Mandrake the Magician is a King Features Syndicated newspaper comic strip, created by Lee Falk. The first comic strip featuring Mandrake is titled ‘The Cobra’, published in newspapers on June 11, 1934.
Phil Davis worked on the strip until his death in 1964. Lee Falk then recruited artist Fred Fredericks. With Lee Falk’s death in 1999, Fred Fredericks became both writer and artist. The Sunday-newspaper Mandrake strip ended December 29, 2002.
The daily newspaper strip ended mid-story on July 6, 2013, when Fred Fredericks retired, and a reprint of ‘Pursuit of the Cobra’ from 1995 began on July 8, 2013.
Mandrake is a magician whose work is based on an unusually fast hypnotic technique, graduating from the College of Magic in Tibet. 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 also demonstrates other powers, including becoming invisible, shape-shifting, 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 manipulate. Although Mandrake publicly works as a stage magician, he spends much of his time fighting criminals and combating supernatural entities. Mandrake lives in Xanadu (with his wife Narda), a high-tech mansion atop a mountain in New York State. Xanadu’s features closed-circuit TV, a sectional road which divides in half, and vertical iron gates.
Lothar is Mandrake’s best friend and crime-fighting companion, whom Mandrake first met during his travels in Africa. Lothar was the Prince of the Seven Nations, a mighty federation of jungle tribes but forbore becoming king to followed Mandrake on his world travels.
Lothar is often referred to as “the strongest man in the world”, with the exception of Hojo — Mandrake’s chef and secret chief of Inter Intel. Lothar is invulnerable to any weapon forged by man, impervious to heat and cold, and possesses the stamina of a thousand men. He also cannot be harmed by magic directly (such as by fire bolts, force bolts, or spell incantations). He can easily lift an elephant by one hand.
One of the first African crime-fighting heroes ever to appear in comics, Lothar’s début alongside Mandrake was in the 1934 inaugural daily strip. In the beginning, Lothar spoke poor English and wore a fez, short pants, and a leopard skin. When artist Fred Fredericks took over in 1965, Lothar spoke correct English and his clothing changed, although he often wore shirts with leopard-skin patterns.