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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Shadow #15: The Shadow Unmasks and The Yellow Band

Reviewed: September 23, 2008
By: Maxwell Grant
Publisher: Nostalgia Ventures
128 pages, $12.95

It was with some surprise that I recently discovered that old pulp magazines were being republished again. On some cases this will be the third or fourth time this material has been between covers, not even thinking about the fact that it’s been possible to download a lot of it from the web for about a decade now.

The Shadow started out as the announcer’s voice on a standard detective thriller radio program, but people liked the voice so much that he soon became the detective and star, particularly when he was voiced by Orson Wells. The show ran from 1930 to 1954. The magazine that was spun out of the program began in 1931 and ran for about 20 years. There were 325 Shadow novels (short, about 70,000 words each) produced during that period bylined to Street and Smith’s house name of Maxwell Grant. Most of the time Grant was really Walter Gibson, who wrote 282 of the books and had the most influence on the character’s legend.

The Shadow has appeared in movies (seven so far) and television (two series), a newspaper strip and comic books (four or five incarnations). Dawson City’s own Victor Jory played the character in what is usually considered to have been the best of the early movie serials, a 1940 film simply called The Shadow.

Some of the pulps have been reprinted in paperback form, but the current incarnation looks likes much like the original pulp magazines would have. Slightly smaller in size than a weekly newsmagazine, it has a paperback style binding, but has been reprinted on good quality paper. It uses the two column magazine format for the stories and reproduces the original illustrations from the pulps. There is no advertising other than house ads for other Nostalgia Press offerings, and it looks like that the books are appearing six times a year.

These are obviously a labour of love for the producers. Each issue has two or three essays about the characters, the background, the publishing or the original creators.

The two stories in this issue were ones I had not read before but then I’ve probably only read a dozen or so of these adventures over the years, so that’s not surprising. If you thought Lamont Cranston was The Shadow’s real identity, these two stories, originally published in August, 1937, will set you straight.

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