Sunday, August 28, 2011
Dead men--and women--tell no tales
Saddle Justice was an EC Comics entry into the field of Western-themed comic books, before they got into the New Trend comics that would make them infamous.
I like the alliterative titles of these stories, and the female protagonists, both of whom are as rough-and-tumble, if not more so, than the men they go up against. Johnny Craig did "The Lady Longrider" and Graham Ingels drew "The Grinning Gun Girl," setting the mood on the first page with the symbolic skull.
[SPOILER ALERT] The lessons of "Gun Girl" are muddled, especially in the last three panels when the law closes in. The posse decides to shoot down psychotic Sally "in cold blood" because it's the "only way we can stop her from killing more people!" The sheriff would rather "take her in alive. . .[but] no sense in running any more risk with a killer like her!" so they shoot her. As she lays dead the sheriff moralizes, "Reckon she was a bad one...human life didn't mean a thing to her it seems!" That's because even in death she has her grin and after shooting her in cold blood, he says, "See, she's still grinning! Sure was cold-blooded...even about her own death!" The code of the West in action! Another crime comics ending, where the law is just as brutal as the criminals they are chasing.
From Saddle Justice #6, 1949: