“Hip Knox — The Super Hypnotist”

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.


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