[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.