"Mandrake" 29-Inch National Cartoonists Society Signed Poster Signed by Falk & Fredericks
After posting the above, I did a search on "Mandrake the Magician" and found some interesting hits. Here are two of them...
From "Ask Yahoo" 5/3/2007:
Who was the first superhero?
Definitions of superheroes vary widely. One person's hero is another person's Hercules. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to define a superhero as someone who fights crime in disguise and is blessed with superior strength, powers, or (in the case of Batman) gadgets.
This excellent blog entry from kottke.org offers up plenty of theories about who the first superhero was. The author concludes that "Mandrake the Magician" may have been the first true superhero. Toonpedia agrees, calling Mandrake "the first super-powered, costumed crime fighter in comics." [Bob: Bolding is mine] Created by Lee Falk, Mandrake made his debut in 1934, approximately four years before Superman landed on Earth.
So what sort of powers did Mandrake have? King Features Syndicate explains he was a master of hypnotism and illusion. Like all the great superheroes who followed him, Mandrake used his powers to combat evil. But unlike other superheroes, Mandrake appears to have been based on a real person, a stage magician named Leon Mandrake.
Eat your heart out, Superman (and David Copperfield).
Mandrake the Magician is a U.S. comic strip created in 1934 by Lee Falk (also creator of The Phantom) and mainly appearing in syndication in newspapers. Falk soon gave the job of drawing the comic strip to artist Phil Davis, while continuing to write the storylines. Davis worked on the strip until his death in 1964 [Bob: see next posting for Falk & Davis]; Falk then recruited current artist Fred Fredericks. On Falk's death in 1999, Fredericks took over writing the strip as well. Mandrake is widely believed to have been the first bona fide superhero.
Mandrake was an illusionist whose work was based on an impossibly fast hypnotic technique. As the narrator informed us: "Mandrake gestured hypnotically" and the subject or subjects of this hypnosis would suddenly see the illusions he wanted. Mandrake fought criminals and other villains in his spare time. This would include common gangsters, mad scientists, and aliens from outer space or other dimensions.
After the series existing in cartoons, radio plays, and serials, a movie based on Mandrake with magician Criss Angel is set to start filming in 2008.
----- DATABASE NOTES -----
From “Mandrake The Magician,” a National Cartoonists Society poster by Lee Falk & Fred Fredericks (circa 1998). A National Cartoonists Society L/E signed Lithographs -- 93/100 (Circa 1998). Signed by Lee Falk & Fred Fredericks [Unframed Item: 21-1/8"W x 29-1/8"H] Acquired 1998. SeqID-0303 8/4/2005