Grandma's Heroes: Mandrake the Magician

Avatar image for cbishop
Posted by cbishop (12013 posts) - - Show Bio
DateGrandma's Legacy:View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
10/08/13Grandma's Heroes: Mandrake the Magician(Blog) (Forum)Mandrake(Back) (Next)
No Caption Provided

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.
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 andThe 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.

< Grandma's Comics (Grandma's Legacy) Grandma's Books: Dictionaries and Tides of the Heart >
Avatar image for cbishop
#1 Edited by cbishop (12013 posts) - - Show Bio
Avatar image for kfhrfdu_89_76k
#2 Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k (5656 posts) - - Show Bio

"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.

Avatar image for cbishop
#3 Posted by cbishop (12013 posts) - - Show Bio

@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. ;)

Avatar image for Abishai100
#4 Posted by Abishai100 (1744 posts) - - Show Bio

Vertigo Trick: Mandrake's Mixology

I'm so glad someone posted something like this about Mandrake. He's one of the classiest and most under-appreciated comic book characters. There just doesn't seem to be enough interest in the likes of Mandrake these days with all the stuff out there about the more thrill-fest and big-title superheroes such as Daredevil, Batman, and Iron Man.

Thanks for the photo of the Mandrake figurine. It looks like a solid treasure. I'm a big fan of The Phantom, another triumph for King Features Syndicate.

Here's a worthy illusion for the cool hand and wand of the heroic Mandrake and the diabolical Vertigo (Marvel Comics), a mutant and adversary of the X-Men who possesses powers of hypnosis and mental freezing; I'm adding it, since Mandrake could make a splash, in my opinion, with the rightly-toned cross-over story:


"Mandrake approaches Vertigo and poses to her a simple riddle to challenge her might and powers of mental vertigo. 'Vertigo, your powers are hard to resist. However, since you're so focused on the continuity of thought waves, how about I throw a monkey-wrench into your matrix by taking photos of you with my handy-dandy instant camera. As your deadly mental waves propagate, my little instant snapshots will provide mementos of the event, separated efficiently by time and recorded on film.' Vertigo replies in wonder, 'Why would that stop my mental wave energy?' to which Mandrake responds, 'With this perception-illusion setting proposition, I have challenged your wave propagation with a simple mechanical time-freeze. After all, can you STOP an instant camera from doing its work?' Vertigo is humbled and concedes defeat in this simple and harmless logic game."


Mandrake (KFS) is really a fun comic book character to work with and celebrate, and I think people starting out with comic books might be surprised at how enchanting their experience in the comic book universe can be with a Mandrake primer.

Negative (Photography)

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.