Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Last Hangout

October 19, 2017
   Just as you should never say never, a book is not completely done until the press starts rolling, and even then, I have been known to add another 76 pages and multiple new photos and artwork (see Billy the Kid, Book One vs. Book Two).

Kathy took this photo of me last night when I finally got home after finishing the Wild Bill book. I even added the wearing of this T-shirt as an added "ritual,"  making a vow to wear it until the book was done (much to the disgust of any staff member at True West who can still smell).

   This morning I woke up early and got ready to shave off my book ritual beard when I suddenly had an inspiration. The second to last page in the book needs a couple more images, like this:

Whipped this out and sent it via my phone to Robert Ray.

   And, by the way, here's the man who did all the heavy lifting on this project.

Robert Ray, my extraordinarily talented production manager who carried this project on his back, even as he juggles a full load on the January issue of True West, going out the door in two weeks. Look at how tired I look and how resilient he looks. Amazing. Can't say enough about this long time partner. He has been with me for 18 years!

   Oh, and here's one last sketch I did this morning to add to the final page mix:

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill Still Looms"

"To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The History of Classic Gunfights

October 18, 2017
      Next year marks True West magazine's 65th Anniversary and when our editor, Meghan Saar, was looking back through our archives, she found some interesting tidbits:

We are often mobbed just trying to drive through town and sometimes we are forced
to get out and walk.

   Meghan also found a few items on my blog that track the beginnings of Classic Gunfights, which runs parallel to my scattered and long exasperating efforts to do a book on Wild Bill Hickok (I actually started the book back in 1996).

The History of Classic Gunfights

March 7, 2000
I came up with the idea of Classic Gunfights and featuring a gunfight every issue. Will start with Wyatt Earp at Mescal Springs in next issue.

June 2, 2000
I worked one of the longest days of my life yesterday. Did three paintings and a scratchboard for Hickok Classic Gunfights piece, plus the usual publisher/radio madness. Finished at 10 last night.

The September, 2001 issue (yes, the 9•11 issue) although we produced it in May.

May 19, 2001
   I drove up to Camp Verde to shoot photos for Wild Bill's 7th Cav Fight, photo reference session at Old Fort Verde, Arizona

          Left to right: Michael Woodcock, Scott Dunkirk, Robert hunter, Garrett Roberts, Chris T.                  DeMille (yes, he's related to that DeMille), Ernest Cummings and Thadd Turner.

May 29, 2001
Working hard on 11 images for Wild Bill issue. I’m not as bad as I fear, but not as good as I hope for.

One of the Wild Bill Daily Whip Outs

June 1, 2001
Mike Melrose is above $14K for Wild Bill! I was so impressed I took him to lunch at El Encanto. Great guy.

June 26, 2001
I did 26 illustrations for the Wild Bill issue [where did I find the time?]

End of Blog archives. On a related note, I just finished the Wild Bill book this afternoon at 4:57. Lots of production left for Robert Ray and Meghan Saar, but I finished all the art and the last caption. Whew! Long strange, trip! Goes to printer on Monday.

"Progress might have been all right once but it has gone on too long"
—Odgen Nash

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Spaghetti Wild Bill Begets The BBB Wild Bill

October 17, 2017
   The Top Secret Writer gifted me a rare Italian comic book on Wild Bill Hickok by the artist Rino Albertarelli. Published in 1994, it features virtually all the episodes in Hickok's life with some accuracy (although the buscadero holster rig, below, is unfortunate. )

Rino's Italian Version of The Prince of Pistoleers

   Back in the nineties, Rino contacted Paul Hutton when the latter was a professor in Utah and Mister Albertarelli quizzed Hutton about various aspects of the real Hickok. Here is an example of an episode I am kind of amazed he covered:

Rino's version of the lance wound story.

   As a scout for the U.S. Army, Wild Bill was carrying dispatches when he was jumped by a Cheyenne war party and lanced in the leg. After a 14-year-absence, Wild Bill returned home to visit his ailing mother. While there it became obvious his lance wound needed to be, ahem, lanced, and so, Doctor Edward Thomas was called on and he came to the house to see what he could do. Lydia Hickok, James's sister, later claimed he would not take chloroform. She also reported that "the doctor made four cuts outward from the wound, making a cross with the lance. The he drew the flesh back and began to scrape the bone. I was holding the lamp and began to feel myself growing feint." Her brother said, "Here, give it to me," and he held the lamp for the duration of the operation, never flinching once.

BBB version: "Bad to The Bone"

   Hard to believe that an Italian would get American history more correct than any American cartoonist, until, well, my next book, which is due out in December.

Pre-orders are being taken now.

"Some things are over, some things go on, part of me you carry, part of me is gone."
—Tom Petty

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Prince of The Pistoleers Meets The Boy General

October 16, 2017
   Buffalo Bill Cody and George Armstrong Custer both had quite a bit to do with Wild Bill Hickok's fame as a frontiersman, but as you might have guessed, those relationships, at least with Cody, are complicated.

The Prince of The Pistoleers Meets The Boy General
   It's unclear exactly when Hickok met Custer but on November 17, 1867 General Carr and seven troops left Fort Lyon on their way to join four companies of the Tenth Cavalry, joined the Seventh Cavalry to do battle against the Cheyenne and Oglala Sioux in what became known as the Great Sioux War. Wild Bill was the guide for Custer on the mission, although he was not chief of scouts as some have claimed. That said, both George Custer and his wife Libby were quite fond of Hickok (see Libby's effusive quote, below) and their florid approval added to Hickok's growing image as a Western frontier hero.

Daily Whip Out: "Custer & Wild Bill"

Wild Bill's 'Undaunted Courage'
"Physically, he was a delight to look upon. Tall, lithe, and free in every motion, he rode and walked as if every muscle was perfection, and the careless swing of his body as he moved seemed perfectly in keeping with the man, the country, the time in which he lived. I do not recall anything finer in the way of physical perfection than Wild Bill when he swung himself lightly from his saddle, and with graceful, swaying step, squarely set shoulders and well poised head, approached our tent for orders. He was rather fantastically clad, of course, but all seemed perfectly in keeping with the time and place. He did not make an armory of his waist, but carried two pistols. He wore top-boots, riding breeches, and dark blue flannel shirt, with scarlet set in front. A loose neck handkerchief left his fine firm throat free. I do not all remember his features, but the frank, manly expression of his fearless eyes and his courteous manner gave one a feeling of confidence in his word and in his undaunted courage.’
—Libby Custer

Daily Whip Out: "Wild Bill's Undaunted Courage"

Wild Bill Lanced
   The Fifth Cavalry returned to Fort Lyon on February 19, 1869 and Wild Bill acted as a courier, carrying dispatches between Fort Lyon and Fort Wallace. While making a return trip to Fort Lyon, Hickok was jumped by a war party of Cheyenne and in a running fight he was lanced, deep into his upper thigh by a warrior who got close enough to wound him. Somehow Hickok was able to distance himself from the Cheyenne and continued on towards Fort Lyon. He was found the next morning, about a mile from the fort by a group of soldiers out on wood-detail. Hickok had lost his horse and was using the lance which had wounded him to walk with. Suffering from blood loss and half frozen, Hickok was rushed to the fort where Buffalo Bill Cody summoned the post surgeon. Wild Bill gifted the lance to Cody who kept it for the rest of his life.

Bad to The Bone 
  After a 14-year-absence, Wild Bill returned home to visit his ailing mother. While there it became obvious his lance wound needed to be, ahem, lanced, and so, Doctor Edward Thomas was called on and he came to the house to see what he could do. Lydia Hickok, James's sister, later claimed he would not take chloroform. She also reported that "the doctor made four cuts outward from the wound, making a cross with the lance. The he drew the flesh back and began to scrape the bone. I was holding the lamp and began to feel myself growing feint." Her brother said, "Here, give it to me," and he held the lamp for the duration of the operation, never flinching once.

Daily Whip Out: "Bad to The Bone"

With Friends Like These
   Although Buffalo Bill always maintained he and Hickok were best friends to the end, Cody let his true feelings show when he sent a letter to Sam Hall, seeking to discourage him from a stage career: "I would never again have another Scout or Western man with me. . .For just as soon as they see their names in print a few times they git the big head and want to start a company of their own. I will name a few." The first name on the list is Wild Bill.

"With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wild Bill After The Storm

October 16, 2017
   The lawmen who policed the Kansas cowtowns were a special breed of cat. They had to be. Wild Bill had many attempts on his life when he was a lawman in Hays City, Kansas (he was appointed sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas on August 23, 1869). He escaped several assassination attempts and became very cautious when patrolling the streets of the roaring cowtown. He avoided the sidewalks and especially the dark alleys. He allowed no one to get too close, or to approach from the rear. He took to walking down the center of North Main Street, eyes scanning the saloons for potential trouble.

Daily Whip Out: "After The Storm"

Wild Bill strode right down the middle of the main street

"To the people of Hays he was a valuable officer, making arrests when and where none other dare attempt it. His power lies in the wonderful quickness with which he draws a pistol and takes his aim."
—W.E. Webb

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oh, The Mess I Have Made!

October 14, 2017
   Last full day to work on the book. It never gets easier. So far, I've done a dozen, but finishing a book is always difficult. All the last minute changes, trying to squeeze in all the things I forgot to put in, trying to edit out all the mistakes I thought were already taken out.

   It's a booger, I tell you. My neighbor, Tom Augherton, just came up the hill and caught me in my typical royal, serene, total confidence mode.

The mess I have created.

   But, like child birth, the misery will soon fade and the next book idea will loom ahead like a sensuous dream.

"If it wasn't for deadlines, nothing would get done."

—Every graphic artist, copy editor and show runner that ever lived

Friday, October 13, 2017

Swearing by Swearengen: Is The Cursing In "Deadwood" Historically Accurate?

October 13, 2017
  Once and for all, did the miners and gamblers in Deadwood talk as profanely as David Milch has portrayed them in his fictional HBO series, "Deadwood"? 

Dan The Man Harshberger's humorous, done in jest, cover concept

This is a popular opinion:

"I’re read that foul language was prevalent in Deadwood, the town, but came in the form of 'tarnation' and 'gol-darn',” Milch thought these would be laughable to a modern audience, and so the f-bombs (which I also read, didn’t come into fashion until the 1920’s) were used.
—Clint Johnson, on Facebook

  I personally don't buy the "gol-darn-it" school of thought regarding "Deadwood." I believe all those soft swear words were put into use by mothers and church going people, perhaps in that time, but certainly in the time I grew up (1950s). My grandmother—Minnie Hauan Bell—liked to say, "What in the Sam Hill!" and there are a ton of these replacement swear words. I don't think any self-respecting miner, gambler or gunfighter in the Old West ever walked into a saloon and said, "What in tarnation is goin' on in here?"

   I also don't buy the notion that the so-called F-bomb was not "in fashion" until the 1920s. I read a memoir of a young, newlywed farmer's wife from the late 1880s who was supposed to go to town, but the trip got cancelled and so she decided to eat her sack lunch she had prepared for the trip, out in the shade of the barn where her husband and hired hands were working. She didn't announce her arrival, but she was soon shocked and stunned by her new husband's language which she had never heard from him before. Now, this doesn't prove he was using the F-bomb, but it does illustrate that there was a profane vocabulary used by men when there are no women present. And, by one estimate, the local museum in Deadwood touts, the men to women ratio in Deadwood at that time was 100 to one. So I have a strong hunch it was pretty profane, even by Victorian standards.

   And, by the way, the term "F-bomb" is a new phrase, coming into vogue in the last decade, or so, underscoring how fluid language is.

   At any rate, I put the question out to our contributing editors and staff and here are their thoughts on the subject:

Historians Weigh In On Swearing By Swearengen
"Did miners and soldiers curse, especially in saloons--of course they did. Did they cuss in front of women and children--never, unless they wanted to get shot by an outraged husband, brother or bystander. Is the cursing in Deadwood overdone--of course it is. Language changes over time--recall the language we regularly heard in the 1950s as opposed to the language today (a total reversal on the commonality of the F-word and the N-word). The language in Deadwood was used for shock value because it was pay-cable TV and they wanted to see what they could get away with and distance themselves from broadcast TV. Its TV, not history."
—Paul Hutton, A Distinguished Professor of History at The University of New Mexico

"I truly believe that many miners and other resident of Deadwood did, but the Deadwood series went too far. This was, after all, the Victorian era and the words damn and hell were considered offensive! So, no, the whole damned town didn’t drop the f-bomb in every sentence.
—Sherry Monahan, Contributing Editor, True West magazine

"Have no emperical data, but if I had to live in such an nasty, cutthroat, dirty town as Deadwood was then, I'd swear all the tine, too,"
—Jana Bommersbach, columnist, and contributing editor, True West magazine

Deadwood got it right--profanity was part and parcel of normal, everyday talk in the mining camps and frontier towns.  The words most often associated with the show--the long ones dealing with carnage knowledge?  I don't think those were used, for the most part (although the "f" word was).  And even rough-hewn miners and cowboys held their tongues a tad around a lady.  Folks wanted to retain some veneer of sophistication and class."
—Mark Boardman, True West columnist and editor of The Tombstone Epitaph

And finally, for all you who think the potty mouths on "Deadwood" are innaccurate, there's this:

Youthful Depravity
The fact must come home to every observer that Deadwood's rising generation is very depraved. Go where we will our ears are greeted with profanity and obscenity from al
most baby lips, while our vision is assailed by sights of the most lamentable character. These urchins are not all of that peculiar class known as "hoodlums" for whom ignorance is some excuse, as many of them receive the kindest and best instruction at home, but from too lenient parents who allow their children to wander through the city, visiting haunts of iniquity where are exerted those pernicious influences which sooner or later deaden the most acute sensibility, destroy all sense of right and morality and inspire to an emulation of the worst characters of the town.
--Black Hills Daily Pioneer-January 26, 1881

   Every generation thinks it's smarter than the last and wiser than the next. And, by extension, I think every generation thinks they more or less invented swearing. Why is this? Because nobody can remember their grandparents swearing. My grandkids have never heard me swear and if I do my job right, they never will. So these babies get to grade school and hear the inevitable swear words and they are excited and appalled ("My grandparents don't talk like this!") So they assume it's new. I think it's safe to say, this has been going on for about three to ten thousand years, and as long as there are grandparents, kids will grow up believing that swearing is a flippin' new thing.

"I am not young enough to know everything."
—Olscar Wilde

There Is No Other Charlie Utter

October 13, 2017
   Obstacles often lead to creative solutions. My production manager, Robert Ray, took a bad xerox of an old litho down to JC Printing and had them print it out on thick art stock ($4 a sheet) and then I painted over each one, which creates a pretty authentic looking art print, although each one is slightly different. 

Daily Whip Out: "Charlie Utter, There Is No Other"

   Okay, I lied. There is another one, with slightly different coloring:

Daily Whip Out: "Another Charlie Utter Slightly Colored Brother"

  This all stemmed from a funky copyright deal where the original art print had a French publication ownership warning on it and I decided to take matters into my own hands and create my own version of the image. This was my test of the tester, below, on regular typing paper (note paper rippling at top):

Daily Whip Out: "Charlie Utter Typing Paper Flutter"

   I think I made it mine. It's a full page in the Wild Bill book, since it's Charlie who hand letters Wild Bill's tombstone headboard in a famous photo:

"Colorado" Charlie Utter
   According to Wild Bill expert and author, Joseph Rosa, we have to take this drawing of Charlie (also styled as Charley) Utter "with reservation." He doesn't explain, but I assume there is some doubt about it actually being our boy. It was drawn by Janet Lange and published in 1869 in the French magazine Le Tour du Monde (Tour of The World?). This is really early—1869—and predates Buffalo Bill Cody's European tours by a dozen years, or so. Utter evidently grew up in Illinois but moved to Colorado to become a trapper and guide. He was known to be a fastidious dresser and insisted on bathing every day (almost unheard of in the trapper-scout fraternity). He was also a close friend of Hickok's and it was Charlie who arranged for Wild Bill's funeral and paid for the plot.

"If it's true that legend is truth exaggerated to make a better story, then one of the things we historians do best is to ruin a good story."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Did Wyatt Earp Meet Wild Bill Hickok?

October 12, 2017
   By the early 1870s, Wild Bill Hickok was a national celebrity and, in fact, basically lived off that notoriety for the last two years of his life. Like all celebrities, people flocked to him, bought him drinks and fawned over him. After his death in 1876, many a Westerner claimed to know him. It became almost a touchstone, or badge of authenticity, to have even seen him.

   In the book, "Frontier Marshal," on page 43, the author Stuart Lake quotes Wyatt Earp as saying he met Wild Bill in Kansas City, in 1871. The dates don't quite work (Earp was in Peoria, Illinois working in, ahem, beaver procurement) and historians wonder if Lake was trying to tie the two together to make Earp look better. Earp author, Casey Tefertiller, doesn't think Earp made the claim, but that Lake put the words in Earp's mouth.

Wyatt Earp in Los Angeles about the time he met Stuart Lake in the late 1920s
The original photo was photographed by a historian in March of 1957
(thus the time stamp on the border of the photo).

   On the other hand, Casey maintains, "There is a brief mention that Earp met Wild Bill in passing. I think it is in the disputed Adelia Earp Edwards memoir, which I think is probably real. I would have to dig it out to be certain.  I think it very possible that Earp met Wild Bill in passing, perhaps long enough to shake hands." 

   There is another Earp connection to Hickok, and that is, in 1924, Western movie star William S. Hart returned to the silver screen after a two year absence, with a story written by himself, "Wild Bill Hickok." Hart supposedly used Wyatt as a consultant on the film and Hart included many frontier characters Earp did know, like Chalk Beeson, Charles Basset, Bill Tilghlman and Luke Short. In fact, an actor portrays Wyatt in the film, and it's the first portrayal of Earp on film.

   Here is a newspaper clipping Casey Teferteller found and shared with me:

Stevens Point Journal (Stevens Point, Wisconsin), March 20, 1924