Tower of Shadows

Tower of Shadows is a horror/fantasy anthology comic book published by American company Marvel Comics under this and a subsequent name from 1969 to 1975. It featured work by writer-artists Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Johnny Craig, and Wally Wood, writer-editor Stan Lee, and artists John Buscema, Gene Colan, Tom Sutton, Barry Windsor-Smith (as Barry Smith), and Bernie Wrightson.

The stories were generally hosted by Digger, a gravedigger; Headstone P. Gravely, in undertaker garb; or one of the artists or writers.

It is unrelated to the novel The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling.

After the ninth issue, the title changed to Creatures on the Loose, publishing a mixture of sword and sorcery features, horror/fantasy reprints, and the science-fiction werewolf feature "Man-Wolf."

Tower of Shadows
Tower of Shadows #1 (Sept. 1969).
Cover art by John Romita, Sr.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
Publication date1969–75
Creative team
Written byRoy Thomas, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Johnny Craig, Wally Wood,
Artist(s)Neal Adams, John Buscema, Gene Colan, Johnny Craig, Jim Steranko, Tom Sutton, Barry Windsor-Smith, Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson

Original series

Designed to compete with DC Comics' successful launches House of Mystery and House of Secrets,[1] Tower of Shadows, like its companion comic Chamber of Darkness, sold poorly despite the roster of artists featured. After its first few issues, the title, published bimonthly, began including reprints of "pre-superhero Marvel" monster stories and other SF/fantasy tales from Marvel's 1950s and early 1960s predecessor, Atlas Comics. After the ninth issue, the title changed to Creatures on the Loose, and the comic became a mix of reprints and occasional sword and sorcery/SF series.

"At the Stroke of Midnight", writer-artist Jim Steranko's lead story in the premiere issue (Sept. 1969), won a 1969 Alley Award for Best Feature Story. Its creation had led to a rift between the celebrated Steranko and editor Lee that caused Steranko to stop freelancing for Marvel, the publisher that had showcased his highly influential work. Lee had rejected Steranko's cover, and the two clashed over panel design, dialog, and the story title, initially "The Lurking Fear at Shadow House". According to Steranko at a 2006 panel[2] and elsewhere, Lee disliked or did not understand the homage to horror author H. P. Lovecraft, and devised his own title for the story. After much conflict, Steranko either quit or was fired. Lee phoned him about a month later, after the two had cooled down,[2] and Steranko would return to produce several covers for Marvel from 1972 to 1973.

In a contemporaneous interview, conducted November 14, 1969, Steranko reflected on the tiff:

The reason I had a little altercation with them is because they edited some of my work. They changed certain things that I didn't feel should be changed. And I insisted that we couldn't continue on that basis. ... For example, my horror story "At the Stroke of Midnight" had a line of dialogue added. The meek husband said, "I'm nervous because it's closer to midnight" or something like that; simply a gratuitous line. It wasn't my title and it didn't have that line in it. Stan originally wanted that story to be called "Let Them Eat Cake," which I didn't approve of. We had disagreements about the way I told stories. ... If you're a publisher and you want my work, you get it my way or you don't get it at all. ... Anyway, I have an agreement now, a working agreement with them, and everything's cool.[3]

A Lovecraft story, "The Terrible Old Man", appeared two issues later, adapted by writer Roy Thomas and penciler Windsor-Smith. Additionally, Thomas and Tom Palmer – a renowned inker in a rare example of his penciling and inking – adapted the Lovecraft story "Pickman's Model" in issue #9 (Jan. 1971).[4]

Marvel also published the all-reprint Tower of Shadows King-Size Special #1 (Dec. 1971).[4]

Creatures on the Loose

Retitled Creatures on the Loose with issue #10 (March 1971), this version led off with a seven-page King Kull story by Thomas and artist Bernie Wrightson. The book included new stories by artists Herb Trimpe in #11, Syd Shores in #12, and Reed Crandall in #13, then became all-reprint until issue #16 (March 1972). There, writer Thomas and the art team of Gil Kane and Bill Everett introduced the series "Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars", starring an interplanetary Earthman created by author Edwin L. Arnold in his 1905 book Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation. Following another issue by Thomas and one by Gerry Conway, science fiction novelist George Alec Effinger wrote the final three installments.[5]

Effinger continued as writer for the series that immediately followed, in issue #22 (March 1973): "Thongor! Warrior of Lost Lemuria!", adapting a sword-and-sorcery barbarian character created by author Lin Carter. Following writers Tony Isabella and Gardner Fox, Carter himself co-wrote (with Steve Gerber) the final two installments.[5][6]

Thomas, Marvel's associate editor at the time, recalled in 2007 that Thongor had been the company's first choice when Marvel decided to published a licensed fantasy character, rather than the eventual hit Conan the Barbarian. Publisher Martin Goodman "authorized us to go after a character. I first went after Lin Carter's Thongor, who was a quasi-Conan with elements of John Carter of Mars, partly became editor-in-chief Stan Lee liked that name the most ... I soon got stalled by Lin Carter's agent on Thongor (he was hoping I'd offer more than the $150 per issue I was authorized to offer), and I got a sudden impulse to go after Conan".[7]

The title's last series, "Man-Wolf", starred John Jameson, the werewolf son of Spider-Man supporting character J. Jonah Jameson. It ran from issue #30–37 (July 1974 -Sept. 1975).[8] Its writers were Doug Moench, Isabella, and David Anthony Kraft, with art by pencilers George Tuska and George Pérez.[5] The series depicted Jameson as a god to an alien race. The series was finally finished years later in Marvel Premiere #45–46 (Dec. 1978 and Feb. 1979).


Tower of Shadows stories reprinted in other Marvel comic books or black-and-white horror-comics magazines:

  • "At the Stroke of Midnight" (#1, Sept. 1969)
Writer-artist Jim Steranko
Marvel Visionaries: Steranko (Marvel, 2002, ISBN 0-7851-0944-7)
  • "One Hungers" (#2, Nov. 1969)
Writer-penciler Neal Adams, inker Dan Adkins
Monsters Unleashed #8 (Oct. 1974)
  • "The Moving Finger Writhes" (#3, Jan. 1970)
Writer Len Wein, penciler Gene Colan, inker Mike Esposito (under pen name Joe Gaudioso)[4]
Giant-Size Chillers #3 (Aug. 1975)
  • "The Terrible Old Man" (#3, Jan. 1970)
Writer Roy Thomas, penciler Barry Smith, inkers Dan Adkins, John Verpoorten
Masters of Terror #1 (July 1975)
  • "Contact!" (#6, July 1970)
Writer-artist Tom Sutton
Supernatural Thrillers #11 (Feb. 1975)
  • "Sanctuary!" (#8, Nov. 1970)
Writer-artist Wally Wood
Conan the Barbarian #47 (Feb. 1975)
  • "Pickman's Model" (#9, Jan. 1971)
Writer Roy Thomas, penciler-inker Tom Palmer
Masters of Terror #2 (Sept. 1975)


  1. ^ Roach, David A. (May 2001). "Shadows and The Darkness". Comic Book Artist. No. 13. Via Archived from the original on February 15, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Sanderson, Peter (March 7, 2006). "Steranko and Simon: Back to Back". PW Comics Week (column), Publishers Weekly. Dead link; pertinent passages reprinted at "Frightening First Fridays: Tower of Shadows #1". Diversions of the Grooovy Kind (fan site). October 31, 2008. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010.
  3. ^ Steranko in Groth, Gary, "An Interview with THE Artist ... Jim Steranko: '...local boy makes good.'" (PDF). Fantastic Fanzine (11) 1970, n.d.; indicia reads, "Next issue due out June 20.". pp. 11–12. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 13, 2011. Via Meyer, Ken, Jr., ed. "Ink Stains 23: Fantastic Fanzine 11 (October 1, 2010)". Archived (PDF) from the original on July 13, 2011.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c Tower of Shadows at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ a b c Creatures on the Loose at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Thongor at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
  7. ^ Roy Thomas interview (July 2007). "Writing Comics Turned Out to Be What I Really Wanted to Do with My Life". Alter Ego. Vol. 3 no. 70. pp. 5–6.
  8. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1970s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 75. ISBN 978-0756692360. Man-Wolf was awarded his own regular spotlight in the ongoing title Creatures on the Loose...Man-Wolf's adventures became the focus of this title until its conclusion with issue #37.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External links

1969 in comics

Notable events of 1969 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

This is a list of comics-related events in 1969.

Barry Windsor-Smith

Barry Windsor-Smith (born Barry Smith, 25 May 1949) is a British comic book illustrator and painter whose best known work has been produced in the United States. He is known for his work on Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian from 1970 to 1973, and for his work on Wolverine – particularly the original Weapon X story arc.

Bernie Wrightson

Bernard Albert Wrightson (October 27, 1948 – March 18, 2017), sometimes credited as Berni Wrightson, was an American artist, known for co-creating the Swamp Thing, his adaptation of the novel Frankenstein illustration work, and for his other horror comics and illustrations, which feature his trademark intricate pen and brushwork.

Chamber of Darkness

Chamber of Darkness is a horror/fantasy anthology comic book published by the American company Marvel Comics. Under this and a subsequent name, it ran from 1969 to 1974. It featured work by creators such as writer-editor Stan Lee, writers Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin, and Roy Thomas, and artists John Buscema, Johnny Craig, Jack Kirby, Tom Sutton, Barry Windsor-Smith (as Barry Smith), and Bernie Wrightson. Stories were generally hosted by either of the characters Digger, a gravedigger, or Headstone P. Gravely, in undertaker garb, or by one of the artists or writers.

After the eighth issue, the title changed to Monsters on the Prowl, and the comic became almost exclusively a reprint book.

Chandigarh Capitol Complex

Chandigarh Capitol Complex, located in the sector-1 of Chandigarh city in India, is a government compound designed by the architect Le Corbusier and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is spread over an area of around 100 acres and is a prime manifestation of Chandigarh's architecture. It comprises three buildings, three monuments and a lake, including the Palace of Assembly or Legislative Assembly, Secretariat, High Court, Open Hand Monument, Geometric Hill and Tower of Shadows.. It was added in UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 2016.

Digger (comics)

Digger (Roderick Krupp) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared as a story narrator/host in the horror anthology series Tower of Shadows #1 (Sept. 1969), in the story "At the Stroke of Midnight" by writer-artist Jim Steranko.

Gerry Conway

Gerard Francis Conway (born September 10, 1952) is an American writer of comic books and television shows. He is known for co-creating the Marvel Comics' vigilante the Punisher and scripting the death of the character Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. At DC Comics, he is known for co-creating the superhero Firestorm and others, and for writing the Justice League of America for eight years. Conway wrote the first major, modern-day intercompany crossover, Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man.

Horror comics

Horror comics are comic books, graphic novels, black-and-white comics magazines, and manga focusing on horror fiction. In the US market, horror comic books reached a peak in the late 1940s through the mid-1950s, when concern over content and the imposition of the self-censorship Comics Code Authority contributed to the demise of many titles and the toning down of others. Black-and-white horror-comics magazines, which did not fall under the Code, flourished from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s from a variety of publishers. Mainstream American color comic books experienced a horror resurgence in the 1970s, following a loosening of the Code. While the genre has had greater and lesser periods of popularity, it occupies a firm niche in comics as of the 2010s.

Precursors to horror comics include detective and crime comics that incorporated horror motifs into their graphics, and early superhero stories that sometimes included the likes of ghouls and vampires. Individual horror stories appeared as early as 1940. The first dedicated horror comic books appear to be Gilberton Publications' Classic Comics #13 (August 1943), with its full-length adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Avon Publications' anthology Eerie #1 (January 1947), the first horror comic with original content. The first horror-comics series is the anthology Adventures into the Unknown, premiering in 1948 from American Comics Group, initially under the imprint B&I Publishing.

Jim Steranko

James F. Steranko (; born November 5, 1938) is an American graphic artist, comic book writer/artist, comics historian, magician, publisher and film production illustrator.

His most famous comic book work was with the 1960s superspy feature "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." in Marvel Comics' Strange Tales and in the subsequent eponymous series. Steranko earned lasting acclaim for his innovations in sequential art during the Silver Age of Comic Books, particularly his infusion of surrealism, pop art, and graphic design into the medium. His work has been published in many countries and his influence on the field has remained strong since his comics heyday. He went on to create book covers, become a comics historian who published a pioneering two-volume history of the birth and early years of comic books, and to create conceptual art and character designs for films including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Bram Stoker's Dracula.

He was inducted into the comic-book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.

Johnny Craig

John Thomas Alexis Craig (April 25, 1926 – September 13, 2001), better known as Johnny Craig, was an American comic book artist notable for his work with the EC Comics line of the 1950s. He sometimes used the pseudonyms Jay Taycee and F. C. Aljohn.

Journey into Mystery

Journey into Mystery is an American comic book series initially published by Atlas Comics, then by its successor, Marvel Comics. Initially a horror comics anthology, it changed to giant-monster and science fiction stories in the late 1950s. Beginning with issue #83 (cover dated Aug. 1962), it ran the superhero feature "The Mighty Thor", created by writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and artist Jack Kirby, and inspired by the mythological Norse thunder god. The series, which was renamed for its superhero star with issue #126 (March 1966), has been revived three times: in the 1970s as a horror anthology, and in the 1990s and 2010s with characters from Marvel's Thor mythos.

Len Wein

Leonard Norman Wein (; June 12, 1948 – September 10, 2017) was an American comic book writer and editor best known for co-creating DC Comics' Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics' Wolverine, and for helping revive the Marvel superhero team the X-Men (including the co-creation of Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus). Additionally, he was the editor for writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons' influential DC miniseries Watchmen.

Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lost in Shadow

Lost in Shadow, known as A Shadow's Tale in Australia and Europe and as Kage no Tō (影の塔, lit. "Tower of Shadows") in Japan, is a puzzle platforming video game developed for Nintendo's Wii console by Hudson Soft. It was released in Japan in July 2010, in Australia and Europe in October 2010, and in North America in January 2011. Lost in Shadow is played largely in the background of the game environment as the player controls a boy's shadow, which must climb the shadows of a tall tower, rife with puzzles and enemies. He is accompanied by a sylph that can alter the direction of the foreground light sources, altering the alignment of shadows upon which he climbs. There are times in the game when the boy is able to materialize into the 3D world and briefly interact with the objects themselves as opposed to simply their shadows.

Mammoth Studios

Mammoth Studios is the generic name used for fictional movie studios in movies, television, books and comic books. Mammoth Pictures Studios has appeared in movies such as Bombshell (1933), Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945), and Merton of the Movies (1947), as well as the television series The Beverly Hillbillies (from 1964-1971). Four episodes of The Monkees ("I've Got a Little Song Here", "Monkees at the Movies", "The Picture Frame" and "Mijacogeo") from 1966-1968 mention "Mammoth Studio", but not "Mammoth Pictures Studios". Mammoth Pictures Studios has appeared in books such as The Woman Chaser (1960) by Charles Willeford, and comic books, such as "Blueribbon Comics" (in the 1930s and 1940s) and Marvel's Tower of Shadows in 1970. But it is never the same studio; the signs and sets are different. In the episodes of The Monkees, Mammoth Studio (not Mammoth Pictures Studios) goes from being active in 1966 (owned by "MD") to being bankrupt and abandoned in 1967 and finally being turned into KXIW, a television station, in 1968. During this same time, Mammoth Pictures Studios was a thriving studio owned by Jed Clampett on episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, where it was operated by Lawrence Chapman (Milton Frome), proving it to be a different studio. It was last seen February, 2018 in the TV series "Endeavour", series 5 episode 2, "Cartouche".

Real Mammoth Studios exist in various countries, such as America, Canada, and Great Britain. Real Mammoth Pictures exists and is a motion picture production company in America.

Pickman's Model

"Pickman's Model" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft, written in September 1926 and first published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales. It was adapted for television in a 1971 episode of the Night Gallery anthology series, starring Bradford Dillman.

Secretariat Building (Chandigarh)

Secretariat Building is a Le Corbusier-designed government building built in 1953, located inside the Chandigarh Capitol Complex which comprises three buildings and three monuments — Secretariat building, Legislative Assembly building and High Court building, Open Hand Monument, Geometric Hill and Tower of Shadows. In July 2016, the building and several other works by Le Corbusier were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Supernatural Thrillers

Supernatural Thrillers was an American horror fiction comic book published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s that adapted classic stories of that genre, including works by Robert Louis Stevenson and H.G. Wells, before becoming a vehicle for a supernatural action series starring an original character, the Living Mummy.

Vampire Tales

Vampire Tales was an American black-and-white horror comics magazine published by Magazine Management, a corporate sibling of Marvel Comics. The series ran 11 issues and one annual publication from 1973 to 1975, and featuring vampires as both protagonists and antagonists.

A magazine rather than a comic book, it did not fall under the purview of the comics industry's self-censorship Comics Code Authority, allowing the title to feature stronger content — such as moderate profanity, partial nudity, and more graphic violence — than color comics of the time, featuring Dracula stories.

Worlds Unknown

Worlds Unknown was a science-fiction comic book published by American company Marvel Comics in the 1970s, which adapted classic short stories of that genre, including works by Frederik Pohl, Harry Bates, and Theodore Sturgeon.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.