We interrupt this thrilling story of intrigue for out regular blog feature "Uncle Jeffy's Almanac of All Cool Things!"
Lee Falk: of Phantoms and Magicians!
Born April 28, 1911, Lee Falk would have been 99 years old today!
Most of my heroes of the comic strip world are specific in their breed, they are the writer/artist that creates a strip and is the sole driving creative force behind it. Lee Falk is one of the few exceptions.
Creator of TWO long running strips, "The Phantom" AND "Mandrake the Magician" both drawn by other people, but scripted by Falk from their inception in 1938 and 1934 respectively right up until Lee's death in 1999! Both strips are STILL running in syndication by other artist/writer teams and both still hot properties 75 years after their births for movies and TV.
Because Falk was not the artist, I'm more familiar with the strips themselves than him. I tend to learn a lot from my heroes by just observing their drawing sensibilities and personality of line than anything else. A lot that I glom from the Internet seems to be a lot of hyperbole, probably partially cooked up by Falk himself and built on over the years, there's a lot of talk about him being a playwright, stage director and stage producer.
I'm taking all of that with a grain of salt, but somehow I do believe he himself handled the scripting chores of his two strips by himself, right up till his death. They were his babies. They were his adventures.
Here's some samples of Mandrake from the 1930's and The Phantom from 1949. Both of these are re-edited from strip form to accommodate reprints in comic book format. Normally I wouldn't go for that, but hey...it's the scripts we're highlighting here, not the layout of the artist!