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Fantômas

Fantômas, a fictional master criminal, is the subject of a series of early-20th century French detective thrillers. He is a master of disguise, always appearing under an assumed identity, often that of a person he has murdered. He is pursued in the novels by Inspector Juve, a police detective obsessed with his capture, and Jérôme Fandor, a journalist whose father Fantômas murdered and impersonated. Fantômas is assisted, sometimes reluctantly, by his lover Lady Beltham, an English noblewoman whose husband was another of Fantômas's victims. Fantômas makes use of bizarre and improbable techniques in his crimes, such as plague-infested rats, giant snakes, and rooms that fill with sand.

The original series of Fantômas stories comprises 32 novels by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, which appeared in French between 1911 and 1913. The first seven books of the series appeared in English translation between 1915 and 1920. The original covers of the novels, by Gino Starace, are often considered works of lurid genius in themselves, and may be seen at the "Fantômas Lives" site linked below. During the 1980s, the first two novels of the series were published in revised English translations: Fantômas appeared in 1986 with an introduction by the American poet John Ashbery, and Juve contre Fantômas appeared in 1987 under the title The Silent Executioner with an introduction by the American artist Edward Gorey. The remainder of the series has never been published in English.

In 1926, Marcel Allain published five more Fantômas adventures written by himself alone, Souvestre having died in February of 1914. Between 1933 and 1938, he published three more Fantômas adventures as newspaper serials, which never appeared as books. None of these later works have ever been published in English.

The silent film pioneer Louis Feuillade directed five films based on the Fantômas series, appearing in 1913-1914. They are regarded as masterpieces of silent film and are often considered to be superior to the novels themselves. His later serial Les Vampires, which concerns a mysterious crime syndicate known as "The Vampires," is reminiscent of the Fantômas series in many respects, and generally considered superior to the earlier films. Both sets of films have been released on video. A number of subsequent series of Fantômas films have been made, including one series starring Louis de Funes[?].

The Fantômas novels and the subsequent films were highly regarded by the French avant-garde of the day, particularly by the surrealists. Blaise Cendrars called the series "the modern Aeneid; Guillaume Apollinaire said that "from the imaginative standpoint Fantômas is one of the richest works that exist." The painter René Magritte and the surrealist poet and novelist Robert Desnos both produced works alluding to the novels or the subsequent films.

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The band Fantômas was formed in 1997 of an Alternative Metal and a Grunge Music band founded with the Melvins' Buzz Osbourne[?], two members of Faith No More/Mr. Bungle[?] (Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn[?]), and Slayer's Dave Lombardo[?].

Fantômas Discography
Year Title Label
1999 Fantômas[?] Ipecac Records[?]
2001 The Director's Cut[?] Ipecac Records[?]



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