Fred Fredericks

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Fred Fredericks
Fred Fredericks-60s-01.jpg
from 1960
Biographical information
Born: August 9, 1929
Died: March 10, 2015
Nationality: Mini usa.gif American
Occupation: Artist, Cover artist, Writers


Harold "Fred" Fredericks Jr. was born to Harold I Fredericks and (Helen) Phyllis Fredericks (née Haman) on August 2, 1929 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Growing up in the family with two sisters and one brother (Helen b. 1931, Ann b. 1933, John b. 1934) he attended the Atlantic City Friends School[footnotes 1].

Fredericks sold his first cartoon to Atlantic City Daily World at the age of 18, and in the late 1940's he worked for The Press of Atlantic City.

Sgt. Fredericks - 1953

In September 1950 Fredericks joined[1] the Marine Corps and came to Camp Lejeune (North Carolina) from boot camp in November. He was assignet to the 8th Marines (an infantery regiment of the Second Marine Division) serving[2] as a bazooka ammunition carrier. After a year he was transferred to the Division Public Information Office, in November 1951. He worked mainly as a cartoonist for the the weekly newspaper "The Globe" (Camp LeJeune, North Carolina), in which he drew the strip "Salty Ranks". In the years 1952-1953 he was one of Leatherneck's[footnotes 2] contributioning cartoonists.

Fredericks was responsibel[3] for most of the material (the lyrics and scenes, the songs also composed with one-finger playing on the piano) for the musical revue "Saddle Up", opened at Camp Lejeune on June 24 1953. The ballad "What Will I Dream Tonight" became popular at the base and was thought to be[4] a hit also outside Camp Lejeune.

After ending his military career he attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School[footnotes 3]. During his studies in the years 1953 to 1956 he had teachers like Burne Hogarth, Dan Barry, Jerry Robinson among others. In 1954 he was one of the 18 winners of the Annual June Exhibition of the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. He was[5] on of the 3 winners in the Comic Books and Comic Strips category, each awarded with a $3.600 prize. The two other winners were William Montes and Angelo Torres. At the same time Fred Fredericks began freelance cartooning, advertising and greeating card work.

In 1957 Fred Fredericks married Frances Brungard. In 1958 their daughter Constance "Connie" was born and the family moved from Pleasantville to Gilette in 1959. Fredericks also sold his first historical newspaper comic strip, "New Jersey Patriots" in 1959, followed by "The Late, Late War" and "Under the Stars and Bars".

With about the same theme, he also did two covers for the "Leatherneck - Magazine of the Marine".

He then began to create comic books for "Gold Key" and "Dell", including "Nancy", "The Twilight Zone", "Mighty Mouse", "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith", "Bullwinkle", "Mister Ed" and "The Munsters".

In 1964, Fredericks created the comic strip "Rebel" which was published in Scholastic Scope, a magazine distributed to schools in USA. On in April 1965 Fred Fredericks became the new artist on the "Mandrake the Magician" newspaper strip, after Phil Davis.

Fredericks was also a film collector, and his interests included movie serials; "Red Barry", "Dick Tracy", "The Clutching Hand", "Daredevils of the Red Circle"[footnotes 4]... He also had a copy of the TV pilot of Mandrake from 1954.

Fred and Frances' son, Patrick, was born in 1967 and early 1970s the family moved to Cape Cod.

Mandrake the Magician

Lee Falk modernized "Mandrake the Magician" when Fredericks took over the strip from March 21, 1965 for the Sunday pages and May 3, 1965 for the daily strips. Making it more reality-based by focusing less on science fiction and fantasy, and making Mandrake operate more like a secret agent, often helping out the police with cases they could not solve. After working on "Mandrake the Magician" for a long run of 48 years, Fred Fredericks announced his retirement after making 6 weeks of "Vanguard of Shadows" (story interrupted after the strip of July 6, 2013 / from July 8, 2013 the ongoing daily strip are only colored reprints of previous stories). He passed away on March 10, 2015 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Working on Mandrake


  • If in a story Lee wants someone to look a certain way he'll tell me the way to depict him; otherwise I can do it my own way.
  • I do my own lettering and decide where the word baloons are going to be. Then I try to vary my shots, almost like a movie. You have a long shot, then a close up, then a medium shot. Yoy try to keep the camera moving, just like in a film.
  • Five weeks (advance) for the daily strip and ten for the Sunday page.
  • I use an Esterbrook #22 pen point, with which I get a good thick and thin line. After I ink the figures with a pen, I put in the blacks with a #3 Windsor-Newton brush and always keep the white paint handy in case of mistakes!

Other Figures

Fredericks returned to comic books in the late 1980's, first as inker on the Defenders of the Earth comic book where he and penciller Alex Saviuk got the chance to draw Mandrake, the Phantom and Flash Gordon. After that, Fredericks remained as a productive inker until the mid-1990's on several comic books for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, for example The Punisher War Journal, Nth Man: the Ultimate Ninja, The Avengers, Daredevil, G.I. Joe and Ren & Stimpy.

He is also well known for inking "The Phantom" Sunday strips from 1995 to 2000, after which Graham Nolan took over the Sundays. He also inked one week of the Phantom daily strips in 1996 that was published in American newspapers the same week that the Phantom movie premiered.

Writer and Artist of Mandrake the Magician

After creator Lee Falk died in 1999, Fredericks has also been responsible for writing the scripts for the Mandrake strip by himself. He retired from the Sunday strip in 2002, but continues to produce new daily strip stories as of 2008, often with guest appearances or cameos by The Phantom or other characters from the Phantom strip.

Fred Fredericks announced his retirement after making 6 weeks of "Vanguard of Shadows". From July the 8th of 2013 the ongoing daily strip are reprints.

Participation in comic conventions

A comic (book) convention, or "comic con", is an event held for focusing on comic culture. At such an event, fans can meet creators, experts and professional sellers. Same context with the "Sunday Funnies", local meetings of less importance lasting just one day for comics collectors who can also sell or exchange their own materials. Like Lee Falk (see details at: Spotlight on Lee Falk - Participation in the comic conventions), Fred Fredericks took part, as a guest, on various comics conventions and meetings during the '70s, especially on the occasion of the "HoustonCon" event - one of the first national annual convention held between 1967 and 1982 in Houston, Texas. For instance, Fred Fredericks was officially invited at the "HoustonCon" in 1973 (Marriott Motor Hotel / June 21-24, 1973 / estimated attendance: 2,000 people) and 1974 (Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel / June 20-23, 1974 / estimated attendance: 2,500 people).

 It was an era when cartoonists at comics conventions were a lot more likely to do sketches for fans for free, and Fredericks was one of the most generous with his time and talent. (article "Thank You, Fred Fredericks" by Harry McCracken / [1])

(for the HoustonCon event, see Wikipedia: [2]

Views in connection with comic conventions

To be compared : The real man and his self-caricatured picture by Fred Fredericks...

  • see below on the right : 1989 original ink (drawing of himself being drawing Mandrake the Magician)

Fred Fredericks-70s.jpg Fred Fredericks-80s.png|

Various views


  1. He was art editor of the high school newspaper (Atlantic City High School, Herald ?)
  2. Leatherneck is a trade journal published in United States focused on Military
  3. Renamed to School of Visual Arts at nights in 1956
  4. On often find the no 39013 on a picture of a convict or a mug shot.. It is the "heavy" from "Daredevils of the Red Circle".

References and Sources

  1. Cartoonist Blankets Saddle Up' With With, The Camp Lejeune Globe, July 2, 1953. p 3
  2. Pen Mightier Than Bazooka , The News and Views (Jacksonville, North Carolina) 19 March 1952, p 5
  3. Syhosky, TSgt. Robert A., Show Makers, Leatherneck (Marine Corps Association), September 1953, pages 49-51, 73
  4. EU315042, 3 May 1953, Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series (Library of Congress. Copyright Office), January-June 1953, p 298
  5. C and I award scholarships", Art Direction, September 1954, p 26
  • King Features Syndicate (??), Fred Fredericks,
  • Cartoonist Returns, The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) 09 Jun 1965, p 33
  • Dustow Charles, There's No Trick Involved - Mandrake 'Lives' in Gilette, The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey) 23 April 1966, p 9
  • Higgins Flo, Draws "Mandrake" - Children Love His Magic, Echoes-Sentinel (Warren Township, New Jersey) 18 Nov 1965, p 1 and 5 and Bernardsville News (Bernardsville, New Jersey) 02 Dec 1965, p 13
  • Old Methods Recalled - NJPA Conference Closes, Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) 20 Apr 1968, p 4
  • Riggs, Ed (ed.) (1969). Film Fan Fredericks Is a Man of Pictures, Film Collectors Registry, January-February 1969, 1-2
  • Greim, Martin L (1972). Mandrake's Magic Maker, Comic Crusader, 14, 11-16

External links

See also