Join Date: Aug 2004
Re: Tim Boyle's The Phantom
Well excuse me Kent Allard, but I’m not mistaking. And for the record I don’t get my info from what Kane or anybody has said but from the fact I know Zorro extremely well and the similarities are clear. Actually the Shadow himself has clearly taken inspiration from Zorro as well.
About the interview you pointed to it was a very interesting read. I learned something new, like “ the other Clark who is the Man of Bronze and promoted as "Superman" in 1934 house ads” which was clearly taken to create the other Clark who became the Man of Steel.
But from off the bat (no pun intended) it’s easy to see the fellow giving the interview has a huge agenda with the Shadow and is a fan and is trying to somehow light his torch again and push him forward. Nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t ignore your own faults to talk about other people’s faults. Then in the end of the interview it came:
Greenberger: Do you think this will change people's perceptions of Batman's origins?
Tollin: Actually, my hope is that it alters people's perceptions of The Shadow.
GOTCHA! It was so obvious that’s what he was after. To promote the Shadow, to breath some new life into a long “forgotten” hero. It seems he is a publisher and is re-printing some Shadow stories?
Anyways, it’s fair enough as I said. I just wished he had not ignored what inspired the Shadow himself. He goes and on about how Batman stole from the Shadow and Doc Savage which is the other character he is re-printing along with the Shadow, but never touches on the things the Shadow has stolen from characters which came before him giving the impression the Shadow is original which couldn’t be more far from the truth. The Shadow borrows heavily from Zorro, Sherlock Holmes and other older characters. Funny how he goes on about how Stan Lee was influenced by Doc Savage and other characters and keeps ignoring what influenced the Shadow. Put the Shadow on a black horse and let’s see how many people won’t call him Zorro.
Not that the Shadow is a rip off from Zorro, oh no. But the influence is definitely there.
There are a lot to be touched upon on that article and a lot of half truths, generalizations and assumptions but bellow are the thing that caught my attention the most:
“he launched The Shadow Magazine and developed the characters for Doc Savage and the Avenger, basing elements of all three pulp superheroes on Richard Henry Savage's adventurous life..”
Excuse me but Doc Savage, Shadow and Avenger are not considered superheroes just like Zorro is not. And it bothered me that he kept on referring to the Shadow as a superhero throughout the interview and he only refers to him as pulp hero once. The Shadow is a pulp hero not a superhero. So much for somebody calling himself a comic historian.
Here’s some excerpts from the list of things he says Batman “lifted” from the Shadow:
“…gave Batman an autogiro, Bat-a-rangs like The Shadow's cable-outfitted "yellow boomerang," and a suction-cup device for scaling walls ... all Shadow gimmicks.”
“The Shadow's cable-outfitted "yellow boomerang,”
Yes, the boomerang may be but the use of a rope to swing above buildings and lift himself up etc as Batman uses the batarang with rope and or batrope and most recently the grapple gun is directly from Zorro using his bullwhip to swing around and between city roofs and over criminals heads and climb buildings. The use of a boomerang as a weapon can be argued that was inspired by Zorro’s bolas. A boomerang is a hunting weapon and so is bolas. Zorro’s hat is also weighted and he used to throw it like a Frisbee to harm bad guys.
“The Golden-Age Batman lifted The Shadow's suction cup climbing device,”
who lifted it from Zorro’s fox climbing claws? Who lift it from the Ninjas?
“Doc's utility belt (which Bill Finger acknowledged was the inspiration for Batman's). “
Zorro carried his bullwhip, sword, gun powder, pistol, dagger and other gadgets of the time in his belt. An utility belt of sorts? Hmmm.
“along with the friendship with the Gotham police commissioner.”
Well, Sgt. Pedro Gonzales is Zorro's enemy but he is Diego's friend.
Talking about friends, Diego’s “butler” Bernardo is clearly the inspiration for Alfred as Bernardo as Alfred helps, cares, keeps Zorro’s gear and goes on the field as Zorro’s spy just like Pennyworth.
“But the most lasting influence is to be found in Batman's talent for escaping deathtraps, “
Houdini was huge back then and although the interviewed does mention him, Zorro is also an escape artist.
Now my favorite:
“Also, Theodore Tinsley's first Shadow novel mentions "bat-like" and "bats" on seven occasions. This is most unusual for a Shadow novel. One really has to ask, did this novel actually inspire Batman's creation from the very start. I mean, it's a bit of a stretch to assume that Kane and Finger came up with the idea of Batman first, and that it was a complete coincidence that the story Finger chose to imitate was comparatively crawling with bats.”
Talk about fishing for more.
The bat inspiration is obviously from Da Vinci’s drawings and the 1926 movie The Bat. This is really hard to even start to argue against. You just need to look at Da Vinci’s bat wing drawings to see where the famous Batman scalloped motive came from and as for the dark, chilling, mysterious tone which the interviewed so strongly insists to have been taken from the Shadow, just watch the 1926 movie The Bat and you will see the mood came from there as well as the idea of a bat man. The Bat is a man dressed in a bat costume with the intent to scare his victims and he uses a flash light with a bat on it to announce his presence and acts from the shadows. Sounds familiar? The Shadow himself probably took the idea from the 1926 The Bat as well as the movie character dresses like the Shadow with a cloak (and a bat mask) and is mysterious, dark and scary. The only difference is The Bat is a thieve.
You see how you can pretty much trace it to a lot of sources?
It’s easy to say Batman is mostly Shadow when you ignore many of the traits Batman has in common with the Shadow are traits the Shadow stole from others himself.
The fact he ignored that kind of compromises his view and really shows his bias, spoiling an otherwise interesting read.
Zorro was pretty much the first hero to use a double identity and in a way set the pace for all non-super powered heroes to come. Batman is clearly one of the characters who have taken more from Zorro apart from almost straight rip-offs like the Lone Ranger or El Coyote. The list of similarities goes on and on.
Although Batman doesn’t leave his mark he has used something similar to a flashlight with a bat on it like a mini bat signal to frighten criminals. Zorro leaves a Z mark and his Z mark can probably be credited as being the inspiration for the superhero symbol-logo.
Batman: millionaire playboy by day, cowl masked dark crime fighter by night.
Zorro: millionaire playboy by day, cowl masked dark crime fighter by night.
Batman HQ is under his mansion.
Zorro’s HQ is under his mansion.
Batman is an agile athlete and acrobat, skilled fighter, calculating and precise tactician and multi-skilled person.
Zorro is an agile athlete and acrobat, skilled fighter, calculating and precise tactician , swordsman, marksman and multi-skilled person.
Batman dresses in a black cape and cowl.
Zorro dresses in a black cape, cowl and hat.
Batman rides a black car which speeds out from an underground hiding place under his mansion.
Zorro rides a black horse which speeds out from an underground hiding place under his mansion.
Batman has an allied butler.
Zorro has an allied butler.
Batman like a “bat” uses the shadows to his advantage to hunt at night.
Zorro like a fox uses the shadows to his advantage to hunt at night.
Batman has the authorities after him even though he is a do gooder.
Zorro has the authorities after him even though he is a do gooder.
Batman uses his smarts to beat his opponents.
Zorro uses his smarts to beat his opponents.
Zorro uses his cape “as a blind, a trip-mat--and when used effectively--a disarming tool.”
Now how many of these traits the shadow has in common with Batman and Zorro? Not many and if he has, he has taken it from Zorro.(?)
I could go on and on but not much point. When I look at Batman I see more Zorro than Shadow. Of course Batman has taken from the Shadow too, no doubt. But to say the Shadow was the main source is a bit short sighted. Concept wise Batman is all Zorro. Story wise and plot wise Batman may have taken more from the Shadow because the Shadow had a more contemporary plot than Zorro who is in the 19th century, but Batman is first and foremost an updated Zorro. But Batman has several other influences as well let’s not forget that.
Now lets get this back on track. This is a Phantom thread. Let’s get back to my favorite character, The Ghost Who Walks. If you would like to elaborate more on your point about Batman being mostly Shadow inspired perhaps it would be better to start another thread although I'm kind of done with it. In my opinion one needs just to look at Batman and then look a hatless Zorro and the Shadow to tell you who inspired who.
Last edited by Ultradude; 01-21-2009 at 10:25 AM.