ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies
Based on a character from the 1950s, The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather appeared in 2003 as a five– part serial in which Johnny Bart was reconceived as a gay gunslinger known as the Rawhide Kid. Over the course of the five installments, the narrative arc of Slap Leather establishes the legitimacy of a gay man as both sissy and hero and also creates a safe space for other queers. Even the Sheriff — a straight man with a suspect masculinity — is viable in the Kid's Wild West. As the main character, the Rawhide Kid celebrates a combination of sissy and hero, defends queer masculinity, and punishes those who commit anti–sissy crime. Readers see the exploits of the Rawhide Kid, his unbelievable skill, and his fabulous taste. Not only is he a gunslinger but he also frequently plays at being a gunslinger. He is always aware of the possibilities of masquerade — of camp — and he cannot bear to be one of those men who "take it all so serious," as he points out to his enemy, Cisco Pike. Even though he has unsurpassed gun fighting skills, or perhaps because of that, he sometimes produces verbal commentary on the nature of gun fighting and just how good he is at it. He celebrates gunfighter culture: the clothes, the weapons, the fighting, but he also critiques it: men who for whatever reason fail to meet the Kid's standards for behavior are subject to being taught lessons the hard way. This celebration and critique of the gunfighter as a character serves as a foundation of the campiness in this comic.
Bramlett, Frank, "The Confluence of Heroism, Sissyhood, and Camp in The Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather" (2010). English Faculty Publications. 5.