
[The Challenge Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
20. Les Souliers du Mort [The Dead Man's Shoes] a.k.a. Fantômas Rôde
[Fantomas Prowls] (Fayard, 1912)
21. Le Train Perdu [The
Lost Train] a.k.a. Le Train de Fantômas [The
Train Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
22. Les Amours d'un Prince [The Love Of A Prince] a.k.a. Fantômas s'amuse [Fantomas Has Fun] (Fayard, 1912)
23. Le Bouquet Tragique [The Tragic Bouquet] a.k.a. Le Bouquet de Fantômas
[The Bouquet Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1912)
24. Le Jockey Masqué [The Masked Jockey] a.k.a. Fantômas, Roi du Turf
[Fantomas, King Of The Turf] (Fayard,
25. Le Cercueil Vide [The Empty Coffin] a.k.a. Le Cercueuil de Fantômas
[The Coffin Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1913)
26. Le Faiseur de Reines [The Queen Maker] a.k.a. Fantômas Contre l'Amour
[Fantomas vs. Love] (Fayard, 1913)
27. Le Cadavre Géant [The Giant Corpse] a.k.a. Le Spectre de Fantômas
[The Spectre Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1913)
28. Le Voleur d'Or [The
Gold Thief] a.k.a. Prisonniers de Fantômas! [Prisoners
Of Fantomas!] (Fayard, 1913)
29. La Série Rouge [The Red Series] a.k.a. Fantômas s'évade [Fantomas Escapes] (Fayard, 1913)
30. L'Hôtel du Crime [Crime Hotel] a.k.a. Fantômas accuse! [Fantomas Accuses!] (Fayard, 1913)
31. La Cravate de Chanvre [The Hemp Necktie] a.k.a. Le Domestique de Fantômas
[The Servant Of Fantomas] (Fayard, 1913)
32. La Fin de Fantômas [The End Of Fantomas] a.k.a. Fantômas Est-Il Mort?
[Is Fantomas Dead?] (Fayard, 1913)
By Marcel Allain alone:
33. Fantômas est-il ressuscité?
[Is Fantomas Resurrected?] (SPE, 1925/Fayard,
1934; transl. as The Lord Of Terror, Stanley,
Paul & Co/ David Mac Kay, 1925)
34. Fantômas, Roi des Recéleurs
[Fantomas, King Of The Fences] (SPE, 1926/Fayard,
1934; transl. as Juve In The Dock, Stanley,
Paul & Co/ David Mac Kay, 1926)
35. Fantômas en Danger [Fantomas In Danger] (SPE, 1926/Fayard, 1935, transl. as
Fantomas Captured, Stanley, Paul &
Co/ David Mac Kay, 1926)
36. Fantômas prend sa Revanche [Fantomas Takes His Revenge] (SPE, 1926/Fayard, 1935; transl.
as The Revenge Of Fantomas, Stanley, Paul
& Co/ David Mac Kay, 1927)
37. Fantômas Attaque Fandor [Fantomas Attacks Fandor] (SPE, 1926/Fayard, 1935; transl.
as Bulldog And Rats, Stanley, Paul &
38. Si c'était Fantômas?
[If It Was Fantomas?] ("Le Petit Journal", 1933; Fayard, 1935)
39. Oui, c'est Fantômas! [Yes, It Is Fantomas!] ("Le
Petit Journal", 1934; Fayard, 1937)
40. Fantômas Joue et Gagne [Fantomas Plays And Wins] ("La
Dépêche", 1935; Fayard, 1947)
41. Fantômas Rencontre l'Amour [Fantomas Meets Love] ("France-Soir", 1946; Fayard, 1947)
42. Fantômas Vole des Blondes [Fantomas Steals From The Blondes] ("Ce Soir"/Fayard, 1948)
43. Fantômas Mène le Bal
[Fantomas Leads The Dance] ("Constellation", 1963)
The Silent Serials
Directed & Written by Louis Feuillade
(B&W., 1146 meters, 1913)
2. Juve Contre Fantômas [Juve vs. Fantômas] (B&W., 1913)
3. Le Mort Qui Tue [The
Dead Man Who Kills] (B&W., 1913)
4. Fantômas contre Fantômas
[Fantomas vs. Fantomas] (B&W., 1914)
5. Le Faux Magistrat [The Phony Magistrate] (B&W., 1914)
Cast: René Navarre (Fantomas),
Bréon (Juve), Georges Melchior (Fandor), Renée Carl (Lady Beltham).
For more about Louis Feuillade, see Judex.
Fantômas (B&W., 91 min., 1932)
Directed & Written by Paul Féjos
Cast: Jean Galland (Fantomas), Thomy Bourdelle
(Juve), Tania Fedor (Lady Beltham), Marie-Laure, Gaston Modot, Georges Rigaud.
Mr. Fantômas (B&W., 20 min.,
Directed & Written by Ernst Moerman
Cast: Jean Michel, Trudi Ventonderen,
Françoise Bert, Jacqueline Arpé, Susan Samuel, Léa Dumont.
(Belgian short feature)
Fantômas (B&W., 95 min., 1946)
Direcred by Jean Sacha; Written by Jean-Louis Bouquet
Cast: Marcel Herrand (Fantomas), Alexandre
Rignault (Juve), André Le Gall (Fandor), Lucienne Le Marchand (Lady Beltham), Simone Signoret (Hélène),
Yves Deniaud, Georges Gosset.
(Jean-Louis Bouquet is a noted writer
of fantasy novels.)
Fantômas contre Fantômas [Fantomas vs. Fantomas] (B&W., 95 min., 1948)
Directed by Robert Vernay; Written by Solange Térac
Cast: Maurice Teynac (Fantomas), Alexandre
Rignault (Juve), Yves Furet (Fandor), Aimé Clariond, Balpêtré, Marcelle Chantal.
95 min., 1964)
Fantômas Se Déchaîne
[Fantomas Strikes Back] (Color, 94 min.,
Fantômas contre Scotland Yard [Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard] (Color, 92 min., 1966)
Directed by André Hunebelle; Written by Jean Hallain & Pierre Foucaud
Cast: Jean Marais (Fantomas/Fandor), Louis
de Funès (Juve), Mylène Demongeot.
Fantômas (Color, 4 90-min.
Regular Cast: Helmut Berger (Fantomas),
Jacques Dufilho (Juve), Pierre Malet (Fandor), Gayle Hunnicut (Lady Beltham).
Eps 1, 4, Directed by Claude Chabrol; Written by Bernard Revon
Eps 2, 3, Directed by Juan Luis Buñuel; Written by Bernard Revon
(RTF, 60 episodes, 12 November 1946-17 January 1947)
Dir: René Guignard.
Wri: Georges Janin.
Voices: Paul Bernard (Fantômas).
(RTF, 256 episodes, 8 May 1973-16 August 1974)
Dir: Claude Mourthé.
Wri: Henri Béhar.
Voices: Roger Carel (Fantômas),
Alain Mottet (Juve), Claude Nicot (Fandor), Catherine Rich (Lady Beltham), Jean Rochefort (Narrator).
La Fin de Fantômas (The End of Fantômas)
(France-Culture, 130 min., 12 May 1984)
Dir: Arlette Adrian, Claude Calvez, Anna
Sibert, Jean-Jacques Vierne.
Wri: Pierre Dupriez and Serge Martel.
Voices: Philippe Clay, Jean-Mar Thibault,
Yves Rénier, Claude Piéplu, Marie-Hélène Breillat, Germaine Montero.
La Naissance de Fantômas (The Birth of Fantômas)
(France-Culture, 10 episodes, 13-24 May 1991)
Dir: Claude Guerre.
Wri: Cécile Wajsbrot. Didier Jouault.
Voices: Fred Personne (Pierre Souvestre),
Daniel Dublet (Marcel Allain), Raymond Jourdan (Louis Feuillade), C. Sauvage, J. Kircher, D. Massa, J.-C. Durand,
Story: Fictionalized version of the real-life
events behind the creation and publishing of Fantômas.
(France-Culture, 7 August 1991)
Voice: Med Hondo (Fantômas).
Note: Actual excerpt read by Michael Lonsdale on the anthology Héros du Roman Noir Français (Heroes of French Gothic Novels).
Fantômas contre les Nains
[Fantomas vs. the Dwarves]. A weekly color
page written by Marcel Allain and drawn
by P. Santini was published in "Gavroche" Nos. 24-30, 1941. This series
was interrupted because of censorship; a sequel, Fantômas et l'Enfer
Sous-Marin [Fantomas and the Undersea
Hell] was written but not published.
A daily Fantômas b&w strip drawn
by Pierre Tabary was syndicated by Opera
Mundi from November 1957 to March 1958 (192 strips in total), adapting the first two novels.
Seventeen Fantômas fumetti (photo-novels)
magazines adapting Nos 1, 2, 3 and 5 of the book series were published by Del Duca in 1962 and 1963.
A new weekly, Fantômas color page,
written by Agnès Guilloteau and
drawn by Jacques Taillefer, was again
syndicated by Opera Mundi in 1969 and published in "Jours de France".
Finally, a series of Fantômas graphic novels written by L. Dellisse and drawn by Claude Laverdure
were published by Belgian publisher Claude Lefrancq in its "BDetectives" imprint, starting in 1990, as follows:
1. L'Affaire Beltham
[The Beltham Case] (Lefrancq, 1990)
2. Juve contre Fantômas [Juve vs. Fantomas] (Lefrancq, 1991)
3. Le Mort qui Tue [The
Dead Man Who Kills] (Lefrancq, 1995)
THE STAGE PLAYS
1. Fantômas (Naples,1912). Adapted by G. Castellano. Unauthorized performance.
2. Fantômas (France,1921).
Adapted by Gabriel Timmory.
Cast: Galipaux (Fantômas), Mme Duluc
(Lady Beltham), Van Daele (Juve), Maurice Poggi (Fandor)
(Italy,1922). Italian version of (2) above.
FRENCH POSTAGE STAMP
"Oh, curse him! Fantomas has escaped!
Fantomas has gotten away!
He has had some innocent man
executed in his stead!
I tell you, Fantomas is alive! "
("Fantômas"- Last Chapter)
LINKS TO OTHER SITES:
FANTOMAS LIVES (IN ENGLISH)
FANTOMAS SITE (IN FRENCH)