When DC acquired the licence for the Shadow in 1972 they gave the book to Denny O’Neil to write. But who could they get to draw it? Initially Alex Toth was approached, but, though he was keen and produced a pitch, ultimately things didn’t work out. Jim Steranko lobbied for it, but his wish to produce the book as a complete package ruled him out of the running. Next Bernie Wrightson took a stab, intending to draw both the Shadow and Swamp Thing at the same time. While one can’t fault his enthusiam, it ought to be fairly clear that such a plan was never likely to work out satisfactorily — and he passed. With O’Neil getting desperate young Mike Kaluta, veteran of several short back-ups and mystery tales, offered his services, even though he’d not drawn a full-length book at that point. He got the gig, and the rest is history: five of the finest comics ever produced.

However, before passing, Wrightson drew this sample page to showcase his approach to the character. Although it couldn’t be used for the book itself, it ran as a house ad to announce the forthcoming arrival of the pulp character at DC. Would a Wrightson-drawn Shadow have been even better than the Kaluta one? I dunno, but it’s interesting that we at least got a glimpse of what might’ve been.

©2010 Conde Nast/DC Comics