I think I’ve mentioned before that my introduction to The Shadow was through syndicated reruns of the radio show in the early Sixties. The first Shadow novel I read was THE SHADOW STRIKES!, the second book in the series of original Shadow novels published by Belmont and the first one by Dennis Lynds writing under the Maxwell Grant name. I was a big fan of that series and read all of them as they were published. Then Bantam started reprinting some of the original pulp novels, followed by other publishers doing the same, and I read ’em all. I remember sitting in the university library when I was in college, reading Shadow paperbacks with those fine covers by Jim Steranko. Great stuff. (What’s that you say? I should have been studying? Considering how I’ve made my living all these years . . . I think maybe I was!)
Anyway, at the same time, 1974, Robert Weinberg was publishing the first book-length study of the Shadow pulp series, GANGLAND’S DOOM: THE SHADOW OF THE PULPS, by Frank Eisgruber Jr. I’d heard of this book but never read it until now, in a revised edition published by Altus Press in 2007.
A lot of the information contained in it – bibliographic info about the story titles, publication dates, and actual authors, as well as chapters on The Shadow’s agents and the villains he fought – has appeared elsewhere over the past three-and-a-half decades, but GANGLAND’S DOOM is an important book because it was the first. Not only that, but despite Eisgruber’s modest comments about his writing ability in a new preface, this is a well-written book with plenty of the charm that comes through when an author is writing about a subject he truly loves and enjoys. It’s fun being a fan, and that quality is definitely in evidence here. In addition, if you’ve never read a Shadow novel and don’t know much about the series, GANGLAND’S DOOM is an excellent concise introduction to one of the longest running and most influential pulp magazines that also had an important influence on other areas of popular culture. This is well worth reading and highly recommended.
And since I haven’t read a Shadow novel myself for a while, it’s really put me in the mood for one. Whether or not I actually get around to reading one before something else distracts me (I’m a lot like a puppy that way), who knows? We’ll see.
Miguel Ferrer, R. I. P.
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