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Pulp Power Author Neil McGinness Names The Best Shadow Stories For New Readers - Exclusive

The Shadow, created in 1931 by Walter B. Gibson, is one of the 20th century's most influential literary characters. You might not be familiar with Gibson's pulp novels about a wealthy playboy who secretly moonlights as a vigilante dressed in black and strikes fear into the hearts of criminals, but that description should definitely sound familiar to anyone who knows The Shadow's most famous copycat. Yep, Bob Kane and Bill Finger were specifically drawing inspiration from The Shadow when they created Batman, even going so far as to flat-out copy some of The Shadow's stories directly in the original "Batman" comics.

In his introduction to Neil McGinness' new art book, "Pulp Power: The Shadow, Doc Savage, and the Art of the Street & Smith Universe," "The Dark Knight Returns" author Frank Miller describes The Shadow as "slicker than the rest" of the early 1930s pulp heroes and the one whose stories hold up the best almost a century later. With hundreds of novels, however, new readers might not know where to start with digging into the character's history. Looper spoke to McGinness about "Pulp Power" and asked for some recommendations of the best "The Shadow" books to start with.

Neil McGinness' favorite Shadow stories

McGinness recommends any of the "Shadow" books set in New York City as being worth reading. Two titles that he singles out as particular "classics" are "Partners of Peril" (written by Theodore Tinsley in 1936) and "The Black Falcon" (written by Walter B. Gibson in 1934). "Partners of Peril" has been noted as being a clear precursor to "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," the first Batman story published in "Detective Comics" #27 in 1939.

Another story McGinness recommends, to get a broader view of the scope that the "Shadow" series can cover, is "The Voodoo Master," written by Walter B. Gibson in 1936. "What's great about the stories," McGinness says, "is they can get into non-straightforward crime — 'shoot 'em ups' too. Stories like 'The Voodoo Master' will introduce the concepts of mind control, zombies, this sort of thing, so you can get that flavor."

"Pulp Power: The Shadow, Doc Savage, and the Art of the Street & Smith Universe" is now available in stores.