Thursday, August 13, 2020

Kid Krazy: Even Marshall Trimble Confesses to Billy the Kid Madness

 August 13, 2020

   I am insane. Yes, I know. People have accused me of such for years but I never really believed them. Until I started to analize my obsession with a certain outlaw.

   So, I asked some of my friends to share their early Kid Krazy stores and I got this one from Marshall Trimble, remembering a sordid event, when he was ten-years-old.


The first movie I saw with Billy the Kid was in 1949 at the Yavapai Theater in Ash Fork. Other than the comic book stand at the Harvey House we were pretty isolated from popular culture. The theater was our only connection with the outside world as television was still ten years away. Word spread quickly around town "The Outlaw" was going to play next Sunday. Jack Beutel played Billy and the voluptuous Jane Russell played Rio McDonald.  There was a risqué scene in the film where the Kid and Rio tumble in a haystack that delayed the Howard Hughes film's release for several years. The movie was the talk of the town. The Baptist and Methodist preachers and the priest used their bully pulpits to warn their parishioners to boycott it. I asked Brother Luther why and he replied, "Because you'll see something you're not supposed to see."

That made me even more determined to see what Billy and Rio were up to in that hay barn. My little brother Danny, who shadowed me everywhere, also wanted to partake of this forbidden fruit. My mother, who was a waitress at the 66 Cafe just up the street said she'd kill me if I went and took Danny to see that piece of pornography. 

There was no way she was going to fork over 28 cents for two theater tickets, so we headed down Route 66 looking for pop bottles. The grocery store was paying two cents a bottle. We picked up a few extra for popcorn money and headed for the Sunday afternoon matinee. We both sat focused on that silver screen anxiously awaiting that magic moment. Then it happened. Billy threw Rio down on the hay and slowly walked towards her...... we held our breath. Horrors! The screen suddenly went dark and when it lit up again Billy was on his horse, loping off to some new adventure. Danny looked at me and said, "We got gypped."

And I replied, "Yeah, and I risked my life!"

I decided we should escape the theater through the side door just in case our mother was waiting at the entrance. Then, we saw something we weren't supposed to see. Brother Luther was also slipping out the side exit. I wouldn't be surprised if Father O'Brian and the Methodist preacher were somewhere in that dark theater too. 

Jane Russell Scandalizes Ashfork

   I love this story so much I have agreed to help Marshall tell his growing up in Ashfork life story in a BBB style book. I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that going to be kind of risky?"

"Are you kidding me, I risked my life!"
—Marshall Trimble

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Saying Goodbye to the True West World Headquarters

 August 12, 2020

   My best friend, the late, great, Charlie Waters, advised me not to buy True West magazine with this logic: "Do not buy yourself a job. There must be a better way to get your artwork published."

   Well, I loved the guy, and I trusted his business acumen, but this particular advice wasn't true for me. My partners and I bought True West magazine in the fall of 1999 and thus began a long run of publishing my artwork on the pages of this magazine. For one thing, my artwork was free so our company didn't have to pay anybody. You'd be surprised how far that can take you.

   For the record, I have done 45 covers (including the next one, October), and we've published over 200 Classic Gunfights with at least six original illustrations in each one from me. Plus, many times when a random department needs a piece of art guess who gets the assignment?

45 covers and counting

   Now, I have to admit, more than a few of these illustrations have been clunkers and I cringe whenever I'm looking at a back issue and see them. But here's the sweet thing, who's going to fire me? Or, stop giving me assignments?

   All of this madness and creative wonder was created out of a storefront in Cave Creek, Arizona, that we like to call The True West World Headquarters.

The brand new True West Building

and staff, 2002

      But as the shy Beatle liked to sing, all good things must pass. The reason all of this is on my mind is because the True West World Headquarters has been closed since the March 13 quarantine, and more than half our staff is happier working remotely and—long story short—our lease is up at the end of September and we are not going back.

Last shot at our building

L to R: Christine Lake, Rebecca Edwards, Jenna Link, Ken Amorosano, BBB, Carole Glenn, Greg Carrol, Samantha Crowley and Dan Harshberger

   We didn't know it would be the last shot at the time (the above photo was taken in January during the launch of the Geronimo book and art show at the Scottsdale Museum of the West).

   But as the pandemic wore on, we realized something had to change.

   I spent this morning taking down all of my artwork off the walls, which included some 95 paintings and scratchboards (okay, I kept a dozen). Ken Amorosano got the bright idea to do a digital art show to offer these office paintings to our readers as a historic piece of the old homestead. You will be able to peruse and buy them, online, real soon. I have kept the prices as low as possible because I want them to have good homes. So if you want to own a piece of the True West World Headquarters, stay tuned.

   And just to reiterate: the magazine is doing fine, but like everyone else, we need to get lean to move forward.

"One door closes, another opens."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Celsa Knew What Really Happend

August 11, 2020
   Working on more queridas who dallied with Billy the Kid. 

Daily Whip Out:
"Celsa Knew What Really Happened
But She Never Talked About The Kid"

   I have five others in the works. Snippets and tidbits tomorrow.

"All paths lead to Pete Maxwell's darkened bedroom at midnite and when you get there, the Kid is gone, and the house is gone; only the river remains."
—Thom Ross

Monday, August 10, 2020

Billy the Kid In The Notch of The Moon at Puerto de Luna

 August 9, 2020

   I've got to thank Billy Gibbons for this one.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Billy the Kid In The Notch of the Moon

at Puerto de Luna"

   He forced me to think lyrically instead of historically accurate. This was quite freeing, because at the end of the day, the truth is not facts lined up.

   Here's a snapshot, or two, of how I got there.

Start scraping off the black with scraper tools and see what develops. So far, so good.

   Hand the moon, sketch in the rider. Keep going.

   Got the sky going good and so I penciled in where the rider is going and took a gander. Not bad. Holding my breath. Ha. It's calculated anxiety, all the flippin' way through!

   Thought I nailed it but went over for lunch and my muse said it doesn't read as a moon and the bluff is lost. So, I went back to the drawing board. Literally. And came up with the finished version at the top of the page.

   I'm going to do a color version as well, since this is basically the punchline to the book.

"Kid on the moon, dust in the grave, where do you go when you need to be brave."


Saturday, August 08, 2020

The Pecos Princess And Willie The Kid

August 8, 2020
   So, it turns out, all the Regulators had a crush on the Pecos Princess. Here's a couple studies of this striking Texas beauty.

Daily Whip Out: "Pecos Princess I"

   To those New Mexico bad boys she was Texas royalty, so I'm seeking a bit of a regal air, even though she was not high class or uppity at all, merely a pretty girl from Texas—in very rough country.

Daily Whip Out: "Pecos Princess II"

   Yes, she was an 18-year-old Texas looker and her uncle was, none other than John Chisum, the Cattle King of New Mexico.
Daily Whip Out: "Pecos Princess III"

   She definitely had a thing for the Kid. She wrote in her diary, on August 22, 1878: "Two candi hearts given to me by Willie Bonney."

  When word came that he had died, she cried.

Daily Whip Out:
"Pecos Princess Brokenhearted"

Everyone agrees she had a thing for "Willie Bonney."

Daily Whip Out: "Pecos Princess V"

   So, he went by Willie? At least with Sally Chisum. What might that look like?

Daily Whip Out: "Willie The Kid"

    Well, that's a new twist we haven't heard much about. Willie the Kid? In terms of becoming a legend, it doesn't have a very solid ring to it. Kind of wimpy, maybe? Or, it certainly evokes a slippery conotation? Hmmmm.

"What's in a name? Absolutely everything."
—Wet Willie, Jr.

Friday, August 07, 2020

A New Look at Virgil Earp In Prescott, Arizona

August 7, 2020
   We are finishing up a wonderful issue on Virgil Earp in Prescott and his time in Arizona.

Daily Whip Out: "Virgil In Prescott"

    Many do not know that the oldest Earp started his law enforcement career on Whiskey Row prior to his relocaton to Tombstone, and that he also came back to the Prescott area, actually Kirkland, to farm. Here is Virgil's obit in my hometown newspaper:

   —The Mohave County Miner, October 28, 1905

   It's interesting to me that Wyatt is mentioned this early in a prominent way, since the conventional wisdom is that Wyatt usurped Virgil's career in the late twenties. This rather undermines that theory.

   Thanks to Mark Lee Gardner, I had a similar ephiphany with Billy the Kid in this same time period. That story in the next blog post.

"This fight has commenced. Get to fighting, or get away."
—Wyatt Earp, at the O.K. Corral fight

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The Romantic And Ridiculous History of Puerto de Luna

August 5, 2020
   In October of 1991, I flew to Albuquerque from Phoenix, rented a car, and headed east on I-40 for the unveiling of a brand new historical marker south of Santa Rosa.

The Unveiling, October 19, 1991

   That's the legendary Joe Bowlin, at right, who invited me to attend. I dedicated my second book on the Kid, to him, in part for his gracious hospitality when I came to the Fort Sumner area hunting Billy, and for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Billy the Kid Gang and the history that entails. That's his wife Marylin, second from left and the third guy in the black suit is some politico from Santa Fe who was there for the unveiling, to make it official.

   Of course, they had a reenactment of Pat Garrett's posse delivering the recently captured Billy the Kid (on Christmas day, 1880), to the Grzelachowski Store where the real Billy had his last Christmas dinner on this planet.

The Kid Arrives in PDL

   That's Billy (William H. Cox), standing in the wagon and the actual sherrif of Lincoln County, led the posse. His name was McSwane, of all things, and he was over six feet tall and a dead ringer for Pat Garrett.

The sheriff of Lincoln County
James "Jay" McSwane

   Legend says it was the Spanish explorer, Coronado, who named the spot in 1541, on his way east in search of Quivira (the mythical "Seven Cities of Gold"). He was reputed to have remarked that the moon lodged in a notch of the bluffs along the Pecos River, thus Puerto de Luna, or, Port of The Moon. 

The road to Puerto de Luna.
The notch, where the moon perched,
is just to the right of the telephone pole,
 at center right.

   Historians and wags (sorry, that's redundant), also like to point out that a family named Luna lived at the mouth of Puerto Creek in the 1860s and the village is actually named for them.

   Maybe both are true, or perhaps neither one is true. Welcome to the history of the Southwest.

   The locals have given the tiny berg a shorthand name, PDL, which is similar to that daffy game show town, Truth Or Consequences (in the 1950s the town fathers sold the town's soul to a popular TV show of the same name). As a fitting rebuke, many locals simply refer to it as T-or-C.

   I would call this The Land of Enhancement, but, I digress.

   Meanwhile, I am looking for all the women who loved Billy the Kid. Perhaps at the top of the list is this striking beauty:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Deluvina, The Navajo Woman
Who Loved The Kid"

   It dawned on me yesterday that it is very important to me to go to the places I am writing about. Because when you stand where he once stood, you realize what is just and good. Or, as a friend puts it:

"That's the moment the history of the site wraps itself around your shoulders and you can feel it and get a sense of it."
—Mike Pitel