Doctor Strange, Marvel's Strangest Supernatural Hero
With Doctor Strange getting a little more traction these days due to an upcoming movie release we thought it would be a good time to put a spotlight on our favorite sorcerer. Doctor Strange AKA Stephen Vincent Strange isn't your ordinary superhero that came about during the 1960's, rather he resembles some of his proto-superhero predecessors in which he doesn't technically have "super" powers. Strange actually belongs to the "Supernatural Hero" category with the likes of Hellboy, Zatanna, and Captain Marvel.Doctor Strange's first appearance was a 5 page filler piece in Strange Tales #110 which was published July of 1963.
Starting around the time Strange turned 8 years old, Karl Mordo (already knowing that Stephen Strange was destined to become Sorcerer Supreme) antagonized our young Stephen Strange, that is until the Ancient One (Yao) put a stop to Mordo's shenanigans. Ultimately leading to Stephen Strange becoming the Ancient Ones' apprentice and later becoming Sorcerer Supreme himself. Did you know that some 1970's Doctor Strange books were heavily influenced by LSD and Magic Mushrooms?
Doctor Strange featuring; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
During the early 1970's Marvel's Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner were constantly getting high on LSD and or other recreational drugs, and these drugs played a part in the revitalization of the Doctor Strange series. Read below an excerpt from Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story;
"It was during this ascendancy that Englehart met Frank Brunner, a Brooklyn artist with long blond hair, a buckskin jacket, and a library of Carlos Castaneda and H. P. Lovecraft paperbacks. Brunner had recently quit Marvel’s token occult-superhero comic, Doctor Strange, because he didn’t like the scripts that sexagenarian DC veteran Gardner Fox was writing — “monster of the month” was his disparaging description of Fox’s plotting style, which incorporated a revolving door of inhuman villains. But now Fox was off the book, and Roy wanted Brunner back. When Roy asked him whom he would want on board as a writer, Brunner remembered the guy he’d talked to at parties about kabbalah, astrology, and Satanism. Englehart jumped at the opportunity to bring Doctor Strange back to the trippy, Day-Glo heights of the Lee and Ditko era. They got right to work.
“We would get together every two months, have dinner, get loaded about 10 o’clock, and stay there until 3 or 4,” said Englehart. “He would be thinking about what would look really cool, and I would talk about where I could go with Dr. Strange’s consciousness, and we would come up with a summation that was greater than the parts.”
When they weren’t at each other’s apartments getting high, they were rampaging around with Starlin, Al Milgrom, and artist Alan Weiss, a Las Vegas–bred ladies’ man who shared a Queens apartment with a rotating cast of five stewardesses. Together, they’d ingest LSD and wander Death Wish–era Manhattan at all hours. “We sort of took New York as this vast stage set,” said Weiss. “We would launch ourselves to some part we hadn’t seen yet, and go explore, day or night.” There was the time they traipsed by security guards and wandered through the World Trade Center while it was being built. On one July night they went to Lincoln Center for a screening of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and hatched a Doctor Strange plot that included a hookah-smoking caterpillar. Then they walked to the U.S. Customs House in lower Manhattan and climbed around on Daniel Chester French’s four statues of the continents, where they envisioned a Defenders story in which Doctor Strange transformed each statue into thousands of living soldiers to battle hordes of Atlantean invaders."
"I smoked dope, and dropped acid, and ate mushrooms — and I made my deadlines."- Steve Englehart
An interesting read for sure, it's crazy to think that a couple of writers and artists working for Marvel would get doped up and walk the streets of New York in a Hunter S. Thompsonesque drug induced haze. These far out dudes went on to produce some of the best Doctor Strange and various other titles from that era. Doctor Strange and why he looks so damn familiar.
It may or may not be a well known tidbit of information that whilst creating the character Doctor Strange, Steve Ditko based the likeness of the Doctor to that of Vincent Price. The real world actor most known for his roles in horror flicks and a couple appearances as Egghead in the Adam West Batman television series from the late 1930's all the way to 1990! Doctor Strange's middle name Vincent, is a homage to the actor. And whilst Vincent Price would of been just an uncanny actor to play Doctor Strange in a movie sometime during his acting prime, that privilege will be passed onto Benedict Cumberbatch in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie scheduled for release in 2016.