March 19, 2016


New release: This week Titan books published the first volume collecting Mandrake the Magician by Lee Falk (The Phantom). Falk's Mandrake character was a gentleman adventurer who traveled to exotic locations to fight international crime with his hypnotic powers and keen detective skills. The comic strip has rarely been re-printed and this book series will be the first complete color collection ever made available! The strip was the first to feature a magician and, unlike other pulp adventurers, Mandrake used his intelligence and illusionist skills to thwart the evil masterminds. Artwork was by Phil Davis, who rivaled Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon, Secret Agent X-9, Rip Kirby) in beautiful fine-brushwork and detail. Like many heroes of the period, Mandrake went on to appear in other media, including a radio show for the Mutual Broadcasting Company (1940-1942), a Columbia cliffhanger serial (1939), and a TV pilot in 1954. King Features released an exciting comic book series in the 1960s. Hermes Press recently published a deluxe collection of the comic books, which also includes extensive essays, rare Mandrake graphics, comic back-up stories, and even some of the original artwork from the comics! (The Hermes cover art appears at the end below. Details at Hermes Press). There have been many attempts to bring Mandrake to the big screen in a feature-length adventure, most notably by Federico Fellini in the early 1960s and in the 2000s by Baldwin Entertainment and Warner Brothers. Mandrake also made appearances in the Defenders of the Earth animated series (1986-87). Despite this long legacy, the original comic strips by Falk are only now receiving the care they deserve. From the Titan press release on Amazon: "From the very beginning in 1934, these are the original adventures of the famous comic strip detective- collected in full for the very first time! Mandrake is a master of hypnosis, whose ability causes his opponents to encounter wild illusions, giving the heroes the upper hand in a fight. His enemies cover a broad spectrum, including gangsters, mad scientists, alien creatures, and characters from other adventures. His greatest ally is Lothar, "Prince of the Seven Nations" who gave up his crown to join Mandrake in his globe-trotting adventures. They are accompanied by the beautiful Narda, princess of a European nation and Mandrake's romantic interest. Mandrake's exploits are among the most stunning and exciting in the realm of comic strips." Spy Vibers can also order the book at Bud's Art Books. Falk's idea of adding mental illusion to mystery/detective adventure was unusual. Street and Smith's popular character, The Shadow, first appeared in print in 1931, but I believe he did not gain his mysterious powers to "cloud men's minds" until the character was adapted for radio in 1937- three years after Mandrake's debut- when it was easier to use the device of invisibility to present the action for listeners. Mandrake and Phantom creator Lee Flak passed away in 1999 at the age of eighty-seven. Spy Vibe's image archives on Pinterest: The Phantom, Cliffhanger Serials, The Shadow, Mandrake the Magician. Enjoy!

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  1. In Italy, Mandrake was an erotic version called Maldrak:$(KGrHqN,!oMFC2ZUoVclBQ7-sK6Uqw~~60_57.JPG

  2. that's a hilarious adaptation! thanks for the link :)


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