There are people who will tell you that the Western is dead (at least in comic books). They will tell you that no one wants to read “horse opera” and that everyone wants to see over-muscled men and big-breasted women covered in spandex attempting to wrap I-beams around each other’s heads, or flesh-eating zombies stumbling across the post-apocalyptic landscape. We are not one of those people. We are happy to report that the Western is still here, and alive and doing well (enough). As a matter of fact, Indie publisher, Main Enterprises has produced two Western comics, as well as a Western-themed art book in 2013. Western Tales #1 & #2, and Under Western Skies (featuring the art of John Lambert).
Each issue of Western Tales is 24 pages; the B&W comics each have color covers and feature three features apiece. Issue #1 offers up stories by Rock Baker (Sadie 6-Shot, In: Caught!), Cain Hawkins: Reputation by Roger Keel (writer) and Tony Lorenz (art), as well as a Sneak Peak Preview of Lambert’s Under Western Skies art. The Sadie 6-Shot strip is actually the second appearance of Baker’s character, which debuted in Main’s *PPFSZT! 2012 Annual. The story, Reputation, marks the return of the character Cain Hawkins, w premiered in *PPFSZT! #36.
Issue #2 continues with a new Cain Hawkins tales, Mirages, again by Roger Keel and Lorenz, which is followed by the return of The Gunslinger, in Return Policy, by Sam Gafford and Lambert who previously appeared in Main’s Boot Hill title. In addition to these two illustrated tales is a prose piece, Dangerous Dan Wade, written by Link Hullar that harkens back to those great western pulps. The Dangerous Dan story is accompanied spot illustrations by Jack Bertram.
Under Western Skies is a truly beautiful black and white magazine-sized portfolio publication featuring a series of Western-genre illustrations by Lambert. All three of these publications (including the previously-published comics by Jim Main’s Main Enterprises comics are perhaps a small push-back against the overwhelming tide of costumed heroes and shuffling zombies, but they are a welcome respite, as the stories are well-told tales of men and women dealing with the mundane and the thrilling aspects of the Old West. We do especially want to draw attention to the Good Girl Art of the amazing Rock Baker, whose art portfolio comic Rock On: The art of Rock Baker was also published by Main Enterprises during 2013. Needless to say, we are also great fans of Lambert and Lorenz and the storytelling of Keel and Hullar (it was also especially nice to see that Main included a short text story in the second issue of Western Tales, as we discovered how much we actually missed reading stories like this in comics).
So, if you are looking for Westerns (or superheroes, or cops, horror, comedy, or even slice-of-life stories, you just might want to make your way over to the ecrater site of Main Enterprises and check out what they have to offer. You’ll be glad that you did.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.