"Like An Good Nerd My Age, I Like The Shadow" – Phil Hester Talks The Shadow Special 2014

ShadowSpecial2014CovHesterThis was meant to run last night but the Frank Cho Jungle Girl announcement bumped it to today. This is the other half of the writer to writer interview with Steve Seeley of Evil Ernie #3 asking questions of Phil Hester about The Shadow Special 2014 which are both on sale now.

Steve Seeley: Sadly, my Shadow knowledge is pretty weak, but I know many people, including my fiancé, who listened to the radio show religiously on tape as a child. Were you that child? Were you Jenny? Kidding. But in all seriousness, have you always been a Shadow fan? 

Phil Hester: Yes. You know, I actually had a vinyl record of Old Time Radio adventures when I was a kid and The Shadow was definitely on there, and I've become an OTR nerd later in life, but I have to say my primary interest in The Shadow came from two sources: First, Steranko's History of Comics, specifically the chapter on pulp heroes, and then DC's 1970s comics adaptation. I think most comics readers came for the Kaluta stuff, and while I enjoyed that, I preferred the Frank Robbins fill-ins. They were a bit before my time, but I tracked them all down as soon as I had my own money in the '80s. Frank Robbins' version of The Shadow looked like he really was this whirling dervish of death, even though DC went to great pains to show The Shadow's more merciful side in that run. Anyway, yes, like any good nerd my age, I like The Shadow. I even like the Baldwin flick.

SS: Similarly themed, how hard was it for you to get Lamont's voice? Do you ever find yourself hearing fanboys (ahem, fanMEN) saying stuff like, "He'd never say that!"? Or do you write hearing Orson Welles' voice?

PH: No, I found him pretty easy to slide into. He's not tortured, he's not introspective, he never panics, he always has a plan. It would be easy to write him as dour and clinical, but there's a side of him that knows how ridiculously theatric it is to put on that cloak and slouch hat. I tried to hint at that dry sense of humor in a few scenes.

SS: There's an incredible beautifully cinematic fight sequence between Eisenmann and The Shadow towards the end. How hard was that to "write"? I use quotes because there isn't much dialogue, but the flow is just so fluid.

PH: Well, I break down complex action scenes in thumbnail sketches for my own sake, even when I don't pass them on to the artist. I have to see how it's going to work on paper before I can write it. Thankfully Ivan Rodriguez picked up on those same visual cues and ran with them, hence the cool punch up.

SS: Due to the era, you deal with some racial tension within the story. Obviously our country is dealing with "some stuff", so was there any intent to make that current or topical?

PH: I actually wrote all of this before Ferguson and Tamir Rice and everything else. I know I wanted to have The Shadow fight a kind of proto-Nazi/Henry Ford style industrialist, and racism was so embedded in what people took to be common sense back then that a villain might take what they thought to be a "scientific" approach to fomenting the destruction of the US of A by applying pressure to those racial divides. But we, and The Shadow, showed him! Also, Jericho Druke is awesome. One of my favorite things in history is Jesse Owens going to the Berlin Olympics and shoving that master race garbage right down Hitler's throat, so having Druke prove to be critical to beating this Nazi industrialist was irresistible.

For more on The Shadow Special 2014, click here.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.