I may have a personal bias in favor of this book due to the fact I was asked to contribute an essay by co-editor Cynthia J. Miller. But after reading this volume no bias is required to recommend it to all Weird Western fans. My essay concentrates on the Weird Western comic books of the 1950s from Ghost Rider to Masked Rider to Straight Arrow and beyond – including Spurs Jackson and his Space Vigilantes tracking Adolf Hitler and his fellow Nazis to Mars!
An essay by Jeffrey Shanks and Mark Finn that I found particularly interesting chronicles the Weird Western stories and influences of author Robert E. Howard including his best known story “Horror From The Mound.” Other essays of note (from my personal viewpoint) are “On Death’s Horizon” by Courtney Fellion where she explores the relationship between landscape, death and spirits in Western art and cinema. Her intelligent and thoughtful essay contrasts dislocated Western characters who “traverse the boundaries of civilization and wilderness as well as life and death.” The films Dead Man (1995) and High Plains Drifter (1973) and their undead heroes serve as examples of “surreal ghost stories that raise more questions than answers.”
In his essay “Unsettled: Ghosts, Zombies and Indians in the American West” C. Richard King admits he hates zombies but acknowledges their cultural importance. Noting that the zombie culture was formed in Haiti against a backdrop of colonization, slavery and racism King views the popularity of the ‘Undead’ American Indian as an expression of repressed racial anxiety and collective guilt. Jeffrey A. Sartain also covers zombie territory in his essay about Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead and classifies it as “a modern zombie Western.”
Other essays cover the subjects of Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, Deadlands RPG, Darkwatch, Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, Joe R. Lansdale, Rot and Ruin, Preacher, Priest, Red Dead Redemption-Undead Nightmare, Mi-Woo Hyung, The Missing, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Fan Fiction.
Published by Scarecrow Press Inc. 2013. Review copyright Paul Green (Weird Westerns) 2013.