Aug. 11th, 2012

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The first time I encountered the legendary pulp character The Shadow was in the first issue of the 1970s DC comic. I liked it enough that, several years later, I read some of the paperbacks of the old pulp novels and picked up cassettes of the old radio shows. Over the years I've picked up other comics, like the later DC series and the new ongoing series; I downloaded old radio shows and picked up more books and even a couple of old pulps (without covers, alas). And yes, I saw the movie a few years back; it looked good but was otherwise a waste of time, trying to get viewers to invest in something the people making the movie didn't take seriously at all.

Anyway. A lot of the original Shadow stories are written texts. Short novels, And yet the last attempt at reviving the Shadow in prose (movie novelization aside) was in the 1960s, an attempt at doing a James Bond/Man From UNCLE take on the concept. As for the original stories, they have their moments, but they are undeniably dated; they never reflected the changes in crime fiction that played out in the pages of Black Mask and Dime Detective as Hammett and Chandler reinvented the genre. So why can't someone make a go of it now? A decopunk/dieselpunk new take on the Shadow could be a lot of fun. George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan tried to do something very much like that, but its worldbuilding felt pretty shaky and arbitrary.

I think we need someone to take on the Shadow and everything about him -- the pulp crime adventures, the occasional forays into weird science and horror, the stories of the privileged rich at the Cobalt Club and the thugs of dark underground criminal lairs, the cast of supporting characters -- and spin a new series of adventures in a retro/anachronistic 1930s. As books, not comics, at least at first. And then let a new multimedia empire begin.

Well, it's fun to imagine.


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