(New) Death comes in many shapes. Shake, Rattle and Death "A Weird Tale" By John Pirillo fractals, artwork, stories and videos www.johnpirillo.com
Shake, Rattle and Death
"A Weird Tale"
By John Pirillo
Mark glanced at the oddly shaped man, wearing a long overcoat and scarf that came up to his chin and a huge hat like something out of a cartoon that cratered over his forehead, hiding the eyes staring out from the shadowed, darkness beneath it. Something about the sight of the man sent him into a repetitive siege of violent coughing.
When he finally stopped coughing, he looked at his hand he had put over his mouth. There was blood on it. “Damn!” He thought to himself. He pulled out a hanky and cleaned his hand quickly before some pedestrian could see it.
Then he realized the odd man was still there, still staring at him.
There was something unusual about him. He wanted to put a finger on it, but it kept eluding his grasp. Finally, he shook his head and looked away. Nonsense he thought to himself. He had better things to do with his time. Which at this moment was he had way too much of.
He muttered angrily to himself. He had lost his job, his girlfriend and he had just gotten out of the doctor’s office after the paperwork came back from his last exam. He had lung cancer. Life sure sucked!
He lost his job, because he had failed to read the fine print on a contract he signed for his boss. Had he done so, he would still have his job. He lost his girlfriend because he didn’t think she’d find out about his one night fling. She had. He lost his health, because he had smoked since he was ten years old. He had lung cancer. In advanced stages.
He coughed real hard a moment into his right hand, wiped the blood on his hanky, and then looked up.
A fat old man sat down next to him. He stank from too much sweating. He glanced at Mark. “Whatever happens next, don’t believe a word of it.”
Mark gave the fat man an odd look.
“Okay, so I don’t have wings. But take my advice anyway.” The fat man insisted and got up to leave.
“Wait. Who are you?”
The fat man looked back and smiled. “Gabe. Everyone calls me Gabe.”
He took a turn at the end of the walking path and vanished from view.
“I will trade you.” The oddly shaped man said in a deeply melodious voice.
Mark almost jumped off his bus seat at the sound, and then his heart beating wildly, he turned to see the man staring at him. The eyes were more visible, but there was something odd about them, almost as if they were more like telescopic lenses than true physical human eyes.
“Speaking to me?”
The man nodded.
“Trade what?” He finally asked, being obviously expected to ask that question. But not before he glanced at his wristwatch for the time. The bus was late. No escape there.
“It will be late by ten minutes.” The oddly shaped man spoke to him.
He looked up. “What?”
He looked up, startled now so much that his heart was beating loudly in his chest. So loud he could hear it.
“You’ve been eating the wrong foods for years now. Your arteries are like the 405 freeway in Los Angeles in the morning. Your heart valves look like melted chocolate; they're so coated with fat and cholesterol. They are half way shut down by the corruption constantly coming through the arteries. You will be dead in twenty minutes. Which is ten minutes later, the time the bus arrives.”
“I didn’t actually need that much information.” Mark responded, so aghast at the remarks that he couldn’t think of any other reply at that moment. “Besides which I have lung cancer. I’m going to die anyway. So what do I care?”
“The one is curable. The other is not.”
The oddly shaped man came and sat down on his bench. He scooted to the far edge, almost falling off.
“I will not harm you.”
“Look, mister, I don’t go that way.”
The oddly shaped man laughed. “You think I’m interested in your body? To play with?”
“Whatever you call it, I’m not going there.” Mark answered, starting to sweat with fear now.
“Do not mock death!” The oddly shaped man warned.
“I’m not…” Mark froze. “Death! You’re Death?”
The oddly shaped man nodded. As he did his hat slipped too far forward a moment, revealing a skull head. Death knocked his hat back on again and hid the mistake.
Mark stood up. “I’ve got an appointment with you in Samarkand.”
Death laughed. “I think because you made me laugh, I’ll give you two more minutes.”
Mark was looking around, but no one was noticing. People were walking up and down the sidewalks, busy, their attention on their shopping, their partners, their personal thoughts, not a strange man and a stranger on a bus bench. It was almost as if he had become suddenly invisible. Strange.
“Why then, I’ll give you four.” Death laughed.
Mark dropped back to the bench. “I don’t believe you.”
Death pointed at a pedestrian making an unsafe jaywalk across the busy Las Vegas Boulevard. “He has five seconds to live. Four after he is struck which will be…”
A taxi swings around another car, and doesn’t see the pedestrian. He strikes the pedestrian who flies up into the air and lands in front of an oncoming bus, which rolls over him, then brakes.
People freak at the accident and begin screaming.
“How’d you know that?”
“Death. Yeah. Yeah. I know. But I thought God was the one who chose our moment of death.”
“In a matter of speaking, yes. But you forge your own deaths by every thought, word and deed you do. This pedestrian ignored the laws of physics when he stepped into the flow of moving traffic. God does not strip man of free will. Only man can give up that up.”
Death laughs again. “You’re funny. But kind of shallow.”
“Touché. Another couple minutes then?”
“Only if you trade with me.”
“Your body with mine.”
“You mean I can be death and do all the things that you do?”
“That is correct.”
“I don’t know, sounds kind of fishy to me. A Daniel Webster and the Devil kind of thing.”
“You mean Doctor Faustus, don't you?"
Death scrunched closer, his bones making knocking sounds, which Mark noticed for the first time. "Look at it this way then, Mark. When you are me, and I am you, you can grant yourself an eternal life if you want?”
“I thought you said God did that.”
“Oh, I have some leeway. Even Death has free will with some limitations, of course.”
“Of course and yet. Yet I have to grant you…me…eternal life?”
“Why don’t you just point your finger at yourself and give it?”
“Because I have to be in another body. I can not do it to myself.”
“Then if I switch with you and grant you immortality, I’ll be immortal then?”
“What’s the catch?”
“No catch. Simple trade. You let me have twenty-four hours in your body. I let you have mine to use all its powers as you choose. With limitations, of course.”
Death pulled out a long document. “It’s in the fine print. Nothing big. Stuff like can’t use my powers to score with the opposite sex; can use it to create bullion…”
“Oh. Uh...pirate’s gold.” Death looks at the contract, touches the fine print and it arranges. “Need to update that to read as gold.”
“Well?” He looks over at Mark.
“There’s gotta be a catch. How do I know you’re not going to keep my body and I die anyway?”
Death stands up and plants his feet firmly on the pavement. He raises a hand over his heart. “I swear in the name of the Almighty that you will not die on my body when we switch.”
"I don't believe you."
A sudden burst of lightning strikes the pavement within inches of Mark. He scampers away.
"Okay, I believe you. But what about in my body?”
“I swear that as well.”
Thunder smashes across the skies accompanied by lightning. Pedestrians all look up at the sudden gloom and light.
Mark’s jaw drops open. “God did that?”
“Yes. He always does when I tell the truth.”
Another bolt of lightning hammers the skies and thunder explodes.
Death looks at his watch. “You have thirty seconds to decide.”
Mark glanced around. Everyone that was walking past acted as if he wasn’t even there. No one looked at Death, even though he sat right beside him.
“Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Just one word of advice.” Death told him.
“Death only gets to take a holiday once every thousand years.”
“Oh. I see. So if I don't switch bodies with you now, you lose your opportunity to get a holiday?”
“Okay. What’s next?”
“Just sign here and here.”
“Sounds fair enough.”
“Sign here and here then.”
Death held out a pen. Mark took it. For a second he saw the fat old man across the street shaking his head urgently, making slices across his neck.
Mark shuddered. “Vegas. So many freaks here.”
“Hold my right hand. And close your eyes.”
Mark did. Death poked a bony finger into Mark’s hand. It swelled up with a big red mark, which quickly faded.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
“Count to three, then open them.”
Mark began counting. “One. Two. Three.”
He opened his eyes. Death was no longer seated next to him.
“Oh well. I guess the guy got tired of telling all those lies.”
Mark got up, but as he did he made these strange clanking and clinking sounds. It was then that he looked at his arms and hands. He was wearing all black. His hands were skeletal.
“Wow! It really worked.”
He looked around. Death was nowhere to be seen. Then he saw someone who looked familiar hitting on a cute lady across the street. He walked across the street. A car almost hit him, but at the last moment veered away from him into another lane.
He stopped beside Death, who was now wearing his body. “Hey! Now what happens?
Death looked his direction a moment, gave him a really, sly smirk, and then returned his attention to the young lady.
Mark reached a skeletal hand to grab Death, but it passed straight through him.
“It won’t work.” The fat man said as he walked up.
Mark turned around and his right hand held a scythe. He thought of using it to defend himself.
The fat man backed off, fending Mark off with his hands. “Whoa! I may be an angel, but I can still bleed.”
Mark lowered the scythe. “All right, so you’re a fat angel. Where were you when I needed you?” Then he remembered. “Oh. Well look, I signed a contract. I’ve only got twenty-four hours in this body.”
Mark suddenly vanished.
He found himself kneeling on a hill, his scythe out and pointed towards a battalion of soldiers fighting below against terrorists. A jet roared in from above and fire leaped across the fighters, engulfing all of them.
Mark stood up and what remained below were charred bodies and smoking ground. “Holy Crap!” He shrieked.
He stood there taking in the carnage. Men were screaming in pain. He saw one soldier trying to stand up, but he had no legs; another was crawling along the ground with one missing arm; two men lay on top of each other, their bodies twisted and crisped by flames. One of the soldiers looked up and then screamed. Mark could be seen by him.
Mark, for an unknown reason, lowered his right arm. The soldier’s eyes rolled up in his head and he collapsed. He saw some medics rushing to the man. When they reached him, one felt for a pulse then shook his head. They ran on to the next fallen soldier as the sound of flames and screams merged together across the battlefield.
Mark heard a sound beside him and turned to see Gabe seated there, a sandwich in his lap. He was just unwrapping it. “What? A man’s gotta eat and so do angels.”
Mark frowned. “I thought angels were supposed to be compassionate.”
“We are. Didn’t you put that young soldier out of his pain?”
“That was you?”
“Of course. You’re too new to this death thing to sort it all out yet. I’m here to help you.”
“Well, I’ve only got about twenty three more hours and I’m free of this.”
Gabe took a bite of his sandwich and shook his head. “Nope. Not the facts at all.”
“But I signed a contract!” Mark complained.
“Did you read the fine print?”
Mark started to answer yes, and then he remembered he had only skimmed through the details. He hadn’t read it at all.
Mark groaned and sat down beside Gabe.
“Only for a thousand years.”
Mark growled angrily, and then smacked his knee, causing it to shoot off into the distance about ten feet, before it boomeranged back into its socket again.
Gabe offered half his sandwich to Mark. “Look on the bright side of it, Mark, you’ve got me to keep you company for the next millennium.”
Mark stood up then and shrieked to heaven all the anguish and despair that flooded out of him. As he did lightning and thunder smashed across the skies.
"Oh yeah. That lightning thing. Wasn't." Looks upwards. "Him at all. You got conned just like all those girls you Don-Juaned."
Gabe shook his head and looked down into his lap. “Now where did I put that mustard pack? I always forget something.”
Looks up at Mark. "Just like you."
Gabe laughs so hard, he sprouts wings on his back, and then launches into the air, soaring towards the distant sun, his laughter trailing behind him.
Mark sighs, and then eyes the food that Gabe left behind. He reaches for it, and then puts it into his mouth. It falls through this lower jar back to the ground again.
On the battlefield the medics look up for a moment when they hear the distant sound of a man screaming, and then they get back to work.
The Last Angel
"A Samuel Light Junior Story"
By John Pirillo
A fleeting star of light shot across the heavens. Then an explosion of light. Skies normal again.
"The Last Angel fell from the sky like a meteor."
"Where did it fall, Mom?"
"Very close by."
"As close as I."
Samuel snapped awake in his bed to the sound of the sparrows outside on the sprawling oak tree that stood outside, guarding the front of the home with its gnarly branches, coarse bark and flings of gold and brown leaves that would snow on the front porch and sometimes drift into his room when the window was open as now.
He propped himself up on his elbows and listened. Babies.
Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.
Mommies flitting their gray and dapper brown wings through rushes of leaves, branches and twigs to settle into their nests, dropping worms, lady bugs, flies and other assorted delicacies into the open beaks of their hungry children. It was a festival of life and it made him feel secure as he lay there, ruminating about the day ahead.
The noises lessened as the peepers quieted, satiated from their feed.
The sun peered across the windowsill, casting lines of gold and red on the back wall and his closet where the Knight of Knights lived. Something he hadn't seen in awhile, and was happy enough he hadn't. His life was crazy, mixed up in so many ways these days, and it wasn't getting any less.
He finally resisted the urge to go back to sleep. It had been a rough week at school, what with the baseball practice, and the kids who always seemed to have some kind of drama king or queen thing going on.
He remembered a night ago when he spoke with his Mom about it.
"Honey, everyone's adjusting to the miracle of life bursting into living color inside their bodies."
"Not what my science teacher says. He calls it hormone explosions and sometimes other things when he thinks I can't hear him."
She burst into laughter. "I imagine he does. You're not like the other kids, Sammie. You're normal. You're the way they all should be, but instead most are just gradations of normal."
"Why? Why am I so special?"
She smiled. "Someday you'll understand. Now, you just need to get to bed."
She had scooted him upstairs and he had slipped from his robe into his bed. She had tucked him in, even though he was too old for it now, and he had smiled at her.
"Don't ever leave me."
She gave him an odd look, and then smiled. "I would never do that, my little angel."
He gave her a quick hug and kiss, rolled over on his bed, and fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Samuel got up, stretched, and then closed his window. It was Saturday. His mom worked at a different place sometimes on Saturdays. "We need the extra money now that..."
She would always stop before saying his dad's name, and then change the topic.
He smiled. He read between the lines with her, as well as she did with him.
One day she had grabbed him by his shoulders. "That's not fair, Samuel, you read me like a book!"
"Even Steven!" He had told her.
She laughed. "Balances for sure." Then gave him a quick hug and went about her chores on that day.
Samuel looked out his window and noticed that new people were moving into the empty house across the way. He saw the truck back up into the drive; some men jump out, dressed in strange uniforms, and then began hauling crates from the back of the truck and bringing them inside.
"That's strange." He mused. "No one packs their stuff in crates!"
He grabbed his cell and flicked Jimbo's number.
"Oh hell, what do you want now?" Jimbo snarled and then hung up.
Samuel counted to ten, and then dialed again.
"Sammie, I hate your guts. Go to bed!"
The phone went dead again.
Samuel waited for twenty seconds this time, and then dialed yet again.
Samuel sat on the edge of his bed.
"You won't believe the kind of neighbors we got moving next door."
Jimbo and Samuel sat on the front porch of his home, sipping Pepsis and eating chips, while they watched the strange men unpack the truck.
Jimbo finished his chips, crumpled the back and then tossed it over his left shoulder, landing it expertly in a trash can there. "Got any more?"
"All that salt will make you fat." Samuel protested.
Jimbo swatted his stomach, which stuck out a bit. "Too late."
Samuel grinned, stepped back inside and brought out the rest of the pack of chips. He and Jimbo polished them off, watching the new people's stuff being moved in.
"Think they're nice?" Jimbo asked, finishing off the last bag.
Jimbo eyed Samuel. "Maybe we'll get a vampire moving in, or a zombie, or a werewolf!"
"No such things."
"Yeah, then what the hell were those things we had to knock off last Halloween?"
Samuel paused, refreshing his memory. "Mistakes."
Jimbo gave him a blank look.
Samuel explained. "Sometimes people cross over and they accumulate so much negativity that they change their shape. That's what you saw."
"I don't see dead people. You do."
"Sometimes." On Jimbo's look. "Well, most of the time." On Jimbo's look. "Okay. I see them all the time. So?"
"So how come I saw them then?"
Samuel shrugged. "Maybe somebody up there...? He nudged his glance upwards.
Jimbo slugged him on his arm. "No angel poking me in the gut to see things, Mister Light."
Then a huge limousine pulled up across the street. A very, very tall man got out. He was wearing all white, and a pair of very, very thick sunglasses so you couldn't see his eyes. He opened up the back and a couple got out, then several kids. They all wore pure white and sunglasses.
"Vampires!" Jimbo drawled. "I knew it!"
Samuel shook his head. "They got shadows."
Jimbo looked at the pavement and sure enough they did. "Maybe they're Jewish."
Samuel barked with laughter.
The new neighbors noticed them for the first time seated on the front porch, watching them. None of them waved.
"Nope." Samuel said.
"How do you know that?"
Samuel turned to his right where Al was seated on the porch railing, playing with a butterfly, which kept trying to land on his finger, but kept passing through. Al looked up and shook his head.
"Let's just say a little birdie told me."
Jimbo scowled. "Old Man Genius again?"
"He doesn't like being called that." Samuel scalded Jimbo.
"Tough." Jimbo groused.
The new neighbors went inside their home. The delivery truck was shut up and the delivery men went inside too.
"Now that is strange." Samuel said.
"Vampires." Samuel finished.
Samuel and Jimbo met again the next morning. The time when vampires usually sleep long and deep. The delivery truck was still there. Samuel had tried to bring it up with his Mom, but she was tired and cranky. She had worked hard and forgot her lunch. So instead, she went to bed.
Jimbo stayed overnight in the sleeping bag Samuel kept for him. They talked for hours about all the strange things they'd seen so far...ghosts, aliens, monsters, and vanishing teens. You name it. Indiana Jones had nothing on them.
"I don't like this. Too quiet." Jimbo said as they slipped across the street and went across the yard, heading to the back.
Samuel shushed him and they stopped before an open cellar door. There were fresh footprints descending into it.
Jimbo gave Samuel that "I told you so," look.
Samuel shrugged. He pulled out his pocket flash and stepped down the stairs, one step at a time. Jimbo followed. When they reached the bottom, he swept the light across the black void, revealing a washing machine, a dryer, a water heater, a sink and about ten pairs of old shoes.
"I recognize those." Jimbo drawled. "Old Hank's."
"Yeah." He must have forgotten them when he moved.
"No vamps." Jimbo said with disappointment coloring his voice.
Samuel pointed the light at a door in the back, from under which a faint green glow emitted. He stepped in that direction. Jimbo stopped him. "What if they're alien vampires?"
"Then I guess we'll just have to deal with it."
Samuel went to the opposite door and tried the knob. It swung open so loudly, its hinges creaking and groaning, he was sure the neighbors upstairs would hear. They both froze, afraid to move further, but nothing happened. Then they went inside.
The floor was a soft radiant green. Ahead of them was a cylinder about six feet high and six feet long. It appeared to be anchored into the floor. Two windows looked out from its near side, each glowing soft green like the floor.
"Aliens!" Jimbo said with awe
Samuel went to the cylinder and looked inside. The hair on the back of his neck stood up straight and began tingling horribly.
Inside were the two adults, the two children and the two drivers, all sleeping on cots like they had died there, arms folded across their chests. At the same time the door into the basement made a creaking sound.
Both boys sprinted for the stairs, spooked by the sound, barely making it through the door, before it slammed shut, then before their eyes began to seal itself and vanish into the structure of the home.
They both stood back, afraid of what they were seeing, no understanding of all what was happening, and then the home began to shake and tremble. They ran for the front, just as the truck backed out of the drive, with no one in its front, and drove off.
They back to look at the home and it was shaking so fast now, it was almost in visible, then a loud sucking sound popped and they were both grabbed by something that felt like a gigantic hand and pulled towards the home. Before they could reach it, the home vanished with a loud crunching sound, and they feel onto a plot of dirt and gravel. Nothing was left of the home or its substructure.
They picked themselves up and ran back to Samuel's home and phoned the police.
When the police arrived, they explained what they had seen. The policeman smiled and shook his head. "Samuel, you're such a jokester."
The Policeman turned and pointed to the home that was now back in its usual spot.
The Policeman flipped his notebook shut, and then clamped a hand on Samuel's shoulder. "I knew your dad. He was quite a prankster too. But he was a good man. A very, very good man."
The Policeman's eyes grew soft and moist for a moment, then he chucked Samuel under the chin gently and went back to his car, climbed in, turned off the overhead flickering red and green lights, and drove off.
Jimbo stared at the home across the street a long time. "Aliens."
Samuel said nothing. His mind was on what he had been told. Someone knew his father. Something special. He wiped at his eyes, which were wetting. Jimbo saw him. "Aw come on, partner, it can't hurt that much to be wrong!"
Samuel burst into laughter and went inside. "Mom left some cake for us this morning."
Jimbo rubbed his stomach. "Cake, here we come!"
The front door slammed shut.
Across the street the very, very tall man stepped outside, and stood a long time staring at Samuel's home, then went back inside.
The Last Angel hovered over Samuel's Mom, his eyes wide with love and compassion. She was sleeping, but when he moved closer, she stirred and opened her eyes.
"Who are you?"
"The Last Angel."
"An angel. A real angel?"
It smiled at her, its face warm with kindness and sincerity. "But you will name me otherwise."
"What will I call you?"
It Tastes Like Chicken
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
Dawn came like a brick load of cement. Pitch black. Always pitch black. It took him a few moments to organize his thoughts. As always. Tired. Dead stone tired. Like the rocks that hovered above, below and all sides of him. Dead tired.
"Get a life!"
He groaned, and sat up.
Rowlf growled when he bumped into the very large Insectoids side. Rowlf was a member of an underground species that he had discovered after they became separated from the Hollow Earth Special Forces. He looked creepy as hell, but had the heart of a cute puppy. Just so long as you didn't look into his mouth, everything was fine, but if you did, all bets were off. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.
"Youse ugly twos!" Rowlf growled at him.
"Damnit. Talking in my sleep again."
He felt Everett sit up next to him. "When don't you? Stop talking that is."
"Thanks a lot."
Rowlf stood up next to them and rubbed his hands over the moss on the wall next to them. Agitated, the moss tossed chemicals up and down their furry lengths and began to glow a soft green color.
They had discovered the trick by accident after running out of matches and batteries for their lights. If you rubbed the moss one way, they glowed, came to life. Another way and they shrugged off their pale glow and descended into darkness.
Strange. But what wasn't hundreds of miles below the surface of the earth?
"I heard something." Russ insisted.
"You always hear something."
Rowlf growled. "Heard something."
"You always hear something, you big grasshopper, your hearing is like radar."
"Yeah. You heard me."
Everett stood up and stretched. "Can we see about breakfast. All this growsing is making my stomach growl."
Russ stood up and leaned against the wall, one shoulder against Rowlf, who acted as if he didn't notice, but he did. Rowlf loved his friends. He didn't understand or know why, only that they were stone buddies. Rock. Like the world about him. They didn't change.
"What do you suggest we start with??
"How about lizard eggs and worms?"
"Sounds good to me. So where?"
Something ran fast past them on the cavern floor, then scrambled up a wall and turned to eye them. Its two huge eyes were watery and bright.
"Well..." Everett said in his sharp English accent.
Rowlf finished chipping stone against stone and the dry moss in the shallow bowl of rocks they had mounded sparked to life, casting flickering shadows as flames licked at its mass. Everett stuck the lizard on its stick he had poked from its anus through its mouth over the fire and sat back, hands cupped over his knees.
"Smells like Chicken." Russ quipped.
"Yeah. Butt ugly chicken." Everett snapped back.
"No offense, Rowlf."
Rowlf shut his eyes and in his own way grinned, though neither of them could have recognized it. His race had much more subtle ways of showing amusement, affection, anger and so on. His eyes would twirl slightly when he was amused or happy. Depending on how much would determine whether it was amusement or happiness. Right then at that moment, it was amusement.
"Figure this should last us about ten steps." Russ countered.
"Hey! Ten steps are ten steps further." Everett added.
They both broke into laughter.
Rowlf's eyes snapped open. "Waughter? Why?"
"It's called irony, dear friend. Irony." Russ explained.
"Wike weapuns you worried?"
"Oh yeah, they really worried us." Everett joked.
Rowlf gave him a puzzled look, but Everett couldn't read it. Yet. He was starting to pick up on some of Rowlf's body language. He could tell when he was tired, hungry and curious by the way his antenna would droop or straighten, much like his pal "Jerry," his cockatiel would do with his tuft of feathers.
Russ looked over at Everett. "Still counting?"
They both broke into laughter, causing Rowlf to examine them both again closely.
Russ snorted. "Don't worry, Rowlf, we're not going mad. Crazy, maybe, but not mad."
"Not a helluva lot these days." Everett sighed.
He looked down the long black corridor to their right. "Wonder how far this one goes."
"I'm more interested in when do we find the one that gets us somewhere." Russ shot back.
"Yeah. Real juicy fat chance." Russ agreed.
Both were silent, meditating on thoughts best left unsaid. Both felt a tremendous sense of loss and sadness, but their friendship with each other and Rowlf kept them from sliding into despair, even though at times, it didn't seem far off.
"When we get back home, they'll call us heroes."
Russ snorted derisively. "I'd rather they called us a buffet. I'm starving."
They all then looked at the lizard, which was not quite toasty.
Rowlf's stomachs made grumbling sounds. "Sharving much."
"Rowlf. You eat it." Russ told him, suddenly feeling generous.
Everett looked at him like he'd just snapped, but said nothing.
Rowlf didn't budge. "Youse fwail. Must wheat fust!" He insisted.
Everett snatched the lizard. "Since neither one of you want it."
Before he could take a bite, the lizard was wrenched two other ways by Rowlf and Russ.
They each ate their portion in a delicious silence, savoring the warmth of its crunch skin and meat, as slight as it was.
Russ picked some smaller bones from his teeth and spit them out.
Everett did the same.
But Rowlf just crunched them up and swallowed them, his eyes rolling with pleasure.
"Sometimes I wish I was a dog." Russ admitted.
"Me too." Everett agreed, his eyes watching as Rowlf picked up the bones they had spit out and began crunching them.
Rowlf eyed them happily. "Whaste bwest part!"
Everyone broke into laughter.
Russ caught his aching sides, and then subsided into silence a moment. "Here we are...at the center of it all... and we're wise cracking about some dumbass lizard's bones."
"Yeah. Ain't it great?" Everett cracked in his best Ringo Starr imitation.
They all broke into laughter again.
Then the sound of something monstrous moved in the darkness.
They all jumped to their feet, grabbing their makeshift weapons of bone and stone.
Another day. Another monster.
As the monster rushed down the corridor to eat them, roaring like a monster from hell, they rushed up the corridor to eat it, screaming like a tribe of cannibals about to eat fresh meat. Someone was going to have a great meal this day. Hopefully it would be them!
You have got to see this series.The BBC does a splendid job of everything they get their hands on. I read the book and it is really wierd and wonderful . A great read!
I just finished posting a very nice article on the birth of Sherlock Holmes. Part One as a matter of fact. I also posted the sixth movie of the Sherlock Holmes series as well: Sherlock Holmes Faces Death! It stars the great actors Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone.
You can go directly to The Baker Street Universe by double clicking HERE.
The very last chapter of this piece of movie history.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFor other uses, see Shadow (disambiguation)."Lamont Cranston" redirects here. For the musical group, see The Lamont Cranston Band.This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help toimprove this article by introducing more precise citations. (March 2012)The Shadow"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"
The Shadow as depicted on the cover of the July 15, 1939, issue of The Shadow Magazine. The story, "Death from Nowhere," was one of the magazine plots adapted for the legendary radio drama.Publication informationPublisherStreet & Smith
Condé NastFirst appearanceDetective Story Hour
(July 31, 1930) (radio)
"The Living Shadow"
(April 1, 1931) (print)Created byWalter B. GibsonIn-story informationAlter egoKent Allard (print)
Lamont Cranston (radio and film)Notable aliasesLamont Cranston (print)AbilitiesIn print, radio, and film:
Peak mental and physical conditioning
Skilled marksman and martial artist
Master of disguise
Master of stealth
In radio and film only:
Able to make himself nearlyinvisible to the naked eye
Can alter and control a person's thoughts and perceptionsThe Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in 1930s pulp novels, and then in a wide variety of media. Details of the title character have varied across various media, but he is generally depicted as a crime-fighting vigilante with psychic powers posing as a "wealthy, young man about town". One of the most famous adventure heroes of the twentieth century, The Shadow has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video games, and at least fivemotion pictures. The radio drama is well-remembered for those episodes voiced by Orson Welles.
Introduced as a mysterious radio narrator by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot for Street and Smith Publications, The Shadow was developed fully and transformed into a pop culture icon by pulp writer Walter B. Gibson. The character would go on to become a major influence on the subsequent evolution of comic book superheroes, in particular, Batman.
The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour. After gaining popularity among the show's listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931, a pulp seriescreated and primarily written by the prolific Gibson.
On September 26, 1937, The Shadow radio drama premiered with the story "The Deathhouse Rescue", in which The Shadow was characterized as having "the power to cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." As in the magazine stories, The Shadow was not given the literal ability to become invisible.
The introduction from The Shadow radio program "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" spoken by actor Frank Readick Jr., has earned a place in the American idiom. These words were accompanied by an ominous laugh and a musical theme, Camille Saint-Saëns' Le Rouet d'Omphale ("Omphale's Spinning Wheel", composed in 1872). At the end of each episode The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!"
Thus, beginning on July 31, 1930, "The Shadow" was the name given to the mysterious narrator of the Detective Story Hour. The narrator was voiced by James LaCurto and, later, Frank Readick. The episodes were drawn from the Detective Story Magazine issued by Street and Smith, "the nation's oldest and largest publisher of pulp magazines." Although the latter company had hoped the radio broadcasts would boost the declining sales of the Detective Story Magazine, the result was quite different. Listeners found the sinister announcer much more compelling than the unrelated stories. They soon began asking newsdealers for copies of "that Shadow detective magazine," even though it did not exist.
DevelopmentRecognizing the demand and responding promptly, circulation manager Henry William Ralston of Street & Smith commissioned Walter B. Gibson to begin writing stories about "The Shadow." Using the pen name of Maxwell Grant and claiming the stories were "from The Shadow's private annals as told to" him, Gibson wrote 282 out of 325 tales over the next 20 years: a novel-length story twice a month (1st and 15th). The first story produced was "The Living Shadow", published April 1, 1931.
Gibson initially fashioned the character as a man with villainous characteristics, who used them to battle crime, and in this was archetypal of the superhero, complete with a stylized imagery, a stylized name, sidekicks, supervillains, and a secret identity. Clad in black, The Shadow operated mainly after dark, burglarizing in the name of justice, and terrifying criminals into vulnerability before he or someone else gunned them down. The character was a film noir antihero in every sense; Gibson himself claimed the literary inspirations were Bram Stoker'sDracula and Edward Bulwer-Lytton's "The House and the Brain".
Because of the great effort involved in writing two full-length novels every month, several guest writers were hired to write occasional installments in order to lighten Gibson's work load. These guest writers included Lester Dent — who penned the Doc Savage stories — and Theodore Tinsley. In the late 1940s, mystery novelist Bruce Elliott (also a magician) would temporarily replace Gibson as the primary author of the pulp series. Richard Edward Wormser, a reader for Street & Smith, wrote two Shadow stories.
The Shadow Magazine ceased publication with the Summer 1949 issue, but Walter B. Gibson wrote three new "official" stories between 1963 and 1980. The first of these began a new series of nine updated Shadow novels from Belmont Books, starting with Return of The Shadow under his own by-line. But the remaining eight, The Shadow Strikes, Beware Shadow, Cry Shadow, The Shadow's Revenge, Mark of The Shadow, Shadow Go Mad, Night of The Shadow, and The Shadow, Destination: Moon, were not penned by Gibson but by Dennis Lyndsunder the "Maxwell Grant" byline. In these last eight novels, The Shadow was given psychic powers, including the radio character's ability "to cloud men's minds" so that he effectively became invisible, and was more of a spymaster than crime fighter.
PublicationsSee List of The Shadow stories
Character developmentThe character and look of The Shadow gradually evolved over his lengthy fictional existence:
As depicted in the pulps, The Shadow wore a wide brimmed black hat and a black, crimson-lined cloak with an upturned collar over a standard black business suit. In the 1940s comic books, the later comic book series, and the 1994 film starring Alec Baldwin, he wore either the black hat or a wide-brimmed, black fedora and a crimson scarf just below his nose and across his mouth and chin. Both the cloak and scarf covered either a black double-breasted trench coat or a regular black suit. As seen in some of the later comics series, The Shadow would also wear his hat and scarf with either a black Inverness coat or Inverness cape.
In the radio drama, which debuted in 1930, The Shadow was an invisible avenger who had learned, while "traveling through East Asia," "the mysterious power to cloud men's minds, so they could not see him." This feature of the character was born out of necessity: time constraints of 1930s radio made it difficult to explain to listeners where The Shadow was hiding and how he was remaining concealed. Thus, the character was given the power to escape human sight. Voice effects were added to suggest The Shadow's seeming omnipresence. In order to explain this power, The Shadow was described as a master of hypnotism, as explicitly stated in several radio episodes.
Background"The Living Shadow" from The Shadow #1 (April 7, 1931)In print, The Shadow's real name is Kent Allard, and he was a famed aviator who fought for the French during World War I. He became known by the alias the Black Eagle, according to "The Shadow's Shadow" (1933), although later stories revised this alias as the Dark Eagle, beginning with "The Shadow Unmasks" ( 1937). After the war, Allard finds a new challenge in waging war on criminals. Allard fakes his death in the South American jungles, then returns to the United States. Arriving in New York City, he adopts numerous identities to conceal his existence.
One of these identities—indeed, the best known—is that of Lamont Cranston, a "wealthy young man about town." In the pulps, Cranston is a separate character; Allard frequently disguises himself as Cranston and adopts his identity (The Shadow Laughs, 1931). While Cranston travels the world, Allard assumes his identity in New York. In their first meeting, Allard, as The Shadow, threatens Cranston, saying he has arranged to switch signatures on various documents and other means that will allow him to take over the Lamont Cranston identity entirely unless Cranston agrees to allow Allard to impersonate him when he is abroad. Terrified, Cranston agrees. The two men sometimes meet in order to impersonate each other (Crime over Miami, 1940). The disguise works well because Allard and Cranston resemble each other (Dictator of Crime, 1941).
His other disguises include businessman Henry Arnaud, who first appeared in The Black Master (March 1, 1932), which issue revealed that like Cranston, there is a real Henry Arnaud; elderly Isaac Twambley, who first appeared in No Time For Murder; and Fritz, who first appeared in "The Living Shadow" (April 1931); in this last disguise, he pretends to be a doddering old slow-witted, uncommunicative janitor who works at Police Headquarters in order to listen in on conversations.
For the first half of The Shadow's tenure in the pulps, his past and identity are ambiguous, supposedly[weasel words] an intentional decision on Gibson's part. In The Living Shadow, a thug claims to have seen the Shadow's face, and thought he saw "a piece of white that looked like a bandage." In The Black Master and The Shadow's Shadow, the villains both see The Shadow's true face and remark that The Shadow is a man of many faces with no face of his own. It was not until the August 1937 issue, The Shadow Unmasks, that The Shadow's real name is revealed.
In the radio drama, the Allard secret identity was dropped for simplicity's sake. On the radio, The Shadow was only Lamont Cranston; he had no other aliases or disguises.
Supporting charactersThe Shadow has a network of agents who assist him in his war on crime. These include:
Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller) in The Shadow.
In contrast to the pulps, The Shadow radio drama limited the cast of major characters to The Shadow, Commissioner Weston, and Margo Lane, the last of whom was created specifically for the radio series, as it was believed the abundance of agents would make it difficult to distinguish between characters. Harry Vincent appeared as an agent of the Shadow in the first episode, "The Death House Escape." Clyde Burke and Moe Shrevnitz (identified only as "Shrevvy") made occasional appearances, but not as agents of The Shadow. Lt. Cardona was a minor character in passing in several episodes. Shrevvy was merely an acquaintance of Cranston and Lane, and occasionally Cranston's chauffeur.
EnemiesThe Shadow also faces a wide variety of enemies, ranging from kingpins and mad scientists to international spies and "super-villains," many of whom were predecessors to the rogues galleries of comic super-heroes. Among The Shadow's recurring foes are Shiwan Khan, seen in The Golden Master, Shiwan Khan Returns, Invincible Shiwan Khan, and Masters of Death(when he appeared in the feature film, John Lone acted out the role); The Voodoo Master (The Voodoo Master, The City of Doom, and Voodoo Trail); The Prince of Evil (The Prince of Evil, The Murder Genius, The Man Who Died Twice, and The Devil's Paymaster, all written by Theodore Tinsley); and The Wasp (The Wasp and The Wasp Returns).
The series also featured a myriad of one-shot villains, including The Red Envoy, The Death Giver, Gray Fist, The Black Dragon, Silver Skull, The Red Blot, The Black Falcon, The Cobra, Gaspard Zemba, The Black Master, Five-Face, The Gray Ghost, and Dr. Z.
The Shadow also battles collectives of criminals, such as The Silent Seven (his targets in an adventure all their own), The Hand, The Salamanders, and The Hydra.
Radio programOrson Welles was the voice of The Shadow from September 1937 to October 1938. He was succeeded by Bill Johnstone.In early 1930, Street & Smith Publications hired David Chrisman and Bill Sweets to adapt the Detective Story Magazine to radio format. Chrisman and Sweets felt the program should be introduced by a mysterious storyteller. A young scriptwriter, Harry Charlot, suggested the name of "The Shadow." Thus, "The Shadow" premiered over CBS airwaves on July 31, 1930, as the host of the Detective Story Hour, narrating "tales of mystery and suspense from the pages of thepremier detective fiction magazine." The narrator was first voiced by James LaCurto, but became a national sensation when radio veteran Frank Readick, Jr. assumed the role and gave it "a hauntingly sibilant quality that thrilled radio listeners."
Early yearsFollowing a brief tenure as narrator of Street & Smith's Detective Story Hour, "The Shadow" character was used to host segments of The Blue Coal Radio Revue, playing on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This marked the beginning of a long association between the radio persona and sponsor Blue Coal.
While functioning as a narrator of The Blue Coal Radio Revue, the character was recycled by Street & Smith in October 1931, to oddly serve as the storyteller ofLove Story Hour.
In October 1932, the radio persona temporarily moved to NBC. Frank Readick again played the role of the sinister-voiced host on Mondays and Wednesdays, both at 6:30 p.m., with LaCurto taking occasional turns as the title character.
Readick returned as The Shadow to host a final CBS mystery anthology that fall. The series disappeared from CBS airwaves on March 27, 1935, due to Street & Smith's insistence that the radio storyteller be completely replaced by the master crime-fighter described in Walter B. Gibson's ongoing pulps.
Radio dramaThis section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2014)Street & Smith entered into a new broadcasting agreement with Blue Coal in 1937, and that summer Gibson teamed with scriptwriter Edward Hale Bierstadt to develop the new series. The Shadow returned to network airwaves on September 26, 1937, over the new Mutual Broadcasting System. Thus began the "official" radio drama, with 22-year-old Orson Welles starring as Lamont Cranston, a "wealthy young man about town." Once The Shadow joined Mutual as a half-hour series on Sunday evenings, the program did not leave the air until December 26, 1954.
Welles did not speak the signature line, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" Instead, Readick did, using a water glass next to his mouth for the echo effect. The famous catch phrase was accompanied by the strains of an excerpt from Opus 31 of the Camille Saint-Saëns classical composition, Le Rouet d'Omphale.
After Welles departed the show in 1938, Bill Johnstone was chosen to replace him and voiced the character for five seasons. Following Johnstone's departure, The Shadow was portrayed by such actors as Bret Morrison (the longest tenure, with 10 years in two separate runs), John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh.
The Shadow also inspired another radio hit, The Whistler, with a similarly mysterious narrator.
Margo LaneMain article: Margo LaneThe radio drama also introduced female characters into The Shadow's realm, most notably Margo Lane (played by Agnes Moorehead, among others) as Cranston's love interest, crime-solving partner and the only person who knows his identity as The Shadow. Four years later, the character was introduced into the pulp novels. Her sudden, unexplained appearance in the pulps annoyed readers and generated a flurry of hate mail printed in The Shadow Magazine's letters page.
Lane was described as Cranston's "friend and companion" in later episodes, although the exact nature of their relationship was unclear. In the early scripts of the radio drama the character's name was spelled "Margot." The name itself was originally inspired by Margot Stevenson, the Broadway ingénue who would later be chosen to voice Lane opposite Welles' Shadow during "the 1938 Goodrich summer season of the radio drama." In the 1994 film in which Penelope Ann Miller portrayed the character, she is characterized as a telepath.
Comic strips, comic books, and graphic novelsWalter Gibson's and Vernon Greene's The Shadow (August 12, 1940).The Shadow has been adapted for the comics quite a few times during his long history; his first comics appearance was on June 17, 1940 as a syndicated daily newspaper comic stripoffered through the Ledger Syndicate. The strip's story continuity was written by Walter B. Gibson, with plot lines adapted from the Shadow pulps, and the strip was illustrated by Vernon Greene. Due to pulp paper shortages during World War II and the growing amount of space required for war news from both the European and Pacific fronts, the strip was canceled on June 13, 1942, after two years and nine adventures had been published. The Shadow daily was collected decades later in two comic book series from two different publishers (see below), first in 1988 and then in 1999.
To both cross-promote The Shadow and attract a younger audience to their other pulp magazines, Street & Smith published 101 issues of the comic book Shadow Comics from Vol. 1, #1 - Vol. 9, #5 (March 1940 - Sept. 1949). A Shadow story led off each issue, with the remainder of the stories being strips based on other Street & Smith pulp heroes.
In Mad #4 (April–May 1953), The Shadow was spoofed by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder. Their character was called the Shadow' (with an apostrophe), which is short for Lamont Shadowskeedeeboomboom. In this satire, Margo Pain gets Shad, as she calls him, into various predicaments, including fights with gangsters and a piano falling on him from above. At the conclusion of the tale, after Margo is tricked into going inside an outhouse surrounded by wired-up dynamite, Shad is seen gleefully pushing down a detonator's plunger.
During the superhero revival of the 1960s, Archie Comics published an eight-issue series, The Shadow (Aug. 1964 - Sept. 1965), under the company's Mighty Comics imprint. In the first issue, The Shadow depicted was loosely based on the radio version, but with blond hair. In issue #2 (Sept. 1964), the character was transformed into a campy, heavily muscled, green and blue costume-wearing superhero by writer Robert Bernstein and artist John Rosenberger. Later issues of this eight-issue series were written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.
During the mid-1970s, DC Comics published an "atmospheric interpretation" of the character by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Michael Kaluta in a 12-issue series (Nov. 1973 - Sept. 1975). Kaluta drew issues 1-4 and 6 and was followed by Frank Robbins and then E. R. Cruz. Faithful to both the pulp-magazine and radio-drama character, the series guest-starred fellow pulp fiction hero The Avenger in issue #11. The Shadow also appeared in DC's Batman #253 (Nov. 1973), in which Batman teams with an aging Shadow and calls the famous crime fighter his "greatest inspiration". In Batman #259 (Dec. 1974), Batman again meets The Shadow, and we learn The Shadow saved Bruce Wayne's life when the future Batman was a boy.
DC Comics' The Shadow #1 (Nov. 1973). Cover art by Michael Kaluta.The Shadow is also referenced in DC's Detective Comics #446 (1975), page 4, panel 2: Batman, out of costume and in disguise as an older night janitor, makes a crime fighting acknowledgement, in a thought balloon, to the Shadow.
In 1986, another DC incarnation was created by Howard Chaykin. This four issue mini-series, also collected as a one-shot graphic novel (Shadow: Blood and Judgement), brought The Shadow into modern-day New York. While initially successful, this version proved unpopular with traditional Shadow fans because it depicted The Shadow using Uzi submachine guns and rocket launchers, as well as featuring a strong strain of black comedy and extreme violence throughout.
The Shadow, set in our modern era, was continued the following year, in 1987, as a monthly DC comics series by writer Andy Helfer (editor of the mini-series); it was drawn primarily by artists Bill Sienkiewicz (issues 1-6) and Kyle Baker (issues 8-19 and two Shadow Annuals).
In 1988 O'Neil and Kaluta, with inker Russ Heath, returned to The Shadow with the Marvel Comics graphic novel The Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer, set during World War II. This one-shot appeared in both hardcover and trade paperback editions.
The Vernon Greene/Walter Gibson Shadow newspaper comic strip from the early 1940s was finally collected by Malibu Graphics (Malibu Comics) under their Eternity Comics imprint, beginning with the first issue of Crime Classics dated July, 1988. Each cover was illustrated by Greene and colored by one of Eternity's colorists. A total of 13 issues appeared featuring just the black-and-white daily until the final issue, dated November, 1989. Some of the Shadow story lines were contained in one issue, while others were continued over into the next. When a Shadow story ended, another tale would begin in the same issue. This back-to-back format continued until the final 13th issue, when the strip story lines ended.
Dave Stevens' nostalgic comics series The Rocketeer contains a great number of pop culture references to the 1930s. Various characters from the Shadow pulps make appearances in the story line published in the Rocketeer Adventure Magazine, including The Shadow's famous alter ego Lamont Cranston. Two issues were published by Comico Comics in 1988 and 1989, but the third and final installment did not appear until years later, finally appearing in 1995 from Dark Horse Comics. All three issues were then collected by Dark Horse into a slick trade paperback titled The Rocketeer: Cliff's New York Adventure (ISBN 1-56971-092-9).
A year later, in 1989, DC re-released in hardcover and trade paper the first five issues of their 1970s series as a graphic novel, The Private Files of The Shadow. The volume also featured a new Shadow adventure drawn by Kaluta.
From 1989 to 1992, DC published a new Shadow series, The Shadow Strikes, written by Gerard Jones and Eduardo Barreto. This series was set in the 1930s and returned The Shadow to his pulp origins. During its run, it featured The Shadow's first team-up with Doc Savage, another very popular hero of the pulp magazine era. Both characters appeared together in a four-issue story line that crossed back and forth between each character's DC comic series. "The Shadow Strikes" often led The Shadow into encounters with well-known celebrities of the 1930s, such as Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, union organizer John L. Lewis, and Chicago gangsters Frank Nitti and Jake Guzik. In issue #7, The Shadow meets a radio announcer named Grover Mills, a character based on the young Orson Welles, who has been impersonating The Shadow on the radio. The character's name is taken from Grover's Mill, New Jersey, the name of the small town where the Martians land in Welles' famous 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. When Shadow rights holder Conde Nast increased its licensing fee, DC concluded the series after 31 issues and one annual; it became the longest running Shadow comic series since Street and Smith's original 1940s series.
During the early-to-mid-1990s, Dark Horse Comics acquired the comics rights to the Shadow from Conde Nast. It published the Shadow miniseries In The Coils of Leviathan (four issues) in 1993, and Hell's Heat Wave (three issues) in 1995. In the Coils of the Leviathan was later collected and issued by Dark Horse in 1994 as a trade paperback graphic novel. Both series were written by Joel Goss and Michael Kaluta, and drawn by Gary Gianni. A one-shot Shadow issue The Shadow and the Mysterious Three was also published by Dark Horse in 1994, again written by Joel Goss and Michael Kaluta, with Stan Manoukian and Vince Roucher taking over the illustration duties but working over Kaluta's layouts. A comics adaptation of the 1994 film The Shadow was published in two issues by Dark Horse as part of the movie's merchandising campaign. The script was by Goss and Kaluta and once again drawn from cover to cover by Kaluta. It was collected and published in England by Boxtree as a graphic novel tie-in for the film's British release. Emulating DC's earlier team-up, Dark Horse also published a two-issue mini-series in 1995 called The Shadow and Doc Savage: The Case of the Shrieking Skeletons. It was written by Steve Vance, and illustrated once again by Manoukian and Roucher. Of special note, both issues' covers were drawn by Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens. The final Dark Horse Shadow team-up was published in 1995. It was a single issue ofGhost and the Shadow, written by Doug Moench, pencilled by H. M. Baker, and inked by Bernard Kolle.
The Shadow made an uncredited cameo appearance in issue #2 of DC's 1996 four issue mini-series Kingdom Come. Those four issues were then collected into a single graphic novel in 1997. The Shadow appears in the nightclub scene standing in the background next to The Question and Rorschach.
The early 1940s Shadow newspaper daily strip was again put back into print, this time by Avalon Communications under their ACG Classix imprint. The Shadow daily began appearing in the first issue of Pulp Action comics. It carries no monthly date or issue number on the cover, only a 1999 copyright and a "Pulp Action #1" notation at the bottom of the inside cover. Each issue's cover is a colorized, partial comics panel blow-up, taken from one of the reprinted strips. The eighth issue uses for its cover a partial Shadow serial black-and-white movie still, with several hand-drawn alterations added. The first issue of Pulp Action is devoted entirely to reprinting the Shadow daily, but subsequent issues began offering back-up, non-Shadow stories of various page lengths in every issue. These Shadow strip reprints stopped with Pulp Action 's eighth issue, never completing the daily's story lines; that last issue carries a 2000 copyright date.
Writer Garth Ennis signing copies of Dynamite Entertainment's The Shadow(volume 5) #1 at an April 19, 2012 signing at Midtown Comics Downtown in Manhattan.In August 2011 Dynamite licensed The Shadow from Conde Nast for both on-going comic book series and several limited run miniseries. Their first on-going series was written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Aaron Campbell and debuted on April 19, 2012 in comics shops. This series ran for 25 issues, ending in May 2014 (overall 26 issues, with issue #0 published July 2014 shortly after the ongoing series ended). Dynamite then followed with the release an eight-issue miniseries, Masks, teaming the 1930s Shadow with Dynamite's other pulp hero-based comic book characters, the Spider, The Green Hornet and Kato, and a 1930s Zorro (plus four other heroes of the pulp era from Dynamite's comics line up); Dynamite then offered a second Shadow eight-issue miniseries, Shadow Year One, followed by the team-up miniseries The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights, and a Shadow miniseries set in the modern era, The Shadow Now. Additional Dynamite Entertainment Shadow and Shadow team-up series and miniseries continue to follow in their wake.
FilmsThe Shadow character has been adapted for film shorts and motion pictures.
Shadow film shorts (1931–1932)In 1931 Universal Pictures created a series of six film shorts based on the popular Detective Story Hour radio program, narrated by The Shadow. The first short, A Burglar to the Rescue, was filmed in New York City and features the voice of The Shadow on radio, Frank Readick. (When the viewer closes his or her eyes and just listens to the DVD release of these early films, they get a close facsimile of what the lost 1930-31 Shadow radio broadcasts must have been like; none of those early Shadow-introduced radio broadcasts exist in any recorded form). Beginning with the second short, The House of Mystery, the series was produced in Hollywood without the voice of Readick as The Shadow; it was followed by The Circus Show-Up and three additional shorts the following year with other voice actors portraying The Shadow.
The Shadow Strikes (1937)The film The Shadow Strikes was released in 1937, starring Rod La Rocque in the title role. Lamont Cranston assumes the secret identity of "The Shadow" in order to thwart an attempted robbery at an attorney's office. Both The Shadow Strikes (1937) and its sequel, International Crime (1938), were released by Grand National Pictures.
International Crime (1938)La Rocque returned the following year in International Crime. In this version, reporter Lamont Cranston is an amateur criminologist and detective who uses the name of "The Shadow" as a radio gimmick. Thomas Jackson portrayed Police Commissioner Weston, and Astrid Allwyn was cast as Phoebe Lane, Cranston's assistant.
The Shadow (1940)The Shadow, a 15-chapter movie serial produced by Columbia Pictures and starring Victor Jory, premiered in theaters in 1940. The serial's villain, The Black Tiger, is a criminal mastermind who sabotages rail lines and factories across the United States. Lamont Cranston must become his shadowy alter ego in order to unmask the criminal and halt his fiendish crime spree. As The Shadow, Jory wears an all-black suit and cape, as well as a black bandana that helps conceal his facial features.
The Shadow Returns, etc. (1946)Low-budget motion picture studio Monogram Pictures produced a trio of quickie Shadow B-movie features in 1946 starring Kane Richmond: The Shadow Returns, Behind the Mask andThe Missing Lady. Richmond's Shadow wore all black, including a trench coat, a wide-brimmed fedora, and a full face-mask similar to the type worn by movie serial hero The Masked Marvel, instead of the character's signature black cape with red lining and red scarf.
Invisible Avenger (1958)Episodes of a television pilot shot in 1957 were edited into the 1958 theatrical feature Invisible Avenger, rereleased in 1962 as Bourbon Street Shadows.
The Shadow (1994)Poster for The ShadowMain article: The Shadow (1994 film)In 1994 the character was adapted once again into a feature film, The Shadow, starring Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston, alongside Penelope Ann Miller asMargo Lane. As the film opens, Cranston has become the evil and corrupt Ying-Ko (literally "Eagle's Beak"), a brutal warlord and opium smuggler in early 1930s Mongolia. Ying Ko is kidnapped by agents of the mysterious tulku, who then begins to reform the warlord using the psychic power of his evolved mind to restore Cranston's humanity. The tulku also teaches him the ability to "cloud men's minds" using psychic power in order to fight evil in the world. Cranston eventually returns to his native New York City and takes up the guise of the mysterious crime fighter "The Shadow," in payment to humanity for his past evil misdeeds: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows..."
His nemesis in the film is adapted from the pulp series' long-running Asian villain (and for the film, a fellow telepath), the evil Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last descendant of Genghis Khan. He seeks to finish his ancestors's legacy of conquering the world by first destroying New York City, using a newly developed atomic bomb, in a show of his power. Khan nearly succeeds in this, but he is thwarted by The Shadow in a final psychic duel of death: Cranston, as The Shadow, imposes his will on, and defeats, Khan during a psychokinetically enhanced battle in a mirrored room, which has exploded into thousands of flying mirror shards. Focusing his mind's psychokinetic power, The Shadow flips a flying piece of jagged mirror in mid-air and then hurls it directly at a spot on Khan's forehead; this does not kill him, it only renders him unconscious. To save both the warlord and the world, The Shadow secretly arranges with one of his agents, an administrative doctor at an unidentified New York asylum for the criminally insane, to have Khan locked away permanently in a padded cell; Khan's badly-injured frontal lobe, which controlled his psychic powers, had been surgically removed, defusing—perhaps permanently—the threat he had once posed to humanity...and The Shadow.
The film combines elements from The Shadow pulp novels and comic books with the aforementioned ability to cloud minds described only on the radio show. In the film Alec Baldwin, as The Shadow, wears a red-lined black cloak and a long red scarf that covers his mouth and chin; he also wears a black, double-breasted trench coat and a wide-brimmed, black slouch hat; as in the pulp novels, he is armed with a pair of Browning .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols that for the film have longer barrels, are nickel-plated, and have ivory handles. The film also displays a first: Cranston's ability to conjure a false face whenever he is in his guise as The Shadow, in keeping with his physical portrayal in the pulps and the comics.
Sam Raimi Shadow feature filmOn December 11, 2006, the website SuperHero Hype reported that director Sam Raimi and Michael Uslan would co-produce a new Shadow film for Columbia Pictures.
On October 16, 2007, Raimi stated, "I don't have any news on The Shadow at this time, except that the company that I have with Josh Donen, my producing partner, we've got the rights toThe Shadow. I love the character very much and we're trying to work on a story that'll do justice to the character."
On August 23, 2012, the website ShadowFan reported that during a Q&A session at San Diego's 2012 Comic-Con, director Sam Raimi, when asked about the status of his Shadow film project, stated they had not been able to develop a good script and the film would not be produced as planned.
TV seriesTwo attempts were made to make a television series based on the character. The first, in 1954, was called The Shadow, and starred Tom Helmore as Lamont Cranston.
The second attempt, in 1958, was called The Invisible Avenger, which compiled the first two unaired episodes and was released theatrically instead. This film was later re-released in 1962 as Bourbon Street Shadows, with additional footage. Starring Richard Derr as The Shadow, The Invisible Avenger centers upon Lamont Cranston investigating the murder of a New Orleans bandleader. The film is notable as the second directorial effort of James Wong Howe (one of the two episodes only).
Influence on superheroes & other comicsWhen Bob Kane and Bill Finger first conceived of the "Bat-Man," Finger suggested they pattern the character after pulp mystery men such as The Shadow. Finger then used "Partners of Peril"—a Shadow pulp written by Theodore Tinsley—as the basis for Batman's debut story, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." Finger later publicly acknowledged that "my first Batman script was a take-off on a Shadow story" and that "Batman was originally written in the style of the pulps." This influence was further evident with Batman showing little remorse over killing or maiming criminals and not being above using firearms. Decades later, noted comic book writer Dennis O'Neil would have Batman and The Shadow meet inBatman #253 (November 1973) and Batman #259 (December 1974) to solve crimes. In the former, Batman acknowledged that The Shadow was his biggest influence.
Additionally, characters such as Batman resemble Lamont Cranston's alter ego.
The Shadow is also mentioned by science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer as being a member of his widespread and hero-filled Wold-Newton family.
Welles' sinister laughter and Shadow opening dialog line is parodied in the January, 1946 Heckle & Jeckle debut cartoon, The Talking Magpies.
Alan Moore has credited The Shadow as one of the key influences for the creation of V, the title character in his DC Comics miniseries V for Vendetta, that later became a Warner Bros. feature film released in 2006.
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"The Eighth Ring of Hell"
A To Hell and Back Story
by John Pirillo
Swimmer, also known as Ryan Stone to his friends, and Squad Commander the Triple A squad, hunched down behind the outcropping off North 41 coming out of Vegas. It was a little traveled road, and for good reason. There was hell to pay there during the summer, because the nearest gas station was a hundred miles away, which had no water unless you bottled it in and no food unless you liked eating Little Debbie's, the only food the station carried, or probably could afford.
Swimmer had stumbled upon the station in a delirium. He had just escaped a very, very dark place, but without his support. They had fallen back to cover his escape, so he could bring the big guns back with him. It wasn't going to happen. He was stunned, dehydrated and beaten.
Oh, and by the way, there are regions...not really on our world...we call them rings...where hell resides. Each hell caters to the beliefs of those who have imagined them into existence. You see, the problem with human beings is that their thoughts are so powerful, that when they fear something enough, they actually create it at some point, in some place or another. Thus Hell. And more than one version. All nasty places, all places a smart person would rather have no part of. Not that only dumb people go to hell, they're actually more filed up with smart people than the other way around, because smart people think they can get away with anything. But they're wrong. No one gets away with anything. Ever. Not in the long run, sometimes not even in the short.
Anyway, he had survived. They had survived. The owner of the station turned out to be a little known angel...literally...named Michael, who looked after those doing the work his kind carried on for the Big One upstairs.
He had awoken on a crusty counter, devoid of anything but Little Debbie's, chocolate doughnuts. Michael was gently dabbing his mouth with a swab of cloth from bottled water he had sprung into, and poured liberally over Swimmer's body.
"Sorry. It's the best I can do. Angels thrive on Little Debbie's."
"So I hear." I told him, trying to laugh, but my face was too dried up and cracked. It hurt like hell from the sunburn I had gotten. Never march three hundred miles in the hot deserts of Vegas. It's begging to be hurting.
"Your men are safe." Michael told him with a gentle smile.
"They're safe too, but one of them will need a few weeks to recover her pride."
I gave him an odd look, but he said nothing else.
"What did you say your name was?"
I pointed upwards slowly.
"The Big One?"
He shook his head. "None of us are any bigger than the other. It's a humble thing, you know."
"Yeah." I agreed, not really knowing what to believe.
I had just escaped the Eighth Ring of Hell and had stumbled into a gas station run by an angel, whose name was Michael, and sold only gas and Little Debbie's.
"You'll be better in the morning when they find you." He told me.
"Find me? I'm already found."
He just gave me that odd smile and said no more.
I managed to get my feet under me, and dropped to the concrete flooring. Big mistake. I collapsed like a rag doll. He rushed around, though I don't remember the sound of any footsteps, even though he was wearing thick boots. He came to me and lifted me as easily as if I were no more than a bag of feathers and set me on the counter again.
"I don't want to mess up..."
He grinned. "Too late. Here."
He gave me another Little Debbie. Damn! If it didn't actually boost me as soon as I bit into it. My mind became sharp as a needle.
It had been 0800 hours. Our team had been chasing a cluster Demon. It's a rare one, but very dangerous, because it can multiply itself, and believe me, when I say multiply, I don't just mean to ten. We had followed it all the way from Vegas across Red Rock Canyon, over the Vegas Valley desert and heading towards Mohave. It was fast. We were faster. Equipped with sand sails, we used the winds, which usually gusted quite a bit through there, to propel us on our sand slays at over sixty miles an hour. The cluster demon could make just barely fifty.
We corned him in Baker, before he could reach the city proper and diverted him back towards Vegas again, thus avoiding him killing everyone in Baker, and making sure we could battle him on grounds where we held the advantage. Were we stupid!
He reached the 41 and took off like a bat of hell. We swept after him, barely able to keep him in view until he cut off the narrow paved road and began jumping in enormous leaps up a raw hillside, where aged sandstone boulders and granite spikes rose threateningly in the air.
"Blue and Red teams to the left. Green and Yellow right." I ordered and we split up.
My team caught up to him just as he triggered the Doorway. We called them doorways, because they sort of looked like them. But bigger, much bigger. Demons don't do anything in miniature. Everything's big and grandiose. This is why you don't want one rampaging in a city or town. They won't just take one soul, but all of them they can.
We plunged through the doorway, not even seconds after the cluster demon, but still too slow. He had already managed to lunge ahead along a narrow path that ran around steep black mountains next to a liquid fire ocean that slithered and sloshed at its base, casting very hot and bright flares of light upwards, so that any clothing it touched seared and threatened to catch fire.
I turned to Digger, my right hand man. "Anything?"
He shook his head. "This place is new."
Shaker, who was vibrating a mile a minute, shook his head, which was quite an event to see, as his whole body was already shaking so bad it hurt to watch. "This place is a different vibration from all seven hells, Swimmer."
I shook my head, discouraged. Another hell. God! How many were there?
Almost as if answering my question." Digger shot back with. "I told you there were probably more."
I gave him a stern look. He shrugged.
I sighed, and then we put on a burst of speed, limbering our Flingers for the upcoming battle.
We reached a hard turn that began to climb steeply, and widening as it did so. We finally crested the top, our bodies straining from the effort, sweat stains over every inch of our uniforms. The cluster demon stood on the top of the black mountain, its ravenous purple eyes fixed on us. It began to cluster.
"We're so..." Digger said.
"Screwed." Shaker finished.
"Not if I can help it." I told them, and began firing my Flinger. The whole time I held my trigger finger down, I thought of my daughter, and what would happen to her if I didn't get back home. I had lost her once. I would never do that again. "Never." I swore as I ran out of ammo and the last of the demons launched itself at me, reaching out with lobster claws to skewer my throat. Instead, I skewered it with my regulation knife.
It fell to my feet and I scrunched its head into mush, then looked up just as one of the cluster demons, that had not died put on a burst of clusters. I grabbed over my shoulder and reached for my grenade launcher. They were miniature atomic bombs, clean ones, that only blew up and killed things, didn't leave any radiation traces behind.
The cluster demon's forms continued to multiply. I blew up first one, then the other, but there were always ten more than the last time I fired. Digger and Shaker joined in and we began to catch up. My teams converged on our position and we laid down a blanket of highly volatile short range missiles that rearranged the shape of the mountain top. When the dust settled, all that was left was blood and guts. Demon blood and guts, which is just totally disgusting. Imagine living inside a slaughter house, with all the sewage of the world dumped in there for flavor, and you have just a glimmer of how awful their smell was.
We looked at the remains and the holes in the mountain top, and then made a short camp. I looked at our teams. "Okay. This place is new. Let's not wait to find out how new. Got me?"
"Yo!" They all answered.
"I signaled them with my right hand and we all hustled down the mountain, seeking the doorway we had entered through. Usually the only way out of hell was the same way in, but sometimes the devils changed things, laid traps. They were quite crafty, if somewhat ambitious. I finally was able to take in more of the details on the return hike.
The black rock we had been traveling over was not rock at all, but condensed bones of humans. Every now and then a piece of the rock would move, revealing a hand, or a mouth, or a set of eyes. All of them reaching towards us, pleading for help.
It broke my heart, but I knew we couldn't save them. Anyone down here, up here, wherever in the hell this place was...they were out of our ability to make a difference. All we could do was hope to stop more from being trapped.
We reached the doorway. It was open.
I had been sweating the possibility of it being closed, but it appeared to be just a fear, nothing more. But as soon as we approached the doorway, a burst of demons broke forth through the doorway, and shook their way free of the black rocky ground about us.
In moments we were fighting for our lives.
That was when my good people had practically shoved me through the doorway. They could hold their own, but no way could they all make it through without half of them biting it.
"Penny for your thoughts." Michael told me.
I looked up from the counter at him; he had another Little Debbie held out for me.
"This will be the last one."
I nodded and reached for it. I took it and dragged it towards my mouth to take a bite. I bit.
Then I felt a hand slap my face really, really hard.
I blinked my eyes and Mustard was squatted next to me, sucking on her hand, which I had just bitten. "What were you thinking?" She bit out to me, her eyes bloody red from anger and sun stare.
"Always thought you tasted better than you looked." I quipped.
She reached a hand up to slap me again.
Digger caught it.
"Welcome back, Commander."
Everyone gathered around me and as I rose, I could see how weary and beaten all of them were.
"Where's..." I started to say as I realized a very important member of our teams was missing.
"She's back a mile, nursing her pride." Laughed Mustard. "She got nipped in the.....uh, place where the sun don't shine."
Everyone broke into laughter. I did too.
I turned around, instinctively knowing the direction to go, because I had already spotted the direction of their footprints. I was going to have to scald them about leaving tracks for the demons to follow, but right then I was just happy to see everyone alive.
Now to get back home and give that daughter of mine a hug and kiss. My heart began to ache at that thought and worry. Because she had already been in jeopardy once by the demons. I had sworn it would never happen again. And it wouldn't. Not as long as I was alive and my Triple Kick Ass Angels.
"Yo!" They joined in when I ordered them to double time behind me.
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