Bang! Bang! To children and adults alike, the imagined West of shoot outs and damsels in distress has been ingrained into the American psyche. This exhibition examines how dime novels, pulp fiction art, comic books, and other forms of visual art created these fictional, often sensational, versions of people, places, and historical events of the West.
Beginning with dime novel covers in the mid-19th century, the wild, fictional West served as the perfect backdrop for stories that captivated imaginations and built legends. Pulp fiction magazines and comic books, which emerged in the early-20th century, continued this trend. Illustrators created cover images of stories in Wild West Weekly, New Western Magazine, and Western Story, among hundreds of other publications available to mass audiences.
These images portrayed stereotypes of Native Americans, cowboys, gunslingers, “delicate women”, and outlaws, but also perpetuated ideas of violence and prejudice. Along with original Western pulp art and illustrations, the exhibition includes works of today’s artists who look at these materials and incorporate them into their art.