Mandrake the Magician is a U.S. comic strip created in 1934 by Lee Falk (also creator of The Phantom) and mainly appearing in syndication in newspapers. Falk soon gave the job of drawing the comic strip to artist Phil Davis, while continuing to write the storylines. Davis worked on the strip until his death in 1964; Falk then recruited current artist Fred Fredericks. On Falk's death in 1999, Fredericks took over writing the strip as well. Mandrake is widely believed to have been the first bona fide superhero.
Mandrake was an illusionist whose work was based on an impossibly fast hypnotic technique. As the narrator informed us: "Mandrake gestured hypnotically" and the subject or subjects of this hypnosis would suddenly see the illusions he wanted. Mandrake fought criminals and other villains in his spare time. This would include common gangsters, mad scientists, and aliens from outer space or other dimensions.
In the comic strip, Mandrake first met Lothar during his travels in Africa. Lothar was then "Prince of the Seven Nations", a mighty federation of jungle tribes, but passed on the chance to become king and instead followed Mandrake on his world travels, fighting crime and villains from all over the world (and the rest of the universe as well). He is often referred to as the strongest man in the world with the exception of perhaps Hojo - Mandrake's chef and secret chief of Inter Intel.
Perhaps one of the first black crime-fighting heroes ever to appear in comics, Lothar made his first appearance alongside Mandrake in 1934 in the inaugural daily strip. Mandrake and Lothar are generally recognized as the world's first interracial team of crime-fighters.
In the beginning, Lothar was little more than Mandrake's servant. He spoke poor English, wore a fez, short pants and a leopard skin. His muscles far exceeded his mental abilities. But despite that, Lothar was still recognized early on as Mandrake's equal by the readers. When artist Fred Fredericks took over in 1965 (after original artist Phil Davis had died), Lothar was modernized; he began to speak correct English and his clothing changed, although he still often wears shirts with leopard skin patterns.
Narda is of royal blood; she is Princess of the European nation Cockaigne (today ruled by her brother Segrid). She made her first appearance in the second Mandrake story. Although she and Mandrake were infatuated with one another from first sight, they didn't marry until 1997, when it was an extravagant triple wedding ceremony-- at Mandrake's home of Xanadu, in Narda's home country Cockaigne, and Mandrake's father Theron's College of Magic (Collegium Magikos) in the Himalayas.
Theron is Mandrake's father, although this was a secret to Mandrake for a long time. Mandrake's mother died shortly after she gave birth to Mandrake and his twin brother Derek. Theron is the headmaster of the College of Magic (Collegium Magikos) somewhere in the Himalayas. Theron is hundreds of years old, probably due to the energy of the powerful Mind Crystal of which he is the guardian.
Hojo is Mandrake's chef at his home of Xanadu. However, he is also the secret Chief of the international crime-fighting organization Inter-Intel, in addition to being a superb martial arts expert. As such, he has used Mandrake's help with many cases. Hojo's assistant at Inter-Intel is Jed.
The Police Chief is named Bradley but mostly just called "Chief", and has been aided by Mandrake on several occasions. He created the "S.S.D." (Silly Stuff Dept.) for absurd and unbelievable cases that only Mandrake could solve. He has a son, Chris.
Magnon is Mandrake's most powerful friend. He is the emperor of a million planets but even he has sometimes needed Mandrake's help. Magnon and his wife Carola have a daughter, Nardraka, who is named after Mandrake and Narda and is their godchild.
Lenore is Mandrake's younger half-sister. She is a world-renowned explorer.
Karma is Lothar's girlfriend, an African princess, who works as a model.
Xanadu is Mandrake's high tech residence, it has one of the world's best security with all electronic gadgets like closed circuit TV, sectional road which divides from half, dropping iron gates.
Derek is Mandrake's twin brother, and although similar to his brother in appearance, is totally different when it comes to morals and ethics. Derek is only after money and women and gladly uses his magical powers (that almost rival Mandrake's) to achieve his own personal goals. Mandrake has many times tried to remove Derek's knowledge of magic through mental battles, although it has always been only temporary solutions. Derek has a son, Eric (mother unknown) who so far has shown no signs of following in his father's footsteps.
The Clay Camel, real name Saki, is a master of disguises. He is known to be able to mimic anyone and change his appearance in seconds. His name comes from the symbol he leaves at the scenes of his crimes, a small camel made of clay.
The Brass Monkey, daughter of The Clay Camel with a similar talent for disguises.
Aleena the Enchantress is a former friend of Mandrake's from the College of Magic, a much-married spoilt temptress, who now prefers to use her magic powers for her own benefit. This includes trying to win Mandrake's heart, but when that doesn't succeed, she gladly tries to bring him trouble instead.
8 is an old and very powerful crime organization with roots to medieval times. Long thought to be dead and no more than a myth, Mandrake discovered that the organization is very much alive. They are known to often incorporate the number 8 in their crimes or leave the number 8 as a mark. They are organized like an octopus with eight arms (headquarters) spread out all over the world, and one head (the grim and mysterious leader Octon, only shown as a menacing image on a computer screen). Over the years, Mandrake has succeeded in destroying their headquarters one by one. In one of the stories the Octon of 8 is revealed as Cobra.
Ekardnam ('Mandrake' backwards) is Mandrake's "evil twin", who exists on the other side of the mirror. Like his world (where the government is run by the "Private of the Armies", and generals do menial work like running the elevators), Ekardnam is an exact opposite, i.e., evil and treacherous, and uses his "evil eye" powers to work his magic. He was seen when Narda was drawn into the mirror, an adventure that may have been only a bad dream.
The Deleter is one of the most unusual of Mandrake's foes. He is an extraterrestrial contract killer who will "delete" anyone for the right price. However, he does have a code-of-honor, and will seek justice for anyone who tries to cheat him out of his contract fee.
Mandrake had a prominent role in Magic Comics and Big Little Books of the 1930s and 1940s. Dell Comics published a Mandrake the Magician issue in their Four Color comic series with various main characters. The Mandrake issue was #752 and featured original stories by Stan Campell and written by Paul Newman.
In 1966-67 King Comics published ten issues of a Mandrake the Magician comic magazine. Most of the stories were remakes of newspaper strip stories, and featured art by Andre LeBlanc, Ray Bailey and others. Mandrake stories also ran as back-up features in other King titles.
Italian publisher Fratelli Spada produced a considerable amount of original Mandrake comic book stories in the 1960s and 1970s. A few of these were even published in the American Mandrake comic book mentioned above.
Mandrake has also enjoyed great success in comic books all over the world, for example Britain, Australia, Brazil, India, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden (although in the case of the Nordic countries, most often as a back up feature in the Phantom comic books).
Mandrake is popular in India through Indrajal Comics.
In Mad Magazine in the 1950s, Mandrake was spoofed as "Manduck." He lives in a hovel, which he convinces visitors is a palatial home by 'gesturing hypnotically.' In the story he matches wits with The Shadow; he, Lothar, and The Shadow all gesture hypnotically at each other and only Lothar (looking like Manduck) remains. In a later article, Manduck pulls off the (enviable!) trick of turning Lothar into a six-foot-tall blond woman.
Moonstone Books will being producing an original series of Mandrake comics in 2008.
NBC made a pilot for a Mandrake the Magician TV series in 1954, but no other episodes were made. Stage magician Coe Norton starred as Mandrake and Woody Strode as Lothar.
In the animated series Defenders of the Earth (1986-1987), Mandrake the Magician teams up with fellow King Features adventurers Flash Gordon and The Phantom. Mandrake's friend Lothar also has a prominent role, as well as a teenage son nicknamed L.J. who was also a martial artist. On the other hand, Mandrake has an adoptive son of Asian blood named Kshin, whom he's training as his apprentice and heir. Peter Renaday was the voice of Mandrake and Buster Jones the voice of Lothar. The entire series has been released by BCI Eclipse in two DVD sets.
In the animated series Phantom 2040, featuring a future Phantom, Mandrake has a brief, unnamed appearance in the episode "The Magician". He is presented as an old friend of that Phantom's father, and his remarkably well-preserved shape is compatible with the longevity-conferring properties of the Crystals.
Within two weeks of signing with his first agent, American filmmaker Michael Almereyda was hired by Embassy Pictures to rewrite a script for Mandrake the Magician. He told Filmmaker that upon receiving the assignment, he flew to New York and checked himself in at the Chelsea Hotel to work on the rewrite. Three weeks later, he emerged with new draft in hand, but by then the studio had changed heads, and in as little time as his revision took, the project was dropped.
Mandrake is also a character in the play King Kong Palace, written by Chilean playwriter Marco Antonio de la Parra. In the play, Mandrake is now a performer in birthday parties and attempts to seduce Jane, the ambitious wife of Tarzan, in order to satisfy his lust for power.
The Mandrake Mechanism by which money is magically created by the Federal Reserve.
Bombing shatters loved ones' illusions of safety ; A suicide attack, says the wife of a Maine guardsman in Mosul, is 'an evil we haven't even considered.'
Dec 24, 2004; TOM BELL Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 12-24-2004 Bombing shatters loved ones' illusions of safety ; A suicide...