Monday, May 25, 2015

Number 1739: Warning! Werewolves!

Mandrake the Magician, who seemingly never appeared anywhere without his stage get-up, slicked-back hair, fancy mustache, cape, tuxedo with tails, and top hat, was a popular syndicated newspaper strip. He was also reprinted in comic books from the dawn of comics until a certain point in the fifties, when his appearances became more sporadic. This issue of Harvey Comic Hits (#53, 1951), reprints two Mandrake continuities, and after it Mandrake wasn’t much seen in comic books for a long time. Maybe his top hat was just old hat. I didn’t think of the character that way in the fifties, when I read his adventures daily (along with the Phantom and Flash Gordon, among others) in the Seattle newspaper my parents subscribed to. I always liked the guy, even though I thought his gimmick of wiggling his fingers to cause hallucinations was stretching things.

And this tale of werewolfery pulls out the stops when stretching credulity. Where are the cops when all the loping lycanthropes are menacing innocent folk? And you may also notice the plot is as old as Mandrake’s tux. It appeared in dozens of Western know, when the bad guy was trying to get all the townspeople to sell out because there was something on their land he wanted...? You remember, don’t you? It makes this story all the more familiar. Written by Lee Falk, and drawn by Phil Davis.

I showed the other story from this Harvey issue back in 2012: Click on the thumbnail:


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Great. Those Mandrake and Phantom comics were relentlessly reprinted in the 60's - 70's. Some of them I know by heart ("like the Ave Maria", we say). Some stories were quite dark (Tanov Pass), but Falk had the capability of being comedic in others. I fondly remember "The abominable Snowman" where the magician meets all those hilarious alien "gods". Wonder if this was a source of inspiration for Barks' Valhalla story.

Ryan Anthony said...

Well, that was pretty funny. Was it meant to be?

Pappy said...

J D, in the country of their birth, the Phantom and Mandrake became mostly forgotten, as continuity comic strips were dropped from newspapers, superseded by joke-a-day features. Luckily, the fans around the world kept the strips going.

In retrospect, the plots were wildly improbable, inspired by pulp magazines from the era in which they found their initial popularity.

But then, so were the stories of Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy. They were all fun to read.

I like the saying, "Like the Ave Maria." Maybe we could adapt it in America, to say something is "as familiar as the Star-Spangled Banner," which is played not only at patriotic events, but before every sporting event.

Pappy said...

Ryan, if you found it so, then it was.

Daniel [] said...

The art here is attractive. Eventually, the art in Mandrake and that in The Phantom developed the stiff look of the soap-opera comic-strips,* and that look was not helpful to maintaining their popularity!

The depiction of Lothar as distinctly fearful is, of course, deeply regrettable and a reflection of the culture when these strips were produced.

It seems as if the imposters wasted a great effort if the first and only time that their gather was witnessed by an outsider was when Mandrake beheld it. But, then, there was just generally a lot of inefficiency on both sides of this conflict.

I'm not sure that we can remember any verse or text in this country! Consider how many performers have managed to bobbled the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Meanwhile, I have a book from the Smithsonian Institution that misquotes the opening sentence of the prologue to Star Trek, so forget that too!

(Well, everyone seems able to quote Sir Mix-a-Lot, but G_d help us if that is our referent!)

*Setting aside Kotzky's Apartment 3-G!

Pappy said...

Daniel, I meant it as a joke, although anything I say or write at 4:00 a.m. can be considered just the blather of a tired man. I have heard so many vocal interpretations of our national anthem, with singers trying to outdo each other, that I believe it should just be played as an instrumental.

J D will have to confirm this, but I believe what he calls the Ave Maria is the "Hail Mary" prayer...?

Daniel [] said...

Yup. The “Hail Mary” prayer is the translation of the Latin “Ave Maria”. The Italian begins with the same two words as the Latin.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

"Hail Mary", yes. I didn't mean to be unrespectful quoting a prayer. It's just a figure of speech we have.
Anyway, I was referring to the fact that I used to read many Mandrake comics as a kid (more Flash Gordon, though). I remember the stories, surely not every single line.
I haven't got the book anymore (maybe), but I remember "the Abominable Snowman" was really funny to me, and the art was fitting. "Tanov's Pass" was dark, and the art was fitting too, so Davis was great.

"Instrumental" anthems, yes. The German National Anthem, for instance, is much better to me in its instrumental version, not to mention the Italian one. Again, no offense.

Didn't know Sir Mix-a-lot, nor that way to write... well, the Supreme Entity. I found it has its pros and cons on the net. Is there a reason not to write the complete word?

Pappy said...

J D, Daniel can best explain it, but what he is doing is using an antique way of using words without spelling the whole word, so as to not cause offense to those who would think it sacrilegious or otherwise unprintable. I am used to seeing it in books written in the 19th century, but occasionally we still see it used on words now considered offensive. Daniel has his reasons for his "Hey! Look at me!" writing style, which I find eye-catching and often amusing. His style also causes me to imagine Daniel as a professor-type, wearing pince-nez glasses and a detachable collar, writing with a quill pen at a massive desk, surrounded by shelves of scholarly books.