True Grit was excellent. It is, if you can believe this, in pretty much the same genre as The Water Phoenix King, despite being a western instead of a fantasy yarn. If you like WPK you’ll probably like True Grit.

When I was first scripting WPK–not coming up with the core ideas, which took place a few years earlier, but laying out the first three issues–I was watching Deadwood, and looking back it’s interesting to see how much of that show’s sensibility crept into the comic, not just in the attitudes of the characters and the look of the world, but in the creators’ approach to their genre and its sensibilities.

I think modern westerns are interesting because most people hate most of the tropes. Horses and six-shooters are fine, but cowboys ‘n’ Injuns, black hats and white, circlin’ the wagons? Modern audiences are actively hostile toward many old western set-pieces, so it forces each new western to be unique. This means that while the genre itself is dead–you can’t rely on “western fans” to move product–the individual films produced within the genre are reliably excellent. I wonder if stock fantasy will undergo a similar conceptual collapse as people turn angrily against worn-out and now-irrelevant tropes, and if they do, I’ve tried to take lessons from westerns about what a “post-genre” fantasy story would look like.