3:10 to Yuma, a remake based on an Elmore Leonard short story, opened yesterday, and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are already, according to reports I've heard, generating Oscar buzz. Can you remember the last time a Western spurred that kind of discussion?
Later this fall we'll see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, based on a novel by Ron Hansen. I believe Seraphim Falls has already been released, although if so it hasn't come to our local twin-plex. 2007 is becoming a banner year for movie westerns.
Sadly, a small handful of Western movies is a banner year, because there are so few being made these days. There are precious few Western comic books, too. I've had the good fortune to be associated with two; Desperadoes, which turns ten years old this month, and Graveslinger, which will be born next month.
This Wednesday, 9/12, the tenth anniversary edition of Desperadoes: Buffalo Dreams, goes on sale. This trade paperback collects the most recent Desperadoes miniseries, with incredible art by Alberto Dose. The series is, in many ways, more concerned with social issues that still haven't been entirely resolved--the treatment of First Americans, and the treatment of American bison--than with supernatural horror, but of course, as with other Desperadoes stories, there's some of that too. If you haven't read Desperadoes: A Moment's Sunlight, available as PDFs for just 99¢ each at pullbox online.
Here are quotes from some reviews of Buffalo Dreams:
there's no time like the present, and my essay in this book will fill you in on the rest of the story. Or you can pick up the previous books at some comic shops or online, including finding the first miniseries, "Sometimes Desperadoes is a western-gothic hybrid. At other times it's more of a gothic-western hybrid....As usual, writer Jeff Mariotte doesn't disappoint." -- Scoop
"Two parts western, two parts mystical vision,
and two parts philosophical insight form an outstanding concoction from writer
Jeff Mariotte and artist Alberto Dose." -- Scoop
"I'd truly love to see this tale in a novel format, because there's a LOT of story here that's already been told (in other comics), a LOT of story here that isn't told (due to the medium), and a LOT more story to come. That said, if you have a youngster and you'd like to introduce them to a Western story that might be a bit more acceptable to them than dusting off your collection of L'Amour novels, this is certainly a great approach. For that, I highly recommend it - and others in the series, as they become available." -- Westerns for Today
Speaking of Westerns, if you're a Western fan, you should know about Saddlebums Western Review, which I learned about from the aforementioned Westerns for Today. Looks like a great Western-oriented blog.
I consider myself a Western writer, just as much as I am a horror writer. Maybe more so, since I'm currently a member of the Western Writers of America, but not of the Horror Writers Association. Most of my original novels take place in the West (particularly The Slab, Missing White Girl , and River Runs Red, in progress now), and I take pains with the historical accuracy as well as with the depiction of landscape. A running theme is how the landscape and history have molded the people who live in the West today. Most of my prose work is about today's West, while the comics work tends to be about the old West, but that's a relatively minor distinction, I think. A more genuine distinction is that the prose is about the real West and the comics are about the mythical West--the outlaws and gunslingers and tough lawmen and hard women of the dime novels and the pulps and the b-movies.
But it's all the West, and I'm proud to wear the hat and spurs that are the uniform of the profession.
Since I know you'll want to buy this trade paperback as soon as it's on sale Wednesday, the cover is below. Ask at your local comic book shop, and if they don't have it in stock make 'em order it. It'll show up at bookstores in another week or two. And you can always get it online, at the link above or from many other sources.