The American writer Lee Falk is the creator of two on the longest running newspaper comics, 'The Phantom' and 'Mandrake the Magician'. He was born in 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri. From his days in high school, when he edited the school paper, and throughout his adult life, Lee felt the urge to write. He wrote stories, articles and poems for his college newspapers. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he found work as a copywriter for a St. Louis advertising agency. There, he met Phil Davis, with whom he created 'Mandrake the Magician', his first attempt at comic strip writing. In 1934, he succeeded in selling 'Mandrake' to King Features Syndicate. The success of the feature was so huge that Falk sold the silent avenger 'The Phantom' to King Features two years later. For this comic, Falk pencilled the first two weeks himself, but later worked with the artists Ray Moore, Wilson McCoy, Sy Barry and Bill Lignante, who mainly drew for Phantom comic books.
Lee Falk was also the author of several theatrical plays. One of these, 'Eris', was staged in Paris in 1968, and was later revived by a French repertory company. In 1962, Falk began writing the Phantom paperback novels, published by Avon Books. He received a special reward for his work as a comic strip writer in 1971. Falk was still actively writing 'The Phantom' and 'Mandrake' well into his eighties. In a medium dominated by graphic artists, Lee Falk stands out as the creator of two successful features, and as a fiction writer of great skill and imagination, whose characters and stories have been popular all over the world for six decades. He died in 1999, at the age of 88.
photo ©1966 The Newspaper Enterprise Association