Thursday, August 31, 2006

August 31, 2006 Bonus Blog
I just got word that The Top Secret Writer has just been bestowed with a new title: The University of New
Mexico has named Paul Hutton to the rank of "Distinguished Professor." (See today's Old Vaquero Saying for clarification)

When It Rains It Pours Department
Both Gus Walker, The Mapinator, and Mike Pellegatti, The Videoshooter, recently sent me Historical Twins based on my visage. Here's the first one from Mike:

The photo is from The Great Train Robbery and depicts an outlaw shooting at the screen at the end of the movie (allegedly the first "Western" to tell a story), and supposedly movie patrons ran for the exits when he fired his shot, without sound of course.

The second one is not as flattering, vanity wise, but dammit, Gus, it's pretty darn close. Or should that be too close for comfort?

"Youth and restlessness will never beat age and ruthlessness."
—Old Vaquero Saying
August 31, 2006
Cooler in the mornings and we still have cloud buildups in the afternoon but it's not quite as dramatic as last week.

Finished Classic Gunfights and my editorial yesterday. "Buff" McElroy scanned and laid out Honkytonk Sue and Robert Ray tweaked the Luke Short gunfight.

Here's a closer view of The Top Secret Writer, again in front of Crook's cabin at Fort Apache. His given name is Paul Andrew Hutton and he is a professor of history at the University of New Mexico.

Stayed late after work last night and sketched off of Kingdom of Heaven DVD, right off my computer, utilzing stop action. I like Orlando Bloom's look in the film and am attempting to adapt it to a character in the Top Secret Project (sorry, still not revealing it until we get closer). This morning, I printed out a slew of images from the trip. My Epson printer is acting up and printing lines on the images but it's for art reference so I can live with it.

Going by JD's after work to see about building a new chickenhouse. He's got a state of the art job.

Leaving tomorrow for Wichita. They are fighting a lonely battle there to save Old Cowtown (a reporter for the Wichita paper called again yesterday to interview me) and Rob B. and I are going to do our best to help them. My good friends Steve and Preston Randolph from Cody, Wyoming are driving down to help us video some PSAs for the effort.

"No one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves."
—William Hazlitt

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

August 30, 2006
Katherine, a photographer from The Arizona Republic, came at 9:30 and took a photo of Bob and Trish Brink and myself for a business piece that will run on Labor Day (fitting, no?).

Peter Brown, the actor who starred in Lawman and Laredo, not to mention Days of Our Lives, The Young And Restless (he had a 15 year career in Soaps), came by the offices at ten and met with Bob Brink and I about a TV show he'd like to develope with us. Very good ideas and he has solid connections.

One more clue on The Top Secret Writer:

• The Top Secret Writer is still mad at Mexico for something that happened in 1836. In fact when we were in Bisbee, I suggested we go to Naco for dinner, but he wouldn't even consider it.

Here's his photo, taken at Fort Apache last Saturday. That's General Crook's headquarters behind him and he was thrilled to see it and have his picture taken in front of it. If you still can't place him, he's on the History Channel, Discovery and the Learning Channel all the time as a talking head. Name tomorrow.

Failing to Succeed
Finished a postcard image for our Top Ten Towns issue this morning. It was my sixth attempt. It's still not quite right, but we are on deadline and Trish is on me to finish it. I really need to fail more, or put another way, I need to attempt more and keep going. I read somewhere that Maynard Dixon would do some 85 pen and inks of Indians until he got it the way he wanted (and mostly he was taking things out, not adding detail). The same with Monet. A book I have describes him painting the same scene dozens of time until he got it. In that light, six times doesn't seem so bad (in fact it sounds like a Piker) . So I need to fail more to succeed.

"We can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown."
—Claude Bernard

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29, 2006
Working diligently on sketches trying to build on last weekend's trip to Apacheland. Here's a sketch I did last night incorporating the view from a mesa up above the San Carlos Agency.

The rider seems to have two bags tied on the back of his saddle. Gee, I wonder what's in them? Yes, that's Mount Turnbull in the background. Next up, we have an actual photo of me sketching this scene on location (taken by the Top Secret Writer). Here it is:

And speaking of the Top Secret Writer several of you have guessed who he is. Gus Walker, the Mapinator, told me it was the "beer and the chicharrones" that gave him away. Steve Lodge said it was the distance from Hon-dah that clued him in to the real guy. For the rest of you here are several more clues that should give him away:

• The Top Secret Writer has won four Spur Awards.

• The Top Secret Writer has won the hearts of four women (and lost three of them).

• The Top Secret Writer has written probably the most eloquent paragraph on Billy the Kid ever, which is: "Billy the Kid keeps riding across the dreamscape of our minds—silhouetted against a starlit Western sky, handsome, laughing, deadly. Shrewd as the coyote. Free as the hawk. The outlaw of our dreams—forever free, forever young, forever riding." (hint: this quote and the author's name are on page 191 of my Billy book).

• The Top Secret Writer plays a doctor in the movie Naked Gun 33 1/3 and delivers O.J.'s baby.

• The Top Secret Writer is actually a doctor of history.

I'll post a photograph of the Top Secret Writer tomorrow.

"Great things are done when men and mountains meet."
—William Blake

Monday, August 28, 2006

August 28, 2006
Back in the office, churning and burning to catch up to the boat that's about to leave the harbor. Uploaded all 126 images from my Kodak Easyshare DX 4330 camera onto my laptop. Some of them are short video snippets (it's an amazing little booger). Lots of magic hour shots which I took right out the window of the Top Secret Writer's car on the way back to Hon-dah from San Carlos. If I can get one of these boogers into Photoshop I'll post it right here.

Meade, Indeed!
Remember our friends at the Lakeside Hotel in Meade, Kansas? (see June 2-3 posts). Well, they are about to throw in the towel. Their son, Anthony, came back from California with a flag which some narrowheads have interpreted as being a Gay Pride flag. The parents flew the flag from the hotel anyway. Then it hit the press and you know that Wackjob guy in Kansas who goes to military funerals and uses a bullhorn to tell the parents he's glad their son is dead? And, in terms of tolerance, he puts to shame anything on in the Middle East. Well, he's going to start harrassing our Meade friends. Meanwhile, the son is staying in California (with JR’s parents) after being harassed the last day of school, when the city attorney’s son stuck asbestos down his shirt. The flag situation certainly made it worse and JR and Robin afraid for him if he were to return to Meade. JR and Robin have had enough and have put the hotel up for sale, with the intention of returning to California.

In 1989 I thought I knew Billy the Kid, until my mother sent me "The Saga of Billy the Kid" by Walter Noble Burns. Last Thursday I thought I knew Frederick Sackrider Remington until the Top Secret Writer brought his Remington book collection to the Hon-dah Casino Resort just outside Pinetop. I didn't realize how short his career was (some 20 years). He died very young, at 48. He also had a nasty side (think Mel Gibson) which I was not aware of either. But more than all of that, I never had any idea of how much art and writing he actually produced. As The Top Secret Writer commented, "He practically has storyboarded our entire project." Too true for school Secret Man. And speaking of which, if I can get the above photo into Photoshop, I'll post a photo of the Top Secret Writer for you to see in the next couple of days.

"Experience is a good teacher but she sends in terrific bills."
—Minna Antrim

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August 27, 2006
Back from the rim. Took off at 11, drove 198.6 miles, got back to Cave Creek at three. Tried to inventory my digital photo shots but the softwear won't load (or rather the computer won't recognize the camera). Hate this kind of stuff. I've got both video and still images of a whole bunch of great scenes we shot up at Fort Apache and San Carlos.

Ran into an Apache historian at the Hon-dah Resort this morning. Mr. Duncan is part of the Yellowbird Dancers, and they just got back from Eastern Europe where the State Department sent them for good will (he laughed and said "Apaches are the only Amerians who still go over big in that part of the world. They loved us.") He also said that over there they think every American Indian is an Apache. And Geronimo is the big Dog. Evidently this didn't sit too well with the Lakota on the tour. Ha.

The White Mountain Apache Casino Hon-dah was our Top Secret Location for this rendezvous and it was a great one. The hotel is beautiful and centrally located in the cool pines. The Top Secret Writer was totally shocked at how beautiful and large the Apache Reservation is. We have been sold so many images of how awful San Carlos was and how we gave the Apaches dreadful land, but when you see it in person, it's another deal altogether. Here's another shocker: for all their worldwide fame at being such daring and bold raiders, most Apaches are painfully shy. One of our Apache models brought her little sister and she was so shy she couldn't, or wouldn't, talk. I tried to trick her and cajole her into talking (I even paid her $20 to be a Key Grip) but couldn't get her to utter a word. The Top Secret Writer managed to get her to say two words (which was quite amazing in itself). One of the words was "Fifth," as in, "What grade are you in?"

Here's a photo from our session at Fort Apache. This is of Lisa Bahen and in the background is Levi Miles, both Apaches and great models. A stunning beauty, no?

Thanks to Pastor Guenther we learned many Apache customs and words. He was a total joy, and everywhere we went he was recieved with respect and open arms. When we went to the museum at Fort Apache, they charged all of us, but he got in free. Ha. As it should be. Between him and his late father they have served the Apache tribe for over a century. Somone really needs to get up there and video tape him, because when he goes, it's gone.

I've got a very busy week ahead, with an issue going out the door on Thursday, then Rob B. and I are flying to Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita on Friday for a big shindig and pow-wow on how to save the place. I've asked my friends, Steve and Preston Randolph, up in Cody, to drive down and tape some PSAs, plus some video for other projects utilizing the great buildings and streets Old Cowtown has. Should be a great time in Old Cowtown, but first, an issue to get out.

"One of the things that seems to arrive almost before you get started is the bridge you were going to cross when you got to it."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, August 26, 2006

August 26, 2006
Woke up at three. Drunk Apaches in the next room, really having a great time. Decided to get up and read, "Frederick Remington: A Catalogue Raisonee, Volume I". Very inspiring. Thought I knew Remington but I guess I didn't. A relatively short career (twenty years, he died at 48), but prolific output. Plus, he traveled extensively in this part of the world, as early as 1886. Much insight into San Carlos, etc.

Drove down to Fort Apache at 9:30. Stopped in White River to look at Rev. Guenther's Lutheran Church. The same one where Alchesay walked into in 1922 and gave his blessing to. To think that The Top Secret Writer and I shook the hand of the man who shook the hand of Alchesay (he's in a famous photo with General Crook on his mule at Fort Bowie). Here's a photo of myself with Pastor Guenther and his daughter Cindy in front of the parrish home at White River.

Shot five rolls of film and another fifty shots off my digital. Then The Top Secret Writer and I drove to San Carlos to get the full effect of the two Apache Reservations and just how far apart they are, and how different. It was quite hot down on the Gila, but we got goo reference and good inspiration. Wrote a number of scenes, just viewing the real deal. That was worth the trip all by itself. "When you see it in person, you get it," The Top Secret Writer said, and I agreed.

Got back up on the rim at 7:30 and had dinner in a certain Apache casino. Wrote for another hour and then called it a night. A very successful trip. Going back to Cave Creek in the morning. The Top Secret Writer is going east, several hundred miles. We work well together. We often disagree, but when we agree it is pretty productive.

"If two men agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, August 25, 2006

August 25, 2006
The Top Secret Writer and I are secluded in a mountain top retreat, where we met with the son of the man who baptised the hero of our Top Secret Story. Lutheran pastor Arthur Alchesay Guenther has great stories and speaks flawless Apache. I teared up over his description of Alchesay's last words, and was concerned about my estrogen levels, until on the way home The Top Secret Writer confessed that he too was "a tad misty eyed." The Top Secret Writer is also wearing his new reconditioned True West cap.

More rain, nice and cool up here. We worked last night until almost one in the morning. Exciting stuff. Can't wait to show off some of the efforts.

Real Men Save Cowtowns
"According to the Wichita Eagle article [link is on yesterday's post], I see you and Michael Martin Murphey are part of the driving force in the fight to save Wichita's Old Cowtown. It took real men to shape the West. It takes real men today to stand up and save it for future generations. I'm proud to know both you and Murph. Thank God some people are blessed with wisdom and a vision to go with it."

"The happiest excitement in life is to be convinced that one if fighting for all one is worth on behalf of some clearly seen and deeply felt good."
—Ruth Benedict

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24, 2006
Woke up to thunder, dogs huddling in the hall (broke in the front door, I swear Peaches has one of those cat burgle doo hickeys, although in this case I guess it would a dog burgle doo higley), took off from Cave Creek at about nine, after a stop at the office.

Rained off and on all the way to Payson. Stopped three times to sketch. Something I've never done before. I usually take photos, but I never seem to get back to the reference. When I stopped and actually forced myself to sketch the tattered clouds hanging over Four Peaks, and the misty canyons of the Rio Verde Valley, I learned more, or at least I retained more. I guess that's why so many painters swear by plein air. Felt good. I'll post some results when I get home.

Had some extra time so I took the side road to Gisela (Guy-Zee-La). Never been there. Been driving by the turnoff for a quarter century always saying to myself, "One of these times. . ." Well, today was the day. Shot over the ridge (it's about six miles off the highway) and found a little community snuggled along the creek bottom. Very pretty. Kind of a small Camp Verde, or Patagonia. Frank Mell had some land there and started an art colony or something in the late eighties, but he got crossways with someone and well, you know small towns.

Decided to have lunch at The Rye Bar & Saloon. Sat by the window and watched the clouds hug the tops of the Mazatals (I think it's Spanish for "hard country", or that's what the waitress said). Had a pastrami sando, iced tea and cowboy beans (Yes, I'm travelling alone) and sketched the soggy sky and terrain out the window.

Up above Kohl's Ranch, the clouds hung beneath the Tonto Rim (technically that would be "Under The Tonto Rim") and when I drove through them and came out on top, I looked back and it looked like mini-forest fires all along the ridgelines.

I'm meeting the Top Secret Writer at a Top Secret Location (I'm in room 167 and he will be in 171) to go for round two of The Top Secret Project. Sketches, insights and option money to follow.

Before I forget, one of my fave places is in danger of closing. In fact I'm going there next weekend. Here's the Email I got today:

"If you have followed the news in Wichita over the past 4 months then you already know that Old Cowtown is in jeopardy of having our doors closed and perhaps even our buildings and artifacts sold off [this story can be found online at - the Wichita Eagle’s online website]. We are not going down without a fight!"
—Ed LeRoy

More on this later. The rain has stopped, up here in the cool pines. Big, dramatic skies all day. Frankly, this is the only place to be in Arizona in August and by the looks of the traffic, I'm not alone in that assessment.

"Veni, Vidi, Velcro....I came, I saw, I stuck around."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

August 23, 2006
The clouds keep on building, just more spectacular every hour. Went to lunch at Keg Steakhouse with Mad Coyote Joe and Wonderful Russ. Sat by the window so we could watch. Had the salmon caesar salad and iced tea. I bought ($44.50, plus $8 tip).

Worked on a page of anguished faces for The Top Secret Project. This is for the opening sequence and will illustrate the results of a certain war. Needs more specific faces, but this is a start.

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22, 2006 Bonus Blog
Another big summer storm rolled in at about five this afternoon. I was on my way home, saw the big sweeper, dropping its blue curtain over Lone Mountain on the eastern horizon. Pulled the truck over and tried to catch the effects in my sketchbook. Very dramatic, but my feeble attempts were not up to the task. I came home and, ignoring the dogs, mixed up some gouache and tried to capture what I saw on better paper. The curtain of rain was so distinct. It had an edge, and the clouds funneling into it were long and mean. Paper is too small and I’m afraid so are my talents, to capture such a magnificent sight. On some level, I just feel privileged to have seen it.

“Many excellent cooks are ruined by going into the arts.”
—Paul Gauguin

August 22, 2006
The big thunderheads yesterday finally rolled in about four. They got big rain in Phoenix (a reported 2 inches), but all we got was a gentle female rain (as the Navajos call it). Sprinkled in the pool. Sat with the dogs and marvelled at the concentric circles as they spread out and disappeared in a tapestry of expanding bullseyes.

Worked on a stronger graphic line yesterday afternoon. Brought into the office a book by Ludwig Hohlwein and copied some of his bold Germanic strokes. Seemed wrong when I was doing them, but looking at them this morning made me realize I need to be much bolder and fearless, especially in my pen and inks.

Interesting feedback from questions and observations over the past several days. Here’s my three faves:

“You may have received some back-story on this from others already, but in reference to your August 18 blog, the fellow with the picture of Luke Short's wife was Wayne Short, who was a near relation of Luke's and published a brief, somewhat novelized bio of L.S.: Luke Short (Tombstone, AZ: Devil's Thumb Press, 1996). Contained some good family genealogy and a few new pictures (including a new view of Luke Short that wound up I believe in Bob McC.'s collection), but was otherwise nothing new or particularly interesting about the man's history."
—Timothy Fattig

“Hey Bob, Just wanted to write you to say thanks for showing off the portraits of ‘Me’ My wife got a kick out of it, and maybe I should make you an offer so I can hang them in the bunkhouse for all the hands to see. Love the magazine, have been reading it for years.”
—Tap Duncan

“Sometimes I worry about you—even Paul Andy hated Kingdom of Heaven. We saw it in the theater and the battle scenes were great, but otherwise a plotless mishmash and so PC it made me want to puke. Looking forward to our next rendezvous.”
—The Top Secret Writer

“The artist spends the first part of his life with the dead, the second with the living, and the third with himself.”

Monday, August 21, 2006

August 21, 2006 Bonus Blog
I guess I'm not the only one with his head in the clouds:

Flat-Bottomed Clouds Make the Rocky World Go 'Round
"Speaking of clouds, when I was driving to Tucson the other day, it dawned on me that the clouds seem to change in shape abruptly when one crosses the Colorado River. California has typical puffy clouds—not quite uninteresting, but much less astounding, than Arizona's. Upon entering Arizona, you immediately notice you are covered by what I call, Arizona flat-bottoms. They kind of remind me of the space ships from the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds, just sitting there, hovering in the sky. I can identify any movie shot in Arizona by the clouds (and the saguaros, of course). Arizona flat-bottoms look like someone took a giant knife and sliced off the bottoms at exactly the same spot on every cloud. I'm sure you know what I'm referring to."
—Steve Lodge

"The cinematic march to Akaba aside, to see a burlesque shimmy of desert air, I concur with you. High noon in August at Red Lake. It's enough to blister a man's gouache."
—Tom Carpenter

Here are the two cloud scenes I worked on today. And yes, the flat-bottoms are quite distinct in the one (and yes, they resemble those space ships in War of the Worlds), and the anvil thunderhead is quite typical in the other. The main false note in the thunderhead is the highlights on the right side of the cloud (away from the light). This makes it look cutout and flat. Won't do that again.

"There is something ghostly in all great art."
—Lafcadio Hearn
August 21, 2006
A reporter for The Arizona Republic came by today to do a story on True West for the business section. Bob Brink sat in on the meeting to insure I wouldn’t give away state secrets, although, one could merely go read the business timeline (above) to get the true genesis of the song Highway to Hell. Jody Snyder, Health Care Reporter, was quite impressed with Bob and Trish Brink and how uptown the operation is. Jody admitted to me later, “I wasn’t expecting such a professional operation.” I think she expected to find me sitting on the floor, mumbling and digging around in a knap sack. Sorry, that is so six years ago.

Came home for lunch. Studying thunderhead clouds today. I’ve got great reference, right out my studio door, but it’s funny how hard it is sometimes to get up and go look. I get stuck in my photo reference and it’s never, ever as good as eyeballs on the actual subject matter. There’s a big, anvil shaped thunderhead building over Skull Mesa, even as I type this. Just came back in with an eyeful of detail. Very few artists capture the burning marshmallow effect of summer clouds stacking skyward with that mushroom cloud pleating that goes on. That would include me, but I'm working on it.

I’ll post some of my efforts tomorrow. Here’s a Remington Ridge study I did yesterday, emulating a Petley postcard color scheme, a la 1945. Not sure I got it, but learning as I go.

Heatwaves 101: Or, Like Minds Think Alike
“I seem to recall that in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, when Omar Shariff is first introduced, it's in a long shot of him riding a camel toward camera with that same mirage effect you were describing.”
—Steve Lodge

“Instead of driving to Red Lake, why not rent Lawrence of Arabia? Remember when Omar Sharif is coming to the waterhole where he meets Peter O'Toole for the first time? He is first seen in the distance as a shimmering puff of dust. Then you can see that it's a man on a camel, with the heatwave effect, seeming to float above the desert floor. With a DVD, you could freeze the film, and see exactly what's going on, and at what point the hovering stops and the rider is on solid ground again. “
—Lauren (aka Sallie Chisum), Maniac #19

“Concerning the desert mirage, if you remember in the movie Lawrence of Arabia there is a wonderful effect when they photograph Omar Sharif riding toward the camera, on a camel i believe. they use a long lens and it seems to take him about five minutes to get to the position where he reins up in front of the camera. plenty of that bobbing up and down and heat wave stuff. takes a while to even make out it is some guy riding.”
—Gus Walker, The Mapinator

And speaking of Arabia (time and again), Kathy and I stumbled onto a real sleeper on cable last week: Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons. It came out last year and I vaguely remember thinking it was religious because of the title, so I never bothered to check it out. Big mistake. Whatever misconceptions came with the title is more than made up for in fantastic battle scenes and sweeping desert panoramas that rival and in some ways even surpass Lawrence of Arabia. Many eye-popping scenes of cavalry charges and the clever way Scott amped up the artillery (huge, slinging contraptions that deliver flaming medieval napalm) and tremendous sword fights, with clanging metal and spraying blood matter. And the ultimate complement is from Kathy who is not a blood and guts gal, but she really flipped over this movie as well. I’m going to buy the DVD. It’s that good.

“You either cater to the masses or you kowtow to the elite. You can’t have both.”
—Ben Hecht

Sunday, August 20, 2006

August 20, 2006 Bonus Blog
Okay, here's the memory of being westbound on old Route 66, just this side of Holbrook and a lone car is cresting the horizon coming our way. I don't know if you can tell from here but it's a '52 Plymoth. Remember in those days the center lines were yellow and all those dark spots on both side of the medium are droppings from leaky transmissions. Those old highways had stains worse than a baby's three-day-old diaper.

"Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadine. . ."
—Bobby Troup, Get Your Kicks on Route 66
August 20, 2006
T. Charles is in Philadelphia and returns to Manhattan on Tuesday. His week-long cross country journey took him to Durango, Denver, Lawrence, Iowa City and Chicago. He said he liked Iowa City the best because it had great book stores and the coffee shops were quite lively with excellent conversation (of course this is the report the dad gets and I imagine his friends get another version: “Great snatch and crystal meth in Cleveland!”).

Kathy and I had a nice quiet Saturday. I worked until about four on artwork (see yesterday’s heatwave postings), then we went down to Fry’s for groceries. Ran into Karen Bell (no relation but she worked for me in the mid-nineties). She has 14 grandchildren, but doesn’t look like it! And all of her kids are quite attractive as well, which partly explains the impressive output.

Dropped off dry cleaning, got gas ($2.79 a gallon, $34.77 house account), had an early dinner at El Encanto. Huge crowds. Wedding party and a 45 minute wait. Sat in the bar and had Sonorna enchiladas with an egg on top, plus two Coronas ($35 cash, Kathy treated).

We also stopped at T-Mobile to see about a picture phone. I was impressed by the Tor-Forge editor’s blog where she took photos with her phone, at an art museum, and posted them on her blog. I want that! Going to cost about $150, but I ultimately decided to wait because I’ve got at least five machines (iPod, Mac Laptop, digital camera, Pict Bridge and Stop Frame) which I know how to about half use, and the idea of one more machine with a learning curve, kind of stopped me. Anybody have any recommendations on trick phones?

The Top Secret Project
One of the sub-themes to the Top Secret Project is the death and dying of one way of life and the birth of another. Or, put another way: for everything we gain we lose something, and for everything we lose, we gain something. Some of this is going to be controversial (at least I think so. The Top Secret Writer thinks I am being an old lady and no one will flinch or care).

Much of this will be unspoken, but will be hidden in plain sight inside the illustrations (see BBB Graphic Novel Manifesto). For example, I’ve got a big stand of green and yellow Spanish daggers, out front, near the road, that are wilting and apparently dying. The once tall and proud bayonets are twisting in agony and curling to the ground. Even though I water it every week, part of me is worried I’m drowning it with too much attention (but this just adds to the metaphor). I made a vow to go out and draw it, last week, and finally got out there today, at about ten when it was already too hot. Nonetheless, I picked a spot in the shade of a mesquite tree and as the dogs both joined me (they don’t want to miss anything), I started rendering the dying gasps of this once magnificent and proud plant. Hostile environment? Too much water? Not enough? Those are the questions. It was transplanted from another more successful stand, and while it thrived for a while in the present spot, it started to wilt and go south quite a while ago. I wish I knew how to save it, but even in its death throes, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

If this doesn’t stand in for the plight of a certain band of Native Americans, I don’t know what does.

”Drawing is not what you see, but what you must make others see.”

Saturday, August 19, 2006

August 19, 2006 Bonus Blog
No, wait. Here’s a better Tap Duncan riding across Red Lake. Still not perfect, but the effects are better. Makes me want to drive to Red Lake and see it in person. Those are the Music Mountains in the background.

“Art is a paradox: if you want to master it, you must become its slave.”
—Old Vaquero Saying
August 19, 2006
Jerry Joslyn sent me a very cool Wally Wood comic strip tutorial: “22 panels that always work.” I met Wally on July 4th, 1980 at the New York Comic Con at the Statler Hilton, across from Penn Central Station. Comic book distributor Phil Sueling flew me to the Big Apple (my first ever trip there) to meet all the comic book greats, and Wally Wood was one of them. Here’s the address if you want to learn a thing or two about comic book greatness:

Both Wally and Phil are gone. Good guys. Thanks Jerry!

The Top Secret Project
Working on heatwave effects. I remember when I was a kid and we used to drive back to Arizona from Iowa and as my dad barreled westbound on old Route 66 as we got closer to Holbrook, Winslow and the Petrified Forest we would meet cars, way off in the distance, and they would be floating in thin air. As the two-lane blacktop shimmered in the summer heat, especially against a clear blue sky, the road seemed to disappear and oncoming cars would hover and wiggle in the sky with a perfect lake-like reflection beneath them. It seemed more predominate in those days (cheaper asphalt? paid more attention?), but I have always remembered that desert heatwave phenom. Today I am applying it to a rider, in this case Tap Duncan, riding across Red Lake on his way home to the Diamond Bar. Of course Red Lake is a big, dry prehistoric lake in northern Mohave County. And I knew none of that when I started. I need a T-shirt that says, “Drawings Talk to Me.” Ha.

“What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, August 18, 2006

August 18, 2006
Still hot and muggy, but the mornings are cooler. Those damn cutting horse women brought two dogs with them this morning, one a German Shepherd, so I had to cut my bike ride short to avoid a dog down (as opposed to a downward dog).

I’ve decided to move the Ellsworth Classic Gunfight where Ben Thompson treed the town and Wyatt Earp did nothing to stop him (mainly because he wasn’t there) out of the next issue. Instead I’m going to do the Luke short vs. Long-Haired Jim Courtright fight in Fort Worth, Texas for the November issue and save the Ellsworth fight for December, so Gus can do a rip-snortin’ map. Tom Bicknell and pards have done a wonderful reference map (actually two) and I sent it down to Alabama yesterday so the Mapinator can do his topo thang.

Speaking of Luke Short, he had one of the prettiest wives I think I’ve ever encountered in looking at Old West photos. Granted, Etta (or Ethyl if you want to get all technical) Place, the girlfriend of the Sundance Kid, was a definite looker, but I think Mrs. Short is even more beautiful. If they ever do a Luke Short movie one can easily see Kiera Knightly or Winona Ryder playing her and it’s not a reach. Nope. She’s one fine honey. I got this photo from a gentleman in Tombstone way back in November of 2000, when we did a live radio show in the Birdcage Theater. He just walked up to me between breaks and gave me the photo. Said he was doing a book on Luke Short (and I think he said he was related). I went back and looked in my daytimer but he’s not in there. I’d like to give this gentleman credit so if you know him please have him contact me here. Thanks.

More Golden Boot Award Sightings
“Missed seeing you at the Golden Boot Awards festivities this year, Bob. But, even without you around TRUE WEST had a good presence at the event! As usual, there was a copy of a current issue in everyone's gift bag at the main affair. Being the TRUE WEST Maniac I am, I took it upon myself to see how many folks I could catch reading their copies as they supped. I sorta lost track of how many—but, thought you might be interested in knowing who I caught glancing at TRUE WEST (sure wish they would've allowed me to snap photos inside the banquet hall!). Among the folks I caught giving TW a gander (either at the main event or just before): L.Q. Jones, Stuart Whitman, Walter Hill, Burt Reynolds, William Sanderson (Billy to his pals), Powers Boothe, Peter Graves, Henry Silva, Francine York, Drew Gomber, Anne Jeffreys, and legendary producer A.C. Lyles! What a mob..what a crowd!”
—Chris Casey, Maniac #946, Sierra Vista, AZ

The only one in that crew I have a hard time believing is Drew Gomber. He can read?

Also, Phil Spangenberger told me he was back stage when Wes Studi (Geronimo, Last of the Mohicans) came in and walked up to Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby and everything Naomi Judd has ever done), saying, “I didn’t know you were taller than me.” to which Morgan replied, “I’ve always been taller than you.”

“People like [Boze and I], who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn, persistent illusion.”
—Albert Einstein

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17, 2006
When Kathy and I were returning from Prescott on Saturday we got rain in almost the same spot that it rained the day before, when I drove up for the TV interview. Really came down hard from about Dewey clear down to Cordes Junction. Ed Mell told me he has had trouble getting the roof of his cabin patched because it has been raining every day up by Thumb Butte. Here’s another report:

“I just got in from Prescott a few minutes ago. I spoke to the State Parks folks at Buckey's Casino. They were a great group. We're all in the same business of educating people about the state. They've been having good rains up that way but it's still pretty spotty. All in all, we're having a good monsoon. I haven't had a chance to take any vacation time, usually I find a day here and a day there. Class starts next Tuesday night for my 34th year. I can't believe I was in my 30s when I started and now look at me.”
—Marshall Trimble

I also talked to Grant Sergot down in Bisbee and he says they have really been getting the gully washers. And Bisbee has the gullys to wash it.

In Cave Creek we have been getting plenty of dark clouds but no wet stuff to speak of.

My Movie Pards Tell Me. . .
“The remake of 3:10 To Yuma is supposed to begin filming October 23 in Santa Fe. FYI, Crowe movie sets are traditionally closed to media.”
—Friend of a Friend

A Left-Handed Complement If I Ever Saw One
“I watch the western channels everyday, and of course I see you telling us about the past. I just was thinking about the Army, about the hard times they have to go through, the way they lived, and the one think that is important to me is there rank. How they got it and how long it took to get to the top. Their pay, and the life span of a soilders. Please sir I hope you can do this, You see I think this would be a litter bit more interesting then about a break-man. Thank You Sir
—Peter L Delfino

I did a True West Moment about train Brakemen and I think that is his way of saying, anything would be more entertaining that that. Ha. Actually Peter's spelling is quite entertaining all by itself.

News From The Front Lines
“My husband and I recently returned home with our children after an extensive trip out West this summer. As part of our visit, we were able to experience Cheyenne Frontier Days. It was a marvelous time, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As we were browsing some of the shops there, I was pleased to see complimentary copies of True West. They were going like hot cakes too! It was all this True West Maniac could do to wait until I got back home for my copy which was waiting in the mailbox! I am sure that other folks will find as much enjoyment as we do in their copies of True West. Thank you for such a wonderful publication.”
—Amy Jo

Reflections Of A Fevered Mind
I met with a guy today who is even more ADD than me. His ideas were all over the place. The kicker is he showed me his business card and it was tiny. He asked me if I could read the type under his name and I said I couldn’t (it was four point type and even with my glasses on it was unreadable). His response: “If you can’t read that you’re too old to get what I’m doing.”

He was certainly right about that.

Witch Hunts Ad Infinitum
The news today that there may actually be a possible outside killer in the JonBenet murder gave me the heebie jeebies, and then some. We laugh at the insanity of the Salem Witch Hunts and yet, the same insanity still goes on today, and this case is a perfect example. I thought for sure, the son was guilty, and, or the Dad, and the Mom covered it up. What a bunch of insane cattle we are. Shame on all of us who got caught up in the burning at the stake of this poor family. I don’t think I’ll watch Fox News again (with a straight face).

“If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, what a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth!”
—A.P. Herbert

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 16, 2006
Robert "Buff" McElroy attended the Golden Boots over the weekend and acted as part of the color guard for the opening ceremonies. He spent some time in the Green Room and got to talking with producer Patrick Curtis (portrayed Baby Beau Wilkes in Gone With The Wind and also was married to Raquel Welch) about True West magazine. Patrick bragged that he collects True West and has for a long time. Clint Eastwood, who was being honored with a Founder's Award, piped up, "I read True West."

I heard someone say that the average person only walks about 300 yards a day. Ouch! That rings true. Except for the bike rides I need to get out and walk more.

My speech up at the Phippen Museum last Saturday went quite well. Packed house, lots of laughs and sold lots of books. Tom Carpenter dropped his wife off at the mall and drove down from Flag for the talk (it's 83 miles). Janet Childress was there. Several old Kingman families were represented including Kay Bonham, Ray's sister, Beverly Wells (formerly of the Big Sandy), Marie Wickwire and Shawn and Deand Cameron of the SV Ranch (they knew Clay Tyree and my cousins Billy and Craig Hamilton).

Saw a very funny movie on Saturday evening: Little Miss Sunshine. It's about a family from Albuquerque who travel in an old hippie van to Redondo Beach for a kid beauty show and they go through Flag and Scottsdale. Most of the interior shots in the VW bus were shot on California freeways, then they'd cut to exterior shots of saguaros. That was a bit jarring, but the movie is so funny and clever, who cares? When they drove past a sign that said, "Carefree Highway" everyone in the packed theater gasped out loud. It was one of those movie moments. Anyway, I highly recommend the movie unless you are offended by a grandpa (Alan Arkin) who snorts heroin.

The Top Secret Project
I'm pushing myself more since going to that damn blog site Emma recommended. Funny how competition can fuel extra effort. I'll post tonight a gaggle of washes mixed with line work that I'm playing with for the graphic effect I'm seeking.

The Top Secret Writer and I are pushing for a melded historical feel and my son text messaged me (on the road outside Chicago) with a great quote to that end:

"There is no privileged past. There is an infintude of pasts. All equally valid. At each and every instant of time, however brief you suppose it, the line of events forks like the stem of a tree putting forth twin branches."
—Andre Maurois

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

August 15, 2006
My mother’s birthday today. She’s 85.

Where Were These Character Witnesses When I Needed Them?
“Read your blog. You are absolutely right: that can’t be Bob Boze Bell in the radar pic because that guy looks like one of the biggest, goofiest queers I've ever seen. Not the BBB I know and not the guy that would have rode with the kid.”
—Steve Randolph, Cody, Wyoming

“Great Photo Bob!!! Looking ahead intently! Both hands on the wheel! Very serious and the trademark hat!! I think you should have gotten a discount!”
—Tom Wiederhold, Forth Worth, Texas cop

Actually, I am kind of proud of the fact that my hands are in the ten and two position. The problem is I could have been just as proud at half the fine. Ha.

Henry Beck Feeds Me More Movie Scuttlebutt
“Been talking to some people about something completely unrelated, found out that they're casting a movie called High Midnight, an 1890's vampire picture that's going to be shot in New Mexico. Thought you might get a kick out of it.

“Sent a note to Kurt Russell's people letting them know he was going on the cover of True West next issue and not so subtly suggesting he come to Tombstone for the 125th--not much chance of that, I'm guessing, but I figured it was worth a shot. Also ran across an item that Val Kilmer has his NM property on the market.”
—Henry Beck, the guy who wrote our cover story for the October issue with the Tombstone bombshell, arriving at subscriber’s mailboxes this week

If You Like Illustration As Much As Me, You’ll Dig This Site!
“You might want to check out the blog of Irene Gallo, art director for Tor/Forge Books. She's also a member of the Society of Illustrators, and has much nice musing on the place of cover art, the business of selling a book by its cover, and the relationship of artists and art directors. Oh, and pretty pictures of art, too.

The blog is here:

—Emma Bull, Tucson, Arizona

The Top Secret Project
I went to the blog Emma Bull recommended (above) and had two reactions: first, others are onto my game and are, in fact ahead of me, and I had better get my game on and get my big, fat ass in gear or I’ll get run over. And the other one, I seem to have forgotten.

“If I am sane, the rest of the world ought not to be at large.”
—Bernard Shaw

Monday, August 14, 2006

August 14, 2006 Bonus Blog
My good friend Jim Hatzell, who collects pith helmets, weighs in on the name (plus Deadwood):

"The term 'pith helmet' refers to the plant substance used to line the early models used by the British Army way back when. They were manufactured in India. The later day versions were made with cork! You were correct about all the different styles available through the years.....(another name for them was 'Bombay Bowlers'). I have a large collection of them myself.

"Some can be seen on my website

"Go to the gallery and click on 'Adventure'.

"I watched Deadwood last night and I forgive a lot of plot points, loose characterizations, exaggerated action sequences, etc. and even the rough language, but there is no excuse for things such as having Sheriff Bulloch away in the town of Sturgis.....which did not exist until after the 7th Cavalry relocated to the Black Hills and established Fort Meade. The town that was established outside of the fort's environs was first called 'Scooptown' by the soldiers....and later named Sturgis after the acting commanding officer. I believe the series is still on year 1877 due to the Earp's being there and the fact that the town did not burn yet!

"There was also a reference to the town of Rapid City....which at the time was known by the moniker 'Haycamp'. Little details like that are so easy to catch if they had a fact checker go over the script after it was written. Other simple cannot ride a horse from 'Custer City' to Deadwood in one day. (Not on the same horse anyway.) A few seasons back when General Crook came through town one of his Cavalry Troops lament 'They ate my mare.' (The US Cavalry only rode geldings)"
—Jim Hatzell

"If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see."
—?Henry David Thoreau
August 14, 2006
By the way, the Angry Young Man, referred to in yesterday's post is in the upper right corner of the sketches. He had his sunglasses titled up on his head. Notice the angry muscles in his neck tightened beyond good health. He also twitched a lot.

Also, The Know-It-All (he sat to my right and I couldn't sketch him without turning sideways and blowing my cover) claimed they have 120 days to serve you, or the radar ticket expires (two people I'm related to have received photo radar tickets and, so far, have successfully avoided paying them). He has been ducking these tickets for months (remember, he said he had enough tickets to start a photo radar photo album) when he got served at 90 days on his last one. He claimed they finally started cracking down and hired more process servers. I'm not sure what happened to all the other tickets when that happens (I know if I tried it I would be thrown in jail, but that's my Lutheran guilt talking), but he sure knew a bunch about tickets and how to avoid them.

Of course everyone wants to wait until the class gets going good, then duck out, but they have had years to perfect all the usual high school escape plots. Roll is called at the beginning of the class, after each break (half hour lunch) and at the very end of the class, then they give you your graduation paper, and unless you have that you don't get credit. So everyone painfully waits until the the last chapter is covered (there are 5) and the last video plays (ditto) and the instructor pronounces us cured.

For what it's worth I drove home slower. I was popped for the ticket on Scottsdale Road, just north of the 101, heading south to meet Deena and Kathy for a movie at the Cine Capri. I was late and doing 57 in a 45. It was a roving van with photo radar that they move around the city and park at trouble spots. Most Phoenicians know where the permanent sites are on the 101 and you will too because of all the brake lights going on. It ends up being like a yellow flag at a NASCAR race, with cars slowing permanently and then gunning towards the straightaway at full throttle. Cars have been clocked at 115 and several infamous residents have amassed 60 and 70 tickets, some caught playing trumpets, brushing their teeth and reading! I'm not making this up. They had a photo of the guy playing the trumpet, going through a red light today in the paper.

By my math, we each paid $124 (the ticket was $147) and there were 60 of us in class, and we had some ten classes to pick from, and Mr. Know-It-All claimed the instructor got $125 for the session, so I'd say the city of Scottsdale has a money maker.

Well, I'm late and need to speed into the office.

"Today everything is done by machinery, except gestures, which are still being made by hand."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 13, 2006
Spent almost all day in traffic survival school. Not because I wanted to but because I got caught on photo radar last month (see incriminating radar photo). I tried to duck the ticket with the photo when it came in the mail. I told the Department of Public Safety official, “Hey, Man, there’s no way that’s me. In fact, the overweight guy driving that truck is obviously gay and has a glass eye! Come on people, get a clue! Someone stole my truck!” But evidently they can take DNA samples off the lens of these sophisticated radar photo deals, and they said it matched my overweight gay genes, so I had to attend the class.

Had to be at the Hampton Inn at Scottsdale Road and Frank Lloyd Wright at 7:30 this morning with my ticket and a cashier’s check for $124. I wasn’t alone. Fifty-nine other grumpy Scottsdaleans showed up as well (all of us hoping to get the ticket expunged from our driving records and thus, avoiding a higher insurance premium). More than a few looked hung over.

I sat in the back row, so I could practice my POV sketches for the top secret project. Managed to whip out 54 sketches, mainly the back of the heads of all my classmates (except those sitting right next to me, who were quite big, with tattoos). Here’s a smattering of images from my sketchbook.

Of course in every class like this, you have The-Know-It-All: “I have so many photo radar photos I could make a photo radar photo album.” (he liked this line so much he used it twice). And, then there’s the Angry Young Man: “How come cops have computers in their cars? I’ve seen them driving erratically and using the computer [probably looking up the Angry Young Man’s license plate to peruse his priors], swerving from side to side. They are the real danger on the road, not us.” He seemed to expect applause but we were too tired to join his angry windmill tilting. The teacher, Jane Hoyt, a cowgirl turned truck driver, turned traffic survival school instructor, from Wyoming, had a quick retort: “You’re just mad a cops today.”

Angry Boy said brightly, “Everybody in here is mad at cops!” Still no applause, or hanging mob joined him.

A middle-aged woman up front came to the defense of cops. “The police put their lives on the line for us every day.”

This digusted the Angry Kid: “What does that have to do with computers in cop cars?”

It went on, but I won’t bore you—like it did me.

So what did I actually learn? Well, we need to lock our doors when we drive because there is a carjacking gang loose in the Valley who accost motorists at traffic lights and whisk you right out of your car as the light is turning green and they carjack your car and your valuables and leave you on your butt on the pavement.

Phoenix kills more people in its intersections than any other city in the U.S. of A. Why? The lagging left turn, where we were trained to go out into the center of the intersection, wait until the light turns yellow, then turn left as someone barrels through the red light at 73 miles per hour and hits you broadside. Huge problem. What’s the answer? British roundabouts, according to Jane, which brought collective groans from the jocks in my section.

Oh, and before I forget, at the beginning of the class you have to present your ticket, your driver’s license and a money order or cashier’s check for $124, and this young, hot blond starts whining, “Nobody told me!” (it’s all over the ticket packet) ”Where will I find a place that does money orders on Sunday morning!” And Jane Hoyt, the instructor, says, “Circle K, AM-PM,” so the pouting girl struts out, doing her best hair dance, and, are you ready for this? She evidently got a ticket while going to a Circle K to get a money order so she could take the class and avoid the insurance spike on her policy. Oh, life! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again, Y’all.

Speaking of Y’all:

Southern Logic 101 Y’all
“If you move from the north and settle in the South and bear children, don't think we will accept them as Southerners. After all, if the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn't call 'em biscuits. “

“It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.”
—Lillian Hellman

Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12, 2006
Got some rain overnight. Didn’t hear it, but woke up to muggy air and puddles in the driveway. Went for a bike ride at seven. Air is humid but cool. Encountered four cutting horses with women riders cutting it up in the new horse arena at the end of the road. Two of the women brought their dogs, but fortunately, Peaches and Buddy were distracted by a smashed frog in the roadway and I got them by without incident.

Came back and started the ‘49. Pulled it out onto the Spanish driveway and let it idle for about ten minutes. Looked up at the sky and said, “There. Are you happy now?” My dad gets so bugged when I don’t take care of the family Ford.

My good friend Fred Nolan from Chalfont St. Giles, England sent me a whole packet of big, art posters featuring many of my heroes. Evidently, the huge, lush, foldout extravaganzas were printed and included in a Brit newspaper, The Independent, and Fred saved them and thoughtfully sent me a gaggle of them for my inspiration. Included in the series are Caravaggio (love the David with the Head of Goliath, 1609, which is great reference for my upcoming severed head scenes), Paul Cezanne (Rocks near L'Estaque, 1882, which I will steal from), Titian (who I may put up just because I like to see the word "tit" real big), Eugene Delacroix (great Arab horseback scenes, The Combat of the Giaour an d Hassan, 1826), among others. I have the Rembrandt Va Rijn self portrait (at the age of 63, 1669) up on the wall by The Top Secret Project desk in my studio. As I type this, Rembrandt is looking right at me, and his aged, wise eyes seem to say, "Quit noodling in your damned blog and get to work!"

Speaking of noodling and wasting time, one of my selfish motives for writing this daily blog is to commit to goals and ideas in a semi-public manner, to insure, or at least prod out of my naturally lazy being, some level of commitment. I know from experience that I get more done if I write something down, and it’s more effective if I say it out loud, and by extension it’s helpful to make a vow to a living human being (in 1981, on sabbatical from New Times and finally getting a chance to work on my own projects, I found myself, without structure and a "job" to go to, unable to rise, much less shine. As stupid as this sounds, I couldn't get out of bed! After sleeping through four or five alarms for several days, out of desperation I gave Kathy a twenty dollar bill and said, “If I don’t get up with the alarm, give this money to the Klu Klux Klan.” I got up with the alarm and sent the money to the United Negro College Fund).

So, in that vein, here is my commitment for all to see:

The Triple B Graphic Novel Manifesto
Whereas I believe the vast majority of graphic novels today are nothing more than comic books on better paper, I vow the following:

• I intend to emulate and cannibalize all of the visual arts I can get my hands on. Graphic should mean "graphic," including numerous techniques (scratchboards, gouache, pencil, crayons, et al.). Layout should emulate magazine formats, with cutlines, pull quotes and maps that fill in back story and provide clues about exposition without long, cumbersome word balloons.

• Word balloons are a necessary evil, but should be used rarely, if at all. There has to be a better way to tell a story without ridiculous thought balloons coming out of character’s heads. Narrative and dialogue does not have to be part of the drawings (I often hear the term "movies on paper" but most GNs seem to be "cave drawings on paper").

• Narration and dialogue should be separate, but ideally there should be story information in the visual images that does not appear in the narration. And vice versa. The end result being if you only read the narrative you wouldn’t completely understand the story and the same on the visual side of the fence. Ideally, both should stand alone, but important information should be hidden, or planted in each, so that you have to go back and read and look at the story again to see the secret compartment on the tapadero. It wasn’t described in the text, but it was there for you to see if you looked close enough to the drawings.

• Straight scene for scene storyboarding is dull and passe. Skim action and jump cutting is where it’s going. We have seen tens of thousands of TV shows, movies, documentaries, magazines and books. It is time to blend all of these genres into something that could rightfully be called a “Graphic Novel.”

End of sermon and pompous posturing. Now to get to work. But first I must go to yoga and a speech in Prescott (maybe I should give a twenty to Buddy Boze Hatkiller and say, “If I go to yoga or commit to another speech in Prescott, eat this money.”) Nah. Too effective.

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”
—Margaret Drabble

Friday, August 11, 2006

August 11, 2006
Drove up the hill this morning to Prescott. Left at eight and got to the AZTV station, out on Willow Creek Road at 9:30. Went on the air at 10:30 with the intention of plugging tomorrow’s talk at the Phippen Museum but not sure I got that in. The guest ahead of me went long, then they had a long taped segment on some car show and I kind of got clipped. But it’s still my fault. I’m media savvy enough to know the game and I got carried away with stories and forgot why I was there. Kicked myself all the way down the hill.

Tom Bell called from Flag as I waded through Prescott Valley and told me to buy a song off iTunes called “Vanilla Ice Cream” by Steven Lynch. The T kid claims it is his “soundtrack.” Kendra, Lars and T. Bell are on their way back to the east coast. I asked him if they ate at Martan’s (on San Francisco St. in downtown Flag) and my son replied, “Well, of course. We’re not Communists, you know.” That’s my boy. I talked them into the scenic route, heading up through Durango, Wolf Creek’s Pass and Walsenburg into Denver where I believe Kendra has relatives.

I hit heavy rain at Dewey and it came down pretty hard all the way to Big Bug Creek. Cleared out after that and I cruised home getting back here at 12:30. Beautiful drive and I love the rain.

The Top Secret Project
Got back to the house, grabbed some leftovers and came out to the studio to get down on paper some of the imagery I witnessed on the drive. I want to capture that hot, August heatwave effect that happens on a bright day in Arizona. Rippling distant mountains, contrasting the shadowed mountain ranges, especially at Sunset Point and Horsethief Basin. Mighty dramatic stuff. Played with some effects. I’ll post them when I get something worth posting. By the way, today I just passed 1,800 sketches, six a day without misssing. When I get to 10,000 you are going to be so impressed.

I saw this bumper sticker at the Cherry turnoff:

If You Can Read This, I've Lost My Trailer.

Going into the office to tie up some loose ends. Meghan leaves tomorrow for a week’s vacation and need to get a last report from her. My cousin. Pat Linn is in town visiting from Atlanta. I’m going to meet him at a certain restaurant for a drink at 5:30.

Speaking of travelling, here’s a guy who knew a thing or two about getting somewhere on the road to life:

“The power of a man increases steadily by continuance in one direction. He becomes acquainted with the resistances and with his own tools; increases his skill and strength and learns the favorable moments and favorable accidents.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10, 2006 Bonus Blog
Big, dramatic skies again this afternoon. Samantha just stuck her head in my office door and said, "The sky is totally black east of here." Speaking of dramatic skies, here's one of the shots Robert Ray took the other day (see reference, August 6 Bonus Blog). This is the view out my office window (Robert actually went out back for a fuller view) , and this is the storm that dumped a ton of rain up on Continental Mountain that closed off both Spur Cross and School House Roads (and we didn't get more that ten drops!).

Going up to Prescott in the morning to be on TV for the Phippen Art Show. I planned on staying at Ed Mell's cabin but Kathy can't go and I decided to go up, do the TV show, come home then go back on Saturday to the Phippen for my talk at one. I'm supposed to have lunch with Janet Childress. Looking forward to that.

Still hanging out on the next Classic Gunfight. Had planned on doing Mike Meagher in Wichita vs. Sylvester Powell, but I just did Meagher and the Caldwell shootout with James Talbot for the October issue (at the printer right now). I may do Billy Thompson vs. Sherrif Whitney in Ellsworth, Kansas.

"The best index to a person's character is (a) how he treats people who can't do him any good, nad (b) how he treats people who can't fight back."
—Abigail van Buren
August 10, 2006
Came home for lunch. Ants all over my computer desk in the studio. Left a semi-empty cup of coffee next to the keyboard and it’s swarming with the little eco-raiders. Can’t find their trail.

More big clouds. Just heard thunder (2:10 p.m.). Very muggy, high about 101.

Pithy, Pith, Pith On The Top Secret Project
Worked on more pith helmet reference today. Not sure where the name comes from. Looked it up in Webster’s and it just says, “a spongy stem in the stems of most vascular plants,” and “to kill (cattle) by piercing or severing the spinal chord.” How you get there from a British summer campaign helmet, I’m not sure.

Speaking of lids, the top secret writer lost his True West cap in Sierra Vista last month. We went over to the WOLA conference, ate in the restaurant and he left his favorite cap, the one he wears every day to work, by the chair in the dining room. He went back the next day, but the waitress said she left it outside the restaurant on a ledge, thinking the rightful owner would come and get it. The Top Secret Writer is convinced one of the thieves in WOLA purloined it for themselves. He was so distraught on the way back to Bisbee I couldn’t get him to even talk about the project. ‘I can’t think without my cap,” he told me looking out at the black sky over the Mule Mountains.

When I got back to Cave Creek, I asked Carole Glenn if she could order a new one, but we have a different version cap now, with the new logo and we don’t sell that cap anymore.

A couple days later, Carole found one of the old style caps (she made me promise not to divulge where it came from, but just let me say, she had to wash it) and we sent it to TTSW—The Top Secret Writer—and he is happy (or as happy as the TTSW ever gets).

“Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, "You idiot! What's wrong with you? Are you blind?" But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: "Are you hurt? Can I help you up?" Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion. Then we are in a position to heal ourselves and others.”
—B. Alan Wallace, "Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up"
August 9, 2006
I spent most of the day in the Beast, Went in twice, first time in the morning for a hearing. Then late in the afternoon, I met the family (and Lars and Frank) at Claim Jumper on Shea for dinner ($156.46, I bought).

More Bad Words They Used In The Old West That We Don’t Think of Them Using
More empirical evidence of naughty words in the Wild West, again from “The Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature Vol I”. Here’s an excerpt from the erotic classic Josefine Mutzenbacher, c. 1906, written by Felix Salten (the guy who also wrote Bambi!):

“[My husband] does not dream that I get myself a little booty on the side now and then. A piece of real tail!”

Simply amazing. “Booty”? “Tail”? Sounds more like Miami Vice than McCabe & Mrs. Miller, doesn't it?

The Top Secret Project
I received my first movie from Netflix today at lunchtime. Popped the DVD of “The Man Who Would Be King” into my laptop and sketched a wide variety of pith helmets, and of course, it turns out there are as many styles of pith helmets as there are cowboy hats. Narrow brims (quite military) and wide brims (glorified cowboy hard hats) and all points in between. Excellent movie by the way about two rogue English soldiers (Sean Connery and Michael Caine) stationed in India who try to take over a country high in the mountains of Kafiristan. The story is by Rudyard Kipling and directed by John Huston. I intend to watch it in full tomorrow night.

"Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences money can buy."
—Steve Martin

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

August 8, 2006 Bonus Blog
I saw the news helicopters circling over the Seven Sisters a little after five. I knew what it probably meant but I couldn't believe it. Steep thunderheads rolled in overhead at about three, and it was so dramatic I asked Robert Ray if he brought his camera. He, Abby Pearson, Robert McElroy and I went out back and watched while Robert shot off some digital frames of the dramatic cloud banks (they went straight up at least a thousand feet). The irony is it never rained where we were.

As I got closer to Grapevine I saw the SUVs coming back, and every driver had their cell phones to their ears. Not a good sign. I turned the corner and sure enough, Grapevine Wash was running solid at about three feet. Still, brave (or foolish) locals were braving the water and wading across in their big trucks. Even though I was in a Ranger I got in line and passed the dozen or so cars parked along the edges of the road. Kids stood by the banks and watched wide-eyed as the once bone dry wash churned at about 5,000 cubic feet per second.

Five trucks ahead of me made it across, but just as I came up a sheriff's car with the lights on pulled around us and screeched sideways as the deputy got out and waved everyone off. The guy ahead of me was steamed and they exchanged words, but the water was too loud and we couldn't hear them. The Ram Dodge Dude slammed it in reverse and waved me off, like I was a piss ant in his way. I suddenly played like I was a deaf mute and looked at him with my mouth open, which enraged him (covert hostility can be so much fun ).

I went back to the office and met Trish Brink and Joel Klasky. I told them I was flooded out, couldn't make it home. Trish invited me and Kathy to Harold's and we met up there for a beer. Placed slammed. New owners.

Tried it again at about 6:30 and it was fine. About six inches of water. So Arizona. T-Bell, Kendra and a guy from Sweden, Lars, came rolling in at seven from Orme Ranch (they are through for the summer). I made tacos for them and they drank several beers. As they tried to drive away to a party in Tempe, Kathy drug them into the living room and made them watch some TV show on teens with brain damage who were in accidents after drinking "only two beers." I remember seeing a much cruder version in high school called "Mechanized Death." The message was the same though: when autos flip, it really creates a red landscape. It seemed like this updated version was improved to say, Mechanized Death: 6.5. The kids just drove away very slowly, but I was a kid once and I know what that means.

Top Secret Project
Worked hard on several scenes of San Carlos reservation life, and one of Remington who had to draw the locals over the shoulder of a soldier (in this case Tom Horn) because the Apaches were too shy. Some neat effects, Need to put the female in. Have good reference, want to work on that tomorrow.

Got the following from Alan Huffines at about four. Perfect!

Pedro: "Aren't you pretty good at drawing, like, animals and warriors and stuff?

Napoleon Dynamite: Yes. Probably the best that I know of.
August 8, 2006
We live in a dangerous world, especially when we get in a car. A good friend of mine was driving to Tucson last month and I'll let him tell it:

"For those who didn't catch the details, I was in a head-on collision on I-10 near Tucson on Sunday, July 9. A motorist headed in the opposite direction lost control of her vehicle, spun across the median, and exploded out of the brush right in front of us leaving no time to stop. We were going 75 mph and flipped three times. I was knocked unconscious and pinned inside the truck. Eventually, emergency workers were able to free my feet and pull me out of the back window. After getting early treatment in Tucson, I was air evac'd up to Banner Baywood Hospital in Mesa, where a foot surgeon had been recommended.

"The good news is that my son Drew, who was riding with me, not only stayed awake through the whole thing, and survived in fairly good shape (broken ribs, abrasions and stitches), but even rendered aid to me and others involved in the crash, as well as coordinated with 9-1-1. I'?m mighty proud of him!

"My left foot and ankle were crushed and broken in many places, I had breaks and dislocations in my right foot, facial abrasions and stitches to my chin, 4 cracked ribs, 2 compressed vertebrae, more stitches to the knee, etc. My lower half is still pretty black & blue and there are lots of metal plates and screws in my feet. I've had a couple surgeries on them thus far and will be having more in the coming months."
—Bob Henschen

Driving to Tucson has become very messy with bumper to bumper all the way (it's 105 miles), so it's essentially city driving at 75 mph. Ouch! Makes me sigh. The top secret writer and I were on that highway at about the same time and the driving out there is ridiculous.

Planning three more trips in the coming weeks. Fortunately I'm going north to Prescott, then Pinetop and Fort Apache, then Wichita at the end of the month.

Woke up last night at three in the morning with excruciating back pain. Rolled around and beat myself up mentally. "I'm a crappy artist," "I'm so ADD I can't even post my drawings without going off on a sidebar about Napoleon Dynamite which doesn't help the top secret project one iota and I stayed up until ten doing it." Stuff like that.

Woke up at six and Kathy gave me an Advil, a cup of coffee and a free therapy session.

"I'm okay and doggonit, people like me!"
—Stuart Smalley

Monday, August 07, 2006

August 7, 2006 Bonus Blog
Today marks the first of the big, late summer cloud march skies. Really dramatic and wonderful. Makes the heat almost worthwhile. Ha.

Top Secret Project Update
I joined Netflix today so I can rent some DVDs like "The Man Who Would Be King" because I seem to remember there are some good pith helmet references there for artwork. I also tagged, "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon," and "Rio Grande" and "Geronimo" to hopefully get some decent shots of cavalry posts, scouts on the march, action stuff for art reference.

I have heard and read that certain authors claim characters come onto the page and introduce themselves, fully developed, with character traits, tics and all. I’ve never had that experience while writing, but I do admit my drawings sometimes talk to me. Take today’s sketches for example. I was utilizing some great reference shots that Jim Hatzell shot for me on the 2005 Artist Ride up near Wall, South Dakota. I had asked him for some ethnic types to populate a Mexican cantina scene I wanted to illustrate for the top secret project, and Man he got them for me. Thanks Jim.

All too often Mexican cantina scenes are very one-note: i.e. all Mexicans (and cliche Mexicans at that). But if you’ve ever been to Mexico it’s much more international than that. This was especially true during the Old West when the Chinese, blacks and Mormons (especially the polygamous Mormons) were all over Mexico. So as I began to sketch these international cantina characters they began to talk to me. Take the Chinese guy, bottom right. Name’s China Loto, orphan, 22, hates bisquits. The bad boy above China is Buffalo Dandy, 19, escaped slave from Texas. The dude at bottom left is Granville Stufcliff, ex-buffalo hunter (and scalp hunter, but don’t say that to his face), and his pard, Fanion "Fanch" Pincher, 33, hails from Saint Johns, Arizona. Oh, and he’s a Jack Mormon. The hazy critter, top left, is Buck Scuggs, ex-Reb, future dead man.

But as these guys were introducing themselves to me, I realized this is not the complete cast of a Mexican cantina, or any bar or saloon for that matter. I grew up playing in bars so I think I know a little bit about the make-up of the crowds who hang out there.

The movies always portray a saloon crowd as one-note tough, but taverns and bars are much more diverse, and I don’t think it’s realistic unless there’s at least one goober. Every saloon has and always had a goober. You know, the guy who prods others to fight and then runs. Believe me I think I know a thing or two about this. I have witnessed many a bar fight and have never been in a fight. You do the math.

So, as I’m drawing and letting these cats introduce themselves, I just naturally started drawing that other guy, the kind of guy that’s always in a saloon and you don’t quite know why. When he introduced himself to me, he looked at his drawing and said, “Flippin’ sweet.” If you recognize that line, then you know exactly who I’m talkin’ about.

“Flippin’ sweet!”
—Napoleon Dynamite
August 7, 2006 Bonus Blog
Here's some thoughtful feedback on my recent Deadwood postings:

"Okay, so I've sat here for the last few weeks, reading your ongoing moaning and bitching about Deadwood. ENUFF ALREADY!

"Nobody, including Dave Milch, ever said the show was going to be historically accurate down to the "n"th degree. He's not on the History Channel (and Lord knows how many times they've aired Old West shows that are absolutely wrong in so many ways). It's HBO. It's entertainment. It ain't real life.

"I mean, we knew early on that he was going to blur the lines between history and fiction. The show had Wild Bill involved in two or three deadly shootings in Deadwood (the town)--and it's common knowledge that the pistoleer hadn't shot anybody in about four years (there's no indication he'd even drawn his gun in anger during that time).

"Or how about the guy who plays Seth Bullock? Too much of a California pretty boy to replicate the real McCoy--he needs a fake nose or some rhinoplasty to resemble the sheriff, who had a pretty good sized honker.

"And they've got Colorado Charlie Utter as an old, ugly fart who is little more than Wild Bill's butt-boy. Utter actually was much younger than shown on the series and dressed in Brooks Brothers finery--and he had a fine head of shoulder length hair (he somewhat resembled George Custer)--and he had a life beyond that as Hickok's sidekick.

"And this new lesbian angle between Joanie Stubbs and Calamity Jane? What's down with that? There was never any indication that Martha Jane chose the saphic side of the street.

"Of course you're right--the portrayal of George Hearst as a sociopathic monster is not supported by the evidence. I'm sure he had a ruthless side, but it's doubtful he was ordering his men to off his enemies right and left. Milch had better watch out that Patty Hearst doesn't go all SLA on him with a machine gun and beret.

"Then there's the language. No, they didn't use all of those words that often (or in the ways shown on Deadwood). Fuck was a sexual act, not an adjective or adverb or whatever. It's also unlikely that they used "motherf••ker" or "cocksucker" back then. And in the presence of women--even whores--men generally restrained their language. And women--even whores--were a bit more circumspect in their words, too, especially in public.

"Does some of this bother me? Absolutely.

"Does it make it unwatchable? No.

"Milch's interpretation creates a world that has the aura of plausibility. It could have happened that way (even if we know it didn't). It's a dark and tough place, not for the meek and mild. The streets are muddy. The people don't clean up very often. There's disease and garbage and animal crap all over the place. And many of the residents are looking to climb the socio-economic ladder--even if they have to shove a few others off the rungs. And as Milch has said, the language just adds to the darkness, the roughness of the place. He's creating an environment and an atmosphere--one that intends to engross and entertain, one in which violent words and actions are at least an ever present danger (if not a regular occurence).

"Is it accurate? Not terribly. But for decades, we were presented with the sanitized version of the Old West, where everything was clean and nice. The movies often showed shootings where there was never a speck of blood. The dirt on the streets never stirred. And never was heard a discouraging (or profane) word. In fact, most of us grew up on this stuff; it was the impetus for our initial interest in the West.

Milch is the pendulum going the other way. His Deadwood is not necessarily aimed at us. He looks at today's society, one that oftentimes embraces and encourages violence (see any number of video game titles). Strong language is commonplace (check out popular culture--say, rap--and count the number of times one hears 'motherf'••ker" or "cocksucker" or variations on "f•••"). Frankly, he's aiming at a younger crowd. And it's apparent that he's made inroads with folks who are not True West readers, or NOLA/WOLA members, or traditional SASS shooters.

"If just a few of those folks want to know more, if they seek out information that goes beyond Deadwood, then they'll help keep the study of the West alive in coming decades. They'll be the readers, the researchers, the writers. They're the ones who will travel to Deadwood and Tombstone and Coffeyville and Northfield. They'll buy Western wear. Maybe they'll subscribe to True West. But their interest will keep the field breathing.

"So stop yer cryin', fer cryin' out loud. Quit acting like a provincial old man who just can't understand these kids nowadays. If watching Deadwood bothers you, go into the bedroom and watch something else on Sunday evening (and let your long suffering wife enjoy the program in peace).

"But--even grudgingly--give Dave Milch his due. He's created a successful Western series, something that hasn't been done in decades. Just as important, it's a unique show. I admit that I was very skeptical about it for the first four or five episodes--and then it got me. Now, I anticipate the final three shows plus the two movies with enthusiasm over the story lines and dread that it's all ending so soon.

"But if we're lucky, there may be others who'll follow in his footsteps. We keep talking about "preserving the West." In his own way, David Milch has contributed to the effort. And that's a good thing."
—Mark Boardman

Actually, as I am reading a whole bunch of 1880s erotica in "The Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature Volume I" I'm here to tell you that "cocksucker" is used quite a bit, and also (surprising to me) the verb "to blow" and two words I had never heard before (and we certainly don't hear them today), "bubbies" for breasts, and "gamahuched," for female on female action.

Oh, and by the way, Mark, thanks for the long explanation.

"When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it should be rejected."
—Luc, Marquis de Vauvenargues

Sunday, August 06, 2006

August 6, 2006
When I was about 11, my family came to Phoenix to visit relatives and somehow I talked my father into going to the Cudia City Old West Studios at 40th Street and Camelback. This is where they filmed “26 Men” (Who lived to ride again!) the TV show about the Arizona Rangers which was running at the time (1957?). I was thrilled to see the set, which, of course was quite shabby and underwhelming, with wooden bars in the jail, painted black to simulate iron and plenty of “false fronts” as in, absolutely nothing being the front facade. None of the actors were there, but still I was thrilled to be on the site of the show.

I wondered how you could get on the set of the other Westerns and imagined some kid somewhere who actually got to live out that fantasy. Well, I guess this is why I am so taken with Stephen Lodge’s new website, because as a kid he went to almost every one of the Westerns sets and got his picture taken with many of the stars. Plus, Stephen grew up to make his own movies which are also documented on the site. Check it out at

Quiet Wyatt vs. Riot Wyatt

I am a peace officer in Texas, and an avid supporter of Wyatt Earp. I have been fortunate to visit Tombstone twice and actually get a current Tombstone Marshal's lapel pin from the Marshal's office. It is tucked away and will be placed in a display case shortly. Anyway off the subject, my wife and I were watching Deadwood last night August 4. 2006 and in this episode Wyatt and Morgan arrive in Deadwood. The characterization presented of Wyatt and Morgan I thought was questionable. I did some research when HBO announced Wyatt Earp would be arriving in this season and they put out a blog basically stating that Seth Bullock issued Wyatt Earp a whupping and promptly threw him out of town. What I could find out was that Wyatt offered his services as a deputy, and Bullock declined and that was the end of it. How close to truth is the characterization of Wyatt?”
—Mark Reinhardt

Yes, I'm not real impressed by David Milch's take on Wyatt and Morgan. It's obvious he doesn't like them, thinks they were bums and he apparently buys into Seth Bullock's autobiography where he says he gave Wyatt a shove out of town (it is true that Wyatt and Morgan came to Deadwood in the summer of 1877 and sold wood for a season, and Wyatt worked briefly as a "special shotgun messenger" for the Black Hills Stage and Express Company, before returning to Kansas). Milch has also commented that he thinks Earp was a Hearst man at that time even though Wyatt didn't meet George until Tombstone, several years after Deadwood. While it’s a probably a legitimate leap of imagination, I am not enjoying the portrayal. Wyatt’s clothing, with the 1850s style neckwear seems oddly wrong and the actor doesn’t seem edgy enough (like him or hate him, the guy had an edge). Plus I don’t dig his Fu-Manchu mustache which is also wrong-headed. Kurt Russell and Bruce Boxleitner (who played Wyatt in the Marie Osmond TV production of “I Married Wyatt Earp”) have had the most accurate Earp mustaches.

Top Secret Project
Kathy defied two Mac experts and the young punk at the Mac store yesterday to hook up a new HP scanner to my home computer so I can scan artwork. After buying more memory at the Mac store, Kathy asked the nerd clerk, “Do you think I’ll be able to install this and make the scanner work?” to which the snot-head Jason replied, “I think you’ll be back in here tomorrow asking me to install it for you.” Kathy came home and grabbed tools out of the garage and went to work cussing all three of them. Here’s the first scan (see top image), called “Here’s Aiming At You Kid.” I’m thinking of making it a T-shirt with that caption. Would you wear it?

The Arizona Republic asked me to comment on the Mel Gibson brew-ha-ha (or should that be Jew-ha-ha?) and I gave them this quote:

“I think we need to cut Mel Gibson some slack. We’ve all said things we didn’t mean when we were drunk. For example, I’m drunk right now, and I could just as easily launch off on the flippin’ morons who edit these crummy little comments. Oops! Sorry, it’s the margaritas talking.”

“One margarita is alright, two is too many, three is not enough.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, August 05, 2006

August 5, 2006 Bonus Blog
This past Wednesday, The Desert Advocate newspaper published a very nice article on me and my artwork, some of which will be on display this coming October down in Tombstone at the 125th Anniversary of the O. K. Corral Gunfight. The organizers are now expecting somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people for the event. Here's the link to the article:

"As blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem like a man of sense."
—Jonathon Swift
August 5, 2006
By the way, the actual name of the conference I attended and spoke at yesterday is The Conference of Court Public Information Officers. Their members are communications' professionals working for courts around the country including the U.S. Supreme Court, state supreme courts, state trial courts and local court systems (in Arizona, that includes the Justices of the Peace). They even have a few members from other countries too—Australia, the Philippines, Guam and Canada.

Police caught up with two of our serial killers and it’s all over the paper this morning. Before my speech yesterday, my host (J.W. Brown, Media Relations Director for Trial Courts in Maricopa County) was called out of the lunch twice to take calls on procedural questions from the media. These two perps, who lived in Mesa, drove around at night and shot pets and people, killing six people and wounding dozens. One of their last shootings was a poor woman getting off the bus about two blocks from Deena’s condo, and they drove by and shot the woman as she walked home, about one block from Deena’s. We’ve got one, or more, shooters, independent of these monsters, still at large.

Yesterday, after my speech at the Ritz, as I exited the parking garage at the Esplanade, the ticket window attendant, a young hispanic woman of about twenty, told me the parking fee was $7. I reached in my wallet, couldn’t find a five, grabbed seven ones and handed them to her in a wad, saying, “There you go. Is that seven?” Stupid mistake. She took the bills, dropped her hands below the window, and I can’t prove this, but I strongly feel she let one of the bills drop out of sight and then pulling her hands up above the window sill, said, “There’s only six here.” I debated whether to call her on it, then reached in and got another George Washington. Won’t do that again. And Duh! I grew up in a gas station where you count out the ones and hand it to over. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

Took recycling up this morning and then joined Kathy at yoga. I’ll spare you the details of both, but I do feel somewhat superior in some vague, prissy way. I told Kathy it’s like going to church when I was president of Luther League. I always hated to go, but invariably felt wonderful leaving the building.

Daily Posting of Top Secret Project
As I mentioned the other day, for the past several decades I have not been at a loss for story ideas for my proposed graphic novels. Here’s a typical idea (this one thought up about 15 years ago and I even had Frank Mell even do the logo and it’s bitchin’!):

• The Carkid: In the 1950s a Detroit proving grounds out in the Arizona desert (yes, my father worked at Ford Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona) is testing a dream car of the future (The XS-5000) which is turbo-charged, space aged designed (Giant fins and glass roof!), with kitchen appliances and post WWII novelties thought to be sexy for that time and place (a frying skillet in the dashboard and an automatic beer opener!). Imagine what happens when a juvenile delinquent (from Kingman) gets ahold of that car, picks up his hot girlfriend (the sheriff’s daughter) and takes lawmen on a chase that covers three states and fifteen counties?

By my count there are at least two dozen ideas like that waiting to be turned into graphic novels. So what’s the rub? Decent idea, no story. Until now.

Although I can think up concepts, like the above, all day, every day, I get a tad scattered (Let's go ride bikes!) and I really need a writer who can put it into a linear story. That’s why the top secret writer and I work so well together. He knows how to tell a great story.

Meanwhile, my goal is to put up my daily graphic efforts here on the blog, but my scanner is not working and I’ll probably post each days work on Monday, when Robert Ray can do them at work. I’m considering a new Blackberry that can allegedly photograph the artwork and post it with one fell swoop, but in the meantime I’m stuck with the old fashioned way. Drawings for today and tomorrow, coming Monday.

”The future belongs to those brave enough to go back into the past and get it.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, August 04, 2006

August 4, 2006 Bonus Blog
Back from a trip into the Beast. At 11:30, I dropped off a couple dozen of my books at the Westin Hotel to put in the BBB Suite. Paige Lund assured me they would take care of them and monitor them. These books come out of my stash and I have to pay for them (about $15 a pop), but I have felt for some time that the suite should have some of my books on the coffee table so guests can see what all the hub-bub is about (the walls being covered with my paintings, my name on the door, and a huge photo and bio that would make even my mother blush).

From the Westin I drove down to the Ritz Carlton at 24th Street and Camelback for a speech to the judges of America association or some such org. I was the last speaker and they were ready to go home so I made it light and bright. By the way, the service in the Ritz is extraordinary. Normally when I go to these gigs, you come in the front door, ask a desk clerk or concierge where the speech is, tell them the group and they look at you like they don't have a clue (or care). Then you ask people passing in the lobby with name tags on where the speech is and they don't know (although they sometimes care), and eventually you find the banquet room and inside are these dull eyed people setting up chairs and tables for a luncheon and when you ask them when it starts or what the group is they shrug (at best). This has happened so many times to me it's just expected.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the Ritz and a gentleman in an Armani suit and an ear piece like a secret service agent welcomed me to the Ritz, asked how he could help me and then escorted me to the banquet room and asked me if he could do anything else for me. Once in the room, the entire crew (three guys and a manager) came over and asked me if they could assist me with putting magazines on the chairs, they got a table for me, hid the dolly and helped me set up. And even asked me questions about True West!

And the lunch was excellent. Shrimp and carnitas fajitas, Caesar salad with sopapillas for dessert. The best hotel banquet lunch I've ever had. I am very impressed with the Ritz Carlton. It's amazing what good management can do for an experience.

The speech went very well (the judges and their crews are quite zany), sold about five books, many comments about True West and the Westerns Channel. Got back to the office at three.

First Images From The Top Secret Project
For the past three weeks I have been hard at work trying to create a narrative art style that will work with the top secret project we commenced in Bisbee last month. Here are some of my first attempts at fashioning a style that falls somewhere between Frederick Remington (yes, two of the scenes are direct lifts from his paintings), Charlie Russell and Charles Dana Gibson. The goal is to thread the needle between accurate artwork in vogue in 1888 and yet modern enough to look new. Not an easy task, but a worthy goal, and I put it out here to show how far I have to go and also to document the process. It will be interesting to me to see if the work improves or a new or different style comes out of it. Should be fun. Here we go!

"The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else."
—?Martina Navratilova