Writer: John Arcudi
Artist: A.C. Zamudio
Anthologist: Chris Schweizer
A review by Jake Morris
Over the past couple of years, Western based comics have seen a rise in prominence with many indie publishers dishing out books that either have a very Hollywood cowboy feel to them or a story with an interesting twist. John Arcudi and A.C. Zamudio launch their new title under Monkeybrain’s moniker with plans of showing the Wild West, but with a rawness to it that is more often than not, overlooked.
Real West is a short digital comic that introduces us to four characters; Mr. Bonner, Javier, Miss Ada and her father. The story revolves around Mr. Bonner describing the events of Miss Ada’s father’s death, to which we at first witness what most know the Wild West as… A dangerous place full of horse chases, battles with Comanches and Apaches, and most of all, brutality and death.
In an odd but rewarding sense of the story, we in fact learn that Miss Ada’s father died of a simple accident involving his horse. However, that is the beauty of this story. The Wild West was a place full of death but the causality of death is often given a fantastical nature to it. Here though, Cowboys and Indians were not always at war, and deaths were not always glorious.
Arcudi and Zamudio showcase the realistic approach incredibly well. Although it would be nice to see a longer story (which is a compliment), they don’t thin the story out, instead they glaze over each aspect of the story with just the right amount of detail. The room for character development is minimal but it does allow a worthwhile look at one character who may become a recurring focal point in this book; Mr. Bonner. Evidently, he is an honourable man and understands the brutality of his surroundings. Every man isn’t given an exit in a blaze of glory, but twisting truth can always soften the blow for their loved ones. It is a hard nosed side of the coin but it gives the story a nice connection for the reader.
The artwork also suits the story well. The artwork for a Western comic book is vital as the atmosphere needs to fit with the setting, which is exactly what Zamudio does. The colours mixed with the pencil work displays the two alternate death scenes in a raw but stand out look and we get a view of the bleakness in the setting of which the characters inhabit.
Overall, Real West gives the reader a glimpse at what the title of the book suggests, the real ongoings of the west. Short but sweet and bound to leave a mark on the reader. For the price, especially for any western fan, this is an easy recommendation.
Jake is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @JakeUtd.