Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?"

On Dec. 11th, Columbia Pictures announced that it will be making a new film featuring the most legendary pulp hero of all, the Shadow. The film will be produced by Sam Raimi and directed by Siavash Farahani, who also wrote the script. If the franchise takes off, word is that a Doc Savage film may not be far behind. This coincides with the recent re-printing, after decades of inactivity, of the original Street and Smith Shadow and Doc Savage pulp magazines:


I'll admit this all seems like good news for pulp fiction fans (unless the new Shadow movie is as flawed as the one released in 1994), but I feel more than apprehensive. Conde Nast currently retains the rights to all of the Street and Smith pulps and is a poster child for everything that is wrong with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For years, Conde Nast refused to reprint any old pulps but has always been exceedingly diligent and eager to take legal action against anyone who attempted to make this material available on the Web. The most loathsome example of this is their recent legal dismantling of David Moynihan's Blackmask Online archive of etexts. It is appalling that such an irresponsible administration of copyright should be legally sanctioned, and it raises the question--If the original authors were only paid pennies per word by a publisher that no longer even exists, whose rights are actually being protected, here? I would prefer to avoid patronizing Conde Nast.

For Shadow fans, I would highly recommend the Shadow in Review site, which is still brilliant, despite having been gutted by a Conde Nast injunction. Another great site is The Shadow: Master of Darkness, and for those who prefer the radio serials, please visit The Old Time Radio Network.