Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Reprint This: DC's The Shadow

Why oh why hasn't someone thrown enough money at whoever owns the rights to The Shadow to put this series into a nice TPB? Years ago, I was fortunate enough to buy the entire run for a low price, but I would absolutely love to place a hardcover collection on my shelf. Not only is the Shadow one of the greatest characters (in any genre) of the 20th century, but this series is arguably the high watermark of the Bronze Age. Denny O'Neil scripts are sharp and mature and Mike Kaluta's artwork on the first few issues is breathtaking. Now, I'm a Frank Robbins fan, but I'd imagine even his most ardent detractors would concede that was a pretty good fit for his style. My fingers are crossed that this will someday be released from licensing purgatory.

7 comments:

Argo Plummer said...

I have most of this run sitting in my basement in my "should I sell or keep pile". I know the Shadow is an iconic character, but I have never really gotten into him like I have the Phantom or Doc Savage, which is kinda weird since I love Batman.

Anyway, maybe I'll give them another read before I decide to get rid of them.

Erika said...

The issues with art by Kaluta (1-4, 6 - IMHO, the best stories) were collected into a hardback collection called The Private Files of the Shadow in 1989. Copies are available via Amazon and eBay.

The rest of the run (with Frank Robbins' art) was never collected, sad to say. If it was, I might run over you to get a copy of the collection ;)

I miss the Shadow -- I've just revisited the Shadow Strikes (the 3rd DC run -- not the excruciating Chaykin abomination) and fell in love with the comic all over again.

MDG14450 said...

I was always surprised that into the 80s, I could find issue at pretty cheap prices--$2-3 an issue.

I think I still have a healthy run of The Shadow Strikes that I should re-read. I was never a fan of Eduardo Baretto before it came out, but he did a very good job--catured the 30s feel in a Caniff-ish style.

mac said...

The problem with a collection of this title is the same problem I had with it's original run. The contrast between reading a Kaluta issue and then immediately reading a Robbins story is just too jarring. Those two styles are such polar opposites it feels like you are reading about two different characters. It would be great to have an all Robbins run or all Kaluta run but the way the original series came out makes it hard to look at it as a single entity.

Michael A. Gonzales said...

Always loved Kaluta's style, but the Kyle Baker version in the '80s (and lets not forget Howard Chaykin) was also pretty good.

Graeme said...

I love this run on the Shadow as well. It was one of the first 1970s books I made a serious effort to collect every issue (not hard since there's a limited number).

For me, early to mid 1970s DC-- say, 1972-1975 is this incredible era of experimentation. They'd try anything and see if it would stick-- bring back Captain Marvel, Jack Kirby working on everything from Kamandi to Sandman, Kubert drawing Tarzan, artists steeped in the underground movement ethos like Wrightson and Kaluta both drawing important books like Swamp Thing and The Shadow respectively. And writers influenced by that were coming into ascedance like Skeates and Fleischer (and Gerber at Marvel). It was a good age for comics. I was much too young to collect then so I don't say that with much nostalgia either.

Collecting these issues I had an epiphany about Frank Robbins. His issues are gorgeous. Particulary the ones where he pencils and inks. It is jarring. And reading the letters are hilarious because it's clear no one liked it in '73 either. But looking at it now, I occasionally find myself with the heretical opinion that Robbins' art might be better than Kaluta's. It's that good.

Scott M said...

I agree with you Graeme. I think Robbins was a perfect fit on this title. He is a very polarizing artist - but it's nice to hear that I'm not alone in my love for his work here.