King Features Syndicate, Red 5 Comics, and StoneBot Studios had some big news at their Comic-Con@Home panel, as they announced they are bringing back a classic world and reimagining it for a whole new generation with their new series Mandrake The Magician: Mandrake's Legacy. The series is based on the original comic strip that debuted more than 85 years ago, and this new version will focus on a young magician named Mandy, who has immense power but is still learning how to harness it all. The series will be written by Erica Schultz and drawn by Diego Giribaldi, Juan Pablo Massa, and Moncho Bunge, and will be edited by Matias Timarchi. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak with Schultz and Timarchi all about the new series, and you can also get your exclusive first look at Mandrake's Legacy starting on the next slide!
First we wanted to know why Schultz and Timarchi were excited to bring this character and this universe back to the forefront for a new generation.
"I wasn't the one who approached King Features about doing a new Mandrake series, so I just wanted to get that out there," Schultz said. "Matias Timarchi of StoneBot had a lot of the pieces put together before I was brought on board. I don't want to take credit for anyone's work. What appealed to me about the original series was that Mandrake fought for the greater good all over the world and beyond. The idea of righting wrongs and going on globe-trotting adventures resonates with all kinds of fans."
Schultz has worked on several titles that skew a bit more adult, like Daredevil and M3, though Schultz has also worked on more lighthearted stories like Strange Tails and Forgotten Home, and she's bringing the balance of all of those different tones to Mandrake.
"I started my comics writing career with M3, which is not for the faint of heart and created even darker stories like Twelve Devils Dancing, but I've also written more lighthearted and even goofy works since then," Schultz said. "I frequently collaborate with Claire Connelly on funny and outlandish stories like our anthology, Strange Tails, where we just throw caution to the wind."
"My latest work before Mandrake, Forgotten Home, skews YA, so I was happy to get my feet wet in that arena before tackling Legacy of Mandrake," Schultz said. Though I never saw myself as a YA writer, and I haven't read many YA stories. Despite that, when working in the YA genre, no matter how cynical your characters are, there's still a sense of wonder and hope about them, and that's refreshing to explore."
While Mandy is just as powerful if not more so than the original Mandrake, she doesn't have the classical training the original Mandrake had, so fans will be right alongside her as she evolves into the powerhouse she will become.
"The original Mandrake was already a trained magician with years of experience," Schultz said. "Even when he was wrong, he was right. Mandy…not so much. She has a very strong connection to magic and her abilities, but she's still untrained. The OG Mandrake and others trained to learn, augment, and control their talents while Mandy is kinda just winging it. She knows what she can do, and what she can't is just trial by fire. So whereas fans of the original strip are used to seeing a cocksure character, Mandy is a work in progress. I think that makes her a more interesting read, as the audience learns and grows with her."
Mandy isn't alone of course, and one of her biggest allies is her best friend LJ, who is as vital to her success as any magic spell.
"Mandy and LJ compliment each other in the best ways," Schultz said. "The best friends are the ones that are there to help you when you don't think you need help (but you totally do) and tell you when you're being a jerk but still forgive you after you apologize. LJ is that rock and support system for Mandy. The son of Lothar (the original Mandrake's partner), LJ has some abilities of his own that make him a formidable opponent for evildoers. Yes, this is Mandy's story, but she wouldn't have as interesting or rich a story without LJ"
You can check out an up-close look at the issue and more fro our interview starting on the next slide!
Enemies Of All Kinds
Any hero will have their share of enemies, though Mandy will have external and internal battles to fight and overcome.
"I think all teenagers are dealing with something internally that manifests itself externally. So the answer is yes and yes. Haha. The enemies that you get a peek at are more than they appear, and the stakes are definitely real," Schultz said. "This will be one of Mandy's greatest challenges in her short career as a magician and protector of Mountain Vista. This is something that's going to define her in further adventures going forward."
"Like all teenagers, Mandy feels she's misunderstood," Schultz said. "The mirror is a sounding board to not only help her with magical matters but regular teenage ones, too."prevnext
A Latinx Lead
Mandrake also brings another Latinx lead to comics, something that the comics space could always use more of, and in Mandrake that aspect of the character is never shoehorned in.
"When we started working with KF on the refresh of Mandrake, the idea of making her Latinx come out very naturally, it wasn't forced at all," Timarchi said. "We didn't make a mandate looking to reach a specific goal or niche. It just felt right to develop Mandy that way. But in the end, what we wanted is that any person in the world could enjoy this story. No matter what is your religion, color, genre, or whatever... this is a book that you will enjoy."
That said, it was important for the series to embrace the culture in a true and authentic way. "But, at the same time, we felt it is truly important for the character to embrace her heritage and not deny it at all. Being a Latino living in the USA, I have interacted with many Latin people in the country and I had seen that they tried to hide their language or their culture away, like if that was something bad," Timarchi said. "And it's sad to see that, because of course there is nothing wrong with it. I strongly believe that pop culture can influence that behavior in kids. If they can't find some role models in the media they consume every day, we can't blame them from feeling like an outcast in society and try to fit in the usual standards by hiding who they truly are. So, if we give them a proud and cool character that is not ashamed of her heritage, and we show them that diversity is essential for any society, we think we may contribute and play our part in the change that you can see and feel these days."
"That's why we wanted to avoid any kind of stereotype, so anybody could feel related to Mandy, as this problem is not only for Latinx people but you can see some of that in any group of diverse people," Timarchi said. "At the end this is a book about people, about family and friendship... and I think that's the most important thing. No matter where you come from, or what you believe, you don't have to hide your heritage as that makes you unique, and that is something you need to feel proud of. In the end, we are all people and we all have a life to live. And I think that is the main message we worked in the series."prevnext