Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons
by James Otis Smith
Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons is the comic we’ve all been longing for. Meet historical Black figures who come to life in an action-packed graphic novel.
This trio of biographical vignettes features fascinating stories from the American west. Though all were born enslaved, each legendary Black adventurer left southern roots and moved west to freedom in Montana, Arkansas, or Texas. Their stories are true tales of hard work, courage, resourcefulness, and grit. Nevertheless, he injects humor and intrigue into the narrative. Smith has done his homework, creating back matter that is chock full of information, period photographs, primary sources, timelines, and other informational graphics.
The color palette is predominantly earth tones, evoking the western setting. Each chapter begins with a full-page photo of the chapter’s subject. Includes an introduction by Kadir Nelson.
Herds of wild mustangs, comprised of up to forty females and led by one stallion, roamed over a vast expanse of the Texas plains. They were fearless. The prevailing method to control the herd was to kill the stallion and force the females on long marches.
Bob Lemmons had another method. To the mustangs, he was perceived as a stallion. Traveling alone with his horse Warrior, he studied a herd’s habits and recognized individual mustangs by scent and scant. Bob never changed his clothes and waited to eat until his food had lost all human smell. He moved deliberately and cautiously until he was accepted as the leader of these wild horses. Only then would he lead this herd to a ranch. There the mustangs would follow him into a corral.
He eventually established his own ranch. This Texas legend lived 99 years.
Bass Reeves was a clever lawman who employed unusual tactics to capture wanted felons. For example, the Clancy brothers of Arkansas were wanted criminals with a $5000 reward offered for their capture. One night a quiet hardworking Black man arrived at the Clancy homestead, offering to work for a meal. He quietly endured an evening of insults from the brothers. After dark, Bass set to work and handcuffed the outlaws while they slept. The fugitives woke the next morning in irons and under arrest. They learned that the quiet visitor was Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshall.