Dark Shadows

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This article is about the tv show, for other meanings see Dark Shadows (disambiguation).

Name: Dark Shadows
Creator: Dan Curtis
Date(s): 1966-1971
Medium: tv, soap
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: wikipedia
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cover of a 1987 Dark Shadows convention book

Dark Shadows was a daily horror soap on ABC from 1966 to 1971. It had over 1200 half-hour episodes. There also exists a remake as a primetime series from 1991 (which aired on NBC, a failed pilot that The WB did not air in 2004 (but which was shown at several Dark Shadows Festivals) and a movie remake is planned by Tim Burton.

Some Fanfic Trends

But beginning in the mid-1980s, there was a remarkable explosion of DS-oriented fiction, published in stand-alone formats by ambitious fanzine editors who wanted to provide a forum for the DS novels and novellas that were too long for their ‘zines. This glut of stories led to a kind of fanfic High Renaissance, ultimately affording a refreshing re-imagining of familiar characters. The foremost development in this wave of DS fanfic was the over-throw of the Victoria Winters-Maggie Evans-type ingénue in favor of the sophisticated, intelligent professional woman – well, in a word, Julia Hoffman. The re-drawing of Julia as the partner of Barnabas (intellectually as well as connubially) mirrored contemporary sensibilities about the sexes. Presenting her as sexually desirable, too, surely vindicated the aspirations of working women to be both an autonomous character in her own right and an object of desire. Now we could not only get the satisfaction of Julia’s unrequited love for Barnabas finally “-quited,” but even get occasional hints that Julia had a worthwhile existence apart from Barnabas. Julia’s rise in fanfic inescapably made clear that she had become a vehicle of self-validation for many fanfic writers and readers. [1]


The first Dark Shadows zine was The World of Dark Shadows, published in 1975.

See: List of Dark Shadows Fanzines and Category:Dark Shadows.


In 1977, the first Dark Shadows convention, Shadowcon, 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.

"Dark Shadows Festival, founded in 1983, superseded the original Shadowcon gatherings. The first "fests" were held at 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 and Night of Dark Shadows. 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. 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. 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 has attended 13 of the 16 fests held through 1993." [2]


Unlike other fandoms, fanvids were strongly discouraged in Dark Shadows fandom. While most professional conventions didn't show fanvids, almost every media fandom since Star Trek has maintained a robust, if somewhat underground, group of vidders who shared their songvids with other fans. However, as one fan explained:

"For some reason in that fandom, songvids were not only not encouraged, they were discouraged..... The [organizer] who ran the fests (to which the actors came)....would shut down anyone trying to sell VHS tapes of vids at the Dark Shadows conventions, and also any websites that would try and sell them online. Needless to say, since he ran the conventions, and controlled fan's access to all the stars, no one wanted to cross him, and so would voluntarily not make vids. Some people did anyway, and with the advent of the internet and youtube, it kind of exploded beyond his control anyway..."[3]

An example of one of the songtape collections that managed to escape into the wild can be found here and here. A small selection of fanvids online can be found here, and of course, a Youtube search reveals many more vids. An incomplete playlist of songvids and other fan made productions that were shown at the 2003 Dark Shadows Festival in New York can be found here.


  1. from The Collins Mausoleum #3
  2. http://www.answers.com/topic/dark-shadows-fandom Dark Shwods Fandom at Answers.com
  3. Source: Dark Shadows fan email to Morgan Dawn, name withheld by request (accessed December 11, 2011).