The World of Shaft

A Complete Guide to the Novels, Comic Strip, Films and Television Series


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About the Book

Mention Shaft and most people think of Gordon Parks’ seminal 1971 film starring Richard Roundtree in a leather coat, walking the streets of Manhattan to Isaac Hayes’ iconic theme music. But the black private dick who inspired the blaxploitation film genre actually made his debut on the printed page as the creation of a white novelist.
Ernest Tidyman was a seasoned journalist down on his luck when he decided to try his hand at fiction. Shaft was the result, giving Tidyman the break he was looking for. He went on to become an Academy Award winning screenwriter and respected film producer.
Based on extensive research of Tidyman’s personal papers, this book tells the story of Shaft from the perspective of his creator. The author provides new insight and analysis of the writing of the Shaft novels, as well as the production of the films and TV series. First-ever coverage of the forgotten Shaft newspaper comic strip includes previously unseen artwork. Also included is Shaft’s recent reappearance on the printed page, in both comic book and prose form.

About the Author(s)

Steve Aldous works in the banking industry in the UK and has a lifelong interest in crime fiction and cinema. The author of a number of well-received short stories, he lives in Bury, Lancashire, UK.

Bibliographic Details

Steve Aldous
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 38 photos, appendices, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9923-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2223-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword by David F. Walker 1

Introduction 5

Part I—The Genesis of John Shaft

1. The Shaft Phenomenon 9

2. Ernest Tidyman: The White Man Behind the Black Hero 15

Part II—Shaft in Print

3. The Shaft Novels 35

Book 1: Shaft (1970) 41

Book 2: Shaft Among the Jews (1972) 50

Book 3: Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) 58

Book 4: Shaft Has a Ball (1973) 63

Book 5: Goodbye, Mr. Shaft (1973) 69

Book 6: Shaft’s Carnival of Killers (1974) 77

Book 7: The Last Shaft (1975) 83

4. The Shaft Comic Strip 91

5. John Shaft: A Portrait 96

6. Shaft’s Supporting Characters 106

7. Shaft’s New York 117

Part III—Shaft on Screen

8. Gordon Parks: A Life in Pictures 133

9. Richard Roundtree: The Man Who Was Shaft 137

10. The Shaft Films

Shaft (1971) 142

Shaft’s Big Score! (1972) 161

Shaft in Africa (1973) 176

11. The Shaft TV Series (1973–4) 189

Episode 1: “The Executioners” 194

Episode 2: “The Killing” 197

Episode 3: “Hit-Run” 200

Episode 4: “The Kidnapping” 201

Episode 5: “Cop Killer” 204

Episode 6: “The Capricorn Murders” 206

Episode 7: “The Murder Machine” 208

12. Shaft Returns

Shaft (2000) 211

Epilogue: Shaft Back in Print 221


A: Ernest Tidyman Credits 225

B: Gordon Parks Credits 226

C: Richard Roundtree Credits 227

D: Robert Turner Credits 230

E: Phillip Rock Credits 230

F: Shaft’s Publishers 231

G: Shaft’s Openings 231

H: A Character Named Willie 232

Chapter Notes 233

Bibliography 243

Index 249

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent”—Kirkus Reviews; “buy this book…pretty much all you’d ever want to know about Shaft”—The Thrilling Detective Web Site; “extensive information…the only go-to quick reference you’ll ever need…essential”—Cinema Retro; “Shaft’s creator, Ernest Tidyman, provides the inspiration and extensive personal notes for the basis of this exhaustive study of the first true ‘Blackploitation’ print and film star…Shaft’s early life, his influences, motivation…makes for a fascinating read”—Collector’s Corner; “relates a story of a pioneering “blaxploitation” film of 1971- and the novels from which it was drawn and the comic strip and brief TV series that expanded the genre”—Communications Booknotes Quarterly; “a wonderful, fascinating, well-researched, and extremely detailed look into every permutation of Shaft…everything a Shaft fan could want, filled with terrific details on the writing and development of the books and films…excellent…strongly recommended”—Lee Goldberg, author and producer.