Friends, if I were to list my top ten favorite comic book characters of all time, I believe that Dr. Strange would land somewhere in the top five. Perhaps the surprising fact about my love of the character, that was co-created by the legendary Steve Ditko and Stan Lee – is that I did not actually start picking up any of the Dr. Strange comics until I had nearly graduated High School. While I recall seeing the comics in my youth on the spinner rack at the gas station down the street from my house, I was too busy picking up the likes of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, Weird War Tales, and Captain America. My first real introduction to the character of Dr. Stephen Strange was courtesy of the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode entitled 7 Little Superheroes – which originally aired on October 17th of 1981. In addition to introducing me to the basics of Dr. Strange – who was voiced in the episode by John Stephenson (The Transformers, Pryde of the X-Men) – it was also the first time I encountered the characters of Namor the Sub-Mariner as well as Shanna the She-Devil.
The character of Dr. Strange made his first appearance in Strange Tales #110 – which was originally published back in the Summer of ’63. In his debut Dr. Stephen Strange is credited as being a “Master of Black Magic” – and then as “Master of the Mystic Arts” a little later on in the Strange Tales comic series. Dr. Strange wouldn’t become THE “Sorcerer Supreme” until March of 1974 – in the pages of Marvel Premiere #10 – when he inherited the title and powers of the Ancient One.
The character proved quite popular after his original appearance and Steve Ditko really delivered in regards to his co-plotted stories and iconic artwork – giving fans glimpses of psychedelic realms and vistas that are just as impressive as the cosmic artwork of Jack “King” Kirby. Others of course picked up where Ditko left off – but perhaps the most popular team included Steve Englehart (Defenders), Frank Brunner (Howard the Duck) as well as Gene Colan (The Tomb of Dracula). Their work led to the character receiving an 81 issue run in the pages of Dr. Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts from 1974 until 1987.
That popularity might explain why back in the late ’70s, a Dr. Strange View-Master reel set was produced and released alongside sets for the likes of Thor, Captain America, Spider-Woman, and The Fantastic Four to name a few. As a bonus, the Dr. Strange set which is entitled The Domain of the Dread Dormammu features artwork from both Steve Ditko and Frank Brunner!