Using this translation turn the pages a bit odd - sorry




The Creators of Mandrake the Magician (and the Phantom)


Lee Falk

After graduate from the university in 1932 Lee Falk first started as a refrigerator salesman and then as a copywriter for a small advertising agency founded by a retired distiller. It was the two sons of the founder and friends of Lee Falk who ran the agency. It was a small agency and Lee Falk later told that their total equipment was a tray full of paper clips.

More like a joke they named Lee Falk as vice-president and the radio expert of the agency. Falk did not know much about radio, but in a period he wrote, directed and produced three or four scripts a day for the new radio station KMOX in St. Louis.

While working at the agency Lee Falk copyrighted (using the name Leon H Epstein) a romantic operetta in 3 acts, with music and score by the St. Louis Hungarian musician Coloman Katona. He also copyrighted Success Stories, the first episode of a series of radio sketches, through his agent Louis E Westheimer and Co.

In 1933 the agency got a new job for Lee Falk, writing balloons for a series of comic strip advertisements being drawn by Carl Schultze (known for the Foxy Grandpa). Lee Falk took a closer look on the art of comic strips and slowly a figure named Mandrake the Magician start to materialize. In the creation of both Mandrake the Magician and the Phantom one can find small elements of influence by the Pulp hero The Spider and it is believed that some of the pulp novels during this period was an inspiration for the new figures.


by Phil Davis

Phil Davis

Nearby Lee Falk's office was the Louderman Building and in the 12.th floor several commercial artists rented a studio together. Calling them self The Illustrators Inc. The main illustrator was Al Parker. Lee Falk was looking for someone who could draw some samples of his idea for a newspaper strip and came for a visit. He first talked with Al Parker, trying to convince him to make the samples of the strip. But Al was already a dedicated illustrator and said that he should try to speak with another artist in the studio, Phil Davis. He discussed his idea with Phil Davis, and Phil Davis drew up two weeks (12 daily strips) with Mandrake the Magician. Perhaps after some rough sketches made by Lee Falk.

Lee Falk, who thought his name was Leon Harrison Epstein, now discovered that his legal name was Leon Harrison Gross. And by decree of the circuit court, St. Louis, he changed his name to Leon Harrison Epstein Falk. Choosing the short form Lee Falk as his artist name.

Along with his stepfather, Albert Falk Epstein, Lee Falk went on a vacation break to New York and brought with him the two weeks of Mandrake (+ a couple of stage plays and some short stories). In New York he meet Joe Connoly, the general manager at King Features Syndicate, and show the two weeks Mandrake strips to him. KFS bought the idea.

Back in St. Louis Lee Falk started to write the first Mandrake adventure The Cobra with dialogs, rough layouts and instructions for every panel.

Phil Davis started to draw Mandrake in april 1934 in a style very similar to Alex Raymond's Agent X9. During the summer Lee Falk also had an idea for a sunday version of Mandrake and Phil Davis draw two sunday pages.


by Alex Raymond, 09 april 1934

by Phil Davis, 30 june 1934

The first daily strip with Mandrake was publicized at the 11 june 1934 in The New York Evening Journal.

Phil Davis did all the work with the comic strip himself (the pencil layouts, inking and the lettering), and when KFS during the autumn 1934 ordered the sunday page version of Mandrake he find that he had to work "7 days and 7 nights" to finish.

Due too the increased workload Ray Moore was hired to help with the pencil layouts early winter in 1934. One can see this from the first strip of the adventure The Monster of Tanov Pass. The first sunday page with Mandrake was publicized the 3 february 1935.

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Mandrake the Magican and the Phantom is copyright 2018 King Features Syndicate Inc., The Hearst Corporation