Mandrake the Magician is a syndicated newspaper comic strip, created by Lee Falk (before he created The Phantom). Mandrake began publication on June 11, 1934. Phil Davis soon took over as the strip’s illustrator, while Falk continued to script. The strip is distributed by King Features Syndicate.
Mandrake, along with the Phantom Magician in Mel Graff’s The Adventures of Patsy, are regarded by comics historians as the first superheroes of comics. Comics historian Don Markstein writes, “Some people say Mandrake the Magician, who started in 1934, was comics’ first superhero.”
Mandrake is a magician whose work is based on an unusually fast hypnotic technique. As noted in captions, when Mandrake “gestures hypnotically”, his subjects see illusions, and Mandrake has used this technique against a variety of villains including gangsters, mad scientists, extraterrestrials, and characters from other dimensions. At various times in the comic strip, Mandrake has also demonstrated other powers, including turning invisible, shapeshifting, levitation, and teleportation. His hat, cloak and wand, passed down from his father Theron, possess great magical properties which in time Mandrake learns how to use. Although Mandrake publicly works as a stage magician, he spends much of his time fighting criminals and combatting supernatural entities. Mandrake lives in Xanadu, a high-tech mansion atop a mountain in New York State. Xanadu’s features include closed circuit TV; a sectional road which divides in half; and vertical iron gates.