Slim and Tex

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Adventure Comics (This magazine was known as "New Comics" in #11 and as "New Adventure Comics" in #15)

The above is not a complete list of Slim and Tex stories. Rather, it consists of my picks of the best tales in the magazines, the ones I enjoyed reading, and recommend to others.

Many issues of New Adventure Comics can be read free online at Comic Book +.

Slim and Tex

Slim and Tex were two good natured cowboys, who were best friends and friendly rivals. They form an idealized portrait of friendship between two men. Both men looked young and not too experienced, although both were competent cowboys.

Slim and Tex work at "The Triple X" ranch, near the town of Painted Tent, apparently in Arizona. It is owned by the beautiful, spirited woman Helen Harley, whom they address as Miss Helen, and her father. The stories are set in modern times, with cars as well as trains and horses being part of this world.

Asking Helen to the Dance (#4, March-April 1936). Writer: A. Leslie Ross. Art: A. Leslie Ross. The first Slim and Tex story.

Already in this first tale Tex wears a vest, while Slim wears a shirt without a vest.

The Dude Ranch, Part 1 (#9, October 1936). Writer: A. Leslie Ross. Art: A. Leslie Ross. Miss Helen decides to open up "The Triple X" as a dude ranch for paying guests. This mediocre story does have one innovation: it turns Slim and Tex into a serial, where each issue's tale is part of an ongoing story.

Otherwise this tale is much like the earlier Slim and Tex tales. Like them, it focuses on light humor. The same is true of the next issue's tale by Ross, "The Dude Ranch, Part 2" (#10, November 1936).

The Dude Ranch, Part 3 (1936). Writer: Alex Lovy. Art: Alex Lovy. Kidnappers threaten an innocent young woman who is hiding out at the dude ranch. The first tale by Alex Lovy. The first episode in full color.

Previous episodes of Slim and Tex were simple comedy anecdotes. With the change of writer-artist, we get a new approach. Crime and adventure elements are now introduced. The series is turned into a full fledged mystery-adventure tale. Lovy greatly thickens the plot. All the characters and story lines from previous tales are greatly developed here, some in surprising ways. This is an excellent story on all levels, both plot and art.

Unlike many other early adventure serials in the comics, this tale has no racist elements. This too makes it unusual.

The art here is one of the great celebrations of male bonding in comic books. The male bonding possibly has a gay dimension. For other comic book stories on this topic, please see my list of stories with political and social commentary, and search for "gay".

The Snatch (1937). Writer: Alex Lovy. Art: Alex Lovy. First Slim, then Tex go after the kidnappers. This is the last Slim and Tex tale. The story breaks off in mid point, with Slim wounded (or maybe killed), and Tex tracking down the kidnappers. Apparently, the series was canceled before any final episodes could be written, or at least published.

The tale's last panel says "Continued": meaning more episodes were planned.

THE PUBLISHING GAP. This episode is the direct continuation of "The Dude Ranch, Part 3" in issue #11. But it was published in issue #15 after a gap of four months, during which no other Slim and Tex tales appeared. It might have been created long before, and originally scheduled for issue #12. It might have been delayed when the series was canceled.

STORY LENGTH. This is the first 4-page episode of Slim and Tex. Previous stories were 2-pages.

IS SLIM ALIVE? When I first read this tale, I was sure Slim was merely wounded by the villains. But some Internet commentators today are equally sure that Slim is killed in this tale. Re-reading indicates that this story is actually ambiguous: it doesn't say whether Slim is alive or dead. Slim is certainly shot by the villains. He falls down, and is either unconscious or dead. Heroine Grace witnesses this, and accuses the villains of having killed Slim (page 3). However, Grace is not near Slim's body, and therefore has no first-hand knowledge of whether Slim is alive. The story itself tells no more. Presumably, this issue would have been cleared up if further episodes of "Slim and Tex" had been published.

I find it hard to believe that a 1930's Western would kill off its series hero. On the other hand, I am far from being an expert on Westerns of this era. Still, my best guess is that Slim is wounded but alive.

COSTUMES. Slim wears a cowboy hat, and high-heeled cowboy boots with spurs. This is traditional cowboy gear. But his shirt doesn't seem especially Western. Instead it has patch pockets and a uniform-like feel. It is fancy, but not too cowboy-like. He wears plain trousers.

Slim is in the primary colors, yellow-red-blue: light yellow shirt, hat and gunbelt, yellow hair, red kerchief, blue trousers.

Tex mainly wears fairly plain clothes too. But he wears a fancy pair of chaps, brick-red in color. He too wears big-heeled cowboy boots. Tex's white dress shirt and gray vest give him a businessman-like feel.