STRANGER Than Fiction

By 1963, the retooling of Marvel Comics' anthology titles
shifted over to replacing the popular back-to-book fantasy
stories by Steve Ditko with new supporting superheroes. The
first of these was Stan Lee and Ditko's mystical Dr. Strange,
who debuted in Strange Tales#110, July 1963.
The origins of Dr. Strange are as shrouded in mystery
as is the character. While Ditko has never revealed his
role in the character's initial creation, at the time, Lee
did credit him.

For Lee's part, he credits the old radio show Chandu The Magician
for his inspiration. It's a good bet the character took his
last name from the magazine in which he was to appear(STRANGE tales)
and his first name from his originating artist(STEVE Ditko).

Doctor Stephen Strange's loss of surgical skills leads him to
snowy Tibet and The Ancient One, a hermit whose magical healing
abilities he covets. But instead of learning about healing,
Strange becomes the Ancient One's disciple in studying the black
arts. Returning to civilization, the new Dr. Strange
sets up a practice in Greenwich Village, where people with
occult problems come to him for help.Aided by his manservant
and by his lovely apprentice/lover
In time, the series' scope expanded to focus on Strange's journeys
into the otherwordly dimension and the otherwordly menaces
he encounter there, such as Nightmare and the dread Dormammu.
Never before in comics were the classical powers of the adept,
including astral projection and other dimensional travel,
displayed with such imaginative skill. Dr. Strange soon outlasted
Strange Tales' lead feature, The Human Torch, and went on to take
it over his own magazine in 1968. Although Ditko left the
feature in 1965, he departed just as he concluded a year-long continued
story recounting Strange's running battle with the Ancient One's evil
former pupil Baron Mordo,
and their quest for the eerie
being known as Eternity.
A Dr. Strange TV Movie starring Peter Hooten aired in 1978.
When Dr. Strange was at its height in the mid-60's, fans incorrectly
assumed Lee and Ditko were inspired by hallucinogens.

Lee did admit that H.P. Lovecraft's
unusual names like Cthulhu and Nyarlatheotep inspired the similar names he coined
in Dr. Strange. Lee had read Lovecraft in Weird Tales.

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