Annotations for “After Tombstone” 8 pages in Cinema Purgatorio #7
Writer: Alan Moore, Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Note: Some of this is obvious, but you never know who’s reading and what their exposure is. If there’s anything we missed or got wrong, let us know in comments.
- My Darling Clementine (1946) watch on YouTube
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) watch (somewhat poor version) on Youtube
- Hour of the Gun (1967) watch on YouTube
In broad brushstrokes, the gunfight took place between two sides:
- The victors, portrayed as the good guys: lawman Wyatt Earp (the hero/protagonist of all these films) – accompanied by his brothers and his gambler friend Doc Holliday
- The losers, portrayed as the bad guys: cattle rustler Ike Clanton, his sons, and the McLaury brothers. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed.
- The lower half of the cover are characters from various movie versions of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral; these are in slightly blue tones.. The upper half of the cover are an audience of movie goers; these are in warmer black/white/gray tones.
- For the lower half, here are the characters (top to bottom in three columns left to right)
- Left Column: (facing right)
- Left center, wearing hat with strings and wielding shotgun, is Victor Mature as Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- Left, with dark hair and mustache –
- Lower left, with white hair and mustache, wielding a pistol –
- Center Column: (facing mostly away)
- Front (far) row, with hat and mustache appears to be the real life Wyatt Earp.
- Right top, expressionless, facing forward –
Possibly DeForest Kelley as Morgan Earp in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). (DeForest Kelley is, of course, best known for his role in the original Star Trek. In the third season episode, “Spectre of the Gun”, he is involved in a science-fictional version of the OK Corral.)
- Right center, with staring eyes and string tie –
- Bottom right corner,
- Right, between Kirk Douglas and Robert Ryan, with beard
and cowboy hat – Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- Right top, expressionless, facing forward –
- Thanks to commenter Charles for helping identify these.
- “Smackula” references actor Bela Lugosi, best known for his 1931 portrayal of Dracula, who was addicted to a variety of drugs in later life.
- The large man in the next row with the cat (statue?) next to him may be Sidney Greenstreet, known for his role in The Maltese Falcon.
- The cat may be the same one that appeared in CP#1 P1,p4. Guesses as to why a cat or cats might be in purgatory?
- “Paranorm Pictures” name and lettering are evocative of Paramount Pictures.
- “Tombstone” refers to Tombstone, Arizona, the town where the gunfight took place in.
- The rider is Morgan Earp (see P3,p3 below) apparently based on DeForrest Kelly’s portrayal in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Morgan Earp appears in all these movies, but in modest supporting roles.
The seated man is John Gray. See P3, p2 below.
- Gray’s posture echoes that of Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- The stranger’s horse (and John Gray), though acting normally, has many exposed muscles and bones. This will be true of all the horses (and many of the people) in this story.
- “These bluffs and mesas look like Tombstone to you?” refers to the area around Tombstone, Arizona being largely flat, with the Rockies visible to the west. The scenery depicted on this page is more typical of Monument Valley (see note on next page).
- Monument Valley is a scenic area on the border between Arizona and Utah where many famous western movies were filmed. Its distinctive geology has become iconic of the American West, even though its confined to a very small fraction of that region.
- “John Gray” would appear to be John P. Gray, a purported witness of the gunfight (as he claims on P6p1), but one whose testimony seems largely discounted. That may be why Moore chose him as a guide, since Moore seems to have him deliberately contradict the historical record several different times. An unreliable narrator for a tale about unreliable narrations?
- Morgan Earp was a Tombstone special policeman. He and his brothers were part of the gunfight.
- “Tombstone on the Utah border” references how, as mentioned above, Monument Valley is on the border of Arizona and Utah; the historical Tombstone is located on the other side of Arizona entirely.
- “walls gone soft wi’ rain, what you can poke your finger through” – Probably a reference to this Tombstone being almost entirely movie setpieces, not “real” architecture. See also P4p1.
- “Baths” –
Seen in My Darling Clementine (1946) outside the barber shop where the Earps get a shave.
- The “[C]ity Hal[l?]” sign seems like it could be a common location in westerns, though it does not appear in any of the three Tombstone movies that this issue homages. The damaged/misspelled and occluded City Hall sign may indicate that the official authority of a city is weak or inconsequential in these outlaw western settings.
- “Jail” –
Sign outside the Marshall’s office in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- The chair (shown at a leaning angle) is the one Henry Fonda sits (and leans) in in My Darling Clementine (1946) – see P2,p3 above. The leaning chair also features in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) where Burt Lancaster and a fellow lawman sit and lean while watching over Dodge City (this trope could be a homage to Clementine).
- “James Earp 1864-1882” –
Grave marker seen in My Darling Clementine (1946), where his murder eventually leads to the gunfight (as it did also in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). There was a historical James Earp, but he was not involved in the gunfight at all and these are not his actual dates; the 1882 date is after the 1881 O.K. Corral shootout. For what it’s worth, film commentaries state that this ahistorical sign was not part of Ford’s initial cut of the film but was added by Fox Studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck during his rework, apparently to try to better establish Wyatt’s motives, in that his brother was only 18 when killed.
- “Allen St” is where the O.K. Corral was located.
The sign is as depicted in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). The historical event did not take place in the corral, or even on Allen St.
- “Clanton Ranch” is believed to be the local center of activity for the Cowboys.
The sign is from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
- “William Clanton” – William “Billy” Clanton was killed in the gunfight. His body was displayed in its coffin, but the historical coffin did not match the one depicted here.
It does match the one shown in Hour of the Gun (1967).
- “Mansion House” –
The Mansion House hotel was a prominent location in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- “Office of City Marshal” –
- “Boot Hill” – A graveyard in Tombstone, where several victims of the conflict were buried.
This sign is from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
- Vigilantes were a part of Tombstone’s history — and even more a part of its mythology. Historical data is hard to google, as the results are swamped by Tombstone Vigilantes, Inc., who perform lighthearted mock lynchings to amuse the tourists several times a month.
- “Silver minin’ in the seventies” – Tombstone was founded by silver miners in the late 1870s. It was a boom town, and by 1881 had a population of over 7,000, and had numerous brothels.
- “The town’s gamblin’-den owner” is not historically accurate. Wyatt did not actually own the Oriental Saloon, but he certainly was a professional gambler there.
- “Wyatt Earp” and “Virgil Earp” were more Earp brothers, lawmen who took part in the gunfight. Mr. Gray is simplifying the matter of who held what office when (much as Hollywood generally does); historically, the various Earp brothers were in and out of many different jobs during this period.
- “They was corrupt an’ unpopular” refers to allegations that the Earps would bend the law in their own interest. They were unpopular with (broadly speaking) rural southern criminals, while being popular with (again, simplifying) northern city businessmen.
- In front of barman is John Ireland as Billy Clanton in My Darling Clementine (1946). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- Next to Ireland, with mustache, should be another Billy Clanton, but none of the three film’s Billy actors has a mustache.
- Behind Ireland, bareheaded with beard stubble appears to also be John Ireland, from a few years later, playing fictional Clanton gang member Johnny Ringo in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
- Behind Ireland with beard and hat – Walter Brennan as Old Man [Ike] Clanton in My Darling Clementine (1946). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- Gray-haired man near lower left – Robert Ryan as Ike Clanton in Hour of the Gun (1967). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- Dark-haired man in lower left – ???
- “John Ireland” – See above.
- “Two Ikes” are Brennan and Ryan in p3 above.
- “Plain truth was, the Clantons knew about Earp’s crimes, an’ he’d victimized ’em for that” is questionable. Historical truth is often contentious, but Wikipedia’s account is very nearly the exact opposite of this: the Earps knew of the Clantons’ crimes, which is why the Clantons made multiple death threats against the Earps.
- In the background, we can see the two Billy Clantons(?) turning from the bar.
- In the foreground, we can see the two Billys and an Ike leaving. (The other Ike is probably mostly off-panel on the left.)
- “Holliday robbed a stage…” refers to how Holliday was accused of this crime, and the Earps did help him get cleared. But all evidence points to it being a frame by a political enemy. The district attorney threw out the charges, calling the case “ridiculous”.
- Left, with staring eyes and shotgun – Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- Bottom center, facing away with shotgun – Unknown.
- Off-panel right, with long-barreled pistol –
Possibly Burt Lancaster from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). He has a pistol like that in one scene, though not at the climactic Gunfight.
- Far right, with light hair and mustache – Possibly Jason Robards from Hour of the Gun (1967). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- To the left Jason Robards, wearing hat with strings – Victor Mature as Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine (1946). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- To the left of Victor Mature, with cowboy hat
and mustache – Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine (1946).
- To the left of Henry Fonda, with string tie – ???
- “Could I have been Morgan in a film?” apparently refers to DeForest Kelley as Morgan Earp in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). (See notes to Cover for photo.)
- The O.K Corral sign
is taken from My Darling Clementine (1946).
- The Clantons, half drunk” references that Ike Clanton had been drinking heavily all the previous night and into the morning. Billy, however, doesn’t seem to have been drinking much, if at all.
- “And right away starts shootin’” is not clear historically. The question of who shot first is deeply contested.
- “Whole thing takes about five seconds” draws attention to how Hollywood drags out the shootout to take 5-20 minutes, while historically, the fight took about thirty seconds.
- The OK Corral sign
in this panel is from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
- “The West got invented…” –
Hour of the Gun (1967) begins with the statement “THIS PICTURE IS BASED ON FACT. THIS IS THE WAY IT HAPPENED.” While this film was more historically accurate than any previous, it did, of course, deviate from fact in several places, including the very scene that this statement appeared in.
- “Bill Cody” AKA “Buffalo Bill“, was one of the most famed heroes of the Old West, whose “adventures” were almost entirely fictional.
- “By ’83 … all we’d got was tourists” – Silver mining actually continued many years past that, though in decline. It’s unclear exactly when Tombstone became a tourist destination; the gunfight didn’t start to seriously enter pop culture until the 1920s. Tourism based on the gunfight is a major business in Tombstone today.
- “Within six months…” – Virgil Earp was shot on December 28, 1881; though badly wounded, he largely recovered, and lived until 1905. Morgan Earp was shot and killed on March 18, 1882. Wyatt Earp did live until 1929.
- Tom Mix was a hugely famous cowboy actor in the early 20th century. He was friends with Wyatt Earp, and even a pallbearer at Earp’s funeral.
- John Ford was the director of My Darling Clementine (1946), a major source for this issue.
- The man in the hat with the curved grey mustache and stubble on the bottom right is
actor Ward Bond who played Morgan Earp in My Darling Clementine (1946). (Thanks commenter Charles!)
Ward Bond played minor roles in two earlier film versions of the OK Corral, both named Frontier Marshal, in 1934 and 1939. He was also in Dodge City (1939), which was loosely based on Wyatt Earp’s life.
- “lighting out to our ensanguined sunset.” – It was customary to the point of cliche that Westerns would end with “riding off into the sunset.
- This may also be a reference to the novel Lights Out for the Territory by Iain Sinclair (a friend of Moore’s), which title itself refers to the end of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.
- This OK sign
is from Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
- “two families” – Considerably more than two families were involved, though attention does tend to focus on the Clantons and the Earps.
- The woman pictured here is the “limping usherette”.
- “Joan Sims – Carry on destitute” – Joan Sims was a British actress, best known for her work in the “Carry On” series of comedies. See also panel 5.
- “The Family Weigh” is probably a riff on the 1966 comedy The Family Way.
- The picture of Joan Sims here seems based on this one:
- “We could have given her money … precedent” – Sims was paid only £2,500 for the Carry On films.