Dark Shadows Fandom

Dark Shadows Fandom

(pop culture)

After Dark Shadows, (1966–1971) the popular daytime television soap opera, went off the air, interest in the series stayed alive primarily in the imaginations of teenagers who had rushed home from school to watch it. Several years after ABC-TV’s cancellation of the show, fans continued to manifest a high level of devotion to the series. The World of Dark Shadows fanzine appeared in 1975 and two years later the first Shadowcon fan convention was organized in San Diego as part of Starcon, a science fiction convention. In 1979 Shadowcon emerged as an independent gathering in Los Angeles, where it continued annually until 1986. Within a few years, the nature of the Shadowcon conventions began to expand and diversify by including all aspects of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Thus, in 1983, a new organization that had an exclusive focus on Dark Shadows, the Dark Shadows Festival, was created by the combined efforts of The World of Dark Shadows, Shadowgram, and Inside the Old House, published by Old House Publishing.

The annual Dark Shadows Festival convention led to the growth of existing Dark Shadows fan publications (most prominently Shadowgram, edited by Marcy Robin), the founding of new fanzines, and the opening of fan clubs that kept interest alive. Their work came to unexpected fruition in the 1991 when a new version of Dark Shadows aired in prime time on NBC-TV. Unfortunately, the new show was canceled after only one season, but not before it led to the creation of a whole new set of Dark Shadows books, collectibles, and souvenirs.

Dark Shadows fans find the most effective way to enter the fold is through the Dark Shadows Festival Official Fan Club, which provides contacts for local fan clubs and information on obtaining Dark Shadows books, videos, and paraphernalia. The Club was founded in 1982 as the World Federation of Dark Shadows Clubs. It was a coalition of clubs in three countries that publish newsletters and magazines (now all discontinued) dedicated to preserving the memory of the two television series of Dark Shadows. The present name was adopted in 1992. The club keeps members informed of the continuing careers of the stars of the two shows, and maintains an active biographical archive, a library of fan club publications, and an archive of Dark Shadows paraphernalia. The club may be contacted at PO Box 92, Maplewood, NJ 07040 or through its Website, http://www.darkshadowsfestival.com/. In the 1990s, the club maintained an active list of over 30,000 fans.

For a number of years, Shadowgram published by Marcy Robin, and The World of Dark Shadows published by Kathleen Resch (both of Temple City, California), served as official periodicals for the club. Shadowgram was founded in 1979 by Maria Barbosa and Marcy Robin. The first issue was a two-page sheet reporting on what the major actors from the original Dark Shadows series were doing eight years after the series was canceled. It is currently published both as an online publication accessed through Yahoo Groups and a printed fanzine. The World of Dark Shadows, edited by Kathy Resch, is now published only rarely, but Shadowgram: The Official Dark Shadows Newsletter, edited by Marcy Robin (Box 1766, Temple City, CA 91780–7766), appears quarterly and has emerged as the major Dark Shadows news periodical.

The fanzine specializes in reports on the current activities of the cast of both the original and the 1991 television series, information on new Dark Shadows paraphernalia and announcements of fan activities. It also reports on the unaired 2004 Dark Shadows pilot for the WB network and on the latest developments in the (as of 2009) planned Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows feature film.

Marcy Robin has been active in Dark Shadows fandom since the mid-1970s. She participated in the Shadowcon conventions of the 1970s, and in 1983, was among the founders of the Dark Shadows Festival, the group that currently organizes the annual national gatherings of Dark Shadows fans. With Kathleen Resch, she has coauthored two books—a novel, Beginnings: The Island of Ghosts, and a volume on the series, Dark Shadows in the Afternoon.

She has written a number of short stories around the Dark Shadows themes, some of which have been gathered into an anthology titled From the Shadows … Marcy Robin. She was one of the main contributors to The Dark Shadows Companion, a volume celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Dark Shadows and assembled by one of the stars, Kathryn Leigh Scott.

In the 1990s, The World of Dark Shadows, was the oldest existing fanzine serving the fans of Dark Shadows. Its first issue was circulated to thirty people in 1975 by its founder/editor Kathleen Resch; by the early 1990s the subscriber count was over 2,000. Resch has been among the most active leaders in Dark Shadows fandom. In the 1970s and 1980s she published a series of fanzines under the collective title of Dark Shadows Concordance. Each concordance summarized a particular set of the original episodes. By 1992, concordances were available for episodes 365–700 and 981–1,245. When completed, the concordances covered all of the 1,225 episodes. Shadows in the 90’s was a concordance of the 1991 prime-time Dark Shadows series.

The World of Dark Shadows has also included several anthologies of Dark Shadows short stories and novels. Resch contributed a short story, “Edges,” to Decades. Additional World of Dark Shadows anthologies included two volumes under the name From the Shadows, one with stories by Marcy Robin and the other by Virginia Waldron; and Echoes, a collection edited by Resch. Additional novels from The World of Dark Shadows include Shadowed Beginnings by Carol Maschke, Rebirth of the Undead by Elwood Beaty and D. L. Crabtree, and Lori Paige’s two books, Dark Changeling and The Year the Fire Came. Resch also edited a second Dark Shadows fanzine, Echoes … from the Past.

Conventions: The Dark Shadows Festival, founded in 1983, superseded the original Shadowcon gatherings. The first “Fests” were held in San Jose, California, and Newark, New Jersey, in 1983. The latter included a trip to Lyndhurst, the mansion in Tarrytown, New York, that was used as Collinwood in the feature movies House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). The two films were then screened for those in attendance. The festival also featured a costume contest, now a regular feature of the annual program coordinated by Marcy Robin. The initial Fests were followed by additional meetings in San Jose and in Dallas, Texas, after which they alternated between the Los Angeles and New York City areas (plus a convention in Las Vegas in 1998). The tenth festival was held in New York and included a tour of New England locations used in the Dark Shadows series and films. It featured an appearance by Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabas Collins), who attended thirteen of the sixteen Fests held through 1993.

The festivals were designed to be fun events for fans to meet and talk to each other, to meet members of the cast, and to have the opportunity to purchase the wide variety of Dark Shadows souvenirs and paraphernalia.

Each of the festivals has featured many of the original stars, and the 1990s gatherings in the 1990s also included stars from the 1991 revival series. Since the mid-1980s, Jim Pierson has been the chairman of every Dark Shadows Festival. Pierson, who has authored and coauthored several Dark Shadows books, also works for Dan Curtis Productions and MPI Home Video.

Dark Shadows Festival Publications has printed The Introduction of Barnabas, a book summarizing the 1967 Dark Shadows episodes featuring the vampire Barnabas Collins also includes a variety of documents about the show. It also publishes an annual Dark Shadows calendar.

Regional Fan Organizations: Among the many Dark Shadows fan activities is a variety of clubs, small publishers, and journals that cooperate with the Dark Shadows Official Fan Club. One of the oldest fan structures is Old House Publishing (11518 Desdemona Dr., Dallas, TX 75228, http://home.earthlink.net/~nardoz/itoh.html) founded in 1978 by Dale Clark. That same year, Clark started Inside the Old House, a Dark Shadows fanzine. Each issue includes fan fiction, poetry, artwork, biographies of Dark Shadows characters, discussions of controversies within the Dark Shadows community, a fan letter column, and classified ads of Dark Shadows paraphernalia. Clark, a longtime Dark Shadows fan, is also the author of eight volumes of the Dark Shadows Questions and Answers Book and several Dark Shadows novels: Resolutions in Time, Reunion, Retribution, and Revelations. Clark was also one of the cofounders of the Dark Shadows Festival.

Through the 1990s, numerous fan clubs and small press publishing endeavors thrived in the Dark Shadows fan world. Dark Shadows over Oklahoma was a Dark Shadows fan club founded by Brett Hargrove and later led by Letha Roberts. The group gathered monthly, and Roberts edited The Graveyard Gazette, the club’s newsletter. Harmony Road Press was a small publishing company founded in 1992 specializing in Dark Shadows books and periodicals. It was headed by Connie Jonas.

Among its publications were Christmas in Collinsport, a seasonal anthology of pictures, poetry, and prose; Anna Shock’s collected short stories, Shadowed Reflections; and the novels Masks and Facades and A Matter of Trust, both by Jonas. Jonas also edited The Music Box, a Dark Shadows fanzine named for the music box owned by Dark Shadows character Josette. The Music Box featured fiction, art, poetry, and fan news. In 1992 the press announced publication of a single-issue fanzine edited by Travis McKnight, The Lara Zine, built around the Dark Shadows actress Lara Parker, who played the witch Angélique. Connie Jonas is a member of the Collinsport Players, a fan-founded dramatic group that presents skits at the annual Dark Shadows Festival. In 1993, Harmony Road Press published an anthology of scripts of the group’s original productions, The Collinsport Players Companion, edited by Jeff Thompson and Jonas.

Lone Gull Press was founded in Massachusetts in1984 by author Lori Paige and artist Jane Lach to publish materials for Dark Shadows fans. Their first product was The Secret of the Chalice, a fanzine that appeared that same year. They followed with a series of fanzines, including Tales of Hoffman, a one-shot publication built around the Dark Shadows character Julia Hoffman, and Cauldron, of which six issues appeared in 1987 and 1988. In 1988 Paige wrote ?alm in Gilead. The Gates of Hell is the name of a full-length novel that provided the substance for the fanzine of the same name. In addition, Lone Gull published Sharon Wisdom’s Love’s Pale Shadow (1992).

The Long Island Dark Shadows Society was a Dark Shadows fan club founded in 1988 by Steven C. Schumacher and Cindy Avitabile Conroy. While active, the club held five meetings each year, which included screenings of Dark Shadows videos and discussions of various Dark Shadows topics. In 1993 the society reported approximately twenty-five members. The New England Dark Shadows Society was founded in the early 1990s by Ron Janick. The Society held monthly meetings at which Dark Shadows videos were screened followed by discussions related to Dark Shadows. Also among its activities was an annual visit to Seaview Terrace in Newport, Rhode Island, the house used for exterior shots of Collinwood, the Collins family home, in the 1966–1971 television series. The society published a fanzine titled Widow’s Hill Quarterly.

The Oregon Dark Shadows Society was founded in 1991 by Connie Jonas, a longtime and active Dark Shadows fan, who also edited The Music Box, an independent fanzine published by her company, Harmony Road Press. In 1993, the club reported about a dozen members. It gathered monthly to screen video releases of Dark Shadows episodes, share fandom gossip, engage in dramatic readings, hold trivia contests, and plan for upcoming Dark Shadows events such as the annual Dark Shadows Festival. The group joined the effort that brought the SCI-FI Channel to the Portland area cable system in 1992. The club also published a monthly newsletter, News & Notes. Many of the members of the earlier Dark Shadows club in Seattle affiliated with the Oregon society.

The Pittsburgh Dark Shadows Fan Club was founded in 1987 for fans of Dark Shadows in southwestern Pennsylvania and the nearby counties in Ohio and West Virginia. Although Shadows of the Night was used as the name of two different vampire fanzines, founder Dan Silvio edited the one that has served as the official publication of the Pittsburgh Dark Shadows Fan Club. Silvio began Shadows of the Night in 1987 and it has continued to the present, both as a printed fanzine and as an e-newsletter. Shadows of the Night may be contacted at sotnight@aol.com.

The Wyndcliffe Dark Shadows Society was founded in 1988 by May Sutherland. It began as an effort to publish a newsletter, Wyndcliffe Watch, for Dark Shadows fans. However, with the help of Sutherland’s friends Jane Lach and Lori Paige, founders of Lone Gull Press, the newsletter grew into a full-sized fanzine with the first issue, which appeared in October 1988. The society soon followed. Medallion Press is the society’s publishing arm.

Sutherland was also the president of the Seattle/Tacoma Dark Shadows Fan Club, a position she held from March 1989 to May 1992. The club met monthly and lobbied the local public television station to pick up the syndicated Dark Shadows reruns.

After KTPS (now KBTC) began carrying the show, the club held fundraisers to support the station. Meanwhile, Sutherland also became head of the West Washington chapter of the Sci-Fi Channel Fan Club.

In 1992, the local club stopped meeting. However, the continuing society and its associated fanzine grew to approximately 250 member/subscribers and includes people from across North America, plus members in Turkey and Japan.

May Sutherland has authored one novel, Sins of the Fathers, a Dark Shadows story that has the vampire Barnabas Collins under attack from another vampire running loose at his Collinwood estate.

Like all fan communities, clubs and periodicals come and go, and among the defunct fans organizations are Alternate Shadows, a Dark Shadows fan club headquartered in Ithaca, New York. It was founded and led by Patrick Garrison and his wife Josette, who also edited a fanzine called The Parallel Times. In 1983, 1984, and 1985, the group sponsored the Manhattan Shadows convention, which included a blood donation contest. The prize was a dinner in New York City with Jonathan Frid, the actor who originally played the vampire Barnabas Collins in the Dark Shadows series. The club disbanded in 1988, and the fanzine was discontinued soon afterward.

The Friends of Dark Shadows began in 1983 under the leadership of Sharida Rizzuto as the New Orleans branch of the International Dark Shadows Society. Rizzuto, who had a broad experience in fanzine publishing, published four issues of Inside Dark Shadows. Rizzuto and the New Orleans group then separated from the International Dark Shadows Society and reorganized as the Friends of Dark Shadows. She issued a new fanzine, The Collinwood Record (seven issues), and a newsletter, The Collinwood Journal (three issues). She was assisted by associate editor Sidney J. Dragon, the group’s vice-president. The Friends of Dark Shadows and its periodicals were discontinued in 1987. Rizzuto, however, continued to publish Dark Shadows news in another publication, The Vampire Journal, now a publication for the Realm of the Vampire organization.

The Dark Shadows Society of Milwaukee was a short-lived Dark Shadows fan club founded in 1986 by Lynn L. Gerdes and others in southeastern Wisconsin. The club met for discussions and screenings of Dark Shadows episodes. It disbanded in 1989. The Houston Dark Shadows Society was a Dark Shadows fan club founded in 1986 by Parker Riggs. It served primarily Dark Shadows fans in the Greater Houston, Texas, area, although its membership grew to include fans around the country. The society published Lone Star Shadows, a quarterly newsletter edited by Riggs, featuring news of Dark Shadows fandom. It ran for 20 issues. Both the club and the magazine were discontinued in 1991.

The Twenty-first Century: As of 2009, Dark Shadows fandom is represented by the Central Florida Dark Shadows Fan Club (http://www.cfdsfanclub.com/); Shadowgram, the periodical published by Marcy Robin (P.O. Box X, 1766 Temple City, CA 91780–7766); the online Dark Shadows Journal (http://www.collinwood.net/); the late longtime fan Craig Hamrick’s Dark Shadows Online Website (http://www.darkshadow-sonline.com/); the Dark Shadows DVD Club (http://www.darkshadowsdvd.com/); and, most importantly, the Official Dark Shadows Fan Club, which sponsors the annual Dark Shadows convention (P. O. Box 92, Maplewood, NJ 07040). Almost legendary Dark Shadows fan Marcy Robin also publishes the Official Dark Shadows Newsletter.


Christmas in Collinsport. Portland, OR: Harmony Road Press, 1992. 45 pp.
Clark, Dale. Resolutions in Time. Temple City, CA: Pentagram Press, 1983. 66 pp.
———. Dark Shadows Questions and Answers. 8 vols. Dallas: Old House Publishing, 1990–93.
———. Reunion. Dallas: Old House Publishing, 1991. 98 pp.
———. Retribution. Dallas: Old House Publishing, 1992. 88 pp.
———. Revelations. Dallas: Old House Publishing, 1993.
Dresser, Norine. American Vampires: Fans, Victims, Practitioners. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989. 255 pp.
“DS Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary.” Shadowgram 63 (January 1993): 2–3.
The Introduction of Barnabas. Maplewood, NJ: Dark Shadows Festival, 1988. 144 pp.
Jonas, Connie, and Jeff Thompson, eds. A Matter of Trust. Portland, OR: HarmonyRoad Press, 1991. 217 pp.
———The Collinsport Players Companion. Vol. 1. Portland, OR: HarmonyRoad Press, 1993. 108 pp.
———. Masks and Facades. Portland, OR: HarmonyRoad Press, 1993. 387 pp.
The Lara Zine. Portland, OR: HarmonyRoad Press, 1993.
Paige, Lori. Balm in Gilead. North Riverside, IL: Pandora Publications, 1988.
Resch, Kathleen, ed. Decades. Santa Clara, CA: Pentagram Press, 1982.
———, and Marcy Robin. Beginnings: The Island of Ghosts. Temple City, CA: The World of Dark Shadows, 1982. 167 pp.
———. The Dark Shadows Concordance 1840. Temple City, CA: Pentagram Press, 1987.
———. The Dark Shadows Concordance 1970 Parallel Time. Temple City, CA: The World of Dark Shadows, 1988.
———. The Dark Shadows Concordance 1795. Temple City, CA: The World of Dark Shadows, 1989.
———. The Dark Shadows Concordance 1968. 2 vols. Temple City, CA: The World of Dark Shadows, 1989; 1990.
———. Dark Shadows in the Afternoon. East Meadow, NY: Image Publishing, 1991. 109 pp.
Robin, Marcy. From the Shadows … Marcy Robin. Ed. by Kathleen Resch. Temple City, CA: Pentagram Press, 1986. 85 pp.
Shock, Anna H. Shadowed Reflections. Portland, OR: HarmonyRoad Press, 1993. 40 pp.
Sutherland, May. Sins of the Fathers. Tacoma, WA: Medallion Press, 1993.
Thompson, Jeff. “An Overview of Dark Shadows Fandom.” The Southern Fandom Confederation Bulletin No. 8 (January 1991). 4 pp.
———. “A History of the East Coast Dark Shadows Festivals: 1983–1993.” In The Dark Shadows Festival Memory Book, 1983–1993. Ed. by Jim Pierson. Maplewood, NJ: Dark Shadows Festival, 1994. 7 pp.
———. Television Horrors of Dan Curtis: Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker, and Other Productions, 1966–2006. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009. 200 pp.
Wilson, Marcy. Crazy Vein. Tacoma, WA: Medallion Press, 1994.
Wisdom, Sharon. Love’s Pale Shadow. Sunderland, MA: Lone Gull Press, 1992.

Dark Shadows Festival see: Dark Shadows Fandom

Dark Shadows over Oklahoma see: Dark Shadows Fandom

Dark Shadows Society of Milwaukee see: Dark Shadows Fandom