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The Shadow Monthly Poll

Why do you think The Shadow (or any other pulp hero) is not very well known today?

Want to add your own opinion? Email me! Don't forget to read the rules, though.


The popularity of the pulp heroes was biggest before WWII. I think that a great deal of the world's innocence died during the war: we could no longer fantasize about larger than life villains when there were things like the Third Reich in our reality. Although there had been war before, there had never been a real enemy so outrageously merciless... Fu Man Chu seems pale in comparison. And if our innocence was dying in the war, it was capped off by the atomic bomb. After Hiroshima, "big science" no longer was a shining thing... it was now a double edged sword.

The generations that grew up reading The Shadow in the 30's went to war as boys and girls, and came back as men and women... their children were too young to be exposed to the pulps, and grew up reading comic books. There were Shadow and other pulp hero comics, but they probably lacked the "whiz bang" factor when compared to things like Batman or Superman, who had by now built up a full head of steam by this time. The pulps in the late 40's tried to become more adult-oriented. For example: The Shadow's "who-done-it" phase (written by Bruce Elliot) and the "Doc Savage: Science Detective" period. During the last phase of their lives, the magazines reverted back to an effort to emulate their glory days, but the phase was short and the magazines got cancelled.

The Shadow's rights were shuttled back and forth between publishers during countless movie negotiations... all while the public was forgetting the character. Even though a few of the books were published here and there, they weren't published long enough to build up a new fan following. In the 70's, there was a nostalgia boom, and The Shadow was exposed for a short time, but the character sank from view for some reason... Perhaps it's partially due to DC cancelling their Shadow comic, a mysterious move given that the series was selling well.

Doc Savage did a little better: his books were completely reprinted, and although it gave birth to an awful movie, these reprints gave birth to a new fan following (which seems to be larger than The Shadow's, probably because of consistency of reprints). Thankfully, the Shadow movie turned on a new generation of fans (even though the cult is relatively small), but how many people know about G-8 and his Battle Aces, or The Spider? Those who do probably know them through The Shadow or Doc.

Finally, I asked my wife (who is a few years younger than me and doesn't understand my fanaticism) about this. "Why do you think these characters aren't popular now?" Her reply, which sadly explained a lot: "Because they're old." I think the setting of "the old days" doesn't appeal to todays audience, who only want "new", "next", and "modern".

I wonder if "the kids" would like The Shadow if he was called "The Shadow EXTREME!!". Maybe he could snowboard or bungee-jump. (Just kidding, of course)

—Don
I think the reason that the Shadow isn't well known today is partly because society changed, and partly because even though he would work perfectly in the present day, he didn't make the transition very well at all. That was mainly the fault of the people who owned the property, and partly because, well, they had *too* much cling to the continuity. If they had sold a license or even the entire property to, say, Marvel Comic books, expecially at the time of the creation of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, the character might still be popular, and so forth, provided they were able to bend the character so that he fit within the Marvel Universe.

Also, I say that the times changed, because when Vietnam happened and with the protest scene (from what I've gathered), being rich was being on the side of "the man", and there was the simple matter of the violence in The Shadow's world. It was violent, and The Shadow did kill people. Unfortunately, in society then, especially in the part of culture that was of the age that would buy the comic books, and listen to the radio shows, they were not into that kind of entertainment, and some of that culture spread to that period of American history's Heroic Ideal.

At least, that's what I think.

—Alex Case
The Shadow isn't popular today as was yesteryear is becuse people forgot how to use their imagnations. Everything today is high tech, most kids today grew up in the Star Wars age and didn't have a chance to read and dream about being that superhero, or being that cowboy, or being on that planet. Everything is done for them!

It's a shame!

—Michael Chatterton
Young people do not like to read. They play video games. Young people miss the excitement of reading. Of course, there are exceptions. There is no rule without exceptions.

—Al Blas
Ah, a very good question indeed. Why has The Shadow disappeared from the public mind. I believe there are many reasons behind why.

1.) The introduction of televison, thus people lost interest in listening to the radio.
2.) The death of his creator, Maxwell Grant aka Walter B. Gibson.
3.) No one actually knows who owns the rights to The Shadow.
4.) Why bother with a gun wielding (anti-hero), who is above the law and takes matters into his own hands or (agents taking matters into their own), when people seem to like those heroes who are willing to give the criminal a sporting second chance. Hey, The Shadow gave criminals the same offer, but cross him again... fwtt that's it.
5.) Who can bring back The Shadow. I don't know if this crimefighter could be updated. He could be updated, but it would be very difficult to update him and for his fans to acept this update from the man we know and all love him as.

—Qutime

 

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