“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Americans have known the answer to this question since the early 1930s, when the iconic figure of The Shadow was born. The Shadow not only knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men, but he also had the power to cloud men’s minds, seem invisible to those around him, and hypnotize the weak-minded fools who failed to realize that crime does not pay.
The Shadow was introduced to audiences in 1930 via a radio show called Detective Stories sponsored by Street & Smith, which also published a massive number of pulp magazines. As the character quickly took root in the canon of American icons, Street & Smith wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the show. They enlisted reporter and magician Walter Gibson, who’d had a few stories published in Detective Story Magazine, to write the first of The Shadow’s adventures to appear in print. The Shadow Magazine was born with the publication of Gibson’s first Shadow novel, The Living Shadow, published in April 1931 under the pen name Maxwell Grant.
The magazine quickly gained in popularity, at which time Gibson found himself consumed by a lucrative but demanding career. In less than a year, the magazine’s publishing schedule went from quarterly to twice a month, requiring Gibson to write two Shadow adventure novels per month, 24 novels per year. Citing multiple sources, a Wikipedia article says that “Gibson is estimated to have written, at his peak output, 1,680,000 words a year and at least 283 of the 336 Shadow novels. Gibson ultimately contributed more than 15,000,000 words towards Shadow publications; more than any other author in history has contributed to a single fictional continuity. ”
To browse the list of Shadow titles currently available, click here. A chronological list of Shadow novels can be found here.
These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright. The Pyramid, Jove, and Dover covers feature art by Jim Steranko.