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Weird West - Wiki 06-13-2012

Weird West - Wiki 06-13-2012

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Weird West1
Weird West
Weird West
is used to describe a combination of the Western with another literary genre,
[1]
usually horror, occult,or fantasy.DC's
Weird Western Tales
appeared in the early 1970s and the weird Western was further popularized by Joe R.Lansdale who "is best known for his tales of the 'weird west,' a genre mixing splatterpunk with alternate historyWestern almost entirely defined by the author in the early nineties. His work reads a little like the sort of folklore inwhich Mark Twain dabbled (or the Gothic in which Flannery O'Connor was involved), but with zombies andgore."
[2]
Examples of these cross-genres include
 Deadlands
(Western/horror),
[1]
 
The Wild Wild West 
and its later filmadaptation (Western/steampunk),
[1]
 
 Jonah Hex
(Western/superhero),
 BraveStarr 
(Western/science fiction) and manyothers.
Background
Cowboys and gunfighters are iconic American heroes and using them as heroes in other milieus was only natural.The Western uses themes that are compatible with the themes found in other genres. Like science fiction stories seton distant planets, Westerns use the themes of unknown wilderness and the survival of pioneers. Westerns also offerstories of struggles to maintain social order in a lawless environment.This leads naturally into the science fiction Western where anachronistic science is injected into a Western settingusually in a steampunk manner. Given that space is the final frontier it is also unsurprising that the themes thatoriginated in Westerns re-appear in science fiction too, resulting in the space Western.The supernatural menaces of horror fiction are easy to inject into this setting, creating the horror Western. Writer G.W. Thomas
[3]
has described how the two combine: "Unlike many other cross-genre tales, the weird Western usesboth elements but with very little loss of distinction. The Western setting is decidedly 'Western' and the horrorelements are obviously 'horror.'"
[4]
The superhero Western grew out of the horror Western as Jonah Hex first made an appearance in
Weird WesternTales
before getting his eponymous own series which went very weird in the hands of leading Weird West authorJoe R. Lansdale. Hex has appeared alongside more obvious superheroes and has inspired other stories in which theJLA are shown in the wild west (in the animated series and in the Elseworlds outing
 Justice Riders
). Recently,Marvel have introduced their own Western superhero in the shape of Vegas.The Weird West also accommodates less easily classified genres including alternate history, speculative fiction andmore fantastical elements.If anything, the Weird West genre is becoming more popular. It shows the potential to inject new life at a time whenfew authors are working with traditional Western stories. Jeff Mariotte's comic book series
 Desperadoes
has beenrunning, off and on, for a decade now and he still remains bullish about the genre:
[5]
As far as Mariotte is concerned, the potential for Weird West stories is limitless.
The West was a weirdplace. There are ghost towns and haunted mines and when you bring Native American beliefs into it,then the possibilities are even greater.
 
Weird West2
Examples
Books
The term is of recent coinage, but the ideaof crossing genres goes back to at least the heyday of pulpmagazines. There was at least one series character who could be classified as a Weird West character. Lee Winters was a deputywhose adventures often involved ghosts, sorcery and creatures from Greek mythology. The Winters stories werewritten by Lon Williams and published in the 1950s. Around that same time, one of the oddest of all Westerncharacters, Six-Gun Gorilla, appeared. This was an actual gorilla who strapped on a pair of Colts to avenge the deathof the kindly prospector who had raised him. His adventures appeared in the pulps
 Adventure
and
Wizard 
.There have also been various Weird West novels including Joe R. Lansdale's
 Dead in the West 
. In this book anunjustly lynched Indian shaman curses the town of Mud Creek, Texas. After dark the dead rise and only theReverend Jebediah Mercer can save the inhabitants.Examples include:"The Horror from the Mound" (by Robert E. Howard, in
Weird Tales
, 1932)
[6]
Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down
(by Ishmael Reed, 1969, ISBN 1-56478-238-7)
The Drop Edge of Yonder 
(by Rudy Wurlitzer, 2008)Stephen King's
 Dark Tower 
saga (1982-2007)
 Dead in the West 
(by Joe R. Lansdale, 1986, ISBN 0-917053-04-4, 1994, ISBN 1-892300-00-1, 2005, ISBN1-59780-014-7)
[7]
The Haunted Mesa
(by Louis L'Amour, 1987, ISBN 0-553-05182-2)
Walking Wolf: A Weird Western
(by Nancy A. Collins, 1995, ISBN 0-929480-42-2)
 Mad Amos
(by Alan Dean Foster, 1996, ISBN 0-345-39362-7)
 Bone Wars
(by Brett Davis, 1998, ISBN 0-671-87880-8)
[8]
The Place of Dead Roads
(by William S. Burroughs, 1983, ISBN 0-03-070416-2)
 A Fist Full O' Dead Guys
(anthology, edited by Shane Lacy Hensley, Pinnacle Entertainment, 1999, ISBN1-889546-65-8)
[9]
 For a Few Dead Guys More
(anthology, edited by Shane Lacy Hensley, foreword by Joe R. Lansdale, PinnacleEntertainment, 1999, ISBN 1-889546-66-6)
[10]
 Zeppelins West 
(by Joe R. Lansdale, 2001)
[11]
The Sundowners series (by James Swallow, 2001)
 Dead Man's Hand: Five Tales of the Weird West 
(by Nancy A. Collins, foreword by Joe R. Lansdale, Two Wolf Press, 2004, ISBN 1-58846-875-5)
The Crossings
(by Jack Ketchum, Cemetery Dance Publications, 2004, ISBN 1-58767-067-4)
[12]
The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
(by Tim Pratt, 2005, ISBN 0-553-38338-8)
Territory
(by Emma Bull, 2007, ISBN 0-312-85735-7)
The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western
(by Richard Brautigan, 1974)
 Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter 
(by Edward M. Erdelac,2009, ISBN 978-1-61572-060-6)
 How the West Was Weird 
(anthology, March 2010, ISBN 978-1-4495-8057-5)
 Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name
(by Edward M. Erdelac,2010, ISBN 978-1-61572-190-0)
TV
In the 1960s, the television series
The Wild Wild West 
brought elements of spy stories and science fiction to the OldWest. The cartoon adventures of the
 Lone Ranger 
followed suit by pitting the famous Western hero against madscientists and other villains not often found in Western stories. Rod Serling was fond of Westerns and often usedthem as settings for his
Twilight Zone
stories, such as "Showdown with Rance McGrew."
 Kung Fu.
which followedthe adventures of a fugitive Shaolin monk armed only with the show title's eponymous martial art skill, is another
 
Weird West3famous example of an unorthodox Western. Perhaps one of the earliest minor examples on the small screen was theanachronistic appearance of the 1946 Willys Jeep "Nellybelle" in the supposedly 19th-century adventures of RoyRogers during his eponymous 1950s television series.Examples include:
 Bonanza: "Hoss and the Leprechauns" (1963)
The Wild Wild West 
(1965
 – 
1969)
Cliffhangers
: "The Secret Empire" (1979)
Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs
(1984)
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
(1986)
 BraveStarr 
(1987)
Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa
(1992
 – 
1994)
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
(1993
 – 
1994)
 Legend 
(1995)
The Lazarus Man
(1996)
 Justice League Unlimited 
: "The Once and Future Thing, Part 1: Weird Western Tales" (2005)
Supernatural
: "Frontierland" (2011)
Comics
In comic books a number of heroes had adventures involving monsters, aliens, and costumed supervillains. MarvelComics characters such as Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid, and Two-Gun Kid all had such adventures. Where Marvel wentin for supervillains, DC Comics added more of a horror element to their stories such as Jonah Hex, pushed further inthree mini-series from Vertigo written by Joe R. Lansdale. The DC character
Tomahawk 
could also be termed a heroof the Weird West, though his adventures were set in the colonies during the time of the American Revolution.The Amalgam Comics crossover between DC and Marvel produced only one Weird West title, a one-shot
Generation Hex
: "Humanity's Last Stand" (Jonah Hex crossed with Generation X - mutants in the Old West) but aswell as actual titles they also created wider fictional backstories to set them in. So in this case they suggestedAmalgam had a whole genre line called "Malformed West" which had been popular and seen a resurgence of interestin the nineties with (fictional) titles including
Weird Western Mutant Tales
.
[13][14]
Another example worthy of note is
 Preacher 
. While it is the origin of the Saint of Killers, as shown in hiseponymous series, that is the only part set in the Old West, the whole series is an example of an interesting genrefusion. Described as a "Splatterpunk Western", the more subtle cross-genre mixing is a rare one - a mix of theWestern with the Gothic.
[15]
Examples include:
13 Chambers
by mink and Denis Medri, Image Comics, 2008)
[16]
 American Gothic
, by Ian Edginton and Mike Collins
The Big Book of the Weird Wild West: How the West Was Really Won!
, anthology from Paradox Press
 Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities
, by Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz (Dark Horse Comics, 2006, ISBN1-59307-448-4)
[17]
Cowboys & Aliens
[18][19][20]
 Daisy Kutter 
by Kazu Kibuishi
[21]
 Dead Irons
(by James Kuhoric and Jason Shawn Alexander)
[22][23][24]
 Dead West 
[25][26]
 Dead in the West 
, by Joe R. Lansdale and Neal Barrett Jr., with artist Jack Jackson (2-issue mini-series, Dark Horse Comics, 1993, collected in
 Atomic Chili
)
[27]
The Deadlander 
by Kevin Ferrara (4-issue mini-series, Dark Horse, forthcoming)
[28]
 Demon Gun
by Gary Cohn and Barry Orkin
[29][30]

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