Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Old-time radio and comics heroes burst back onto the scene

The Shadow Exclusive Preview

Old-time radio and comics heroes burst back onto the scene

Last year I blogged about one of my favourite pulp-fiction heroes, the Rocketeer, and the news that a new series of comics featuring the character had been commissioned.  At the time I was delighted to hear of the new Rocketeer adventures and now it looks as though some more pulp heroes from the golden age of radio and comic-strips are about to get a new lease of life.

An unsuccessful attempt to reintroduce a few of the more famous pulp crimefighters resulted in a series of live-action films being made in the early 1990s, beginning with the Rocketeer in 1991 through The Shadow (starring Alec Baldwin) in 1994 and ending with The Phantom (Billy Zane) in 1996.  All part of my DVD collection, of course!  Alas cinema audiences at the time were just not in the mood for these classic characters, the films performed poorly at the box office and pulp's breakthrough into the mainstream proved abortive.  I've always said they were simply made 20 years too soon(!).

Now, as the accompanying article touches upon, the early radio and comic-strip characters are proving to be more popular again as the fashion for all things vintage continues and public affinity with the tough times of the 1930s grows.  The new Shadow strips aim to take advantage of this renewed interest and hopefully introduce a new generation to the thrills of these early superheroes.

There are some interesting thoughts and ideas put forward by the interviewees in the piece and those held by the writers and artists involved in reviving these well-known characters, as well as the new strip itself, shows that there is a very good chance of fresh success for The Shadow at least, and maybe others too.  Director of the first three Spider-Man films, Sam Raimi, has long been a fan of The Shadow and is rumoured to be working on a new Shadow film having been trying to obtain the rights to the character since the late Eighties (which resulted in him making the 1990 film Darkman, starring Liam Neeson).  The Shadow given the Spider-Man treatment?  Sounds good to me!

Last year's The Green Hornet film, while not a period film and critically unsuccessful, at least shows that Hollywood hasn't lost its appetite for classic pulp fiction.  Next year's The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp has, going by available details, received mixed reactions so far but may be one to watch (although I've never really considered The Lone Ranger as a pulp character).  The Phantom continues to appear as a comic strip, was recently adapted for television and is also mooted for a film "reboot".  Likewise a new Doc Savage picture is said to be in the pipeline too.  While only some of these have or will remain rooted in their original time periods they should all remain true to their roots and will hopefully continue the revitalisation of these classic characters.

In the meantime, this all-new Shadow comic-strip looks like a promising start.  Fans of "old-time" radio serials like those of The Shadow, Flash Gordon and the like can also listen and download a wide selection of original broadcasts from this splendid website


  1. Have you heard the Shadow radio serials being put up weekly over at

  2. Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men... Only the Shadow knows. I still love those old radio programs. The Rocketeer is probably the only one made into a movie I really enjoyed. Then there is the Green Lantern and my hero who I patterned my garage after his closet: Fibber McGee (Fibber McGee & Molly). Remember Gunsmoke? James Arnes was the only radio actor of those series who transisioned to TV.


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