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Thursday, January 6, 2011
Tall in the Saddle
Heroes in the Strange New World don’t come much bigger than Jaymes “Big Jim” Trane, seen here on the steps of the Freedonian High Court House. Trane was a star of numerous Heliotrope Westerns, starting in the silent era, but also a real Freedonian lawman.
As his height would suggest, Trane was the son of a half-giant woman and her minister husband. Trane began working with horses at a young age, and dreamed of running off and joining the circus, a notion looked upon unfavorably by his parents--an opinion not a whit improved when actually he ran off and joined one. After years with the circus, performing for the crowned heads of Ealderde and the potentates of the Orient, he wound up in the region between Freedonia and the Vast Plains Territories known as the Native Concession.
Here, he became a ranger, upholding the law and mediating between the Native tribes and the white settlers. He brought down outlaws like Heck Thorn and his Roaring Boys; and more exotic menaces, like Ancient mummies (taller than he) risen from burial mounds, and the urbane Zingaran vampire lord, Don Sangre.
A series of dime novels insured Trane’s fame grew even more, to the point where it was unclear where truth ended and tall tale began. Trane did, in fact, train a giant prehistoric cat to serve as a mount, but generally preferred horses, and kept the cat on his ranch. He did ride a elemental tornado like a bucking bronco, through use of a magic lariat, but did not in fact, ever lasso lightning with a telegraph cable.
His legend made in Freedonia and the Native Country, Trane went on to conquer Heliotrope in over a hundred Western films. He insisted on authenticity whenever possible, shooting Guns in the Ghost City in an actual ghost town, and Beast of Shudder Flats with an actual desert landshark. He also appeared as a matinee “singing cowboy” in several pictures, displaying a surprisingly good baritone.