Welcome to our inaugural episode of The Lesser Known Geek Hall Of Fame, the latest channel for Geekville Radio. For our first episode, we decided to look at one of the earliest characters in pulp magazines, The Shadow. Follow along in these show notes for the podcast.
Radio Show Origins
The earliest incarnation of The Shadow was on the radio airwaves in 1930, where he would introduce radio dramas based on issues of Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine. This was of course before television, where radio was the norm for advertising and entertainment. Thus, The Detective Story Hour would be used as a vehicle to promote issues of The Shadow himself was not a character, but a host. Similar in vein to Rod Serling or The Crypt Keeper.
The character became so popular that local newsstands would get requests for Shadow magazines. Street & Smith, realizing they had a hit on their hands, soon began publishing issues with The Shadow as the protagonist. This makes The Shadow unique, as most characters start in print before moving to media. Whereas The Shadow began in media before debuting in print.
The First Powered Hero
Another historical significance is The Shadow’s hypnosis ability, making him the first hero character with powers. Also, given the characters background, he helped forge the template by which many “street level” heroes were created with.
Not surprisingly, The Detective Story Hour became adventure episodes for The Shadow. The first two years, The Shadow was voiced by none other than up and coming actor Orson Welles. Over the next two decades, the character was voiced by other actors.
1994 Feature Film
In 1994, Universal Pictures attempted to revive The Shadow into a film franchise. While the movie failed at the box office, it did gain a measure of following in home release.
Currently, The Shadow is published by Dynamite Comics. And in the movie world, Sam Raimi has expressed interest in his own Shadow film over the years.
Fortunately for the old school fan, many of the classic radio dramas have been preserved on the internet. Also, several fansites exist, ensuring future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy The Shadow.
As discussed in the show, Crazy Train has his Classic Country Spotify Playlist.