JEFF PARKER: So this is a big deal, it’s you and The Shadow. When you did The Shadow at DC I was in college and it was a huge damn deal for me, so this is exciting. I can’t think of a lot of books where one of the most notable writer/artists returned for another shot, Al Williamson working on Flash Gordon again leaps to mind. Anyway, this isn’t even a question Howard, I just want to make clear this is the kind of project not to miss. I do wonder what it’s like being you and getting into the mindset to revisit the prime pulp hero.
HOWARD CHAYKIN: As I've indicated elsewhere and previously, I may possess a sensibility that reads pulpish, but I'm not an enthusiast for the original material. I was wooed away from SF to crime fiction in the early 1970s by Archie Goodwin, who shoved Hammett, Chandler, Stout, and Westlake/Stark down my throat. Perhaps if he'd done this with THE SHADOW and the rest of the crime fighter pulps, I may be singing a different tune.
All that said, I don't regard this detachment as a liability, but rather an asset. I find too much love of anything in this regard leads one to slavish commitment to what is often throwaway crap. My attitude towards this material--and frankly to most licensed, branded characters of the past century--gives me what I hope is perceived as a fresh view and take on what can be awfully tired and musty horseshit.
JP: The wisdom is usually that you either want to tell the character’s first story or their last, and it looks like you’ve gone for the last one here. It’s set in 1950- that feels right for the shifting of eras.
HC: Again, to narcissistically quote myself--or at least to paraphrase--the reason THE SHADOW is so closely defined as a 30s /40s franchise is that it went belly up in 1949. Imagine if the same thing had happened to Superman or Batman, say, in 1960, or if Jack and Stan's Marvel stuff had reached its end in 1980. Then those franchises would be no less a nostalgia item than the Shadow, Doc Savage and the other pulp heroes.
JP: If you could bring back to life a favorite illustrator or two to do some covers (and upon being restored to life from nothingness they said ‘sure, I’ll draw a piece for this’) who would you pick?
HC: Not even a moment's hesitation here. Herbert Paus. Look him up, or better yet, ask Dave Johnson next time you see him anywhere, and tell him Chaykin sent you.
JP: Why does everybody get so hung up on The Shadow’s nose? You don’t!
HC: No s**t. When I saw the Russell Mulcahy movie, it lost me the minute they did the nasal transformation.
It's just a nose, for f**k's sake.
Check out THE SHADOW: MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW from Dynamite. Issue one is available at your LCS! And make sure to check out an extended preview of issue #1 here!