Welcome to a sanctum of . . .

The 'Strips'

"B. Jonas"


An Innocent Beginning

As most Shadowphiles know, The Shadow first appeared only as the introductory announcer's voice for the "Detective Story Hour" radio program which ran from July 31, 1930 to July 23, 1931. Although The Shadow's duties remained the same, his voice was then heard on the first half of the "Blue Coal Radio Revue" the following season which ran from September 6, 1931 to June 5, 1932. Less than a month after 'Revue' began its season, The Shadow's voice was also heard on "Love Story Drama." Though 'Drama's name was changed to "Love Story Hour" two weeks later, this program ran from October 1, 1931 to September 22, 1932.
It must've been rather 'weird' to hear The Shadow in connection with love stories!

The Shadow Takes Over The Radio

For a very brief time at the beginning of 1932, The Shadow did triple duty. Not only was he the announcer for two other radio shows, but he finally 'appeared' in his own radio show for five episodes from January 5 till February 2, 1932. This extremely short stint constitutes The Shadow's first season. The Shadow returned on October 12, 1932, and for the next two seasons (1932-33, 1934-35) continued in his role of announcer. At the end of the '34-35 season, Street & Smith (the publishers of The Shadow magazine) 'pulled' The Shadow because they were not satisfied with his role of just being the announcer for unrelated stories. After the radio sponsor gave in to Street & Smith's demands for The Shadow to be an active crime fighting figure, The Shadow returned once again to the airwaves on September 26, 1937, in his very own show which ran continuously until its last broadcast on December 26, 1954. This was an amazingly incredible run (for any other than The Shadow, that is) of twenty seasons! {Since the "twenty-first," and last, season was really only a half-season, I've taken the liberty of 'combining' it with the first season to get the 'total' of 20 seasons just for ease of convenience. I apologize if this doesn't sit well with anyone.} All-in-all, The Shadow was "on the air" for nearly twenty-two years.

The Shadow's Excursions Into Other Media

Of all the other media -- magazines, comic books,movies, serials, comic strips -- in which The Shadow appeared during this time period, The Shadow magazine lasted the longest (April 1931 - Summer 1949) and the newspaper comic strip lasted the shortest (June 17, 1940 - June 13, 1942). And from the research that's been done, it appears that interest in all things Shadow tends to correlate to the quantity of the media involved -- with the exception of the comic books. The order of interest-popularity (from highest to lowest) seems to be: Comics books (all editions/series), Magazine/Novels/Radio (all three appear to be tied in interest value), Paraphernalia (all types), Film (all formats), Comic strips. The high 'ranking' of comic books is due, probably, to the 'recent' comic book series by such companies as DC, MARVEL, ETERNITY, and DARK HORSE since the 1970s.

An Interest In The Shadow

My own interest in The Shadow is limited, mostly, to the printed media -- namely the novels and books -- even though I do have s few recordings of the radio program. Of all the original magazines, I don't have any (they're a little too expensive to acquire), but I have downloaded all the online 'copies' that I've found and I'm only missing seventy-six 'issues' (out of 325!). Of all the book/novel reprints by various publishers, I'm only missing four of the Belmonts. Of all the comic books, I don't have any of the 1940-47 issues, but I do have most of the DC Comics issues. (Personally, I think that Michael Kaluta and James Steranko are the best Shadow artists.) Of all the newspaper comic strips, I don't have any of the originals, but I do have about half of the Eternity Comics "Crime Classics" reprints.
And that is where all the above has been leading to -- the newspaper comic strips; which I think are a much overlooked and neglected part of The Shadow's history and mystique.

The Shadow Gets Into The Newspapers

Late in 1935, after the publication of "Zemba" and while on a train trip, Walter B. Gibson met the manager of the Ledger Syndicate and gave him a copy of "Zemba" to read. Intrigued by it, the manager contacted Gibson and said that the Ledger Syndicate would be very interested in doing a Shadow newspaper comic strip when Street & Smith thought the time for such a project would be right. Well, almost five years would pass before S&S decided to enter the comics field -- with The Shadow as the flagship of their new comic book line. Gibson worked out two excerpts of previous Shadow stories, and one was given to Vernon Greene. Greene was so captivated that he wanted to do the entire novel. Gibson contacted the Ledger Syndicate and they jumped at the opportunity. With Gibson doing the writing and Greene providing the artwork, the first Shadow comic strip appeared in newspapers on Monday, June 17, 1940.

The Shadow Fights Crime Six Days A Week

The Shadow newspaper comic strip appeared every day Monday through Saturday (but never on Sunday) for the next two years. Of the fourteen adventure storylines, twelve were brand new, one was based on a Shadow magazine story ("The Star of Delhi"), and one had a villain (Shiwan Khan) who had already appeared a couple of times in The Shadow magazine. In order for Gibson to have time to do everything he was involved in (writing for the magazine, comic book, comic strip, and other projects), eight of the strips were reprinted in the comic book line and one was re-drawn for the comic book (see The 'Strips' page for details). The length of the newspaper storylines varied from a very short eighteen days to a rather long eighty-four days with the average being around forty-eight days. Unfortunately, no matter how popular The Shadow comic strip was, its days became numbered when the United States entered World War Two.

The Shadow Loses To A War

When the U.S. entered the war in December of 1941, the call went out for young men to sign-up for military service. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the newspapers were becoming so full and overloaded of world and war news that there wasn't any room left for new features. Then just before the spring of '42, a paper shortage loomed on the horizon and newspapers began reducing the number of pages they printed. To help reduce their size, the first things the papers cut out were any of the newly added features -- like the comic strips. All of this, combined with declining newspaper sales plus the fact that the strip artist -- Vernon Greene -- joined the U.S. Air Force, forced the Ledger Syndicate to suspend the strip. The last installment of The Shadow newspaper comic strip appeared on Saturday, June 13, 1942. Not only was this four days short of The Shadow's second anniversary, it was also in the midst of a new storyline -- one that was never finished!

The Shadow Returns

Never one to admit defeat, though it took nearly forty-six years, The Shadow's newspaper comic strip returned; albeit inconspicuously and as reprints. In 1988, the newly formed Eternity Comics (a division of Malibu Graphics, Inc.) took on the task of reprinting, in order, the original newspaper strips under the title of "Crime Classics" and subtitled "The Shadow: An Historical Collection" (it was only the first issue that had the grammatically incorrect "An," the rest of the issues had the correct "A"). The first issue, dated July 1988, contained 32 pages with the strip taking up the first 24 pages (the remaining pages were ads for other Eternity comics and news). This was the format for every issue and allowed for only six weeks' (or thirty-six days') worth of the original to be reprinted. With the average storyline being eight weeks long, it's obvious that no single issue could contain a single adventure. As such, a storyline was continued to the next issue and, after a page break of news or ads, the next storyline began.

The Shadow Lost?

With one hundred four weeks of storylines divided by six weeks per issue, it figures out to a total of eighteen issues that would be needed to reprint all of the newspaper strips; unfortunately, no one has been able to confirm how many issues were actually done. Though thirteen issues are known to have been done, it's not currently known if any more exist. There also seems to be a slight confusion as to which 'publisher' of "Crime Classics" is listed. Sometimes it's Malibu, other times it's Eternity. Also, it depends on how the reprints are categorized. Sometimes it's under "Crime Classics," other times it's under 'The Shadow.' Both of these probably have something to do with not being able to find a definitive answer. But not all is lost.

The Shadow Online

Though I have most of the Eternity issues, online memory space limitations prevent me from uploading any of The Shadow's newspaper strip adventures (remember, graphic files take up a lot of memory space); and I apologize for that.

Thank you for your interest in The Shadow -- especialy in his newspaper comic strip adventures -- and for coming here.
I hope you like what little I've been able to do here.

Hopefully, you won't find any weeds or bitter fruit here.

This The Shadow Newspaper Comic Strips site owned by Jim Sutton.
Content © 2001-2017