February 3, 2005
Had a full set of X-rays of my teeth today ($102 house account). Going to lose a wisdom tooth in two weeks. Not fun—too much like pulling teeth.
Well, Dave Daiss, God bless him, changed his mind after seeing the Clint Eastwood artwork. Bob Brink wanted to give the image a haircut, but Dave said, "No, that's fine as it is. There's nothing wrong with that." This final image of the Religion of the West cover should go up tomorrow, and I may even post Dan Harshberger's cover rough when it comes in.
Several readers took exception to me calling the anti-Jesus-on-the-cover people narrow-minded. Here's a good example: “Reading the Bible, God is narrow minded. I think I will stick with Him.”
Here's the latest barrage of opinion:
"All right, I actually like the Jesus-with-cowboy-hat-halo painting, but the whole idea still makes me more nervous than the whore who met Jimmy Swaggert (or was that the secretary who met Jim Baker?)."
"I like the one of Jesus in the desert with no hat or costume. It seems the only person in your journal entries that liked it whole heartedly was Marcus Huff, and didn't he wish you ill will once?"
—Lynn Allen White
Speak of the devil:
"If you never put your foot in your mouth, you'll never know how it tastes. (Mine tastes a bit like chicken, not bad.) Life is far too short to second guess. Gaines never second guessed when he matured MAD magazine. Wenner never second guessed when he birthed Rolling Stone. Lacey never second guessed when he grew New Times. True West is on a natural arc, keep adding your unique touch and it will find its stride. Your TW is different than my old baby, but babies grow up (notice I didn't say mature). I'm sure Jesus won't mind anyway, he's probably still in a floozle over the whole Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston divorce thing."
"I think this situation has had a number of positive aspects. First, it proves
the value of your blog in tossing out ideas and getting almost immediate
feedback. Nobody says that you should always follow the advice your readers
provide--especially since they're a very select group, not very representative
of the overall readership. But blog reaction can and does raise some
interesting thoughts that can be considered before you take something to press.
"Second, it should be obvious that you have a good group of friends,
colleagues, and True West admirers. If nobody cared, they wouldn't take the
time to tell you what they thought about the Jesus cover. This is a testament
to you, of course, but it also shows the value that these people put on True
West. Not the old TW--the one that you've helped create over the past few
years. And that's a sign of success.
"What this whole thing should not do is put limits on your creativity: 'Uh,
well, I can't do this sketch because we'll lose readers and advertisers.' You
must continue to let your talents fly free, going in directions that some will
consider strange and off-base. You can always revise or not use them. Your
work is the signature for the magazine, not just on the cover but in the body
of TW as well. To put strict guidelines on what you will or won't do will
hinder continued development for TW, in my opinion.
"It is your responsibility to push the envelope, especially if you want to draw
in a younger market. And as they say, it's much easier to pull something back
when it's gone too far than to push it out to more adventurous levels.
"So use this situation as a learning tool, one that educates you on process.
Don't use it to figuratively crawl in your shell and hold back on your
vision. You shouldn't apologize or accept blame on the cover controversy;
nobody died, no advertisers left, no readers dropped subscriptions. And there
will be many more covers carrying the BBB mark in the future. There will be
plenty of opportunities to push the buttons and the envelope.
"And I for one look forward to them."
Thanks Mark. I've often compared running True West to running in front of a train. Now here's an irony: this whole Jesus cover thing is for June! Two issues out. I'm currently under the gun to produce, you guessed it, a train cover for May. I'm picturing Moses on the cow catcher breakdancing as he flips the Ten Commandments, like frisbees, off into the desert, where one hits a Navajo woman breast feeding a baby right in the head, blood is everywhere.
But I digress.
“Every great idea makes someone pucker.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
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