It just goes to show that there's always something else to discover out there, even when dealing with such a narrow field of interest as the cross-over between hypnosis and media. As a major superhero comic fan and being somewhat knowledgeable about their history, I thought I knew of most every superheroic hypnotist but there is one that I learned about only recently.
That superhero is "Hip Knox — The Super Hypnotist". Hip Knox appeared in Superworld Comics #1-3, along with his bitter rival, a thuggish criminal named McFadden.
But there's a story behind the comic and the hero.
Hip Knox was the adopted son of a famous scientist, Dr Knox, who treated the sickly child and developed his impressive mental abilities of SUPER hypnosis. Dr Knox also cautioned the young child against using his powers for evil. Unfortunately for Dr Knox and his son, his enemy, Eric McFadden, would stop at nothing to destroy the good Doctor and all his works to further his own criminal enterprises.
Hip Knox appeared in "Superworld" comics, in issues 1-3. In the third issue, McFadden and his cronies kidnap Hip and imprison him on an experimental space plane, sending him to his doom, but in true superhero fashion, Hip escapes and returns to enact justice upon his enemy.
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"Superworld" was published by Hugo Gernsback, who is recognized as the first editor of a science fiction magazine ("Amazing Stories") and is considered one of the fathers of modern SF. The Hugo Award, awarded every year by the World Science Fiction Convention is named for him. According to "Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction" by Gary Westfahl, McFadden was "surely" based on Bernarr McFadden, who he believes was the cause of Gernsback's bankruptcy in 1929. (Or not: others believe it was Gernsback himself who put himself into bankruptcy, or was so distracted by the death of his young daughter that is happened through no fault of anyone.) The bankruptcy caused Gernsback to lose control of "Amazing Stories" to McFadden. The physical similarity and pose are striking: McFadden in the comics is shown with the same mustache as Bernarr McFadden would wear, and he is shown posed in a typical body-building pose, which Bernarr also was. (Not that Gernsback was much better: he was notorious for paying his authors little or nothing, even being accused of cheating them.)
Bernarr McFadden was one of the early pioneers in the body-building culture. He was the stereotypical weakling-to-athlete story, being a sickly youngster who trained himself to the peak of physical health. He would also become a publisher, starting with "Physical Culture" magazine in 1899 and later adding such magazines as "True Story" (1919), "True Romances" (1923), and "True Detective Mystery Magazine" (1924). He also organized the first body-building competition in America in 1903 and fostered the career of bodybuilder Charles Atlas.
Strangely enough, both Gernsback and McFadden were both born on April 16th, though many years apart.
Commentary: The costume: as one commenter put it, Esther Williams called and wants her hairnet back.
- Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blog
- 5 Reasons why Hip Knox is the Worst Superhero of All Time at Io9
- Hip Knox history
- Publication history at Grand Comics Database
- Commentary at HypnoBriz blog