|Featuring Mandrake! Jungle Jim! Buz Sawyer!
and... some other dude! Maybe!
As you might know, I'm a big fan of old newspaper comic strips, particularly the work of Lee Falk on the Phantom. Unfortunately, getting that material can be quite expensive, so I take any chance I can to get newspaper comic reprints cheaply. So imagine my surprise when I found this, #4 of the official Mandrake the Magician comic from 1989!! Wow! That's awesome!
Only it's not awesome. It's not awesome at all.
This is the worst reprint comic I've ever read. Let's take a look shall we?
Okay, a lot of it is layouts. As you might know, newspaper strips are generally 3 to 4 panels long. When reprinted in Frew these panels are generally presented in the same size scale. Not here... in this reprint the panels are all presented in completely random sizes. I'm not kidding. Check out these two consecutive pages, I haven't re-sized or changed anything, this is how this crap was presented IN the issue.
|All of these panels would have been the same height originally.
Well, okay... fine. So they're ruining the art and the story by completely changing the rhythm of it and resizing everything. Frew's done stuff like that, right? Editting stories to fit a bigger 32 page format, stuff like that... but you know what they've never done? Switched stories right in the middle without any explanation. Check this out:
|Feel free to click this image to get a bigger version of
this complete bloody nonsense.
Yup. That is SERIOUSLY how those pages transition. Again, this is exactly as it's presented in the book. And it's not a mistake where pages were printed out of order. They just stopped one story, without any comment and lept into another one! What the hell, man?
There's strips other than Mandrake here, but they suck. See this is an anthology book, but unfortunately, despite the high page count, the way it's printed means that we get hardly any content -- just a tiny piece of each story we're delving into. It's just frickin' impossible to get invested in the story when it suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, just stops.
And the thing you have to understand is the rhythm of newspaper strips. Every 3 to 4 panels they have a cliffhanger. So it's really damned EASY to find a place for a story to end -- but hey, can't be bothered to do that, right?
Another little problem that comes up is context. These Mandrake stories are clearly contemporary -- 1980s stories. I can tell that just based on the art. A quick internet search reveals that the strips were drawn by Fred Fredericks and had to have been from at least after 1964. On the other hand some of these other stories are clearly from the 1940s based on... well...
That sorta thing. But there's no editorial explaining this. I understand that 'read these stories in the context of the times' editorials can be hokey, but they do serve a purpose. It's bloody jarring to go from light-hearted 70s/80s spy adventures right into the midst of 1940s racism.
This book was one of the most frustrating, pointless reads I've ever had the misfortune of uh... reading. They made Lee Falk's writing difficult to enjoy. How the hell do you do that?
This comic can go to hell. IF you ever see one, don't even goddamn bother. Especially not issue 4.
There, I've vented. I can go back to reading Phantoms and Beanos now.