CLASSIC EDITION AMONG SCORES OF RARITIES BEING OFFERED AT AUCTION DEDICATED TO INFLUENTIAL FICTION MAGAZINES
There’s no doubt that the Shadow is among the most influential characters in detective and superhero fiction, originally created as the mysterious narrator of a radio program in 1930. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” fans heard as each show began. “The Shadow knows!”
The character soon was given his own pulp magazine, with the first issue hitting newsstands in 1931. It was an instant hit, with the series running for 325 issues over 18 years. Batman co-creator Bill Finger later acknowledged that his first Batman script was a takeoff on a Shadow story.
Over the decades, the Shadow spawned television shows, movies and comic books. The caped crimefighter would also inspire other pop-culture favorites: Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Disney’s Darkwing Duck, and the crime-fighting hero Silver Shroud in the Fallout 4 videogame.
A copy of The Shadow #1 is being offered in Heritage’s upcoming rare pulps auction. “It is easily the nicest example offered at auction by anyone,” says Heritage Auctions pulp specialist Rick Akers. “The only other copy auctioned by Heritage was a brittle fair-condition copy in 2010. This issue in this condition is among the rarest among pulp collectibles.”
This debut issue features the Chinatown murder mystery “The Living Shadow” by writer Walter B. Gibson. The Shadow character himself became a cover regular by the March 1932 issue.
Numerous other pulp rarities from noted collector Richard Falco are featured in the auction, including the complete run of Doc Savage, from 1933’s first issue.
Also offered are 19 Weird Tales file copies from the collection of illustrator and painter Margaret Brundage (1900-1976), who created most of the Weird Tales covers between 1933 and 1938. “These copies are not only among the finest copies I have ever seen,” Akers says, “but they belonged to one of the hobby’s most important artists.”
The auction is the second Heritage event exclusively dedicated to pulp rarities, Akers says. The category has shown remarkable growth in the past year. “The pulp market,” Akers says, “offers collectors a great combination of scarcity, literary interest and artistic merit.”
This article appears in the Spring 2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine.