Syndicated Newspaper Strip
Although he included three other characters from the TV show -- Carolyn, Elizabeth, and Angelique -- he did not endeavor to make them look like their TV counterparts. For example, Liz is a very young looking widow who slinks around Collinwood in tight, low-cut black dresses with her hair piled glamorously on top of her head. She looks a little more like Audrey Hepburn than Joan Bennett. In fact, like the rest of the female characters in the strip, Elizabeth was greatly inspired by Bald's wife and favorite model, Kaye Bald. (The Pomegranate Press book includes some reference photos of Mrs. Bald in costumes.)
One other "character" in the strip changes its face from time to time. Bald's interpretation of Collinwood is a combination of Seaview Terrace and Lyndhurst -- the real houses used to shoot exteriors for the TV show and film, respectively. In some strips, the house only resembles one house -- but in a few, elements of both are evident.
No writer is credited for the strip, but the story editor was Elliot Caplin. Caplin, the younger brother of Al Capp, (who created Li'l Abner), also wrote the Doctor Kildare strip.
The strip consists of six story lines, each lasting two months. Reading the strips back to back (as in the Pomegranate Press book of reprints), there is some pretty annoying repetition, but that's because some papers either didn't run the Sunday (color) panels, or they only ran the Sunday ones, so readers had to be able to follow the story if they only saw the weekday strips or the Sunday ones.
The stories don't take place in the same world as the TV show, comic books, paperback novels or films. Besides the fact that core family members (including Roger and David Collins) aren't present, some basic facts are different. For example, Elizabeth is the widow of Michael Stoddard, instead of Paul Stoddard of the TV show. (In one strip, Elizabeth and Carolyn are shown visiting Michael's grave.) Also, Barnabas lives in an old stone cottage rather than the Old House.
The stories are entertaining, and the strip was popular. But Dark Shadows went off the air in April 1971, just a few weeks after the strip debuted. So, when the first one-year contract with the strips creators expired, the strip was canceled too. It was reasoned that if the show wasn't on, fans no longer cared about the Collins family. Obviously, they were a little off base on that assumption....
All in all, the strip stands as a strong entry in the DS franchise, with high-quality art and well-scripted stories. And if you're a Frid fan, it's really something you shouldn't miss.
The daily strips, trimmed neatly from newspapers, are worth about $25 each. The Sunday color pages are worth about twice that. Dark Shadows: The Comic Strip Book retails for $15.95.
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Craig Hamrick © 2004