DENNIS O’NEIL: Who knows what evil lurks…? Part 1
Meet Anthony Tollin.
I did, more than 30 years ago, at DC Comics. Anthony was tall, friendly, didn’t look like a New Yorker, and wasn’t. He came to Manhattan from Minneapolis in 1973, worked a couple of jobs, and then landed at DC, where he stayed for 20 years, proofreading, color-coordinating, helping Jack Adler manage the production department – necessary chores, done well away from the spotlight, that transform the raw materials of artwork and script into a printed artifact. Along the way, Anthony got married, and divorced, moved to another state, and when he retired from DC, settled in Texas, where he lives and single-parents his lovely and gifted daughter, Katrina.
If you talked to Anthony much, you soon discovered that he had a number of pop cultch enthusiasms, not the least of which was comic books. But his real passions – I don’t think the word is too strong – were always The Shadow novels, mostly written by Walter Gibson under the pseudonym Maxwell Grant and published in the 30s and 40s in the pulp magazine format, and old radio shows, particularly the crime and adventure programs that were the first cousins of the pulps and comics. If ever I had a question about either of these subjects, Mr. Tollin was always my first go-to guy. I never needed a second.
Those passions are still part of the Tollin gestalt, and now he’s found a new way to both share and make a living from at least one of them. Since July, a company Anthony started has, in partnership with something called Nostalgia Ventures, been issuing reprints of The Shadow books. The price is $12.95, quite modest considering that in one volume you get two novels and reprints of the original illustrations, a feature that’s both unusual and, I think, a real value-adder. The book that’s on the desk next to my computer would certainly be mistaken for one of the old pulps – same size, same kind of cover and font – until you picked it up and found that, in fact, both the cover stock and the interior stock are considerably better than anything that bore the original work. Inside, there are the novels, plus a couple of pieces by Will Murray, another expert and go-to guy, and an adaption of a Shadow radio show.
And as a comics fan you should care… why?
Well, if you’re the kind of fan who has even the ghost of a scholar or historian inside maybe you’ll want to sample one of comics’s most immediate and direct influences, and in the process you just might enjoy the stories.
That influence I mentioned will be the subject of next week’s installment of this feature, and maybe the one after that.
Meanwhile, you can get the books at Borders and soon at Barnes & Noble. Amazon can hook you up, too. So can your local comic book shop, if they order through their distributor.
I just thought you’d want to know. In case you’re the host to one of those ghosts.
RECOMMENDED READING: Any of the Shadow reprints. Duh.
Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning editor and writer of comic books like Batman, The Question, Iron Man, Green Lantern and/or Green Arrow, The Shadow, and all kinds of novels