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Friday, May 30, 2014


The Western is dead.

Hollywood says so.  We are too urban a culture for its stoic hero to be evocative to the audience any more.

Will stories of King Arthur and Camelot and the knights of the round table ever die out in England?  I don’t think so.

The wonder and appeal of Showtime's PENNY DREADFUL

indicates the archetype of the mysterious American gunman is still alive in our collective unconscious.

Episode 101


I love Westerns. I love that they intrinsically carry messages of hope, possibility and freedom,

that they contain within them a deep sense of myth for a time when a country was arguably at its most fascinating.

And I believe Myth is what is needed in new tales of the cowboy archetype as is indicated by PENNY DREADFUL.

I believe that the Western has proven its evolution and can still be appreciated by modern viewers, albeit through quite a different, darker approach than at the point of its origin.

As I wandered the dark streets of post-Katrina New Orleans, the idea of an immortal cowboy out of time and place appealed to me.

A mythic Texas Ranger with the sensibilities of a philosopher and the nature of a monster contesting against other creatures of the night from the years 1815 to 2005.

I've had fun placing Samuel McCord in the Bermuda Triangle of 1853,

next to a 12 year old Mark Twain in the Missouri of 1848,

fighting the Sepoy Mutiny as he escorts a 7 year old girl all across a 1857 India,

fighting grey aliens with an older Mark Twain in the Sandwich Islands of 1866, 

breaking Oscar Wilde out of prison with Mark Twain and ending up in 1895 Egypt,

unwittingly unleasing an ancient horror in the Badlands of South Dakota as the first talking Western is filmed in 1927,

and fighting corruption, civil unrest, and supernatural predators in the Katrina ravaged New Orleans of 2005.

And along the way meeting the undead Abigail Adams, leader of America's revenants, Empress Theodora, Empress of Europe's undead --

the hybrid animal aliens of ancient Egypt, the grey aliens of another part of our galaxy, the genius of Nikola Tesla.

And his immortal wife, She Who Devours, once known as Sekhmet, now called Empress Meilori Shinseen.

Can a monster clinging to the remnants of his humanity stay married to a being without any?

It's hard to tell which is scarier in Showtime's new series Penny Dreadful:

The living conditions of 1890s-era Victorian London or the weirdness inherent in the characters and creatures that inhabit the show.

In like manner, I show the true living conditions in each era McCord finds himself from the savage West Texas of 1815 to the harsh brutality of British ruled Egypt of 1895 --

from Queen Victoria to Winston Churchill to President Bush, McCord clashes with political cruelty.

What is a good horror story?

It is a story about people and they've got real concerns with real conflicts. But at the same time, everything that makes up a human being —

the turbulence, the guilt, the good sides, the bad sides —

they're all roiling around in everybody.

Everybody's on some journey to try and gain some kind of redemption or create a family or create a life.

“One must have a mind of winter to behold the nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
- Wallace Stevens

So?  Is there any hope for McCord to become popular?


  1. The space cowboys with lasers and flyers are based on real cowboys with Colts and horses.

    McCord's adventures will determine how well he survives. He has an aura of competence and undertones of strength. He already time travels and has seemed almost immortal, so yes, I think McCord will survive. I keep forgetting about his dark side. . .

    Good Luck and crossed fingers sent your way, to be used when you need them.

  2. Hollywood schmollywood. I refuse to be dictated to by faceless beings about what I will, or won't read.
    Good writing and gripping stories survive.
    Your time WILL come.

  3. McCord is the hottest cold (or whatever you are when undead) guy I have ever met.

  4. D.G.:
    Yes, the crossed fingers are definitely needed. As is the vote of support for McCord. FIREFLY, a Western Space Opera, didn't even last a season. :-(

    Elephant's Child:
    Thanks for the affirmation. I need it. McCord, being McCord, merely endures without comment. :-)

    Sam tips his Stetson to you, and I think I saw him blush. :-)