I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m closing in on finishing the First Draft of “Project Arizona,” my Weird Western (Fantasy Western) story. I thought I’d just quickly highlight a few of the websites that I came across while doing research for this project. This by no means an exhaustive list, but I found out several interesting things and found several unique websites while doing the research.
There Were Black Cowboys
Here’s something they don’t teach you in traditional American History classes: not only were there black cowboys in the time of the Old West, but they were fairly prevalent. According to the article, 1 out of every 4 cowboys in the Wild West was black. A side note here: that means, Hollywood, that every Western movie made in the 1950s and 1960s (the heyday of the cowboy movie) that had 4 or more cowboys featured should have had at least 1 black actor. Did that happen, Hollywood? No, it didn’t, you say? Well, just some food for thought, Hollywood.
I digress, however. I wanted an African American female protagonist for “Project Arizona,” but I wasn’t sure if African Americans were even a part of the Old West outside of the “Buffalo Soldiers,” but with this source, I was able to find out that not only were they a part of the Old West, but racism was blunted due to the nature of the West being a dangerous place and cowboys (of all colors) had to depend on each other to survive and couldn’t afford to let racism get in the way of survival.
Black Cowboys Existed into Modern Times
True West: History of the Western Frontier: https://truewestmagazine.com/the-racial-frontier/
Here’s where I found some more information about black cowboys and how the change from the Old West into “modern society” affected them. This site talks about how Hollywood changed the depiction of the Old West from what it was to how it is perceived in America today. More importantly, for my story, this is where it showed modern interpretations of African Americans (in the 1960s and 1970s) competing in contests such as roping and riding. While there’s not a lot of that in my story (well, none at the moment), it did give me a good sense of how African Americans could contribute in an Old West Setting.
The True West website gave me some good context for where the black cowboy tradition began and also some ideas for period specific clothing and gear for my story.
Wild West Prisons
True West: History of the Western Frontier: https://truewestmagazine.com/old-west-prisons-were-no-place-for-sissies/
A significant portion of the story takes place in an Old West prison (not a jail like you see in traditional western movies), so I needed to find out what prisons looked like in the Old West looked like and how they operated. I like this site from True West because it has the rules that one prison operated under. While I didn’t actually need to use these rules for this story, it gave me the “flavor” of the prison setting, and who knows, maybe on the next iteration of the story, I might need those rules. I’ve already done a little research into Civil War prisons due to an interest from the way they were depicted in another movie–The Outlaw Josie Wales? Glory? I can’t remember exactly–but the point is, I knew there were prisons earlier than the Old West, but I didn’t know how they changed.
Well, that’s all I have for today. Just wanted to highlight some of my research as I’m slowly wrapping up the first draft of “Project Arizona.” Expect to hear more about it in the coming weeks as I finish it up.
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Currently Working On (6/2020):
- The Independent (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
Editing: Revision 1
- “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
Drafting: First Draft
- Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel
Finished: Script, Issue #1
Next: Script, Issue #2