Monday, June 28, 2010

Groove's Faves: "Freak Show Murders" by O'Neil and Kaluta

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Let's start our workweek off right with a classic Denny O'Neil/Mike Kaluta Shadow spectacular, "Freak Show Murders" from The Shadow #2 (September 1973). O'Neil and Kaluta knocked this creepy tale outta the park, man! Circus sideshow freaks, murder, mystery, action, suspense, and of course, the coolest hero to ever Know What Lurks In the Hearts of Men. 'Tis the stuff of groovy comics, baby, and here it is all for you!


  1. Ah, the story which made me a Kaluta fan and Shadow fan, all in one fell swoop, when I read it back in 1973 at age 13!

    For the total 1973 David Allen Jones reading experience, play the second Electric Light Orchestra album as you read. :-)

  2. I had this issue once upon a time. Bought it as a back issue. Fantastic.

    If only they'd tried a TV series back in the 70's......

  3. WOW! Time flies huh? I was 11 going on 12 when this came out. MW Kaluta's beautiful artwork blew me away! I had never heard of the Shadow either. Until I bought #1, my aunt told me he had been a 30's/40's pulp hero & radio star.

    Kaluta's beautiful art always reminded me. Of a cross between Bernie Wrightson & Bill Everett. Maybe with a little Mike Ploog thrown in as well. Man what happened to comic books actually have great artists like the ones from the 40's to 70's!? There's very few today who can draw! Beside's maybe your 3-5 stars & another 10 who have talent. But nothing like the waves of talent. We got in the 60's & 70's!Why did Kaluta leave DC/ The Shadow abruptly? Was it over money?

    I wish he had stayed on the Shadow & did The Avenger & Doc Savage as well.

  4. Mike, as I understand it it was mostly because of deadlines. Kaluta's detailed style just didn't lend itself well to turning out a 20-something page monthly or bi-monthly book. If you look at the next few issues, #3 was inked (and, I suspect, drawn here and there) by Berni Wrightson (the original choice to do this book, before Swamp Thing was greenlighted); #4 had art assists from Steve Hickman (and, I think but I'm not sure) and Wrightson again; #5 was drawn by Frank Robbins, and Kaluta returned for one final issue, #6's superlative "Night of the Ninja" before seeing the writing on the wall and leaving the book. In fact, through the rest of the 70's he did more covers (among which were the final three issues of this very Shadow series) and splash page illustrations than anything, which suited his pace better at that time.

    Like you, I wish he could have given us more, but I'm pretty happy with what we got. And in the process, I discovered that I liked Frank Robbins quite a lot, too.

  5. Hi Johnny B.
    Ya, I should have mentioned the dead line thing as well. just like Dave Cockrum on the bi-monthly New X-Men back in 75 as well. I was never a big Frank Robbins fan. But I do see why fans liked his art, he had his own unique style. Too bad DC didn't do Doc Savage back then also. Having MW Kaluta do the covers & pin ups.

    Great hearing from a fellow fan. By chance did you ever read Gladiator by Philip Wylie? It was published in 1930. It was adapted by Roy Thomas & Tony Dezuniga in Marvel Preview#9 MAN-God. I did a small article on it here.

  6. Thanks for the cool comments, fellas--and a special thanks to Johnny B. for adding some awesome info! Oh, and double props for mentioning ELO! Ole, ELO!



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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!