Grandma's Heroes: Mandrake the Magician

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3610/08/13Grandma's Heroes: Mandrake the Magician(Blog) (Forum)Mandrake(Back) (Next)

I came home one day last week, and found that my mom and my aunt had once again turned up something that I had given to my grandmother. This time it was a small statue of Mandrake the Magician. Sculpted by Yoe! Studio, it's #7 of Dark Horse's original Classic Comic Character line of statues. This one is #416 of 750, and was produced in the year 2000.

...I'm a bit overwhelmed. I want to tell you something about Mandrake the Magician, but I've got just a hundred jillion thoughts about my grandmother running through my head. She told me on more than one occasion that she loved Mandrake as a girl. Regretfully, I never really asked her why. To me, it was comics, so what's not to love? I guess I just assumed that to be her reason as well.

I think Grandma would have been tickled with this image.

Aside from the fact that Superman and company weren't around until a few years after Mandrake debuted, our Magician carries the classic look: black tuxedo with tails, black tophat, and black cape with red liner. He could fit in anywhere with that. On stage, at a high society party, in amongst gangsters, or he could even pass James Bond in a casino, and one might only take notice of the tophat. I call it "the classic look," but the fact is: Mandrake probably helped establish that design as the classic look. It was probably the normal stage magician's attire already, but the distribution of Mandrake through the papers of King Features Syndicate probably did a lot for cementing it in the collective pop culture consciousness.

His powers are basic too: a certain amount of detective skill, a super amount of hypnotic skill, and a strong hand at being an illusionist. What I loved about classic Mandrake is that it was always left to question whether the magic he performed was real, or just illusion. That frustrated me as a child, because of course it needed to be real, but I appreciate it much more as an adult. Yeah, I'd rather it be real, and just make Mandrake out to be a superhero once and for all, but who cares? We need a few questions in our lives, so if Mandrake can keep us guessing, all the better.

Probably the thing that fascinates me the most about him is that Lee Falk created him and The Phantom. Two- count 'em: TWO classic characters that have stood the test of time! Yes, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and company have created many, many characters that have stayed with us, but what fascinates me about the old newspaper strip characters is that they're not always in print. They fade into obscurity a bit, then someone dusts them off, they get licensed, and people. still. love. them. How cool is that?

...Pretty danged cool. God rest her soul, my grandmother loved Mandrake the Magician too, and it makes me a little warm and fuzzy inside to know that I do too. It makes me feel closer to grandma- or maybe just closer to her memory. And for that, I'm always going to love Mandrake the Magician, and the rest of grandma's heroes.

3 Comments
3 Comments
Edited by cbishop

to be edited.

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

"What I loved about classic Mandrake is that it was always left to question whether the magic he performed was real, or just illusion."

I`ve read a few comics of his and his cohorts adventures...and yet I didn`t understand this unique aspect...It`s so obvious. How could I have missed it?

I actually regarded it as PIS writing, but that makes much more sense.

Posted by cbishop

@kfhrfdu_89_76k: I used to find it frustrating, because I wanted them to reveal that it was real, because it was a comic book- Mandrake needed to be a superhero! Didn't they understand?! lol ...It took me awhile to see the brilliance of it. ;)