The Fu-Manchu daily newspaper strip by Leo O'Mealia

9 May 2002
The First Two Panels of the First Strip (A-1)
Copyright Malibu Graphics Inc.1989

    This was an illustrated-strip adaptation of the first two Fu-Manchu books and most of the third, each strip consisting of four panels.   Each panel was a pen-and-ink drawing accompanied by a caption closely adapted from Rohmer's text.   The main departure from the original was the introduction, part way through the series, of an adolescent boy as companion to Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie, in an evident attempt to capture or retain a youthful audience.
    Each of the first two Fu-Manchu books was converted into ten lettered episodes (A through J and K through T) closely matching the magazine serial installments.   This pattern was continued for approximately two-thirds of the third book (six complete episodes and part of a seventh).   Then, at a point corresponding to the midpoint of Chapter XXVII of The Hand of Fu-Manchu (top of page 197 in the McBride hardcover edition), Rohmer's original text was abandoned and the story was brought to a hasty and absurd conclusion (Dr. Fu-Manchu is run over by a train!) in the final five strips.
   The first episodes were later reprinted in Detective Comics starting with issue #18. The story continued through at least issue # 27 which contained six panels from the C series, "The Fighting Missionary"). Issue #27 is highly sought after because the Batman made his first appearence in this issue. As a result, DC Comics has reprinted this issue in its entirty as a Famous First Editions issue in 1974 and as a Millennium Edition in 1999. The DC versions were colored by an unknown DC artist.    
   The first two episodes (strips A-1 through B-30) were collected in book form by Malibu Graphics in 1989.

Fu Manchu : Two Complete Adventures by Sax Rohmer. Illustrated by Leo O'Mealia. Introduction by John Wooley; compiled and edited by Tom Mason. 
Newbury Park, CA: Malibu Graphics, 1989. 108 p. : ill. ; 17 x 26 cm. Call no.: PN6728.F77R6. 
Originally sold for $12.95.

    About the artist:Leo O'Mealia was born on March 31, 1884, and died on May 7, 1960.   He began his career as a political cartoonist for the Rochester (N. Y.) Herald in 1907 and the Rochester Times in 1909-1911.   In 1912 he worked as a sports cartoonist for the New York Journal.   From 1912 through 1929 he drew the syndicated strip "Wedlocked" for ANS (Associated Newspapers Syndicate).   He returned to sports and political cartooning for the New York Daily News in 1929.   His Fu-Manchu daily strip made its debut on Monday, April 20, 1931, in newspapers such as the Detroit News.   In some other papers (the Mobile Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama, is an example) publication lagged by as much as eight months.

The original strips were copyright "Sax Rohmer and The Bell Syndicate, Inc."

Episode Summary

[The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu]

A. The Zayat Kiss 24 strips Mon 20 Apr Sat 16 May 1931
B. The Severed Fingers 30 strips Mon 18 May Sat 20 June 1931
C. The Fighting Missionary 26 strips Mon 22 June Tue 21 July 1931
D. The Green Mist 26 strips Wed 22 July Thu 20 Aug 1931
E. The Call of Siva 22 strips Fri 21 Aug Tue 15 Sep 1931
F. The Hulk on the Marsh 18 strips Wed 16 Sep Tue 6 Oct 1931
G. Andaman — Second 20 strips Wed 7 Oct Thu 29 Oct 1931
H. The Living Death 17 strips Fri 31 Oct Wed 18 Nov 1931
I. The Giant Toadstools 12 strips Thu 19 Nov Wed 2 Dec 1931
J. The Needle of Madness 23 strips Thu 3 Dec Tue 29 Dec 1931

[The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu]

K. The Wire Jacket ? strips Wed 30 Dec 1932
L. ? strips 1932
M. ? strips 1932
N. ? strips 1932
O. ? strips 1932
P. The Silver Buddha 26 strips 1932
Q. The Mysterious Van Roon ? strips 1932
R. ? strips 1932
S. The Fiery Hand 27 strips 1932
T. The Fiery Hand 30 strips 1932

[The Hand of Fu Manchu]

U. The Flower of Silence 38 strips
V. The Joy Shop 34 strips
W. 30 strips
X. The Card of Fate 33 strips
Y. 30 strips
Z. The Card of Fate 30? strips 1933
AA. The Card of Fate 9 strips 1933

From the collection of Gordon Lutz

From the collection of Gordon Lutz

The last strip and panel: "Death Strikes" (AA-9) 1933

[Note: In the Mobile Press-Register, Mobile, Alabama, episode T ran from Monday 3 July to Saturday 5 August, 1933.   Episodes U through AA ran from Monday 7 August 1933 through Friday 30 March 1934.   Strip AA-4 is the last one based on Rohmer's text.]

The information on episode titles, dates, and number of strips is largely due to research in the 1970s and 1980s by Jay Meader (then of the Miami Herald) and Dennis Wepman. Where possible, we have examined copies of available strips. Additional copies of strips were provided by Gordon Lutz. 

Additional information (or copies!) would be most welcome.

Copyright 1999-2002  R. E. Briney, Lawrence Knapp. All rights reserved.

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