Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Hypnosis Was Hip...Knox!



You know what's really fun? Looking back on how hypnosis was viewed when it was still a big mystery to much of the world at large. Misconceptions abounded and were taken as fact, regardless how hopelessly ridiculous they were. This misunderstanding and, let's face it, flat-out fear of hypnosis was wonderfully rampant in the comic books of old. The farther you go back, the more absurd the ideas become, it seems. As a professional cartoonist, this is of particular interest to me.

There have always been hypnotists populating the various comic book universes. Often regulated to villains, such as Marvel Comics' Mesmero, who played into the general trepidation about the art of hypnosis, but here and there a hero would appear with hypnotic ability. Mandrake the Magician, the long-lived and arguably most popular of all the comic strip hypnotists, actually got it right in many of his four-color adventures, often using positive hallucination to frighten and confound his enemies. From time to time, I get the extreme pleasure of happening upon a comics hero hypnotist whom I'd never heard of before.

Enter: Hip Knox, the Super-Hypnotist! The heroic Hip was pointed out to me by a friend, who found one of his escapades posted on Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine. The URL can be found below this article. The adventure Pappy chose to share is utterly hysterical, especially for us hypnotists whose understanding vastly exceeds the cartoon writers of comics' Golden Age. Villains render poor Hip helpless by placing a mask over his face and thus nullifying his mighty hypnotic powers. Now, if the mask included a blindfold and a gag, I could see the threat, but as it's a mesh mask made of some type of see-through gauze with big eyeholes, I have no clue what it was these ne'er-do-wells thought they were holding back. Still able to see, make eye contact, and speak, Hip is nevertheless rendered completely helpless as the thugs proceed to do away with him—in such a manner that is so outlandish it has to be seen to be believed.

Of course, the hero makes a daring escape, and goes on to use his hypnotic (excuse me, SUPER hypnotic) powers to do such things as hypnotize a flock of condors and even a band of jungle natives who do not speak the same language to do his bidding and see him safely home. The act of revenge he unleashes upon the gangsters is a sheer delight, and if I may so observe, considerably less brutal than many of us have seen done to vacationers on the Las Vegas stage.

Enjoy the splendid, highly improbable and wholly misinformed adventure of Hip Knox, SUPER-Hypnotist. It'll make you laugh, and it's inaccuracies may even point out to you just how much you knew about hypnosis that you didn't even know you knew. And please do stay a while and visit Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine. It's a wonderful site clearly created with love and full of delightful treats you'd want to see anyway.

http://pappysgoldenage.blogspot.com/2009/08/number-569-macfadden-villain-bernarr.html

[Please note that all characters mentioned and shown are copyright by their respective owners.]

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