Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Shadow Strikes! (Part One)

Front Cover

The Shadow Strikes was the second Shadow paperback published by Belmont Books.  It was published on October 1, 1964.  Although it has Maxwell Grant as the author, it was actually written by Dennis Lynds.

Back Cover
This Shadow adventure is a clear departure from all other published Shadow stories up to this time.  While Shadow fans will recognize many of the names and places from previous stories, they will also see that things have changed and this story was set in a contemporary setting (1960s).  

In this story, The Shadow investigates the death of a man named Anton Pavlic.  While the police claim Pavlic died as a result of accidental murder (he was hit by a car!), The Shadow knows there is something more sinister behind the simple facts.  His investigation leads to the unveiling of a blackmail scheme being run by an organization that, on the front, was set up to help refugees from communism.

The Shadow drives a Jaguar.  It is a small, custom-built car with a supercharged engine.  It is also equipped with a car telephone!

1964 Jaguar - could this be The Shadow's?

1964 Car Phone

I did a little research and was amazed to find that in 1964 there were over 1 million Americans using car telephones!  Above is an example of a 1964 car phone, but I'm sure The Shadow's was more high-tech than what you would buy over the counter!

As I mentioned, there are familiar faces and places in this Shadow story.  We have Lamont Cranston visiting the Cobalt Club.  Cranston is a good friend of Police Commissioner Weston, and in this story Cranston assists Detective Joe Cardona.  All of these characters and places are straight from The Shadow pulp and radio stories.

The Shadow also has a team of agents that assist him, just as he did in the pulps.  But again, there are some updates and changes.  Here are The Shadow's agents from The Shadow Strikes:

Stanley:  Stanley is The Shadow's chauffer and is an ex-police officer.  He carries an automatic, handcuffs and lock picks. (Stanley was Lamont Cranston's chauffer in the pulp magazines.)

Burbank:  Burbank is the hub of The Shadow's team as agents report to Burbank and Burbank reports to The Shadow.  

Shrevvy:  Shrevvy is described as a small, peppy taxi driver.  He assists The Shadow with transportation needs.

Clyde Burke:  Clyde is a reporter as well as friend and associate of The Shadow.

Margo Lane:  Margo is described as dark-haired and slim.  She is the private secretary of Lamont Cranston as well as a friend and operative of The Shadow.  Margo is from Denver, Colorado and was a theater major in college.  She goes under cover to assist The Shadow in this story. 

Unlike the pulp magazines, The Shadow's agents listed above all know his identity and are a part of his crime fighting organization.  I'll write more about The Shadow in an upcoming article!

This was an exciting and well-written story.  While it was a departure from the historic Shadow character, I liked it as a new iteration of The Shadow.  It wasn't quite the page-turning adventure I enjoy from Walter B. Gibson, but it was a fun and entertaining book to read.

In an upcoming article I will write extensively about The Shadow in this story and highlight his character, gadgets and abilities.  I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at The Shadow Strikes!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Shadow's Weapon: The Devil's Whisper

In his war against crime, The Shadow has a variety of weapons!  I previously looked at his .45 automatics, and in this article I want to take a brief look at one of his defensive weapons known as The Devil's Whisper.

From Nostalgia Ventures The Shadow #12

The first time The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper is in the story, "The Red Menace" which was first published on November 1, 1931.  In this story, The Shadow uses it twice!  The Devil's Whisper is created by placing two chemicals on his fingers, one chemical on his thumb and another chemical on his third finger.  When The Shadow snaps his fingers, it results in a flash of flame and a sharp explosion sounding like the shot of a pistol.  It temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent, allowing him to take quick action against them.  

Description of The Shadow's use of The Devil's Whisper

The Devil's Whisper was a well-known and dangerous magic trick at the time of The Shadow's story.  According to an article by Anthony Tollin in The Shadow #12 published by Nostalgia Ventures (October 2007), Walter B. Gibson tells readers that The Devil's Whisper was eventually pulled off shelves because a magician used too much of the compound when demonstrating it to a friend and ended up losing his hand, knocking both men unconscious, and making the office look like a bomb had exploded in it!

The Shadow let Maxwell Grant know that he had perfected the right amount of chemicals and their usage so that he can create the exact effect he wants!  

The Shadow to use The Devil's Whisper!

The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper as a defensive weapon.  It was a well-known magic trick that The Shadow improved on and incorporated into his arsenal!  It's bright flash and loud bang temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent and allows The Shadow to take quick action.  

Below is a brief video showing a modern version of The Devil's Whisper!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Clews or Clues?

If you read any of the old Shadow magazines or their reprints, you'll find the word 'clew' is used instead of the word 'clue.'  The first time I read 'clew' I simply thought the editors were hooked on phonics and that's how they spelled it consistently throughout the story.  But as I've read more of The Shadow's adventures, I noticed that 'clew' was always the word used for 'clue.'  

I had always intended on doing a little research into the difference between 'clew' and 'clue' but never got around to it.  Today, however, the Merriam Webster word of the day was 'clew!'  I thought that was awesome and just had to share it on the blog!

Here's what Merriam Webster has to say about 'clew':

  • noun:  something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties : clue

They go on to provide a bit of a background for the word:  

  • The "ball of thread" meaning of clew (from Middle English clewe and ultimately from Old English cliewen) has been with us since before the 12th century. In Greek mythology, Ariadne gave a ball of thread to Theseus so that he could use it to find his way out of her father's labyrinth. 
  • This, and similar tales, gave rise to the use of clew for anything that could guide a person through a difficult place. 
  • This use led, in turn, to the meaning "a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem." 
  • Today, the variant spelling clue, which appeared in the 17th century, is the more common spelling for the "evidence" sense, but you'll find clew in some famous works of literature. 

I thought this was very interesting and wanted to share it here on the blog.  I didn't have a clue about the background of the word clew, and now I do!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Shadow's "Smoking Automatics!"

A description of The Shadow from one of the pulp magazines says, "He battles crime with thrills and chills, and smoking automatics."  In this article we'll take a look at the main weapon The Shadow uses in the pulps and in the 1994 move - his "smoking automatics!" 

Based on all the pictures I've seen of The Shadow's automatics, I have to conclude that they are a M1911 pistol.  The M1911 pistol was used by the U. S. military from 1911 until 1986.  It was a .45 caliber automatic pistol created by John Browning, produced by Colt, and approved for use with the military on March 20, 1911.  The military was in need of a high caliber, self-feeding, semi-automatic pistol and the Colt model passed the rigorous military tests and requirements with flying colors.  These automatics first saw action in World War I when over 68,000 of them were sent to our troops.  It makes sense that The Shadow (Kent Allard) would use this weapon, as he was a WWI veteran and probably used one quite frequently in his war-time activities!

July 1, 1934 Issue of The Shadow

Let me share my personal experience with the M1911 and automatics from my days in the military.  I had to qualify with the M1911 when I went through Basic Armor Training at Fort Knox, KY in the early '80s.  I remember the M1911 had a lot of kick to it but it was a great weapon to fire.  I also spent several years as an Air Force Security Forces member and carried a revolver (.38 caliber) until the Air Force transitioned us to the automatic M9 Beretta.  I have to say that I felt a lot more comfortable carrying an automatic than carrying a revolver!  Reloading a revolver takes more time and the double-action trigger could lead to inaccuracies when shooting.  With an automatic, reloading time is quicker and the single/double action trigger enabled more accurate shooting.  

If I was The Shadow facing a mob of mobsters and their blazing gats, I would much prefer automatic pistols.  They would give me an advantage in accuracy and reload speed, things The Shadow would want in his war on crime!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Temple Bells of Neban

On October 24, 1937 The Shadow radio program aired the story, "The Temple Bells of Neban."  It was the fifth episode in the first season of the radio show.  It is one of my favorite Shadow radio episodes!

The story begins with Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane on their way to the Club Khalif to enjoy an evening out.  On their way, they discuss the opium problem that has been impacting the city and that The Shadow needs to get involved. 

At the Club, they are entertained by an Indian dancer named Saadi Bel Adda (I've not been able to find the correct spelling for this character any where.)  She entertains the crowd with the Dance of the Cobra where she seems to mesmerize a live cobra on stage.  Saadi Bel Adda approaches Lamont and Margo's table, offering Margo a bracelet.  Lamont and Saadi talk briefly yet cryptically - have they met before?

After the show, The Shadow pays a visit to Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi warns The Shadow that she can command The Temple Bells of Neban, a powerful spell that will reveal The Shadow and disable him from clouding the minds of men!

Lamont speaks with Margo about his encounter with Saadia Bel Adda, and Margo is worried.  Lamont recounts where he first learned the power to cloud men's minds.  He tells Margo, "Years ago in India, a yogi priest, keeper of the Temple of the Cobras at Delhi taught me the ancient mysteries.  He taught me the mesmeric trick that the underworld calls invisibility.  There was a small girl, his niece, that use to sit and listen...she was very clever..."  Yes - Saadi Bel Adda was the niece of the yogi priest that taught Lamont Cranston!

The radio show reaches it's climax when The Shadow confronts Saadi Bel Adda.  Saadi releases her cobra and begins to command The Temple Bells of Neban to destroy The Shadow's invisibilty.  But unbeknownst to Saaid, The Shadow had switched her de-fanged cobra for one with fangs.  The cobra bites Saadi Bel Adda before she can command the Temple Bells of Neban.

This is only a brief summary of the show and I encourage you to give it a listen!  I really enjoy this episode as it not only puts The Shadow up against a foe with equal powers, it also gives us insight into how Lamont Cranston learned the mesmeric trick to cloud men's minds!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Shadow's Secret Code Magazine Cover!

I found something that was pretty interesting!  On the cover of The Shadow magazine #65 (published on November 1, 1934) The Shadow discloses a secret code!

The secret code is on the left side of the cover in the white Chinese letters on the red banner.  How do we know it's a secret code?  Maxwell Grant, The Shadow's raconteur, was allowed to share it with the readers.  Here is the secret code as The Shadow revealed it to Mr. Grant:

It's little things like these that make me really enjoy reading The Shadow's adventures!  I wonder how many other codes and hidden gems I've overlooked as I've read the stories!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Shadow Magazine #195

One of my goals as a fan of The Shadow was to have at least one copy of an original Shadow pulp magazine.  A few months ago I fulfilled that goal when I was able to purchase a copy of The Shadow magazine #195 which published on April 1, 1940.  It featured the story, "The Spy Ring" written by Walter B. Gibson.  (And in keeping with all of The Shadow stories, according to the table of contents it was written "as told to Maxwell Grant.")

I wanted a copy for my collection so I could see for myself what Shadow fan's would see in the pages of an original magazine.  What would the ads look like?  What other articles would there be?  It was pretty exciting to thumb through the magazine, and I would like to share it with you on my blog.  Here are some photos and notes from The Shadow #195!

The cover is classic Shadow - slouch hat, cloak and .45 in hand!  It had a copy price of 10 cents and the date of April 1, 1940.  

The table of contents announces a complete Shadow novel of The Spy told to Maxwell Grant!  It also lists other 'thrilling stories and features.'

Here is the awesome splash page of the main story, and an example of the interior artwork.  These are awesome!  

"Highlights on The Shadow" gives readers a taste for the story in the magazine and some information on events coming in the next issue!

I found the information in "The Shadow Club" very interesting!  It provides readers with the list of license plates from the various states and US territories and gives the colors of the numerals and the backgrounds for each.  It tells us that this was a popular feature that readers requested and was published annually!  Another portion of this section also provided information on counterfeit money.  It also had a coupon you could cut out and mail in to become a member of The Shadow club!  (I wish there was still one today!)

The last section features secret codes for readers to solve.  As you know, The Shadow used secret ink, codes, and cryptograms when communicating with his agents.  This is a nice touch and fans must have loved it!

Here's the back cover full page ad.  Within the magazine were lots of other ads, some of which were for products still on the market today like Pepsi Cola, Butterfingers candy bars and Listerine mouth wash!

I hope you've enjoyed a brief look inside the pages of The Shadow magazine!