"Mandrake the Magician: Mandrake in Hollywood"
Throughout my childhood, I was dedicated to one cartoon strip in the newspaper. Mandrake the Magician had a natural pull for me, because I think I always was attracted to men who wore tuxedos and a top hat. The fact that he was a master of illusional tricks as well as having a servant from Africa, appealed to my sense of exotica. It seems like Fellini was a fan as well. Nevertheless, I found "Mandrake in Hollywood" at my local library, and one sitting read the book. It is composed of three separate stories that deals with Madrake's time in Hollywood as a struggling actor of sorts. Even in 1938, the widespread media at the time looked at Hollywood as a cynical landscape. The narratives are silly and actually not that important. What gets my attention, besides re-visiting my childhood, is the character of Mandrake and his man-servant, and a good friend, Lothar. Day in-and-out, he consistently wears his suit and top hat as he would wear on stage. The sense of the stage and 'real life' is totally erased - and since it's a comic strip, we are allowed to accept that the wall between reality and fantasy doesn't exist. To me, there is something beautiful about a personality like Mandrake, who commits illusions, not only for the purpose of entertaining, but also to fight criminal activity. Mixture of showbiz with crime-fighting. What more can one want?
- Tosh Berman