Sunday, June 24, 2012
Number 1180: The stolen saucer
Sixty-five years ago today, June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold, flying his small private plane over the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, spotted nine strange flying objects in the sky. The story has come down as the event that kicked off flying saucer fever. I'm commemorating the anniversary with a story featuring Mandrake the Magician, "The Flying Saucers."
The story, taken from a newspaper comic strip continuity with dates unknown to me, was printed as part of the Indrajal Comics line in India, published by the Times of India. I have never seen an Indrajal Comic in person, only in digital form. I found this online, and after a minor clean up of the scans I am presenting it to you as I found it. (You may remember me saying a few weeks ago that off-register colors were a problem of American comics, but when it comes to off-register the Indian printers of this issue were more than a match for the Americans.)
Reading the Wikipedia entry on Indrajal Comics I see they quit publishing them in 1990, but they had a good run and are appearing more and more in online versions.
I'm not trying to spoil the end of the story for anyone, but as a further bit of introduction I need to go back again to 1947. When Kenneth Arnold first observed the mysterious craft, and when the stories of them went out through the news media the "saucers" were thought to be secret weapons. Perhaps, as was speculated, they were aircraft flown by the Soviets invading our airspace, or maybe they were secret weapons being tested by the USA. In those early days no one used terms like extraterrestrial. All of that came along sometime later. All I'll say about this story is that Mandrake encounters no real extraterrestrials.
From 1972, Indrajal Comics #155, written by Lee Falk, drawn by Fred Fredericks:
Mandrake had a real-life counterpart, Leon Mandrake.