Tagged: Walter Gibson


Cover Art: Howard Chaykin

New Pulp Author Barry Reese takes an in-depth, spoiler-filled look at Howard Chaykin’s 4-issue limited series from 1986! The Shadow Fan goes through the entire story, with summaries of the action, commentary on the creative decisions taken and discussion about the differences between Chaykin’s take and Walter Gibson’s traditional version.

Listen now at http://theshadowfan.libsyn.com/blood-and-judgment.

Review: ‘The Shadow: Behind the Mask’

You have to appreciate the efforts from MGM and Warner Bros., trolling through their film libraries and resurrecting titles that only a handful of videophiles might be interested in owning. After transferring these to disc, they are made available as manufactured to order, largely available only through websites. Warner has over 1000 such videos available in every genre imaginable while MGM is catching up quickly.  Among the recent releases is one curiosity worth noting for ComicMix readers.

While we are all familiar with Conde Naste’s The Shadow, few beyond Anthony Tollin may recall that there were three really low budget features produced in 1946 from Monogram, all starring Kane Richmond. The second of the trio, Behind the Mask, is now out and if you’re a big fan of the character, you might want to check this one out.

The stories are watered down crime adventures; missing the spark Walter Gibson (writing as Maxwell Grant) brought to the pulp magazine that debuted in 1931 and was still coming out twice-a-month but running out of steam by this point. Visually, the gun-toting vigilante wears a full black face mask rather than the red scarf covering the lower half of his face. The slouch hat and cloak are present along with familiar figures for the magazines and popular radio series.

The fairly pedestrian story, from Arthur Hoerl (Reefer Madness) and George Kallahan involves the murder of Daily Bulletin reporter Jeff Mann with people thinking it’s the Shadow when it’s actually an impostor, the Silhouette. While this is happening, Lamont Cranston is about to marry Margo Lane (Barbara Reed), something that was never going to happen. Oddly, despite being his confidante and agent for countless missions, she now wants him to hang up his .45s simply because they are to be married, as if his cause has become superfluous. Others from the mythos include Shrevvy (George Chandler), the faithful chauffeur.

The mystery is predictable but we take our time getting to the obvious, with comedic asides that do nothing to make the characters appealing or counterpoint the story. Richmond handles the comedic elements far better than he does portraying the cold, cruel crime fighter. The film was handled with a by-the-numbers approach by director Phil Karlson, who apparently never thought to make the low budget work in his favor with camera angles and lighting to create some sense of mood, the same mood so easily created on radio. Trust me, the earlier movie serials were better. As for the other two Monogram films, The Shadow Returns and The Missing Lady, last time I looked, both were available for instant streaming on Netflix.


By Justin Scott (& Clive Cussler)
Berkley Books
562 pages

Several years ago best selling writer Clive Cussler created a new turn of the century hero in Isaac Bell, an operative for the Van Dorn Detective Agency in the early 1900s. Bell appeared in Cussler’s excellent novel, “The Chase.” It is the one and only Isaac Bell adventure Cussler has ever written, although there are two more currently on the market with a fourth on the way all bearing his name on the covers. But then again, as most book lovers know, covers do lie.

So here’s more pulp history. Publishers would create characters then hire writers to spin their adventures. Aware their demands for monthly stories would be too much of any one scribe to produce, they would hire several and print their work under a house pseudonym. That’s why all of Walter Gibson’s great Shadow novels were published under the by-line of Maxwell Grant, because he did not write all the Shadow adventures. Likewise, even though Lester Dent did write the majority of Doc Savage tales, he did not write them all. But they were published under the bogus house name of Kenneth Robeson. This was an established practice of the times and as long as their checks didn’t bounce, most pulp writers never quibbled about such aesthetics as fame and glory.

Jump ahead to the early 1980s and this established deceitful tradition was suddenly given a new spin by the publishers’ marketing departments when they realized certain bestselling authors’ names have what is commonly referred in the advertising game as Brand Recognition. That simply means that over a period of time these writers (Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler to name a few) have created, via their books, an army of loyal fans numbering in the thousands. Fans who will buy anything with their names on it, regardless of the plots, themes, genres etc. If it says Clive Cussler on the cover, X number of thousands of copies are guaranteed to sell. Thus for Cussler’s publisher the logical next step was to get him to write more books every year to keep those sales coming in on an annual basis. After all the book business is no different than any other, the bottom line isn’t art, its profits.

Unfortunately they soon discovered that poor Cussler didn’t want to be chained to his PC twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The guy very much wanted to eat, drink, sleep, spend time with his loved ones and actually have a life. What’s the point of making all this money if he couldn’t have time to enjoy it? Such an awful dilemma to have. So what’s was the solution that placated both the writer and the publisher’s needs at the same? The answer, most likely first originated by some truly ingenious marketing manager, was to use the famous author’s name but hire someone else to do the actual writing. We are not talking about co-writing here, although that is what these money hungry publishers would like you to assume. Oh, no, they went out and hired other writers to take over the series created by the big name authors and then let them write them solo.

Of course not being privy to these inside machinations, we can only speculate. As a reviewer who does enjoy Cussler’s work, I’d like to believe that when he first began whipping up all these spin-off series from his Dirk Pitt books, he did take some time in overseeing the creation of these new concepts and did investigate, as much as time would allow him, who these new writers would be. He may even have contributed an occasional plot or two in the beginning. But that’s it, readers. At present Cussler has his name on a total of five on-going series and the I’m guessing the only one he actually any writing on are the Dirk Pitt books which he now co-authors with his son Dirk Cussler.

The Kurt Austin adventures, the Fargo Adventures, the Oregon Files and now the Isaac Bell adventures are handled entirely by hired guns. If the books are still good, is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it remains a deceitful trade practice this reviewer is getting more and more tired of because it does rob the real authors from the full praise they deserve. Thus, I for one, will from this point on list the names of the true writers over those of the “brand name” celebrity. That said, let’s look at “The Wrecker” by Justin Scott.

The year is 1907 and Southern Pacific Railroad is on the verge of completing the last section of its Cascades express line. It is a project the company is heavily invested in and should it fail would mean their ruin. When a brilliant saboteur known as the Wrecker is wreaking havoc and destruction on the line, causing multiple deaths in the process, the company is thrown into turmoil. Finally the president and owner, Osgood Hennessy, hires the famous Van Dorn Detective agency to hunt down Wrecker and bring him to justice before he totally destroys their operations. Because of the prestige status of his client, Joe Van Dorn assigns his best agent, Isaac Bell, to the case and thus the hunt is on.

This book is a fast paced thriller pitting two cunning intellects against each other, with the Wrecker having the advantage as his true identity is unknown to the determined investigator. From one end of the sprawling continent to the other, Bell and the Wrecker play a deadly cat and mouse game like Grandmasters at a chess tournament, each moving his pieces skillfully with deadly intent. Soon both are aware there can only be one victor in this contest; only to who will survive their final conflict. “The Wrecker” is a truly magnificent historical adventure with a relentless pace as speedy as the trains it describes populated by noble heroes and dastardly villains. If you enjoy solid adventure with an authentic historical background, this is one book you do not want to miss. Kudos to Mr.Justin Scott, we can’t wait to read the next book in this entertaining series.


August 26, 2011

Harlan Zinck, a long time member of the Radio Archives family, has moved on to take advantage of new opportunities. Radio Archives wishes Harlan all the best in his future endeavors.

Starting with this issue, the Radio Archives Newsletter will be bi-weekly and emailed to you every other Friday afternoon. Tommy Hancock, a good friend and supporter of the Archives, joins the Archives as editor of this newsletter. Tommy is one of the bright lights in New Pulp. A partner in a publishing company, Tommy is an author with many fiction short stories and one published novel to his credit. Tommy also runs a Pulp convention each year while maintaining several blogs and a podcast.

We are excited that the infrastructure of our website has been dramatically upgraded and you should see a much faster and snappier website.

Stay tuned for the same great info and quality you’ve come to know and for a few new surprises as well, all from RadioArchives.com!

The World’s Greatest Detective Back On The Case
NEW RELEASE – The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2

Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, the character of Sherlock Holmes was a fixture of American broadcasting almost from the beginning of network radio. First heard over NBC in the fall of 1930, Holmes and Dr. John Watson – his friend, right-hand man, and chronicler (his “Boswell” as Holmes called him) – were portrayed by a number of actors on screen and on radio throughout the 1930s. Most definitely the appearance of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the 1939 20th Century Fox film “The Hound of the Baskervilles” created, for many, the perfect embodiment of the characters. Because of this, Rathbone and Bruce would come to be seen as Holmes and Watson in the flesh for the next six years – both on radio, in series for NBC and Mutual, and in a lengthy series of second features made for both Fox and Universal through 1945.
By the middle of 1946, however, Basil Rathbone had grown weary of playing Holmes – so much so, in fact, that he refused to sign a lucrative seven-year radio contract. And so, at the end of the 1945-46 season, the producers of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” faced the necessity of finding another actor to play the leading part – and, after considering a number of talented members of Hollywood’s British colony, happened upon the name of Tom Conway.
Born in Russia and educated in England, Tom Conway was certainly no stranger to the detective genre, having taken over the movie role of The Falcon from his brother George Sanders in 1942. His seasoned acting abilities gave him the ability to adopt a voice and delivery very similar to that of Basil Rathbone, performing his lines in much the same clipped and precise way that his predecessor had done. He quickly acquainted himself with the role and, in the company of Nigel Bruce – who opted to stay with the series in exchange for being assigned star billing in the weekly adventures – was introduced as Sherlock Holmes in October of 1946. Also, in 1946, the series moved from the Mutual network to ABC – the former Blue Network – and was given a few more production values to boost interest, as well as a new sponsor – the Semler Company, promoting their Kreml Hair Tonic and Shampoo.
Unfortunately, due to a combination of Rathbone’s departure and the inevitable loss of interest in a series that had been on the air for over six years led to both Conway and Bruce leaving the roles at the end of the 1946/47 season. “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” would return the following season, moving from Hollywood to New York and recast with John Stanley and Alfred Shirley in the leading roles which is also available from RadioArchives.com.
Heard today, “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, with Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce, not only retain their entertainment value but compare quite favorably with the earlier series with Rathbone. Conway is indeed quite good as Holmes and Nigel Bruce, though often disdained by the “Baker Street Irregulars” who prefer their Conan Doyle adventures straight, is always charming as the sometimes baffled but always loyal Dr. Watson. Wisely, the producers retained the framing device of Watson introducing each story from the cozy scene of his fireside, retired (as radio would have it) comfortably in California.
This collection offers ten full length broadcasts of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” starring Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce, all taken from the original reference recordings and beautifully restored for outstanding audio fidelity. If you’re a long-time fan of “the world’s greatest consulting detective”, or if you just love a good mystery, you’ll definitely want to add The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2 to your collection today priced at only $14.98 for the five Audio CD set or $9.98 for the Digital Download.
Celebrating Sherlock Means More Holmes For You!
With the debut of The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2, Radio Archives is celebrating Sherlock Holmes for the next two weeks! And you’re invited to the party!
Radio Archives, in association with Moonstone Entertainment, commissioned the beautifully rendered art for this collection from Timothy Lantz. Radio Archives is proud to offer you Moonstone’s comic take on the World’s Greatest Detective as part of a limited time promotion!
Buy any of the Sherlock Holmes products listed below from now until the next newsletter is released and RadioArchives.com will automatically include for absolutely FREE The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, Volume One, a Graphic Novel from Moonstone, normally priced at $22.95. No coupon code required.

Order one of the following Audio CDs or DVD:

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1
The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2
Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 from Nostalgia Ventures
Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2 from Nostalgia Ventures
Sherlock Holmes (Classic Television Series) DVD
And with your order, you’ll be able to thrill to the World’s Greatest Detective combating Dracula and the Invisible Man in Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, Volume One from Moonstone for FREE! Offer good for the next two weeks. (The bonus offer does not apply to the Download versions of these products)
New Digital Downloads Now Available
Laugh out loud at the lovable neighbor Harold Peary made famous – The Great Gildersleeve!
RA006 The Great Gildersleeve, Volume 1
RA035 The Great Gildersleeve, Volume 2
Dive into the original Medical Drama with The Story of Dr. Kildare!
RA018 The Story of Dr. Kildare, Volume 1
RA048 The Story of Dr. Kildare, Volume 2
Ride the Vocal Range with America’s Singing Cowboy – Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch!
RA104 Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, Volume 1
RA126 Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch, Volume 2

Follow Ann Sothern’s antics as that Jill-of-all-trades – The Adventures of Maisie!

RA157 The Adventures of Maisie, Volume 1
RA197 The Adventures of Maisie, Volume 2

Find Mystery, Intrigue, and Espionage in The Adventures of Frank Race!
RA170 The Adventures of Frank Race, Volume 1
RA191 The Adventures of Frank Race, Volume 2
Fighting his way from Dime Novels to Radio – The Adventures of Frank Merriwell!
RA101 The Adventures of Frank Merriwell, Volume 1
RA203 The Adventures of Frank Merriwell, Volume 2
Digital Downloads from RadioArchives.com literally give you the best of everything. The same sparkling high quality audio content as our compact disc collections at a reduced price; Delivery immediately upon payment and the ability to play them on your phone, computer, iPod or portable device! Purchase the audio collections you love and enjoy them in a whole new way. Click here to see all the sets available for download.

New in Pulp Fiction: Doc Savage Volume 50 and The Shadow Volume 52

Anyone living in the world today knows that true heroes are very hard to come by. But, in the pulp fiction world of the 1930s and 1940s, heroes were always on watch to fight the criminals and evildoers that threatened our way of life. You’ll find proof of this in the two new double-novel pulp reprints now available from RadioArchives.com, featuring the top heroes from this Golden Age of literary entertainment:

Doc Savage Volume 50
The Pulp Era’s greatest superman journeys to the American West in classic pulp thrillers by Lester Dent writing as “Kenneth Robeson.” First, a bequest from a dying scientist leads Doc Savage to Death Valley in search of a long-dead pirate’s legendary treasure. Can this amazing invention allow The Pirate’s Ghost to speak from beyond the grave? Then, the Man of Bronze goes undercover at a Wyoming dude ranch to solve the bizarre puzzle of a strange Green Eagle with lead feathers. This special anniversary edition showcases the original color pulp covers by Emery Clarke, Paul Orban’s classic interior illustrations and an intriguing article by The Shadow’s famous raconteur, Walter B. Gibson. Priced at $14.95.


The Shadow Volume 52

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! The Knight of Darkness wages war on criminal masterminds in two thrilling pulp novels by Walter Gibson and Theodore Tinsley writing as “Maxwell Grant.” First, The Shadow executes a deadly chess game with The Crime Master, an underworld kingpin whose amazing superbrain rivals his own. Who will have the last laugh? Then, the Master of Darkness seeks to unmask The Fifth Napoleon, the master plotter who commands New York’s four most powerful crime lords. This instant collectors’ item features both classic cover paintings by George Rozen, the original interior pulp illustrations by Tom Lovell, historical commentary by popular culture historian Will Murray plus a biographical article by Anthony Tollin on Frank Readick,.”The Man with The Shadow’s Laugh.” Available for only $14.95.

Knowing The Shadow
Reviews Of The Shadow Pulp Tales By John Olsen

“The Golden Vulture” was published in the July 15, 1938 issue of The Shadow Magazine. It was actually written much earlier, in July of 1932. And it was written, not by Walter Gibson, but Lester Dent – the same Lester Dent who would begin writing the adventures of Doc Savage a few months later. It is the only Shadow pulp mystery ever written by Lester Dent, and was greatly revised by Walter Gibson before its 1938 publication, all which makes it a unique collaboration between the two.

The Golden Vulture is an unseen master criminal who extorts millions from wealthy men of society. He controls a vast empire of gangsters who do his every bidding. He communicates his instructions to his minions via small golden statues of a vulture which can receive and transmit radio and television signals. Who is The Golden Vulture? Who will be his next victim? And who can stop him? Only The Shadow can stop this super fiend’s quest for power and wealth!
Many of Lester Dent’s famous touches are evident in this story — little things that would later show up in his Doc Savage stories. Great strength, for example. The Shadow, as described by the pen of Lester Dent, is capable of great strength. Even Walter Gibson’s Shadow was exceedingly strong, but Dent’s description of The Shadow’s display of strength seems quite familiar to anyone who has read Doc Savage. His grip is that of steel bands. He easily overpowers a foe of tremendous strength and throws him through a door, reducing it to splinters. And then, there’s the gadgets. Lester Dent loved to use gadgets in his stories. And although Walter Gibson enjoyed using them in his Shadow stories as well, he employed far fewer of them than did Dent. In this story, the coolest gadget of all is the actual statues of The Golden Vulture. Most are small statuettes of under two feet tall. But their insides contain enough electronics to receive and transmit both audio and video as well as enough explosive charges to create tremendous destruction.
We also see the touch of Walter Gibson in this story. He keeps the character of The Shadow true to the version readers had come to recognize in 1938. The Shadow creates a temporary sanctum in Miami, where he puts his thoughts to paper with pen and disappearing ink. The Shadow has strange but vague powers to compel others to do his wishes. He communicates secret messages by the use of slightly emphasized words in otherwise seemingly innocent announcements. He disappears from the back of taxi-cabs, leaving a five dollar bill on the seat. He is a master of disguise, who can make himself faultlessly appear as others.
I really enjoyed reading this partial collaboration of Dent and Gibson, and I think you will too. You’ll appreciate the exotic locations and gadgets typical of Doc Savage, mixed with the moody atmosphere and frenetic action of Walter Gibson’s Shadow. A very unique story, and one that is definitely recommended!

Read The Golden Vulture and another Shadow tale when you get your copy of The Shadow, Volume 1 available at RadioArchives.com for only $12.95.


Special Collectors’ Editions of Audiobooks
Attention collectors and autograph seekers! Here’s a special offer just made for you.

RadioArchives.com’s two new audiobooks, Python Isle and White Eyes, are now available in special signed limited editions, available only from RadioArchives.com!

Each Special Edition CD set is autographed by the entire production team including author Will Murray, producer/director Roger Rittner, and the voice actors and recordist. They come with a special bookplate to certify their authenticity.
There are only 50 copies of each set available. There will be no more.
These special collector editions are available for just $45.98 for Python Isle, and $51.98 for White Eyes. That includes the complete set of CDs, plus the autographed case, and certified bookplate.

White Eyes Reviews Are Stunning

Reviews are starting to come in for White Eyes, the latest audiobook from RadioArchives.com. And they’re just as enthusiastic as the reviews for our first audiobook, Python Isle.

Stephen Brandt at Audiobook Heaven says:

“The whole idea behind these Doc Savage productions is to give them the feel of an old-time radio program. Richard Epcar achieved this with his radio-announcer voice, and his melodramatic characterizations. White Eyes is narrated in 3D stereo, with Epcar’s narration coming through the center channel, and his character voices coming from the right or left, putting the listener right in the middle. Add to this Radio Archive’s crystal clear reproduction technology, and you have a cinema quality extravaganza.”

At The Retroist, Vic Sage says:

“… you can really tell how much work the likes of Roger Rittner and of course Radio Archives puts into these audiobooks. The sound is crisp and clear and they make sure to get a narrator that can not only portray the Man of Bronze and his “fabulous five” but EVERY character in the tale as well, and they’ve chosen wisely with Richard Epcar.

I have to say that in Chapter 28 “Gangdom’s Long Arm” I was pacing the floor in front of the radio, since this is a chapter where Doc Savage’s skyscraper headquarters comes under siege by the united criminal underworld. That I think is the greatest compliment I can give to Radio Archives and Will Murray, the writing and production is so strong that I actually got nervous for Doc Savage and his friends!”


And don’t miss narrator Michael McConnohie’s exclusive “Python Isle” promotional video, including a number of dialog excerpts (scroll to the bottom of the page):


Deal of the Day – Great Quality Great Price

Radio Archives not only offers the finest Audio and Pulp Products, but we also give you awesome bargains with the RadioArchives.com Deal Of The Day! You can take advantage of Three Deals at All Times with the Deal of the Day!
Every Day a Different Item is available at 10% Off. If you’re into Pulp, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the days to pick up a great Pulp deal at a 10% discount!
Every two weeks as the newsletter comes out, a different item is available at 25% off from RadioArchives.com
Each month, one item is 50% off for the entire month!
Enjoy Quality. Enjoy Savings. Take advantage of the Deal of the Day from RadioArchives.com!

Hearing From You!
Comments From Customers!
Greg Burton listened to Let George Do It and writes:
I am so glad you have made the radio shows available as downloads. I started collecting old radio shows in mp3 format in 1995 and have listened regularly (daily) since that time. Last year I purchased a CD from you (“Let George Do It”), and since you have been making shows available as a download, I have purchased three items from you. I have been amazingly surprised how much more I enjoy listening to your top-quality productions. I did not think it would make that big of a difference, but it does. I can’t thank you enough. There are many more that over time I will purchase. I get on your site regularly to see if you have any new releases.
Find out for yourself what Greg is talking about! Pick up an Old Time Radio Classic, on CD or by Digital Download, today from RadioArchives.com!

Reviews from the 86th Floor: Barry Reese Looks At the Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

Paul Malmont
ISBN 978-0-7432-8785-2

I realize that I’m coming rather late to this novel, which was published in 2006 and set the pulp world on fire. I’d heard many good things about it but I’d never gotten around to grabbing a copy for myself until now. This book takes the real-life figures of Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, L Ron Hubbard and others and puts them into an adventure that could have been straight out of the pulps they made their living in. The mystery starts with the death of H.P. Lovecraft and soon throws its net a good deal wider than that.

The novel crackles with its scenes that describe the pulp industry of the time, showing the hard life led by the men who were paid pennies per word. Honestly, I could have read an entire book of Gibson, Dent and Hubbard arguing over the proper way to write pulp.

But this isn’t a nonfiction work — there’s fictional elements aplenty at play here and the story ultimately must be judged as both historical fiction and an adventure novel. It’s in that last regard that I feel the book falls a bit flat. Malmont does a wonderful job describing the main characters and their neuroses but the action sequences didn’t have the crackle of old-time pulp and the central villain stopped the narrative every time he appeared. I really could have cared less about him or his motivations.

Special word must be given to the epilogue, which is narrated by a special character that made me smile. I was somewhat surprised by the “revelation” that Lester Dent retired to La Plata to write Doc Savage and Avenger novels “for many years.” Though The Avenger was always credited to Kenneth Robeson (the same pen name that Dent and others used on Doc), The Avenger novels were NOT written by Lester Dent. They were the work of Paul Ernst, a wonderful pulp writer who never seems to get the proper amount of respect.

There are many who will tell you that this book is the best that New Pulp has to offer. I disagree. It is very good and I think it does an admirable job of reaching out to the non-pulp audience, informing them of the field’s past and those who worked in it. But I found myself comparing it to Wayne Reinegal’s books, which also mix real-life figures with adventurous settings. If forced to choose, I’d go with Reinegal, who manages to both inform the reader and create genuinely thrilling action-oriented plots, to boot. Still, this book is well worth your time and if you’re a pulp aficionado, you should look for it ASAP.

I give 3.5 out of 5 stars.


May 27, 2011

It’s the Latest Newsletter from RadioArchives.com!

* New in Old Time Radio: Joe Palooka
* New in Pulp Fiction: Doc Savage Volume 48 and The Shadow Volume 49
* A Pirate’s Booty in Our Treasure Chest
* Also New in Old Time Radio: The Jimmy Durante Show, Volume 2
* Letters, We Get Letters…

Have a Problem? Have a Question? Just Need Some Assistance? We’re Here to Help! We all know that, though technology can be tremendously useful and convenient, it can also be confusing and unpredictable. When the unexplainable happens, it’s nice to have someone to turn to for assistance – and that kind of personalized help is what RadioArchives.com offers you every day of the week!

At RadioArchives.com, we believe in real customer service – the sort of patient one-on-one help that it’s hard to find anymore. If you find yourself having trouble ordering from us, or if you just aren’t sure how to do something, feel free to drop us a line at Service@RadioArchives.com or give us a call at 800-886-0551. We’ll be happy to diagnose the problem, walk you through the process, and also answer any questions you may have.

New in Old Time Radio: Joe Palooka During radio’s heyday, it was common to adapt stories and characters from the comic strips into shows for radio listeners to enjoy. In some cases, the results were extraordinarily successful; Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, sponsored by Ovaltine, became a radio legend, while both Jungle Jim and Flash Gordon enjoyed weekly success. But, surprisingly, some of the biggest names in the comics failed to click with listeners – and, in 1945, one of those big names was that of the popular prizefighter of the funny papers, Joe Palooka.

Created by cartoonist Ham Fisher, Joe Palooka had made his newspaper debut in 1930. Since that time, his popularity had grown to the point that his exploits were being carried in 900 newspapers throughout the country – helped, no doubt, by the fact that the pugilist had spent the war years serving in the United States Army. One of the earliest characters to enlist, Joe joined the military in 1940 and spent the next five years fighting the Axis forces in both his daily and Sunday comic strips. Not surprisingly, he was a big hit with GI’s, his adventures printed in both Stars and Stripes and Yank, two newspapers printed exclusively for military personnel.

Realizing that the war had brought fame and respect to the character far beyond his expectations, in 1945, Ham Fisher decided that it was time to bring Joe Palooka back to radio in a new series of peacetime adventures. To bring his comic strip to life, Fisher first contacted Harold Conrad, a former Broadway columnist who had lately turned to press agentry and free-lance writing. There was no question that Conrad had knowledge of the boxing world and Fisher felt that his fascination with the eccentrics and rogues that populated the sport would infuse the radio version with an authentic ringside flavor. Conrad agreed to write a couple of radio scripts for a syndicated series to be produced by Graphic Radio Productions, Inc. Two audition shows were quickly produced by the NBC Radio-Recording Division in their Chicago Merchandise Mart studios, but the series failed to sell.

Undaunted by this, Ham Fisher then took the concept to John Boler, the President of the North Central Broadcasting System, which supplied programming to a number of midsized radio stations. Boler, in conjunction with Fisher’s partners, agreed to produce a five-a-week radio series to be recorded in the studios of the L. S. Toogood Recording Company in Chicago. Recording began in the fall of 1945 and, over the next few months, a total of 130 fifteen-minute episodes were produced – 26 weeks worth of daily shows. As it turned out, however, 1946 was not a good year for North Central Broadcasting; in the summer, the company filed for bankruptcy and, by the end of the year, it was no more. With all of the financial complications, “Joe Palooka” failed to get the publicity and salesmanship that it deserved and, unfortunately, the series never aired outside of a few small local markets.

Though disappointed by the way things turned out, Ham Fisher remained enthusiastic about Joe Palooka’s potential for broadcasting – but radio, it seemed, was not to be his medium. Fisher turned his attention to television and, by 1953, “The Story of Joe Palooka” made its video bow in a syndicated series produced by Guild Films. The radio series, having been heard by very few people, fell into obscurity and has been almost completely forgotten by radio historians – but luckily, a few months ago, Radio Archives acquired twenty episodes of the series, as well as the 1945 audition recordings made by NBC. The result is a brand new five-hour collection containing twenty episodes of “Joe Palooka”, as well as the two NBC auditions. For fans of comic strips, as well as those who grew up with Joe Palooka in the movies and on television, it’s a rare chance to hear this iconic American hero on the air in his own radio series.

For over fifty years, Joe Palooka, his colorful manager Knobby Walsh, his girlfriend Ann Howe, and the many other characters that populated the comic strip brought enjoyment to millions of devoted readers. In this five CD set, priced at just $14.98, you’ll enjoy five full hours of his radio adventures, made available here for the very first time since 1945. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the history of an American icon who entertained and inspired American youth – and it’s now available from RadioArchives.com.New in Pulp Fiction: Doc Savage Volume 48 and The Shadow Volume 49Back in the 1930s, it was common to find teenagers and grown men alike gathering around their neighborhood newsstand, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the latest adventures of their favorite pulp heroes. Nowadays, however, it’s far easier for fans of Doc Savage and The Shadow to get the latest tales of these two timeless adventure favorites: just stop by RadioArchives.com and you’ll find two brand new and just released reprints featuring the Man of Bronze and the Knight of Darkness waiting for you!

In “Doc Savage Volume 48”, priced at just $14.95, you’ll thrill to the classic adventures of the Man of Bronze in two original novels by Lester Dent, writing as Kenneth Robeson. First, what is the bizarre connection between the appearance of “Red Snow” and the disappearance of a United States senator? Our national security may depend on Doc Savage’s discovery of the sinister secret! Then, in “Death Had Yellow Eyes”, Monk Mayfair is abducted while the Man of Bronze is framed for bank robbery and murder. This classic pulp reprint is available in two editions: one features the original color pulp covers by Walter M. Baumhofer and Modest Stein, while the alternate edition features an impressive painting by Bantam artist James Bama. Both feature Paul Orban’s classic interior illustrations and historical commentary by Will Murray, writer of seven Doc Savage novels which are soon to be released as audiobooks by RadioArchives.com. (For more information on these exciting new releases, click here: Audiobooks from RadioArchives.com)

Next, the radio origins of the Knight of Darkness are showcased in “The Shadow Volume 49”, priced at just $14.95 and featuring two classic pulp novels by Walter Gibson, writing as Maxwell Grant. First, the Dark Avenger teams with Secret Service agent Vic Marquette to investigate a far-reaching counterfeiting ring in “The Shadow Laughs!”, the landmark novel that introduced the real Lamont Cranston. Then, how can The Shadow prove that an innocent man is not a murderer when several witnesses have identified the young man as the “Voice of Death”? This instant collector’s item features the original color pulp covers by Jerome Rozen and Graves Gladney, classic interior illustrations by Tom Lovell and Edd Cartier, and commentary by popular-culture historians Will Murray and Anthony Tollin.

Both of these collectable publications are now available at RadioArchives.com – and, to get one or both, you’ll pay just $3.00 flat rate shipping, delivered anywhere in the United States. If you just can’t get enough of these two exciting heroes – as well as The Spider, The Avenger, and The Whisperer – stop by RadioArchives.com and place your order right away.A Pirate’s Booty in Our Treasure Chest
If you keep up with the movie business, you know that pirates have once again returned to the silver screen in another big-budget blockbuster. Hoisting the Jolly Roger and setting sail for adventure on the high seas, these bloodthirsty characters have been a part of film history since the days when Douglas Fairbanks drew his sword and slid down the mainsail in “The Black Pirate”.

One of the motivations of any good buccaneer has always been the pursuit of buried treasure – legendary mother lodes of gold doubloons, jewels, and untold riches, hidden away and just waiting to be plundered. But if you’re a regular Radio Archives customer, you know that you don’t need to find a hidden map or sail the seven seas to uncover that treasure chest; you’ll find one waiting for you every time you visit our home page at RadioArchives.com. Just see the booty that’s coming your way this week:

* Today through Monday May 30th, you can get our newest CD set – “Joe Palooka”, a $14.98 value – for Just 99 Cents when you submit an order of $35.00 or more.

* On Tuesday May 31st, pulp fiction’s legendary super-sleuth returns in “The Shadow Volume 5”, featuring two classic stories by Walter Gibson. In “The Black Falcon”, Lamont Cranston is abducted by a kidnapper who unearths secrets from The Shadow’s mysterious past. Then, the Knight of Darkness must defeat a Dragon of Fire before the city becomes a blazing inferno in an action-packed thriller titled “The Salamanders”. This instant collector’s item also features the original pulp covers by George Rozen, interior illustrations by Tom Lovell, and “The Island of Ancient Death,” a bonus Shadow story adapted from the Mutual Broadcasting System radio program by scriptwriter Gibson Scott Fox. This beautifully reformatted double-novel reprint is normally priced at $12.95 – but you can enjoy these two exciting adventures for Just 99 Cents when you submit an order of $35.00 or more.

* On Wednesday June 1st, lovers of both pulp and radio adventure will thrill to “Adventures by Morse, Volume 1”, a ten-CD collection featuring two bloodcurdling multi-part tales from the pen of radio’s renaissance man, Carlton E. Morse: “The City of the Dead” and “The Cobra King Strikes Back”. Transferred from the original one-of-kind test pressings and fully restored for sparkling audio fidelity, this exciting set offers the finest sounding and most complete versions of these two suspenseful tales ever made available. This timeless compact disc collection normally sells for $29.98 – but, for one day only, it can be yours for Just 99 Cents when you submit an order of $35.00 or more. But wait! There’s more pulpy excitement to come!

* In the 1930s, writer George Harmon Coxe introduced a new character to the pages of “Black Mask Magazine”: a hardboiled newspaper photojournalist named Casey. Instantly popular with readers, in 1943, CBS brought his pulp exploits to radio in “Casey, Crime Photographer”, a series of lighthearted mystery tales that combined solid plots, eccentric characters, and the off-center dialogue that could only come from a series set in The Blue Note Bar. Adapted for radio by Alonzo Deen Cole (“The Witch’s Tale”), the series is a true radio classic – and on Thursday June 2nd, you can get “Casey, Crime Photographer, Volume 1”, a 10-CD set featuring twenty original broadcasts, for Just 99 Cents when you submit an order of $35.00 or more. This collection normally sells for $29.98

We’re sorry but, at these low prices, multiple orders cannot be combined into single shipments. Each separate order must be placed on the days on which the specials are offered and no early or late orders will be accepted.

So don’t wait until you’ve seen the latest pirate movie. Stop by RadioArchives.com today and stake your own claim to the Treasure Chest that’s waiting for you. It’s a simple and affordable way to add something special to each and every one of your orders with us – and you’ll never even have to leave port to get it!

Letters…We Get Letters…

Listen to this Newsletter!

The releases we’ve described in this newsletter are just a small fraction of what you’ll find waiting for you at RadioArchives.com. Whether it’s pulp fiction classics, colorful and exciting books from Moonstone, timeless movies and televisi on shows on DVD, or the over 150 compact disc collections containing thousands of sparkling and fully restored classic radio shows, we hope you’ll make RadioArchives.com your source for the best in entertainment.
We’d love to hear from you! Send an e-mail to Service@RadioArchives.com or call us toll free at 800-886-0551 with your comments, questions, or suggestions.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this newsletter as an Audio Podcast! Click anywhere in the colorful banner at the top and you’ll automatically hear the Radio Archives Newsletter, enhanced with narration, music, and clips from our latest compact disc collections! This audio version of our regular newsletter is a pleasant and convenient way to hear all about our latest CD sets, as well as the newest pulp fiction reprints, special offers, and much, much more!

A lot of companies complain about the amount of mail they receive each day – but here at RadioArchives.com, we love to read the letters we get from our customers. It’s wonderful to see how many of you appreciate and enjoy the many products we have to offer, as well as our low-cost shipping and world-class customer service. Here are a few of the e-mails we’ve received recently, with many thanks to the nice folks who sent them to us.

Bill Downs listens to “The Lives of Harry Lime” and writes:
The quality of t
he recordings is outstanding. Orson Welles is Harry Lime as he was created to be. Thanks again for preserving an important part of our history.

Tom Kokenge writes:
I find the audio version of your newsletter and it’s production values to be of the same high caliber as the newsletter and the website. Frankly you don’t get any better than your website so, trust me, that is high praise indeed. You have a great voice for radio, as the saying goes, and it sounds like you are really enjoying yourself as you do them. The hard work to write and produce the newsletter really shows in the finished product.

Gary Kalin reads his copy of “Doc Savage Volume 7” and writes:
“The Lost Oasis” is one of my favorite Doc Savage novels, with “The Sargasso Ogre” a close second. “The Lost Oasis” has everything that make this a first class story: zeppelins, vampire bats, diamond mines, and poor souls in trouble. Mr. Dent had a true talent for writing about flying and airships. Where “Oasis” left off, “The Sargasso Ogre” picks up as Doc and his crew make their way back to New York. “Ogre” is interesting that Doc goes up against a bad guy just about as strong as he is. If you have never read a Doc Savage, this would be a good book and two stories to start with.

We appreciate both your thoughts and your letters. If you’d like to see your comments and reviews in our newsletter, just send an e-mail to Service@RadioArchives.com. We’ll be happy to hear from you.


Pro Se Productions, the company sponsoring PULP ARK, the first annual Pulp Convention/Creators Conference being held May 13-15 in Batesville, Ark., announced today that major publisher Simon and Schuster is one of the many publishers taking part in the activities.

According to Tommy Hancock, Pulp Ark Coordinator, Simon and Schuster is participating in Pulp Ark in order to promote the upcoming release of a major novel by Paul Malmont.  Malmont, best known for his best selling works ‘The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril’ and ‘Jack London in Paradise’ has completed ‘The Astounding, The Amazing, and the Unknown’.   This novel, a sequel to ‘Death Cloud Peril’ follows pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard on adventures into the 1950s that will rival the fantastic pulp tales the future cultural icon wrote.  The first book in this two-book series was a fictional romp involving Hubbard, H.P. Lovecraft, and pulp authors Lester Dent and Walter Gibson and others that carried them across the map and through two fisted, pulse pounding adventures.

“Malmont,” Hancock stated, “takes real life historical personages and weaves them into these realistic, yet wildly entertaining, fast paced tales.  Pulp Ark is pleased to be able to say that various items, like postcards and such, will be handed out Saturday, May 14, to commemorate the July release of the new novel.  Also, a galley copy of the new novel will be on display and given away at 4:30 Saturday afternoon.  To register for the giveaway, all you have to do is come to Pulp Ark at 151 West Main, Batesville, Ark starting at noon Friday, May 13 and put your name in the box!  The winner will be drawn on Saturday!”

For further information on the giveaway and Pulp Ark, Hancock can be reached at 870-834-4022 or proseproductions@earthlink.net.

The Shadow Knows

The Shadow Knows

In the first part of our extensive interview with publisher Anthony Tollin (yesterday), we learned how a story that apepared in The Shadow Magazine some two and a half years prior to Batman’s debut, proved to me the template for the Cpaed Crusader’s debut in Detective Comics #27.  This is fodder for the historians who have studied what Bob Kane and Bill Finger each brought to the table during the creation of DC’s second successful super-hero.  The story will be publsihed this summer in the ninth volume of Shadwo facsimiles being publsihed by Tollin.

Greenberger: How will you celebrate this discovery in volume nine?

Tollin: By pairing it with Doc Savage #8, which showcases Doc’s utility belt (which Bill Finger acknowledged was the inspiration for Batman’s).  By the way, Doc’s utility belt was introduced by ghostwriter Harold A. Davis, Newsday‘s first Managing Editor. (Davis ran the paper through its first four years, and was succeeded by Alan Hathway, another Doc Savage ghost, who headed the paper for 30 years. Will Murray also provides a dynamite article on the real-life inspiration for both Doc Savage and The Avenger—Richard Henry Savage. The real Savage was a fascinating, larger-than-life American hero, a West Point graduate who served in the U.S. and Egyptian armies before joining the diplomatic corps. In his later years, he wrote more than 40 novels, many of which were based on his own adventurous life. Street & Smith published one of them in 1898, and Henry William Ralston, a recent addition to the Street & Smith staff, never forgot the charismatic Savage. Decades later, as S&S’ circulation manager, he launched The Shadow Magazine and developed the characters for Doc Savage and the Avenger, basing elements of all three pulp superheroes on Richard Henry Savage’s adventurous life.

And The Shadow #10 will be a super-villains issue, featuring The City of Doom (the second Voodoo Master story which inspired Batman’s Doctor Death storyline), The Fifth Face (featuring a master of disguise called Five-Face) and "The Immortal Murderer," a 1944 Alfred Bester Shadow radio script which pits The Shadow against an immortal Neanderthal (and yes, it was a rewrite of Alfie’s earlier Vandal Savage story from Green Lantern #10). Along with Sax Rohmer, Walter Gibson pretty much originated the concept of super-crime, and the villains he called super-crooks. In 1933, Gibson introduced a slew of super-villains including The Red Blot, The Wealth Seeker, The Black Falcon and Gray Fist. Others soon followed including The Cobra and Dr, Rodil Mocquino, the Voodoo Master; and years later, Shiwan Khan. Early on, Gibson realized that a superhero like The Shadow needed something more than garden-variety crooks and gangsters to test his mettle, just as Jerry Robinson would later realize that Batman needed his own Moriarty when he created The Joker. In fact, The Shadow’s Dr. Mocquino appears to have inspired Batman’s first recurring villain, Doctor Death.

Greenberger: What else will be in the book?

Tollin: The Shadow  #9 , our special "Foreshadowing The Batman" volume, reprints "Lingo," one of Walter Gibson’s all-time classics which inspired the Batarang, Theodore Tinsley’s "Partners of Peril" (the novel that inspired Detective Comics #27’s "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," plus a bonus Tinsley novelette: "The Grim Joker" (featuring a murderous, white-faced crime clown). Next spring, we’ll be releasing a special "Foreshadowing The Joker" volume that will reprint Ted Tinsley’s "Death’s Harlequin" and the 1940 Shadow radio script, "The Laughing Corpse." The latter, broadcast six weeks before Batman #1 debuted, featured a chemical that caused victims to laugh themselves to death, quite similar to The Joker’s original M.O. "Death’s Harlequin" was on sale the same month as Detective Comics#27 (when we can be pretty sure that Bill Finger was paying close attention to The Shadow Magazine) and pitted The Shadow against a murderous clown who like The Joker was a vision of madness: "The thin lips were drawn away from skull-like teeth. The cheeks were sunken and leathery. Dank black hair lay matted thinly on a baldish scalp the color of old parchment. A living corpse in the costume of a gay Harlequin! With a wide-muzzled gun. And a jeering laugh that made the silence in the room crawl with menace."

Greenberger: Any idea what DC’s reaction was when you made them aware of this?

Tollin: Actually, Paul Levitz was quite interested and very cooperative with my request to reprint panels from Detective Comics #27 in the historical articles. Paul recognized that his story was part of Batman’s history, and basically just wanted some copies for DC’s library.

Greenberger: Do you think this will change people’s perceptions of Batman’s origins?

Tollin: Actually, my hope is that it alters people’s perceptions of The Shadow. Finger and Kane As I observe in my supporting historical article: "The Shadow was a master of disguise. Perhaps his greatest masquerade was transforming himself into Batman, and in that guise continuing his reign as the world’s greatest detective superhero into the twenty-first century."

I find it quite interesting that at nearly the same time that DC Comics was taking legal action to eliminate Victor Fox’s Wonderman because it was an imitation of Superman, they were about to launch a new character who was a far more blatant imitation of The Shadow, right down to the plots, bat-motif, surroundings, villains and supporting players. At that time, The Shadow was still far more prominent than the recently-launched Superman, since he was featured in the only twice-monthly hero pulp as well as the weekly radio thriller, which was the #1 daytime series in the radio ratings. As pulp publishers of the Spicy line, Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz and their editors had to realize that Batman was based on The Shadow, even if they didn’t know that the plot of the first Batman story was a recycled Shadow novel.

While I want to give proper credit to Walter Gibson and Theodore Tinsley for their part in inspiring Batman, I’m certainly not out to tarnish Batman or Bill Finger. I have no animosity towards Batman. I’m actually very fond of the character, and Adrienne [Roy] and I used to jokingly refer to our New Jersey home as "the house that Batman bought." While Batman started out as a clone of The Shadow, the feature came into its own with the introduction of Robin, which added a touch of humanity to the formerly grim Batman that was lacking in The Shadow. Robin was almost certainly inspired by Junior Tracy, but it was just what the feature needed at the time. And of course, the succession of wonderful villains that began with The Joker and Catwoman in Batman #1 and continued with The Penguin, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, Clayface and The Riddler made Batman a very special feature. While Finger’s first Batman story was a blatant swipe of a Shadow novel, he quickly developed into one of comics’ greatest and most-innovative scriptwriters.

Greenberger: Are there other parallels between The Shadow and Batman?

Tollin: Certainly. I’ve recently spotted several more early Bat-stories that were lifted from Shadow novels. Readers will be able to compare for themselves when I reprint "Serpents of Siva" in The Shadow Volume 12. The Golden-Age Batman lifted The Shadow’s suction cup climbing device, autogiro, and "yellow boomerang," along with the friendship with the Gotham police commissioner. But the most lasting influence is to be found in Batman’s talent for escaping deathtraps, which started in his debut story when he escaped from the same glass gas chamber that The Shadow escaped from in "Partners of Peril." This mastery of escape was The Shadow’s most lasting legacy to Batman, a legacy from Houdini to his biographer/ghostwriter Walter Gibson and on to Bill Finger’s Batman via The Shadow.

Greenberger: How is this line performing and what’s coming after this?

Tollin: Each Shadow and Doc Savage volume has outsold the previous, and sales are still building. This is most unusual within the Diamond and comic collectors market, where sales usually drop after the first issue. This seems to indicate that our sales are actually generated by people who are actually reading and enjoying the books, and encouraging others to do the same.

The Shadow  and Doc Savage reprints are available from most full-service comic stores, and also Borders and some Barnes & Noble stores. They are also being tested in double-packs at a small number of Costco and Sam’s Club outlets. They’re also available directly from me (sanctumotr@earthlink.net or www.shadowsanctum.com), with six-issue subscriptions available within the USA for $72 via first class or $66 via media mail. They’re also available in Manhattan at The Mysterious Bookshop, and in Minneapolis at Dreamhaven Books and Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction, The books are also available individually via mail order from me, and from Bud Plant, Vintage Library, Adventure House, Mike Chomko, and in Canada from Girasol Collectables,

Greenberger: Beyond Doc Savage and The Shadow, are there any other pulp figures you’re looking to resurrect?

Tollin: The Avenger and Nick Carter, and hopefully The Whisperer as well. Do you think readers would like to discover the secret life of Police Commissioner James Gordon, aka The Whisperer?

Greenberger: With Moonstone’s recently announced Spider anthology and your facsimile reprints, why do you think people remain interested in the pulp heroes?

Tollin: Hopefully.  It definitely seems to be the case.  But there are many pulp heroes that always seem to be with us.  Don’t forget that Zorro, Tarzan and Conan all originated in the pulps, as well as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.

Greenberger: Anything else you’re working on?

Tollin: Well, two double-novel pulp reprints a month is keeping me pretty busy, and this will only increase when The Avenger and some of the other S&S characters are added as quarterlies. I am expanding a Shadow coffee table history that I wrote a few months back. And at this year’s Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention, I’ll be directing an X-Minus One cast reunion. We’re thrilled that this year we’ll be reuniting the series’ scriptwriters, Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, who haven’t seen each other in 40 years. Kinoy of course went on to win an Emmy for his screenplay for the landmark TV miniseries Roots.

Artwork copyright DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

The Case of the Chemical Syndicate

The Case of the Chemical Syndicate

Every so often historians find something that appears to be the final piece to a puzzle.  Comic book historians have certain mysteries or questions they’d like answers to.  Recently, Anthony Tollin and Will Murray pinpointed the source material that helped inspire Bob Kane and Bill Finger to create the character of Batman.  The results can now make people further consider how much of Batman is Kane and how much is a result of the popular culture of his day, providing fodder to be reimagined in a new medium.

Comic Mix talked with Tollin, a longtime comic book veteran, who has been producing new facsimile editions of The Shadow and Doc Savage for the full details. 

Greenberger: Tony, for those less familiar with your name, give us the short hand background on your career in comics and old time radio.

Tollin: 20-year DC career, beginning as proofreader, then assistant production manager/color coordinator, then cover colorist for a decade and interior colorist of Green Lantern (15 years), Justice League of America, Superman, Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Shadow Strikes, Doc Savage, The Phantom, etc.  Also co-colored Batman and Detective Comics as a team with Adrienne Roy through much of her 16-year run on the titles (190 issues of each, not to mention The Brave & The Bold, Batman and the Outsiders, Shadow of the Bat, Robin, etc.) And also work at Disney, Topps, Marvel, National Lampoon’s Sunday comic section parody, PS Magazine for Murphy Anderson. Also wrote 70-plus old-time-radio historical booklets for Radio Spirits and the Smithsonian Historical Archives, scripted Stan Freberg’s When Radio Was for six years, and co-authored The Shadow Scrapbook with Walter Gibson.

Greenberger: And what about your fascination with The Shadow?

Tollin: I fell in love with the character in junior high, after previously reading Walter Gibson’s magic books as an amateur magician and ventriloquist.  Back then Shadow pulps were few and far between, so I rationed them, only allowing myself four chapters per day. This was back around the time of the Batman television series when Bats was often pretty silly. The Shadow embodies mystery and intrigue. Of course, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams later brought Batman back to his dark and mysterious roots, but I guess I was a bit ahead of the curve. The magic of Walter Gibson’s shadowy creation is that it gave the hero the charisma normally reserved for the villain. The melodrama villain, parodied by Dudley Do-right’s Snidely Whiplash, was always the most fascinating and charismatic character in the play. Are we as fascinated by Jonathan Harker or Luke Skywalker as we are by Count Dracula or Darth Vader? Of course not! Gibson described The Shadow as a "Benign Dracula." In the conventional melodrama, the villain in black laughed evilly as he tied the girl down to the railroad tracks. Gibson turned that around, so that the menacing laughter and the arrival of the man in black represented rescue and salvation, not doom. The Shadow is a hero in black who owns all the power and charisma of the melodrama villain. That was, and still is, a brilliant innovation.

Greenberger: You’ve been researching the Shadow on radio and in print for years.  How did you finally discover this nugget?

Tollin: A few months back, Will Murray reminded me of Bill Finger’s quote that his first Batman "script was a take-off on a Shadow story." (from Steranko’s History of the Comics Volume One)  I kept thinking about it and it occurred to me that nobody had ever bothered to find out which "Shadow story" was lifted. I suggested that to Will over the phone one night, and with his assistance I had found the story in less than 20 minutes. Will and I each had ideas as to which stories it couldn’t be, so it became a process of elimination. We had both thought it would be a lot harder than it was. I had expected the lift to be less blatant. It turned out to be the same story with basically nothing changed. I mean, it was a chemical syndicate in both stories! Finger didn’t even change it to some other kind of business. And The Shadow is described as "bat-like" in the rooftop scene where Batman makes his first appearance in costume.

Curiously, it turned out to be the first Shadow novel not written by Walter Gibson. Neither of us recognized it as the inspiration for "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" when we first read it back in the 1970s. And because we were both friends of Walt Gibson, we tend to spend a lot more time reading his 283 Shadow novels than Theodore Tinsley’s 27 novels.

Greenberger: What makes this story significant for comic book fans?

Tollin: Well, it clearly establishes that without The Shadow, there would be no Batman! Since the first Batman story was a start-to-finish lift of an earlier Shadow novel, it establishes that the similarities between the two characters were no accident. Bruce Wayne is wealthy young man about town Lamont Cranston. The friendship between Bruce and Commissioner James Gordon (whose name comes from The Shadow’s sister magazine, The Whsiperer) is no different from the relationship between Cranston and Weston. Batman’s talent for escapes also comes from The Shadow, since the first recorded Batman escape duplicates The Shadow’s in the same story. And the Shadow lifts continued in subsequent stories, even ones written by Gardner Fox, which gave Batman an autogiro, Bat-a-rangs like The Shadow’s cable-outfitted "yellow boomerang," and a suction-cup device for scaling walls … all Shadow gimmicks. Without the Knight of Darkness, there would be no Dark Knight.

It also raises questions about the extent of Bob Kane’s actual contributions to the feature that bears his creator credit. If Finger’s first Batman script was a blatant retelling of an earlier Shadow novel, and Finger also suggested the Caped Crusader’s bat-eared cowl, bat-scalloped cape, black-and-gray costume and utility belt, what did Kane personally contribute to the feature besides its title? And as to Kane’s claims that  Douglas Fairbank’s acrobatics in The Mark of Zorro were an influence, it now turns out that it was  movie-buff Bill Finger who regularly supplied  the acrobatic stills  of Fairbanks  to Bob Kane and his assistants.

Also, Theodore Tinsley’s first Shadow novel mentions "bat-like" and "bats" on seven occasions. This is most unusual for a Shadow novel. One really has to ask, did this novel actually inspire Batman’s creation from the very start. I mean, it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that Kane and Finger came up with the idea of Batman first, and that it was a complete coincidence that the story Finger chose to imitate was comparatively crawling with bats.

 Of course, comic strips and comic books back then regularly lifted from what was hot in other media. Radio’s The Aldrich Family (and its Broadway predecessor What a Life, which first introduced Ezra Stone as Henry Aldrich) begat Archie Andrews. Frank Packard’s Jimmie Dale, The Gray Seal was lifted as the Green Hornet and The Phantom (before Lee Falk changed his mind and added the jungle motif four months later), while radio’s Chandu the Magician (with his girlfriend Princess Nadja) certainly influenced Mandrake and Princess Narda. And let’s not even mention the similarities between a certain Clark who is the Man of Bronze and promoted as "Superman" in 1934 house ads, and another Clark who was the Man of Steel. And, of course, it didn’t stop with the Golden Age. I’m sure it was no coincidence  that Barry Allen was a police lab scientist like the character of Ray Pinker on the then #1 TV series, Dragnet(or the police scientist played by Jack Webb himself in Dragnet’s film inspiration, He Walked by Night). There are plenty of similarities between Doc Savage’s Iron Crew and the Challengers of the Unknown, and also the Fantastic Four. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were both Doc Savage fans as teenagers. It’s probably no coincidence that the Fantastic Four are led by the world’s greatest scientist, and operate without secret identities from the top floor of a famous Manhattan skyscraper. And Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are constantly insulting each other and picking fights just like Monk and Ham. The first generation of comic book professionals didn’t grow up with comic book superheroes, so they imitated the pulp superheroes of their own teenage years.

Greenberger: Is there anyway to know if Bill Finger and/or Bob Kane read The Shadow pulps at the time?

Tollin: Oh, yes.  Bill Finger confirmed it in the Steranko History.  He also admitted that "I patterned my style of writing after The Shadow…. It was completely pulp style." Kane acknowledged a Shadow influence in the text feature that accompanied "Gotham City Line-up," the 1964 "new-look" story that killed off Alfred Pennyworth. (Though of course he got better.) Bob Kane admitted reading hero pulps like Doc Savage when Finger loaned them to him, and also admitted, "We didn’t think anything was wrong with Batman carrying a gun because The Shadow used one."

Greenberger: What prompted you to begin the current cycle of reprints?

Tollin: The opportunity to bring Walter Gibson’s wonderful stories back into print, after a 22-year hiatus.  And the reprints have been as successful as I’d hoped. There are a lot of others who love these classic characters. One of the nice rewards is that most of the subscription checks and renewals are accompanied with "thank you" letters from people telling me how glad they are to be getting the stories in this double-novel trade paperback format. And everyone seems to really like the historical articles too. 

One thing I’m hoping to accomplish is to introduce readers to the real Shadow of Gibson’s novels. Too many comic fans and creators see The Shadow as a murderous executioner, which he certainly wasn’t in Gibson’s novels. People see the strong cover images of the blazing ’45 automatics and think that’s what the character is about. No, The Shadow is about mystery, deduction and misdirection. The Shadow’s powers of deduction are rivaled only by Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe. (By the way, Gibson did know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; they were introduced by their mutual friend, Houdini.) The Shadow is certainly well armed, usually carrying four ’45 automatics into battle. But he basically treats them as a soldier or police officer would, only using them when his life or an innocent’s is at stake. The Shadow is certainly not a bloodthirsty executioner (while his imitator The Spider certainly is).

I certainly hope the availability of these new reprints well help comic book and motion picture creators to get the character right in the future, and allow them to draw inspiration from more than just the cover paintings.

TOMORROW: Tony talks about what other goodies can be found in this special issue plus some additional insights to DC Comics, Batman and the pulps’ legacy.