Friday, September 25, 2009

The Weird, Haunted, Eldrich, Occult Old West of Tex Arcana!

If you read Heavy Metal in the 1980's, than you probably remember a funny/scary little Weird West strip called Tex Arcana by John Findley. I used to read Heavy Metal in high school, but I only came across Tex once, in a tenth anniversary issue. The story was called The Ballad of the Witch's Daughter and it was a conventional Horror Western with a few of the regular Tex Arcana characters....and it sure left an impression.

Hosted by the Old Claim Jumper, a Crypt Keeper type of character who, though dead, lives in his grave with the epitaph Here lies the Old Claim Jumper, ? - 1850, His dyin' were hard an' he deserved it . Tex Arcana hearkens back to the old EC horror books, but then takes the idea and does something new with it. Its black and white illustrations have a creepy Underground comix feel to them and yet it can't seem to escape its Heavy Metal, drug era roots, mostly with two of its characters. The inter-dimensional demons Herp and Sweaz are right out of the animated Heavy Metal movie or the underground comix scene. I don't hate them as characters, or even dislike them....but I do wish they were only temporary...(Ive got mushroom demon in my Weird Western comic)....however since their introduction, they've become two of the major characters.

I had no idea that the strip was a long running, Weird Western graphic novel in the works when I first read it. A few years ago, however, I found that it had been collected into book form, so of course I bought it. I haven't read the whole thing yet so I can't really make any judgment on its content as a whole, but the story I DID read (Book 1: The Stranger) was a really good Vampire story about a mysterious stranger who comes to the town of Hangman's Corners and infects it, turning its citizens into Vampires. The story also introduced the characters we would be following into the rest of the stories. I enjoyed the it very much and was surprised by a few things, like Tex Arcana was an actual character, a magical Cowboy, who's whole face is never seen. He tends to show up to trouble too late (if at all) and is always accompanied by the mysterious Lady in White who is WAY more powerful than he is, and speaks in a foreign tongue that no one understands. Personally I wish there had been more Tex, he seems pretty interesting, but doesn't show up a lot throughout the stories, which I guess adds to his mystery.

Honestly, though, you don't need me to review this book, there is this website, you see, for the comic...the official website of John Findley, that not only reprints the entire contents of the Tex Arcana book, but also a brand new story that has yet to be's about Tex's Mysterious Woman in White. So if you have nothing to do this weekend, and don't mind spending a few hours in the town of Hangman's Corners...head on over and rest a spell...Tex, The Woman in White, Doc Mason, and the others are waiting to show you a few cracking good stories from the "Weird, Haunted, Eldrich, Occult Old West of Tex Arcana"!


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