When I was a kid, the Old West was 50 years in the rearview, and today my youth is 50 years in the rearview—and—to be honest, more like 60! Yikes! So, what does this mean in terms of subject matter in True West? When we bought the magazine 24 years ago it was generally believed the topics in this magazine ranged from post-Civil War to the Oklahoma Land Rush, or thereabouts. For me personally it was the coming of the automobile that signaled the end of the West. As a kid I hated Westerns with cars in them! Especially Roy and Gene battling Nazis and jumping off the floorboards of speeding autos. No thanks.
Not to mix metaphors—too much—but that train has left the station.
We had some very spirited discussions about what should be on the cover of this issue. We had a particularly robust debate because of a young upstart from Australia. That would be Mr. James B. Mills, who dared us—no, he implored us!—to run the highest-grossing Western ever on the cover. See his fine article on why it deserves more attention (page 36).
When I mentioned our debate to another editor at a sister historical publication, he said, “I can’t stand Quentin Tarantino, or his movies, and I wouldn’t even run the article, much less put him on the cover.” I have a hunch he is not alone, but—in the spirit of taking a new and broader look at the Old West—we felt the kid deserved a chance to speak to the elderly members of our tribe. That would be me and all you other Boomers out there.
And it isn’t just Django. We have a feature on a dark chapter of our history, depicted in Killers of the Flower Moon, the new film by Martin Scorsese (page 28).
Stuart Rosebrook has challenged us to question some of our old boundaries. “Is Oppenheimer a Western,” he asked, adding “are the Atomic West and the heyday of Route 66 things we should cover?” All good questions, and I have a hunch you will be seeing the answers in upcoming issues.
One thing’s for certain, the subject matter is a moving target. Here’s to taking aim and hitting a bullseye, or two.