A few days ago, we ran a piece on The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician coming from Erica Schultz and Diego Giribaldi, Red 5 Comics, Stonebot Studios, and King Features. Yesterday at ComicCon@Home, the publisher revealed a little more information (as did other small press publishers about their upcoming projects). I’m focusing on this for two reasons — first, the past few months have given comics shops and readers a chance to focus on what else is out there beyond the Big 5. Not that there’s anything wrong with those publishers, but there’s a lot else out there — comics done with passion, sincerity, and quality.
Second, if you’re going to tell a kid in 2020 that they should care about Mandrake the Magician, a character from newspaper comics of the 1930s and 1940s (I have a Big Little Book of him from 1936,* and yeah, it’s aged somewhat poorly), there has to be something new to connect. Like the Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe giving readers Victory Harben, it’s time to take the old IPs and move them forward into the 21st Century. (That includes that they’re doing a companion webcomic — this is the way Gen Z consumes comics.) They do need to straighten out the title — the artwork says The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician, the press release calls it Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake’s Legacy. Either title works for me — I just want to make sure I know what to call it when looking for it in October.
While I wish we were in San Diego right now, the advantage of ComicCon@Home is that we can still catch the panels we missed, and in the midst of the Con, we can pay a little more attention to a book that shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Here’s Red 5’s discussion of The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician:
And here’s hoping that “Mandy” becomes the title character in her own right.
From Red 5 Comics:
Hearst-owned King Features Syndicate, Red 5 Comics and StoneBot Studios will cast a spell on readers this October as they present a new take on the classic comic strip Mandrake the Magician in an all-new comic book series. More than 85 years after the original comic strip’s debut, this expansion of the Mandrake universe stars a new generation of heroes as they face off with familiar foes.
Hitting store shelves on October 28, the modern-day Mandrake, aka “Mandy,” will make her debut in the YA comic series Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake’s Legacy. The series will be complemented by a free, must-read webcomic. The project is helmed by one of today’s most innovative writers, Erica Schultz, a comic book writer, editor, letterer and instructor best known for her work on Marvel’s Daredevil and the award-winning crime series M3. She currently writes Forgotten Home for ComiXology Originals and teaches with The Kubert School and with ComicsExperience.com. The cover art will be provided by the talented Amelia Vidal (Marvel Studios & Boom Studios) and the series will also offer vibrant variant covers from artist Evelin Unfer. The beautiful and detailed interior art is credited to artists Diego Giribaldi, Juan Pablo Massa and Moncho Bunge.
Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake’s Legacy follows 17-year-old Mandy Paz, a magician-in-training who aspires to someday be just like the legendary Mandrake. She suspects her inborn magical powers must have something to do with her mysterious parentage, but so far, her mom’s lips are zipped, and she has to work out the whole magician thing with the help of her BFF, LJ. While she is learning to command her superpowers, she’s also navigating college applications, mean girls, the high school talent show, a magic mirror, a kidnapping and … monsters? Mandy’s world is about to get a whole lot weirder and way more enchanted.
“Mandrake the Magician was one of the most influential comic strips of its time, so what better way to pay that legacy homage than to breathe new life into the property with a fresh twist that targets a new generation of young readers,” said Christina Nix Lynch, licensing director, King Features. “Both Red 5 and StoneBot have track records of incredible success and their imaginative approach to the next chapter in Mandrake’s magical saga is sure to win the hearts of new fans.”
“Undoubtedly, Mandrake, the first superhero of comics, had to return. Our team has worked diligently to retain the brand’s essence and philosophy while reinventing the narrative to attract a new generation of readers … new times but same conflicts,” said Diego Barassi, managing director, StoneBot Comics.
And hey, I also discovered that King Features is co-producing the Cuphead animated series coming to Netflix, which makes total sense as they control Betty Boop, and Cuphead reminds me of Fleischer Studios cartoons more than anything else.
*purchased in 1976 in an antiques mall in Port Costa, CA. I have a weird thing where I remember where I acquired each and every one of my Big Little Books.
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