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Sunday, February 27, 2011

High Noon. 13 of the Best Wild West Picture Library Stories Ever. Steve Holland (Editor). Prion (2008)

An interesting and nostalgic collection of stories from a period when Westerns were part of the entertainment mainstream. The stories feature such established Western heroes as Daniel Boone and Kit Carson as well as creating their own such as the cowboy foreman, The Kansas Kid and the sheriff Buck Jones. The stories are very straightforward with crooked politicians, rustlers, overbearing soldiers stirring up the local Indian tribes and an assortment of crooks. To a large extent the stories read like episodes of the popular Western serials on television at the time they were published, like "The High Chaparral" or "The Virginian". It is notable that no writers or artists are credited in the volume.
The format of the stories, usually two large panels per page forces a uniform, rather slow, pace to the stories which takes a little getting used to. The artists take full advantage of the extra space to include considerable detail in the stories, the slower pace allows the details to be relished. There is a fair amount of variety with the art styles so there clearly was no house style for the publications.
The writing is a little clunky at times, it can repeat the action of the panel, telling and showing at the same time. It also is a bit more text heavy than contemporary comics and this also slows the pace of the comic. The stories are solid Western adventures, they do not challenge or play with the genre, they are very low on cliches also. It is a good fun collection, the stories are not memorable enough in themselves to survive with some support from nostalgia, the art fares better than the writing.

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