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Shooting Gallery Kid. The Shooting Gallery Kid was created by W. Ryerson Johnson (Guncat Bodman, Len Siringo) and appeared in “The Shooting Gallery Kid” (Street and Smith’s Western Story Magazine, Aug 7 1943) and “Shooting-Gallery Gold” (Street and Smith’s Western Story Magazine, Oct 30, 1943).

The Shooting Gallery Kid is a wandering cowboy. His real name is Wah Lee, and he is an Americanized Chinese who learned how to use guns while working in a San Francisco shooting gallery. Although he is fat and pleasant looking, he is a crack shot and is deadly with the “thin-fingered knives” he brought with him from China. (He keeps them tucked into his sleeves). Wah Lee rides the trail with the big, blond, extroverted, cowpoke Double-Trouble Dawson, and the introverted, smart little man Mouse, the brains of the trio.

* I'm including the Shooting Gallery Kid stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are historically important. There were some pulps with Chinese and Chinese-American protagonists, but none in the Western pulps before the Shooting Gallery Kid came along. W. Ryerson Johnson was a prolific writer of Westerns, and he must have known that the stories about the Shooting Gallery Kid would be notable for their Chinese hero. The stories aren't politically progressive examinations of racism on the Western frontier, but they do acknowledge the racism the Kid faces, and--even better--the Kid is an individual, not a bland all-encompassing pulp ubermensch Western hero. He's the hero of the stories, but Mouse is the brains of the trio that the Kid is a part of. The Kid, in other words, is part of a group and acknowledged, without racism or hesitation, by the other members of the group. Which is a kind of progress, too. It's unfortunate that Johnson didn't write any more stories about the Kid after 1943, but at least readers got to read the first Chinese cowboy stories published in a Western pulp before WW2 ended. 

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