2023 Ray and Pat Browne Award for Best Edited Collection in Popular and American Culture
One of the greatest untold stories about the globalization of the Western is the key role of comics. Few American cultural exports have been as successful globally as the Western, a phenomenon commonly attributed to the widespread circulation of fiction, film, and television. The Comic Book Western centers comics in the Western’s international success. Even as readers consumed translations of American comic book Westerns, they fell in love with local ones that became national or international sensations.
These essays reveal the unexpected cross-pollinations that allowed the Western to emerge from and speak to a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, including Spanish and Italian fascism, Polish historical memory, the ideology of shōjo manga from Japan, British post-apocalypticism and the gothic, race and identity in Canada, Mexican gender politics, French critiques of manifest destiny, and gaucho nationalism in Argentina. The vibrant themes uncovered in The Comic Book Western teach us that international comic book Westerns are not hollow imitations but complex and aesthetically powerful statements about identity, culture, and politics.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction: The Globalization of the Comic Book Western Christopher Conway and Antoinette Sol Part 1. Transnational Histories 1. Italian Western Comics and the Myth of the Open Frontier Simone Castaldi 2. Comic Book Westerns and the Melodramatic Imagination in Mexico Christopher Conway 3. German Western Readers and the Transnational Imagination Johannes Fehrle 4. Beyond Parody: Polish Comic Book Westerns from the 1960s through the 2010s Marek Paryz 5. Blueberry: Remaking the Western in Franco-Belgian Bandes dessinées Antoinette Sol Part 2. Critical Reinscriptions 6. Argentina’s Outlaws and the Revisionist Western: The Case of Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Hugo Pratt’s Sargento Kirk Manuela Borzone 7. British Comics and the Western: The Future West, the Supernatural, and Strong Women in The HellTrekkers, The Dead Man, and Missionary Man Lee Broughton 8. Canada’s Triumph Comics and David Garneau’s Métis Response to the “Indian” of the Comic Book Western Joel Deshaye 9. A Spanish View of the American West: El Coyote and His Comic Magazine David Rio 10. Faraway So Close: The Representation of the American West in Igarashi Yumiko’s Mayme Angel Rebecca Suter Contributors Index
Christopher Conway is a professor of Spanish at the University of Texas at Arlington. He is the author or editor of several books, including Heroes of the Borderlands: The Western in Mexican Film, Comics, and Music. Antoinette Sol is a professor of French at the University of Texas at Arlington and coeditor of MLA’s Teaching Representations of the French Revolution.
"With thirty-four black-and-white illustrations, this well-edited and beautifully produced book is as engaging as it is ambitious, as illuminating as it is important. All of the essays speak to the breadth, variety, and adaptability of the Western genre, as well as to the power of Western comics to function as important social and aesthetic productions in a variety of cultural settings. No future work on the Western genre in comics will be able to ignore it."—Daniel Pinti, Western American Literature
"Conway and Sol have assembled a rich anthology, a balanced, insightful volume that effectively addresses the global nature of its subject. . . . I suspect comics scholars interested in the Western genre, or in comparative studies in general, will find this a useful resource for years to come."—Chris York, International Journal of Comic Art
"This collection is an erudite and persuasive rejoinder that the Western matters, and matters internationally, and that Western comics are a vital and important example of how and why."—David Huxley, Publishing Research Quarterly
"Stories of how different nations tell stories that resonate to their citizens using the settings and tropes of the American West make for interesting reading."—Jeffery J. Mariotte, Roundup Magazine
“Masterfully organized and expansive in scope, The Comic Book Western brings together diverse perspectives on the global reach of Western comics. Simply a must-read for readers interested in popular culture, frontier myths, and the transnational life of cultural goods.”—William Acree, author of Staging Frontiers: The Making of Modern Popular Culture in Argentina and Uruguay
“Creators outside the United States have restaged the Western’s themes to explore their own culture and politics since the beginning of comics. This volume is especially welcome because it looks at the importance of translation, transcreation, adoption, reterritorialization, and hybridity in relation to global comic studies.”—Flavia Brizio-Skov, author of Ride the Frontier: Exploring the Myth of the American West on Screen
“The assembled scholars beautifully trace how the oft-overlooked Western comic is truly adventurous, engaging, critical, and vital for any study of transnational and global comics today.”—Nhora Lucía Serrano, editor of Immigrants and Comics: Graphic Spaces of Remembrance, Transaction, and Mimesis
“This excellent collection unpacks over a hundred years of reinventions of the frontier theme in comic books and offers trailblazing new readings of the entanglements between the various national traditions. Examining as it does the global reach of the comic book Western genre, and firmly positioning it in the context of transnational comic book history, Conway and Sol’s volume is essential reading.”—Ewa Stańczyk, editor of Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and the Holocaust
“The essays collected here establish the historical origins for the international fascination with the American West and its stories, tracing how the Western migrated from other media into comic books and situating the Western comic within the broader context of graphic narratives in their home countries. Together, they reveal how the Western comic both affirms and challenges local and imported cultural traditions and conventions.”—Andrew Patrick Nelson, author of Still in the Saddle: The Hollywood Western, 1969–1980