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The Shadow
Mysterious Being of the Night
The Pulp Years

by Todd D. Severin and Keith Holt

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With the publication of "Whispering Eyes," in the summer of 1949, the tales of The Shadow came to a close. While a few attempts to resurrect the character onto the printed page were made, they never succeeded in living up to the tradition established by the man who typed 10-12 hours a day on a beat up Corona typewriter amid the banging and hammering of a construction crew. William B. Gibson was, for all intents and purposes, The Shadow. He was the blood running through The Shadow's veins, the index finger twitching on his .45 automatics, and the terror resounding in his laugh.

The Shadow was the rarest of creations. The pulp magazines were never meant to last forever. Publishers churned them out as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. The stories weren't meant to be literature, but read quickly with the cover folded back on itself, passed from hand to hand and then thrown away. Story line continuity wasn't important, only the sales of the issue at hand. The entire medium existed solely to produce a profit.

Yet, somehow Gibson elevated The Shadow beyond all this. His tales created a lasting world of adventure and excitement. His characters became real and touched our hearts with their successes and failures. His Shadow became an enduring literary figure, instantly recognizable and completely original.

With Gibson's passing, all hopes of a return to the grand tradition of The Shadow have passed and left us with only memories of Gibson's incredible imagination. Memories lost in boxes of water-damaged magazines tucked away in an attic or basement. Memories typed out on musty yellowing pages of brittle wood pulp. Memories that lie hidden behind torn and faded covers with taped spines.

Oh, but what memories they are.


Suggested Reading:
These three references are essential for the serious student of The Shadow.

Gibson, Walter B. The Shadow Scrapbook , Harvest/HBJ Books, New York, 1979

Murray, Will. The Duende History of The Shadow Magazine, Odyessy Publications, Inc. Greenwood, MA. 1980

Sampson, Robert.The Night Master , Pulp Press, Chicago, 1982

Other references cited:

Haining, Peter, ed. The Fantastic Pulps, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1975

Goodstone, Tony, ed. The Pulps. Chelsea House, New York, 1970

Cave, Hugh B. Magazines I Remember, Tattered Pages Press, Chicago, 1994

Server, Lee. Danger is My Business, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1993

Van Hise, James, ed. Pulp Heroes of the Thirties, Midnight Graffiti Pubs., Yucca Valley, CA, 1994

Steranko, James, The Steranko History of Comics , Supergraphics, Pennsylvania, 1970, vol. 1

Roscoe, Theodore. By Writing I Could Eat, Pulp Vault , (11) 1993

Palumbo, Dennis. The Shadow, Panel Art Examiner, (6) Date unknown

Latimer, D.A. The Pulps, The Monster Times , (4) March 15, 1972

Anonymous, The Shadow, The Comic Vendor, December/January (2), 1965

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