Morningstar, Looking for Sympathy for the Devil



I love genre-bending.  It is often an interesting way to take the pitfalls and tropes of 1 or sometimes 2 genres and splashing them together to hopefully find something new and inventive.  Morningstar does just that but there is one thing about this book that bothers the hell out of me – I’ll get to that later but right now, I want to talk about Gerimi Burleigh’s Morningstar.

Morningstar takes angel-fantasy and drops it firmly into a western setting which leads to some really cool metaphoric potential but it also makes it possible for Burleigh to draw iconic images of cowboy-clothed, gun-toting angelic figures.  Burleigh uses a wonderful, action-packed, high-contrast style of art to show an inventive old-west world.  Burleigh also introduces demon-like creatures, reminiscent of the Grakken from Deadworld.  I look forward to seeing how Morningstar develops both in art and in terms of story.

Now, I want to get back to something that I mentioned earlier: there is something that really bothers me about this book.  It’s a small thing but it has to do with the overall logic of the genre-bending that I love so much.  Why do winged men and women need to ride horses?  One could ask why do men and women with legs need horses but it just does not carry.  I’m not going to kick dead horses here because I really like this book but it was something that stuck out and bothered me.

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  1. Posted November 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dale,

    The short answer. No. There is absolutely no reason why a bunch of winged humanoid creatures need to ride horses. Calling me out on the horse-issue is a very fair question. The closest thing I have to an explanation is that the angels chose to bond with these animals, as though they were pets, although it’s not something I planned on addressing directly.

    I struggled with the question when I originally conceived the story as a western. I considered removing the wings from the characters and making the “Angel” element more allegorical, but that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I wanted it to be actual angels and treat the western part of the story as the allegory.

    That being the case, I could have eliminated the horses. I did try a few horseless iterations, however, the animals feel like such a staple of the genre that doing a western without them just didn’t seem like a western.

    That left me with the possibility of writing an explanation for them or just going forward with winged creatures that ride non-winged animals. I could, rightfully so, be accused of lazy writing on my part, but expending story space on developing a plausible scenario for why they would ride horses didn’t seem like it would make the story more entertaining. It would be exposition in the service of logic, but it would side-track the story I actually want to tell. I decided to let it go and focus on the mythology of the angels.

    If we chose to dissect the horse-thing, there’s the question of why they’re using firearms and technology of the 1800s? Why are they wearing clothes? If they they do wear clothes, why from that era? I just figured readers are either going to buy into a western set at the dawn of creation or they aren’t. If they do buy in, all the tropes of the genre are fair game.

    I really do appreciate the review and I’m happy to answer any other questions you have.

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