Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Shadow, Jr


In Shadow Comics #69 (on newsstands October 25, 1946*) a new character is introduced - The Shadow Jr.!  The Shadow Jr. is even announced on the comic cover where it proclaims "Shadow Jr. a new Shadow for youth!" (look towards the bottom of the cover)

The Shadow story, "The Winged Dagger!" is where we first meet The Shadow Jr.  The story begins with Lamont Cranston receiving a telegram from Donald Jordan.  Donald is the son of Lamont's friend, Harry Jordan.  Donald's telegram states Lamont is Harry's only living friend and he asks him to help as Harry has been murdered.


Lamont flies to Tibet, where he learned the secret of clouding men's minds.  At the lamastery, Lamont meets young Donald Jordan and one of the Lamas.  Cranston learns more details behind his friend Harry's murder and then goes on the hunt for more clews.  He ultimately finds a small Axis base of operations where evil men are using a cyclotron to try and make their own atomic bomb!  Cranston, as The Shadow, encounters another person that has his same powers of invisibility - it is young Donald Jordan!


Both The Shadow and Donald destroy the cyclotron and the evil Axis members along with it.  Donald asks if he can leave Tibet with Lamont.  He tells him, "I would like to devote my life to your fight!  Against evil and evil doers!"  Cranston allows Donald to come with him and tells him, "I don't want you to think I'm doing you a favor.  By coming with me..you'll earn your way.  Now at last...I'll be able to be in two places at once...you and I working together."


Donald Jordan only appeared in two other Shadow Comics (#74 and #77).  In Shadow Comics #74 his name is Donnie Dart.  


I'm not sure why they changed it from Donald Jordan!  It appears The Shadow Jr. experiment in the comics didn't catch on or fans didn't like the character.  Either way, he only appeared in a total of three Shadow Comics.  


*Mike's Amazing World of Comics

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Shadow Magazine #181

I've been able to add a new issue to my The Shadow magazine collection.  It's the September 1, 1939 issue (the 181st issue in The Shadow series) which featured the story, "The Crime Ray."



What really got my attention was the cover (art by Graves Gladney).  The cover features Lamont Cranston getting the third degree from Detective Joe Cardona!  The cover proclaims, "Not even Joe Cardona thought of connecting Lamont Cranston, being grilled under the glaring light, with The Shadow!"  The cover price was 10 cents.


cover close-up

The table of contents indicate there is a complete Shadow novel as told to Maxwell Grant!  It also includes three "thrilling stories" and regular Shadow magazine features of The Shadow Club, Codes, and Highlights on The Shadow.



Here are some pages from the inside of the magazine.  









The back page is a full page ad for Lucky Strikes cigarettes.



There are a couple of interesting things about this issue.  First, in the Highlights on The Shadow section it talks about the upcoming issue of The Shadow that readers won't want to miss, for the next issue will be the premier of Shiwan Khan!  They also say that readers will want to get the cover, painted by Graves Gladney, and frame it!  

The second item of interest is the mention of a Shadow photo that would be available to readers, they just had to mail in a 3 cent stamp to receive it.  However, prior to that, readers would have to cut out and mail in 3 coupons for the picture.   It says, "you'll have a nice print suitable for framing to put in your room, den, or club rooms.  The Shadow's signature is printed in the bottom corner, and the picture is on card stock strong enough to be tacked to a wall without a frame."  This is my first time hearing of such a photo - do any Shadow fans know what this photo looked like?

I hope you enjoy this brief look at the September 1, 1939 issue of The Shadow magazine!




Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gats Hackett - Greatest Shot in the Underworld


Gats Hackett is the leader of a minor New York gang in The Shadow's Shadow (February 1, 1933) story.  Even though he leads a minor gang, he plays a big part in the story!  Gats Hackett is working with Douglas Carleton and international crook Felix Zubian in a plot to steal diamonds.  The three know that they need to get rid of The Shadow.

The physical description of Gats is that he is a little chunky, but has a firm face with crude features that gave him a wolfish expression.  His mannerisms were crude as well.  Another telling description of this gangster is that he has an evil heart and fiendish spirit.  In the underworld, Gats was famous for his aim and was known as the greatest shot in the underworld.

Gats got his moniker because of the two gats he carried, sometimes in a briefcase but mostly in shoulder holsters.  His weapons of choice were described as huge .45 revolvers.  These two gats of Gats, along with his excellent aim, were his gangdom claim to fame.

Gats puts his revolvers to work several times in the story.  The first time is when he springs a trap on The Shadow and chases him down in a spectacular car chase.  Gats empties his guns into the car The Shadow was driving, only to learn The Shadow had escaped.  The next time he unleashes his twin smoke wagons are when he sets up a hit on Lamont Cranston in the Holland Tunnel.  Once again Gats unleashes his .45s only to find he's missed his prey.  The final time he uses his guns is at the end of the story when he faces off against The Shadow.  I'll tell about that in just a moment!

The trio of villains (Gats, Douglas Carleton, and Felix Zubian) had learned that Harry Vincent and Rutledge Mann were agents of The Shadow.  Gats and his gang kidnap Vincent and Mann so that Gats can make them talk and tell him who The Shadow is.  Gats has constructed a device to help persuade them to talk!  Rutledge Mann is laying down face-up on a guillotine like contraption while Harry Vincent is suspended above him and facing down towards Mann.  They have 12 minutes to talk or Mann's head will be cut off while Harry Vincent helplessly watches!  The Shadow saves Vincent and Mann and wipes out Gats' gang in the process.  Gats escapes to the taunting laugh of The Shadow.  Here's how the story describes it.  "Governed by mad fear, Gats Hackett turned and dashed away to safety...Terror had gripped his fiendish spirit.  Behind him came a new sound - a weird mockery that chilled the gang leader's veins.  The laugh of The Shadow!"

With his gang wiped out and a jewel heist still needing to be carried out, Gats recruits a new gang.  Unbeknownst to Gats, one of his new gang recruits is none other than Cliff Marsland, agent of The Shadow!

Gats faces off against The Shadow one final time.  Once again another gun battle between Gats' gang and The Shadow is on, and The Shadow is making an exit climbing down the side of the building.  Gats sees him and figures he has the drop on The Shadow.  Gats takes aim with his smoke wagons but one shot from The Shadow's automatic ends the life of Gats Hackett.

I did some research on .45 revolvers in the 1930s.  While I have no solid proof, I'd like to think that Gats Hackett's revolvers were the M1917 .45 revolvers made by either Smith and Wesson or Colt.  The M1917 was manufactured for our soldiers fighting in World War 1.  After the war, these revolvers became popular with both civilians and law enforcement agencies.  In the second picture below, you see the M1917 revolver next to the M1911 .45 automatic (which I believe is the weapon The Shadow carried.).  The revolver is a bit bigger than the automatic.  The M1917 was a large framed revolver and that is close to fitting the description of Gats' weapons. 


M1917 .45 revolver (L)  M1911 .45 automatic (R)

I really enjoyed reading about Gats Hackett.    He almost bumped off Lamont Cranston and two of The Shadow's agents.  He was a tough opponent for The Shadow and a compelling character in The Shadow's Shadow story.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Shadow: Historical Background 1929 - 1931

This past week I learned that the Dick Tracy comic strip was first published on October 4, 1931 - that's just 6 months after the first issue of The Shadow was published (April 1, 1931).  As I thought about these two fictional crime fighters, I started digging into what was happening in the US at this time that made The Shadow and Dick Tracy so popular.  In my opinion, part of their appeal and popularity can be attributed to real life crime stories that were ever present in the headlines.  Maybe the American public had enough of gangsters and wanted to read about crime fighters putting an end to them and their nefarious ways.



In this article I wanted to put a spotlight on what was happening in the years from 1929 through 1931.  I want to paint a background picture of what was going on when The Shadow pulp magazine began to be published in 1931.  What newsworthy events captured the headlines and the attention of Americans in those years?  Here are some of the events and facts!

1929

  • Herbert Hoover is President, having beaten Alfred E. Smith in the election of 1928.
  • February 14, 1929:  The St Valentine's Day Massacre happens in Chicago when 7 members of the Northside gang are gunned down by henchmen of mobster Al Capone.
  • October 29, 1929:  The US stock market crashed and this marked the beginning of the Great Depression which lasted for 12 years.  Both the US and Europe were impacted.
  • The Broadway Melody was the top money-making movie in 1929 and also won the Academy Award for Best Picture.


1930

  • The planet Pluto is discovered.
  • The Castellammarese War erupts in New York City to see who will control the Italian-American mafia
  • Mahatma Gandhi begins his campaign of civil disobedience in India.
  • Birds Eye frozen food products are introduced in 18 retail stores in Springfield, MA.
  • Gang wars continue in Chicago between rival factions including Al Capone's.
  • Cartoon character Betty Boop makes her debut.
  • All Quiet On The Western Front won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Betty Boop

1931

  • US unemployment reaches over 16%.
  • Droughts, soil erosion and dust storms in the mid-west create the beginning of the Dust Bowl.
  • The Empire State Building is completed and opens for business.
  • The Star Spangled Banner becomes our national anthem.
  • Eliot Ness and his agents ("The Untouchables") begin raids against illegal breweries and stills (impacting the pockets of Al Capone!).
  • Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi and Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff premier in US theaters.
  • Dick Tracy comic strip begins.
  • April 1, 1931 - The Shadow magazine publishes its first issue!


These are just a few of the events that happened between 1929 and 1931.  Wow, what a time it was.  I hope this brief article helps you frame a backdrop of the world that The Shadow magazine entered in 1931.  






Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Power to Cloud Men's Minds!

The Shadow character in Shadow Comics is able to make himself invisible by using hypnotic powers.  In Shadow Comics #11, we have the first instance of The Shadow becoming invisible.  Then, it Shadow Comics #12, it's revealed that he learned this "trick" in Tibet!   



However, in Shadow Comics #71 (published December 27, 1946*) in the story "The Black Pagoda" we are given more details on The Shadow's invisibility powers.  In the opening page of that story we are told, "Bound on his first post-war trip to Tibet, where, under the tutelage of The Great Lama, he learned the secret of clouding men's minds..."  Now we know that after the War (this must be referring to World War 1), Lamont Cranston traveled to Tibet and was taught the mesmeric trick of invisibility from The Great Lama.


In Nostalgia Ventures Shadow #4, there is a reprint of an an article that originally appeared in Shadow Comics volume 2, number 7, October 1942 (This would be Shadow Comics #19, published on August 28, 1942*).  The article was entitled, "A Plea" and gave more detailed information on The Shadow of the comic books and how he gained the power of invisibility.  The article begins, "In the unending, daily, deadly war which The Shadow wages on the underworld, he has three weapons.  They are his brains, cool, clear and unique in its ability to extract information from the tiniest bit of evidence.  His miraculous ability with guns is the result of a naturally good eye, a strong pair of wrists and constant practice.  The third is his ability to cloud men's minds so that, to all intents and purposes, he becomes invisible."

The article tells us that, for reasons that cannot be shared, The Shadow traveled to the forbidden city of Lhassa in Tibet.  It is there that he encountered a great power - a collection of 10 minds that projected themselves in the image of a young boy.  This great power presented The Shadow with the ability to become invisible.  The Shadow is told, "Because your life is clear, and devoted to the good of mankind, we endow you with the power to cloud men's minds.  Men will think you are invisible.  It is a potent weapon, and one that you must use with care."**


In the comic books, The Shadow learned his powers of invisibility in the forbidden city of Lhassa in Tibet!  There is a bit of a continuity issue between Shadow Comics #19 and #71.  According to issue #19, a collection of 10 minds gave him the power but in #71 it is The Great Lama who gives him the power.  Maybe this can be resolved by thinking that The Great Lama is the same as the 10 minds!?!

From a historical background, Tibet was the focus of pop culture in the early 1940s as a man by the name of Theos Bernard had returned to the United States in the late 1930s after spending time in India and Tibet.  Theos Bernard claimed he was the first white lama (teacher) and published books and articles on his experiences in Tibet.  It could be due to Bernard's popularity The Shadow comics decided Lamont Cranston had also made a trip to Tibet!!

In the 1994 The Shadow movie, Lamont Cranston had fought in World War I and after the war had gone missing for 7 years.  Those missing seven years were spent traveling the world and eventually settling in Tibet as an opium dealer.  Lamont Cranston is kidnapped by a Tibetan holy man, a Tulku, who taught him to cloud men's minds, to fog their vision through the force of concentration, leaving visible the only thing he can never hide..his Shadow.  

This is interesting in that both in the comic and the movie, Lamont Cranston learns how to make himself invisible from a spiritual leader in Tibet.  



*Mike's Amazing World of Comics
**Gibson, Walter B., Tollin, Anthony, Murray, Will, 2007, "The Murder Master" and "The Hydra" Two Classic Adventures of The Shadow, pp 68-69, Nostalgia Ventures, Inc.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Shadow Club (1994) Membership Kit

One of the tie-ins to the 1994 The Shadow movie was a Shadow Club membership.  The club was advertised in the official movie magazine and other places as well.  I was able to get a membership kit and would like to share its contents with you!




The Shadow Club membership came in an envelope marked "CONFIDENTIAL FOR YOUR EYES ONLY" in all red and had the image of The Shadow Club in the lower left.  Interestingly, the return address for the club was G.A.R.C. Inc out of Orlando, Florida.  The club newsletter indicates that the Great American Ring Club (GARC) seemed to be running and responsible for the club.



Issue 1 (January 1995) of The Shadow News was included.  I was pretty impressed with the newsletter as it has noted Shadow scholars/historians such as Anthony Tollin and Will Murray as contributors.  Will Murray contributes an article entitled "Fiery Opal" which gives the historical background of The Shadow's girasol ring.  There are also facts about The Shadow movie, a chronology of The Shadow in print and some other good little articles.  



Shadow Club members also received a Certificate of Membership certifying them as an "authorized and accredited agent" of the club.  Agents signed the lower right portion and The Shadow's signature is on the lower left!



Once you've signed the Certificate of Membership, you can start flashing your Special Agent membership card.  




Club members received an "autographed" picture of The Shadow.  I wrote more about it here.



The Shadow Club also had a secret code.  There were six variations of the code printed on a small (4 1/4" X 5 1/2") card.  




The final pieces of the membership kit were The Shadow Club ring and badge (button).  



I don't know if there were ever any further issues of The Shadow Club newsletter printed and sent out.  Also, I'm not sure how long the club stayed in existence after the movie premiered.  These are things that I'm looking to see if I can find some answers!

The Shadow Club membership kit would have been something fun and exciting for a kid to have received in the mail.  I was excited when I was finally able to find one complete!  I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at another tie-in to the 1994 The Shadow movie!






Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Romanoff Jewels? Not Quite!!!

This weekend my family and I went to an International Festival held in Raleigh, NC.  We really enjoyed it and we will definitely go back.  As we were walking around the different booths, we came across the one for Russia.  I immediately began to wonder if they would have anything about Tsar Nicholas from The Shadow stories The Red Menace and The Romanoff Jewels.  I began searching for a clew among the items they had for sale!

Then I found it!  Nestled among the Russian nesting dolls was a nesting doll featuring the Romanoffs!  It featured Tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra and their son Alexei.  When you opened it up, inside were paintings of Nicholas' daughters.  I found it sitting between nesting dolls of Putin and Lenin!

Here is a picture of the Romanoff nesting doll with a partial view of Putin on the left and Lenin on the right and various other nesting dolls around it.  The second picture I cropped out some of the other dolls to exclusively look at the Romanoffs.  I wish I had taken more pictures, especially of the inside dolls.  




While this was nowhere near a great discovery like the Romanoff jewels, it was still a small connection to history and a connection to two of my favorite Shadow stories!