Tag Archives: mandrake the magician

Memory Lane: Mandrake the Magician

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[Editor’s Note: I’m kind of steering clear of miserable news this weekend, although it seems to be costing me some readership. Oh, well…]

When I was a boy I looked forward to the color comics in the Sunday paper. Flash Gordon, Little Lulu, Archie, Mark Trail–and Mandrake the Magician. Lee Falk, who went on to create The Phantom, came up with Mandrake in 1934. The comic strip outlived its creator and only stopped running in 2013. I had no idea.

Mandrake the Magician always went around in his magician’s duds, along with his best bud, Lothar. Lothar wore a fez and a leopard skin, finally getting real clothes in 1965–after, I suspect, many a chilly winter. Lothar was an African chief with super-powers of his own. And there was Princess Narda to complete the team. She and Mandrake were engaged to be married, which they finally did in 1997. It was a very long engagement.

My favorite line in this comic strip–Patty and I still use it–was, of course, “Mandrake gestures hypnotically.” The subject, usually a bad guy, was instantaneously hypnotized to see and feel whatever Mandrake planted in his head. We may be thankful that Mandrake never entered politics.

To borrow a motto from World War II paratroopers, “It’s foolish but it’s fun!” I mean, really–always to be wearing a great big cape and high silk hat? Or leopard skin and fez? Don’t magicians ever change their clothes? Or do they just have whole closets full of capes and shiny dinner jackets?

Mandrake, I might add, was a personal friend of the Emperor of the Galaxy. It ensured him always to be able to find a parking space. If magic can’t do that for you, political pull surely will.

In Praise of Sunday Color Comics

Tomorrow I’ll go back to telling truths that will make the progs and lib’rals  mad at me. To honor God, I do try to refrain from doing battle on the Sabbath Day. By obeying His commandment to rest on that day, we proclaim our God’s sovereign lordship over His creation.

Among the pleasant memories that lower my blood pressure are the quiet Sundays of my childhood and, whatever the weather, the Sunday color comics. Crack of the bat and clink of horseshoes in the summer; Sunday school and maybe an afternoon at the movies, if my father was willing, in the winter: but in all seasons, the funny papers.

My folks stuck to the local New Jersey papers, but my grandparents, both sets of them, got the New York Daily News, so they had New York comics. I read those, although a few of the strips in the New York papers, like Moon Mullins and Gasoline Alley, I couldn’t quite get, and one or two others, like Smilin’ Jack, struck me as vaguely sinister. But our local papers didn’t have The Teeny Weenies or Smoky Stover, so I couldn’t afford to ignore the comics in my grandma’s Sunday paper.

But here at home, every Sunday–aah! Prince Valiant: Hal Foster’s spectacular artwork made the Age of Arthur come alive for me–and it still is. Mark Trail midwifed my lifelong fascination with bugs and snakes and other critters. And does anyone out there remember The Little People? And not forgetting one of my all-time favorite lines on a Sunday afternoon: Mandrake gestures hypnotically… And then there was Peanuts.

Stretched out on the floor, quietly reading the comics–there was something to be said for that. Not that it did me any spiritual good, that I know of (although certainly Mark Trail was for me a gold mine of information about nature); but I have since learned that I belong to my Lord seven days a week, for every minute, and I don’t think He minds if I enjoy some undemanding fun on a Sunday.

But those old comics are gone, and the new ones are distasteful.

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