Kevin B Madison
Day 106 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to ink and recolour my wolfman sketch. #yearofdrawing #wolfman

Day 106 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to ink and recolour my wolfman sketch. #yearofdrawing #wolfman

Day 105 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Beginning to ink my wolfman sketch. #yearofdrawing #wolfman

Day 105 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Beginning to ink my wolfman sketch. #yearofdrawing #wolfman

Day 104 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Wolfman sketch for my Drink and Draw group. #yearofdrawing #wolfman #drinkanddraw #calgary

Day 104 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Wolfman sketch for my Drink and Draw group. #yearofdrawing #wolfman #drinkanddraw #calgary

Day 103 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Done with my John Carter piece for now. #yearofdrawing #johncarter #mars

Day 103 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Done with my John Carter piece for now. #yearofdrawing #johncarter #mars

Day 102 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to tighten up pencils on page four of Devil’s Debt. #yearofdrawing #grendel #devilsdebt

Day 102 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to tighten up pencils on page four of Devil’s Debt. #yearofdrawing #grendel #devilsdebt

Day 101 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Tightening up the pencils on page four of Devil’s Debt. #yearofdrawing #grendel #devilsdebt

Day 101 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Tightening up the pencils on page four of Devil’s Debt. #yearofdrawing #grendel #devilsdebt

A Timeless Shadow

Howdy All and Happy Friday!

Last week, I made a pitch for a timeless take on the Man of Bronze, Doc Savage, that ran a bit longer than I had intended (actually, twice as long as I meant it to be).  

This week, I will be taking a pass at the Shadow, though instead of presenting this as a summary of the “pilot” issue/episode, as I did last week, I will be presenting my pitch in broader strokes. 

However, as with last week, before turning to the pitch, it may be best to review what the essential elements of the Shadow are. 

The Essential Shadow

Three weeks ago, I described the essential nature of the Shadow as a violent, mysterious vigilante with a dark past, who uses exotic mental powers learned in the remote areas of the world, a wealth of alternate identities, and a network of reliable agents to wage a war on crime.

In addition, I speculated that some of the Shadow’s visual elements, particularly his dark coat, wide-brimmed hat, girasol ring and red scarf, may have become so intrinsically tied to the character that they have become intrinsic elements. 

I was skeptical of this, and suggested that this may be one reason why the Shadow always seems like a dated character.  However, after trying a few redesigns of the character, I am no longer certain that you can just rework that design without losing the elements that make the character recognizable as the Shadow (which may be why those elements have never been changed…apart from that time Howard Chaykin put the Shadow’s head on a robot body).

That gives us a starting point to work from in assessing my pitch, so let’s get to it.

A Shadowy Logline

The “elevator pitch” for this series is as follows:

A vigilante with supernatural powers fights crime in dangerous and weird stories that are equal parts crime and supernatural thriller.  Imagine a series that  is equal parts the BBC’s Sherlock, the CW’s Arrow and the darkest episodes of the X-Files.

The Series Set-Up:

This take on the Shadow adopts the approach of the pulps, and our hero is actually a former American soldier named Kent Allard, who has adopted the identity of a New York-based socialite named Lamont Cranston (the heir to an industrial fortune). 

He is joined in his adventures by another socialite named Margo Lane, who knew the real Cranston, but, for her own reasons, has decided to ignore the fact that the Cranston who returned from the war (the real Cranston also served in the Afghan War) is not the one who left and help Allard in his war on crime.

Allard, as the Shadow, establishes a web of other contacts, which allows him to have eyes and ears seemingly everywhere (both in the real world and online). 

The Shadow has a variety of supernatural powers (including a form of hypnotism, an ability to change his facial features, and the power to “cloud mens’ minds” in order to remain hidden from them), which he uses to investigate and thwart the plots of a rotating cast of mundane and supernatural criminals.  

He also wields a pair of silver .45 magnums and terrifies his enemies with his unearthly, sinister laugh (which sometimes comes in person and others, comes suddenly through on their phones, televisions, and computers).

We slowly learn in the course of the series that the real Cranston and Allard had served together in the Afghan War, where they had set up an opium smuggling ring.  The two eventually faked their deaths so as to avoid their military commitments, and continued to build their drug empire in the years that followed, travelling further and further East.

Eventually, the two ended up making enough enemies in Asia that they were attacked in their fortress home by ninja-like assassins who killed their entire entourage, as well as Cranston, and left Allard near death. 

Allard, however, was saved from death by the Yogis of Shambhala; the monastic leaders of a hidden city near Tibet.  The Yogis embraced the approach of fighting fire with fire, believing that only an evil man could know “what evil lurks in the hearts of men.”  To that end, they rehabilitated and converted Allard into a living weapon, a Shadow, to be used against “evil,” teaching him their secrets, and eventually permitted him to return to America where he began his war on “evil.”

The Look of the Shadow:

In place of the classic Shadow look of the wide-brimmed hat, flowing scarf, and black inverness coat, this series will adopt a more flexible approach, where the only consistent features of his “costume” will be a crimson bandana, black clothing, and his silver .45s.  This will permit the Shadow to wear a wide variety of everyday clothing that is appropriate to the occasion. 

For instance, if the Shadow appears at an office tower or formal gala, he could wear a dark suit and tie:

In the alternative, if he was appearing at a protest, maybe something younger would be appropriate:

This minimalistic approach to a costume would also make it easy to explain how the Shadow could seemingly appear anywhere (all he needs is somewhere big enough to hide a pair of guns and a bandana) and it would also make for a pretty cool variety of potential costumes (the Shadow in a tuxedo, the Shadow in a tactical suit, the Shadow in t-shirt and khakis, etc…). 

I am not fully convinced that these visual changes keep this character recognizable as the Shadow, but it is as good a compromise as I could come up with.

The Classic Made Timeless?

And so, that, brings me to the end of my series pitch for a contemporary take on the Shadow.  I think that this approach would make for a fun ongoing series that keeps all the essential elements of the classic character, but updates him for to a contemporary setting.  In addition, I think it would make for a lot of interesting variety in the Shadow’s costuming.

Next week, I will turning my attention to another Pulp hero and provide a contemporary take on the Avenger.

Until then, I have some drawing to do.

Kevin B. Madison

#yearofdrawing #comics #comicbook #comicstrip #pulps #pulp #docsavage #theshadow #theavenger

Day 100 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Assorted sketches of the Shadow to warm up for tonight’s blog entry. #yearofdrawing #shadow #theshadow

Day 100 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Assorted sketches of the Shadow to warm up for tonight’s blog entry. #yearofdrawing #shadow #theshadow

Day 99 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Strip about my childhood in Winnipeg. Well, how I choose to remember it. #yearofdrawing #starwars #hoth #tauntaun #empirestrikesback #winnipeg #winnipegwinter #winter #hansolo

Day 99 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Strip about my childhood in Winnipeg. Well, how I choose to remember it. #yearofdrawing #starwars #hoth #tauntaun #empirestrikesback #winnipeg #winnipegwinter #winter #hansolo

Day 98 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to work on my John Carter piece. #yearofdrawing #johncarter

Day 98 of a Year of Drawing 2014. Work in Progress: Continuing to work on my John Carter piece. #yearofdrawing #johncarter