Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Weird West FINALLY Comes Into Its Own!
Weird West has always been the rough and tumble cousin to Steampunk, or maybe its Steampunk's distinctly American brother. The two have been around for roughly the same amount of time, if you consider the Frank Reade Dime Novels as one of the earliest examples of American Steampunk....but Steampunk today tends to favor a more European aesthetic with the Pith Helmets and British officers uniforms, the Frankenstein-esque contraptions, leather Military goods; and Tea, lots and lots of Tea......because Coffee just doesn't cut it! The Victorian Age, as we think of it, was really a European and American East Coast convention....although Victorian Aesthetic did, quite successfully, find its way into the dress and designs of the Western United States...as some Westerns tried their best to live within the splendor and elegance of the age among the dust and the heat and the rattlesnakes.
As an extreme fan of all things Steamy I will say that there have been MASTERFUL works of art created by Steampunks on BOTH sides of the "Pond", but the bottom line is, aesthetically, European Steampunk currently rules and the Weird West has partially been left in the dust, as it were...but no longer with the recent publication of Paul Green's Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns.
The product description on Amazon says this: From automatons to zombies, many fantastic elements have been cross-pollinated with the western genre. This A-to-Z encyclopedia of the Weird Western covers film, television, animation, dime novels, pulp fiction, comic books, novels, short stories and video and role-playing games.
Wow! This is number one on my Christmas list this year, What a resource! Of course Im always looking for new Weird West stuff, so this is a very exciting book.
Now I will say this, I did read a product review and I don't agree 100% with some of the things listed in the book. I don't consider Blood Meridian a Weird Western simply because its super duper violent....there are plenty of straight Westerns that have extreme violence. Usually, to me at least, a Weird Western has an element of the fantastic or the supernatural....which I don't believe Blood Meridian has. I also don't agree with the inclusion of the old David Carradine series Kung Fu. The idea of a Shaolin Monks traveling through the American Old West isn't all that strange, especially if he is a Shaolin Monk of the time.....now if he was from the future....But don't let this fool you, Mr. Green knows exactly what he is talking about in terms of Weird West, these disagreements might simply be a case of, what my friend Steve calls, opening the Umbrella too wide.
With that said, this book is a resource that any Weird Westerner, or fan of the Genre can not live without!
One more thing, while searching for reviews about this book, I came across Mr Green's Weird West blog site, which is very much in the vein of this one. Like his book, its called the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, and is something of a companion/addendum; you should check it out!
Its good too see interest in this Weird West stuff growing!