June 11, 1934: Enter Mandrake the Magician – A First and Last Entry

Ninety years ago Lee Falk began his 65 years in comic stripping by writing and drawing the first two weeks of Mandrake the Magician from June 11 to June 23, 1934. After that he continued as the creator and writer of Mandrake (and later The Phantom) but turned the art duties over to Phil Davis.

The strip did not make a big splash in the newspapers, even in the Hearst newspapers which had (has) a connection to Mandrake’s syndicate King Features, so below are the better part of the first two weeks of the Mandrake the Magician comic strips with Lee Falk as cartoonist from Australia’s Women Weekly (via newspapers.com) which ran the strip on a six month delay.

(Supersized versions of the above two pages can be read on The Daily Cartoonist’s Facebook page.)

Eight months after the daily began a Sunday page was launched on February 3, 1935.

The very first Mandrake strips were collected by Titan in a handsome volume eight years ago.

A new volume of the first two years is scheduled to be published by Hermes Press sometime this year.

Comics Kingdom begins their Mandrake the Magician archive with strips from 1938, by which time both Falk and Davis are mastering the comic art and would only improve over the next two decades.

My only access to the Mandrake comic strip that I remember was the abbreviated Sunday version that ran in the weekly Grit newspaper. By that time Phil Davis had passed and Fred Fredericks was illustrating the adventures.

When Falk died in 1999 Fredericks took on the scripting of the comic.

The Sunday page ended on December 29, 2002.

The dailies would last until July 6, 2013 when the ailing 84 year old Fredericks could no longer continue.

The following Monday saw King Features begin distributing reprints from 1996 and Frederick’s origin of Mandrake.

4 thoughts on “June 11, 1934: Enter Mandrake the Magician – A First and Last Entry

  1. That final strip in 2013 was a rude disservice to Fred Fredericks and a highly undignified way to end the strip’s original run (unless of course you think of it as the ultimate type of cliffhanger).

  2. In a nice gesture, when DC needed an artist for their 1987 Who’s Who entry for Zatara the Magician (a very similar looking character who debuted with Superman in Action Comics #1 in 1938, four years after Mandrake first appeared), they gave the job to Fred Fredericks.

  3. I remember, clearly, that King Features promised, when Fredericks retired, that they would look for a replacement. Then, nothing happened, and in the meantime ten years have passed.

    Schakte’s choice on Flash Gordon demonstrated that it is possible to find a new author capable of modernizing strips like Mandrake. I wonder: what are they waiting for?

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