It’s the birthday of our favorite sinister, scary pulp magazine hero. This week in 1930, the character of “The Shadow” was created to serve as narrator of the “Detective Story Magazine” radio show.
On July 31, 1930, “The Shadow” made his debut on the air. The character caught on and publishing house Street and Smith hired Walter Gibson to write a series of pulp magazine stories that debuted in April 1931. He wrote under the name Maxwell Grant.
The character had a fabulously complicated story and history – even multiple secret identities – and enjoyed decades in the pulps and on the radio.
The character has been brought back periodically for comic books, which is appropriate since much about him – his fearsome reputation among crooks, his long cape-like cloak – influenced other famous characters like Batman, not unlike Doc Savage influenced Superman.
Besides a series of movies in the 40s, the character got a big-screen treatment in 1994 in a movie starring Alec Baldwin. It wasn’t bad but was far from a hit.
I’ve noted before my admiration for “The Shadow.” While the pulp stories are fairly typical of their time – and maybe not as good as the best of “Doc Savage” or “The Avenger” – the images of the character are undoubtedly iconic.
So happy birthday Shadow!