Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dress Up in Boomtown

Earlier in the year I mentioned playing a Facebook game called Boomtown.  One of the fun things about the game is the ability to reshape your character’s look however you like.  Here are a few versions of my gunslinger that I’ve made so far.
Lou Prophet
Louisa Bonaventure, aka "The Vengeance Queen"
Rawhide Kid
Tallulah Black

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Four Stations of the Western Literary Cross

After a long, sweaty day of yard work, Mrs. Slap and I sat out on the back deck over moonshine and tea discussing what books we intend to start next.  After years on the sidelines, Mrs. Slap recently read Riders of the Purple Sage and liked it so much that she picked up Call of the Canyon soon after.  I was thinking of other literary westerns with strong character development when it occurs to me that there are four stations of the western cross, if you will, that create a well read western reader.  These include:

Riders of the Purple Sage, Zane Grey

Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

Shane, Jack Schaefer

The Virginian, Owen Wister

What do you think?  What did I leave out?  Comments, please, comments!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bad Ass Bass Reeves

Bad Ass of the Week brings back the western again with a profile of Texas Ranger Bass Reeves.  Here’s a sneak peak:

After the Thirteenth Amendment made the south a little less suck-tastic for black people, Bass Reeves left his adoptive home with the Indians, bought a home in Arkansas, got married, had like ten kids, and lived for a while as a farmer and a horse breeder. That was cool and all, but Bass Reeves was the kind of guy who was always looking to serve up a nice warm knuckle sandwich to anything capable of feeling pain and he wasn't happy living the boring life of successful rancher. So when the infamous hardass "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker put out a call for U.S. Marshals in 1875, Bass was one of the first volunteers ready and willing to bring lethal hordes of armed-and-dangerous felons to justice. Thanks to his mammoth physical strength, tracking skills, intimate knowledge of the terrain, and language proficiency, he easily earned a spot on the force.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quickshots- Blake Edwards' Sunset

What happens when you mix James Garner playing Wyatt Earp and Bruce Willis as Tom Mix in a film directed by Pink Panther legend Blake Edwards set in 1920’s Hollywood?  You’d think genius entertainment, but really it’s a limply paced, blandly acted, wreck of a movie.  Sunset is taken from a short story by the same name about Wyatt Earp’s time in Hollywood as a technical adviser.  This being movie land, Earp ends up getting into mystery, murder, and adventure, with silent film actor Tom Mix at his side.  All the pieces are there, and you get a sense of how the plot should have worked, but somehow Sunset is significantly less than the sum of it's parts.  This 1988 film has a pretty famous cast, including Malcolm McDowell, Mariel Hemingway, and Dertmot Mulroney.  They are, alas, wasted.  The film was a box office disaster, was nominated for three Razzies, one of which Blake Edwards "won" for worst director.  Still, it is oddly engaging, and despite all of its faults you’ll still get wrapped up in it when you catch it late at night on Encore Westerns.

This shirt may be the best part of the film.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wisdom of Dusty and Lefty

From today’s Lives of the Cowboys on Prairie Home Companion:
by Larry Dixon

“You spend weeks out on the prairie longing for the company of people, then after two hours in town you can’t wait to get out by yourself again.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Best Thing to Come Out of the Jonah Hex Movie…

… is this image from the cover of JH #53, which was clearly done to imitate the style of the movie.  Not sure about the guns, though.  It looks like Hex is carrying a Volcanic pistol, which I don’t believe he ever does in the comics.  I have no idea what kind of rifle that is- a Spencer?  The soiled dove sure is purty, though.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lou Prophet, Where Have You Gone?

Earlier this year I wrote a lukewarm review of Peter Brandvold’s The Devil’s Winchester, an entry in a long running series about bounty hunter Lou Prophet (which you can find much more about by clicking on the Peter Brandvold tag below).  I didn’t like the book so much because it lacked the fun and character development of the earlier Prophet books.  Brandvold wrote back and asked me to stick around for the next one, sure to be to my liking.  Heck, he even offered to eat the manuscript on youtube if I didn't like itI pre-ordered The Devil Laughter right away, sure I’d love it.

I don’t.  Brandvold is still a good writer, but the Lou Prophet that I enjoyed so much, and frankly got me into reading westerns in the first place, is pretty much gone.  The books are all grimdark now, with lots of violence, and not much levity.  That was the genius of the early books- tales of an emotionally scarred Civil War vet who makes a deal with the devil to accept his eventual place in Hell as long as he can party as hard as he can on Earth.  All the bounty hunting stuff use to be just about funding the whiskey and whores, and those debauched and funny chapters were a blast.  My favorite chapter of any Prophet book is the opening of The Devil Gets His Due, where Lou wrestles a drunken mountain man’s drunken pet bear to impress a buxom saloon girl.  I still pull that chapter out from time to time for laughs.  I can’t even imagine a scene like that in these books any more.

Actually I can, because I saw a couple of preview images from a dormant Lou Prophet comic book years ago.  And damn, son, they were funny.  Unfortunately, I can’t find them anywhere on-line any more.  If anyone has them, send a link!  As the Prophet books continue I really do think that they’d play better as comic books, as the characters are vividly described oddities of the west, almost like Arkham Asylum let loose in the 1880’s.  
The Lou Prophet books could use a little more of this...
Let me make one thing clear- Brandvold is a great writer.  If action packed, blood and guts books are your thing, you need look no further.  They’re just not my thing, at least not all the time.