Mandrake the Magician (Miller)
|Mandrake the Magician|
|Country/language:||United Kingdom / English|
|Publishing company:||L. Miller & Son|
|Publishing years:||1959-1964 (?)|
|Format:||18.5 × 24.5 cm, b/w|
The "Mandrake the Magician" series was released without any pubishing date on the covers or inside. The change in the triangle logo on the covers from issue 3 to 4 (L. Miller & Son vs L. Miller & Co) indicate that the series started in 1959.
Although it is printed published monthly inside there must have been variations in the release rate. The last issue has a daily story from 1963 inside, and is likely published in 1964. The series spanning about 4 years, but only with 24 issues.
It is hard to figure out when the Mandrake series was released since almost all series published by L. Miller were released without the publishing date on the covers or inside.
The L. Miller triangle
When the son (Arnold Miller) left his fathers company in 1959 Leonard Miller changed the company name from "L. Miller & Son" to "L. Miller & Co".
Like the Mandrake series the first three issues of the similar "The Phantom" also have the "L. Miller & Son" triangle on the covers. One can also see the triangle changes from Son to Co at other series like "Kid Montana" (issues 55 - 56), "Maverick Marshal" (issues 51 - 52) and "Front-Line Combat" ( 2 -3), to mentione a few.
For the Mandrake series the triangle layout changing from issue to issue: The first line. "Published by" can be written both in regular and italic; The second line can have "L. Miller" or "L. Miller & Co"; some triangles have London or London E2 at the bottom. A later research should include if the Miller-triangle was special made for each issue of their comics, or if it was re-used for issues from various series released the same month or period.
In UK there was a tradition with annual issues, released for the Christmas season. Although these annuals rarely had any release date printed inside several of these issues have a note inscribed, like: "From me to you – Christmas year". In one issue of the first "Hopalong Cassidy" annual it is inscribed Christmas 1959. It is possible that the gift-giver gave away a book that was a year old, but it is more likley that the first annual was released in Descember 1959 and the second one in December 1960. The 1959 issue has the "L. Miller & Son" triangle at the cover, while the 1960 issue has the "L. Miller & Co" triangle.
Looking at a few Miller comics like: issues 4 and 5 of "Detective Comics" and "Black Fury" #61 there is an ad for the annuals of the year. They are listed as: "Jolly Book Comic Album" #2, "Happy Boys and Girls Comic Album" #2, "Hopalong Cassidy Comic Annual" #1, "Cowboy Hero Comics Annual" #3, "Rocky Lane Comics Annual" #3, "Bill Boys Comic Annual" #4, "Six-Gun Heroes Comic Annual" #4, "Marvel Annual" and "Young Marvel Annual". The ad has b/w pictures of six annuals. Only the "Cowboy Hero" and the "Hopalong Cassidy" issues have the Miller-triangle on the covers - the Son variant. Interesting is that inside the "Cowboy Hero" issue is printet "L. Miller & Co", and perhaps also in the "Hopalong Cassidy" issue.
The Annuals were produced to be sold at Christmas time, so the advertising for the books should be in comics and magazines from November, December and January.
The "Detective Comics" (GCD: 1959-1959) series did run for 9 issues, all with the & Co variant of the Miller-triangle. If issue 4 was released i December 1959, counting back 5 months brings us to the first issue of this series - September 1959. In the "Black Fury" (GCD: 1957) series we see the & Co variant on the cover of #59, if #61 is from November then issue 59 was released in September 1959. So, September 1959 is likly the first month with the & Co triangle variant for the Miller comics.
Ads inside the comics
The Jolly Books
On the back cover of the first Mandrake issue there is an ad for the "Jolly Books" series by US Avon Publications released for the UK market by L. Miller. The same ad was used in other comic books from L. Miller, like: "Western Hero - Kid Montana" #53.
This ad promote the 4 new titles: "Moko the Circus Monkey", "Tuffy the Truck", "Up goes the House" and "Fun in the Firehouse" - strangly, all with the original US covers. When released in UK the original US copyright date written inside was keept.
The ad also have pictures of the new "Jolly Book - comics album" and "Happy Boys and Girls - comic album". Both the "Jolly Book" and the "Happy Boys and Girls" is the first issue of a series of 3 issues, believed to be annuals from 1958, 1959 and 1960. At GCD the publisher for the first "Happy Boys and Girls" is listed as "L. Miller & Son" and the two other as "L. Miller & Co".
It seems that L. Miller sold their own series of water pistols, manufactured by HR Production (England). The two first issues of Mandrake have an ad for the "Famous Atomatic Senior Water Pistol" and in issue 15 there is an ad for the "Famous Atomatic Minor Water Pistol". The "Senior" ad can also been found in Marvelman #294 believed to be from April 1959 and the "Minor" ad can also be found in "Young Marvelman" #369 believed to be from January 1963.
Some issues has an ad from Broadway Approvals for start packages for collecting stamps. In the first Mandrake issue with 120 different stamps and free gift like the book "Midget Encyclopedia of stamp collection" and the "Solar System souvenir sheet". The second Mandrake issue have stamps and free gifts like the book "Midget Encyclopedia of stamp collection", "Broadway Worldwide Stamp Album" and "1956 Olympic Seals" (Melbourne). The free gifts in Mandrake issue 14 including the souvenir sheets: "Boy Scout Jamboree 1957", "Planet Mail", "Flags of the World" and "Suez Chanal".
The "Suez Chanal" souvenir sheets is said to be a replica of the 91 year old stamps, issued in 1868. 1868 pluss 91 years brings us to the year 1959. The "Planet Mail" souvenir sheets is said to have been issued in 1961, but apparing in several ads in Miller comics believed issued in 1959.
Although some ads look identical, the lot number (like W1, W14, and on) is changing with the issues. Comparing ads from Broadway Approvals it look like the letter "W" is used for comics from L. Miller in 1959 and the early 60s. Other publishers have different letters, like: letter "Y" - "Westworld Publications" and letter "C" - "World Distributors". In addition it also look like the number after the "W" increasing with each issue with the ad from Broadway Approvals. Comics from different series from have the same lot number, like: lot W7 in "Mandrake" #7, "Black Fury" #61, "Rocky Lane Western" #137 and "Young Marvelman" #312 - indicating these comics were issued at the same time.
There are some ads for other L. Miller comics inside the Mandrake issues. The similar series with "the Phantom" is mentioned in most of the Mandrake issues before issue 18. There are illustrated ads in #15 ("The Phantom"), #18 ("King of the Royal Mounted"), #19 ("Battleground"), #24 ("Flash Gordon"), to mention a few. There is also two variants of an illustrated ad for the series, in #15 one find: "Marvelman", "Young Marvelman", "Mystic", "The Phantom", "Mandrake The Magician", "War", "Battleground", "Popeye", "Spellbound", "Space and Adventure Comics"; and issue 22 one find: "Marvelman", "Young Marvelman", "Mystic", "The Phantom", "Mandrake The Magician", "Battleground", "Popeye", "Spellbound".
The all series II ad is found in several other comics by Miller, like: "Mystic" (issues 30-40), "Captain Midnight" (#12) and on.
The first issue of "the Phantom" series is said to have been released in June 1959, and the fourth issue (September 1959) have the & Co variant of the Miller-Triangle. The series must have been released somewhat variable, because it does not fit with a regular monthly release. One of the stories inside #13, ("The Jungle Olympics"), was printed in US newspapers from August 8 to October 29, 1960. If the series was monthly #13 should have been released in June, 1960. But this release date is before Wilson McCoy even had drawn the "The Jungle Olympics" story. Issue 18 was the last issue from this series, and it printed the "The Epidemic" story (February 2 to June 10, 1962).
It is interesting that ads for the "Phantom" series is missing in Mandrake #18, and then return in #22.
Mandrake the Magician
Like the similar series with "The Phantom" the & Co variant of the Miller-triangle appearing on the covers from issue 4.
- Rusty Staples - Comics Blog: Marvelman #294
- AusReprint: Young Marvelman
- Alphadrome Robot And Space Toy Database: Space Guns
|Mandrake publications in the United Kingdom|
|As back-up title|
|Mandrake publications by country|
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