Tower of Shadows was a horror/fantasy anthology comic book published by Marvel Comics under this and a subsequent name from 1969-1975. It featured work by such notable creators as writer-artists Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Johnny Craig, and Wally Wood, writer-editor Stan Lee, and artists including John Buscema, Gene Colan, Tom Sutton, Barry Windsor-Smith (as Barry Smith), and Bernie Wrightson.
The stories were generally hosted by either of the fictional characters Digger, a gravedigger; Headstone P. Gravely, in undertaker garb; or one of the artists or writers.
Designed to compete with DC Comics' successful launches House of Mystery and House of Secrets<ref name="pw">Publishers Weekly PW Comics Week (March 7, 2006): "Steranko and Simon: Back to Back", by Peter Sanderson</ref>, Tower of Shadows, like its companion comic Chamber of Darkness, sold poorly despite such notable talent. After its first few issues, the title began including reprints of "pre-superhero Marvel" monster stories and other SF/fantasy tales from Marvel's 1950s and early ' 60s 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.
It is unrelated to the novel The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling.
"At the Stroke of Midnight," 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 (see at left), 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<ref name="pw" /> 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, and Steranko would return to produce several covers for Marvel from 1972-73.
Ironically, 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 where he both penciled and inked — adapted the Lovecraft story "Pickman's Model" in issue #9 (Jan. 1971).
Marvel also published the all-reprint Tower of Shadows King-Size Special #1 (Dec. 1971).
==Creatures on the Loose==
Retitled with issue #10 (March 1971), the new version led off with a seven-page King Kull story by Thomas and artist Bernie Wrightson. The book then became all-reprint until issue #16 (March 1972), when 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 Lieutenant 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.
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.
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".<ref>Alter Ego vol. 3, #70 (July 2007): "Writing Comics Turned Out to Be What I Really Wanted to Do with My Life" (Roy Thomas interview), p. 5-6</ref>
The title's last series, "Man-Wolf," starring John Jameson, the werewolf son of Spider-Man supporting character J. Jonah Jameson, ran from issue #30-37 (July 1974 - Sept. 1975). Its writers were Doug Moench, Isabella, and David Anthony Kraft, with art by pencilers George Tuska and George Pérez. The series depicted Jameson as a god to an alien race and introduced Lunatik.
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 Joe Gaudioso
: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)
== Footnotes ==
*Tower of Shadows at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
*Towers of Shadows at the Big Comic Book DataBase
*Creatures on the Loose at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators
*Creatures on the Loose at the Big Comic Book DataBase
*Thongor at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe