Monday, August 08, 2016

Number 1929: Gingham fury

 We begin a theme week, Wild Westerns, today.

Pardners, jingle your spurs on over here, and sit your haunches down by the fire. We are cooking up some s'mores and reading about the gingham fury herself, Birdie Phillips. Birdie is quite a gal. Even if she fights fair against bad men who fight dirty, she fights like fury for what’s hers. And that would be her cattle, being rustled right out from under her perky little nose. There are bad men after Birdie, including an evil Indian, Red Horse, out to put a bullet in the gal.

There is casual racism towards Native Americans and Mexicans in this 8-page tale, but it is drawn by one of the greatest comic artists of all, Matt Baker, who was African-American. I am guessing he didn’t have much to do with the writing, just the drawing. (Whoever inked the story is unknown.)

One thing surprised me, pards, and that is the lack of romance in this tale from Western Bandit Trails #3 (1949). I expected Birdie to feel some fluttering in her bosom for one or two of the men in the story. But no, it is a story of justice, after all.

For Pappy readers from around the world who read English as a second language, I am hoping you can figure out the dialect-writing. If not, you can probably figure out the story based on the artwork. After all, that is what comic books are supposed to do, be easy to read with the help of the pictures.


Daniel [] said...

I note that Ms Phillips had a horse named “Nimrod”. Now-a-days, many people use “nimrod” as a term of insult, which use comes from a misunderstanding of ironic use, in combination with folk-etymology. But the original Nimrod was a character to whom reference is made in various books of the Old Testament; in which he were supposedly a mighty hunter.

The violence in this story is strangely both casual and restrained. I think that it's particularly odd to spare a life with the intention of seeing its possessor lynched.

Pappy said...

Daniel, didn't I hear Bugs Bunny call someone "a litle Nimrod" in a cartoon? Maybe he was talking about Elmer Fudd, a "mighty hunter."

I understand the concept of keeping someone alive until you can legally kill them. Unless they are successful at self destruction, prison or jail inmates who are caught attempting suicide will be saved and brought back to health before the state kills them. If they kill themselves then the state is negligent, but if the state kills as the ultimate act of a sentence, then that is okay. It doesn't make either act morally right in my mind, but I understand from a legal point of view why it is necessary.

Daniel [] said...

Yes, Bugs Bunny used the appellation ironically for Elmer Fudd; this was not the earliest ironic use on record, but may be the one that was most influentially misunderstood.

We observe various people attempting or committing suicide exactly to avoid execution or manners of execution — Göring comes immediately to mind.* So if we regard capital punishment as morally appropriate, then we might support acting to prevent suïcide by those sentenced to it.
* Göring said that hanging were unacceptable but that death by firing squad would have been acceptable. Gary Mark Gilmore was in fact killed by firing squad after two failed attempts at suïcide while on death row; but perhaps he were attempting to avoid appeals.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I'm not sure if hanging is any more cruel than other methods of execution, and I don't know if any states still permit it. Utah used to give a choice, hanging or firing squad,* and Gary Gilmore chose the latter. At the time I was bemused by all of the applications from citizens to be firing squad participants. There seemed to be no shortage of vengeful folks. I think the selection committee had to look long and hard at the people who volunteered, and their motives. (I am convinced that many people who carry firearms harbor a secret desire to kill "legally.")

Considering the depravity of killing methods employed by the Nazis I find it odd that Göring would consider one method of killing more acceptable than another. I am also thinking of the failed plot to kill Hitler, where Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was allowed to commit suicide, but other plotters were killed by strangulation with piano wire. A bullet to the back of the head (or even firing squad) would have accomplished the killing, but the method used was just the inhumane desire to cause pain and suffering to somehow satisfy revenge.

*Less well known is those good folks in Utah also had a choice of beheading, which, no surprise here, no one ever chose.

Daniel [] said...

Hanging was originally reserved for more despised folk. Before the introduction of the long drop in the late 19th Century, it was a slower way than decapitation or execution by firing squad. (The business of the person to be executed buying a better rope was to have one that tightened more and tightened more quickly!) Even as it seemed to become more humane,* in some circles it still carried with it a sense of opprobrium.

I'd not known that Utah for a time allowed the choice of beheading!
*The long drop paralyzes and renders the victim unconscious. I don't know that an unconscious person somehow suffers less as he or she is asphyxiated. Death still takes as much as 15 minutes.

Pappy said...

Daniel, we liked to keep death clean and painless in old books and movies. Remember those World War II movies when the GI who was shot would grab his chest and collapse to the ground? It preserved a fiction that people weren't blown to pieces even during a war.

Likewise old Western movies might show a hanging where the victim is dropped, and is dead immediately. I saw that when I watched Ride in the Whirlwind recently. It was made in 1966 and during a lynching scene used the trick of showing just the feet dangling, not pumping furiously or kicking out as someone would be doing until his airway is cut off and he loses consciousness.

I read years ago (maybe in a book about the Gilmore execution) the Mormons in Utah believed in something called Blood Atonement, which as I understood it, meant that a murderer who shed blood would be helped in the afterlife by having his blood shed in retribution. That was why Utah had the choices of execution. I understand the state went to lethal injection and dropped the choices, although I think there were some who wanted the firing squad retained. Maybe for that atonement, or maybe just because they like the idea of shooting someone to death.

Daniel [] said...

If you happened to read A Gathering of Saints by