REVIEW: The Shadowed Circle
Film and pop culture guru Steve Donoso successfully Kickstarted funds for a fanzine dedicated to the iconic pulp magazine hero The Shadow. The first issue of The Shadowed Circle was released in July and packs a lot in its 48 black and white pages. Billed as a thrice-annual publication it features pieces by experts and passionate fans of the hero and his world.
Two pieces fill the bulk of the issue. First up is Will Murray’s accounting of how he and Anthony Tollin addressed packing the last handful of issues of the Shadow reprints that Sanctum Books completed in 2020. They lost their license with a handful of issues left to collect and as they packed as much as possible, things got left out. As a result, Murray includes the Intermission written for volume #150. The theme of that issue was the Women of the Shadow so we get a nice accounting of how women were depicted, including Conde Nast’s insistence that women be downplayed in the pulp, even though Margo Lane was a significant character on the radio series.
The other major section was an interview with James Patterson and a review of his first novel featuring a brand new take on the Shadow, set in a dystopian future. The first in the series was released recently and apparently resembles the source material in name only which is deeply disappointing. (That Patterson is also providing a new take on Doc Savage in 2022 is disheartening.)
The rest of the zine covers Universal’s short subject films narrated by the Shadow, a fan’s quest to obtain a classic cover painting, and other aspects of the character.
You have to know and love the character to appreciate the publication but thankfully, there are plenty out there. One fan, born in the 1990s, discusses how he found the hero and came to love him despite the Shadow being an “older” hero.
The magazine is nicely laid out and well-illustrated, including some good fan art. Clearly, this is a labor of love from Donoso and his pals. To learn more, they have a Facebook group.