Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March 6, 2007
Had a staff meeting this morning at 8:30 followed by a planning session. Lots of business to go over. Special projects, a third Classic Gunfights book, scheduling the graphic novel, postcards and postcard art, photo features and covers for June, July and August. And we need a presence this weekend at Winter Range and next weekend is Festival of the West out at the new Rawhide.

I drove up to Cowboy Legacy Galleries at two and met with Brian Lebel and Bill Welch about teaming up on some great editorial. They have great stuff. For example, they showed me authentic Apache saddlebags from the 1880s. Wow! Guess who's horse they're going to end up on? If you said The Apache Kid you would be right. We're doing a feature on all of the artifacts and photos behind the making of the Top Secret Project and this is perfect. Got really excited. I love this kind of stuff.

After lunch Robert Ray and I bailed into finishing Classic Gunfights, Volume III, which is about eight pages from being finished, or rather full (editorial and art on every page). Robert always reminds me that being "finished" involves much scaling of images and print-ready prepping and it takes another four weeks after I think it's finished before it's really finished. This one has them all from Ben Thompson, Jeff Milton, the Daltons, Luke Short, Billy the Kid, Bill Doolin, Zip Wyatt, the Youngers Tiburcio Vasquez, John Wesley Hardin, Custer, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Davy Crockett. Whew! Going to be a good one. Goes to press in April and will be out to Maniacs in June, and will premiere at the Classic Gunfights Special Event at this year's End of Trail at the annual SASS event east of Albuquerque.

Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Museum called this morning to arrange shipping 29 of my Billy the Kid paintings to their museum for the big Hutton curated show opening in May. A local shipping firm is coming out next Tuesday to pick them up.

Mark Boardman called from Dallas. He's flying in for a week of work. We are having a big website confab next Monday.

As Robert and I were slaving over the layouts and the schematic for CGIII, I got a call on my cell from the Sutton Funeral Home in Kingman. I took the call, turned my head to the side and talked low. James Sutton confirmed to me that Thursday (March 15th) at one PM is good to go for my mother's funeral. I asked about getting the yellow scarf there in time, and other details and then James asked me if I wanted a printed program. My side of the conversation sounded like this:

BBB: "So you'll do a one sheet, four-pager, black and white?

BBB: "And it's a stock image with a standard saying?"

BBB: "No, that's fine. Thanks, but I'll pass on that."

I hung up and Robert says, "So we're doing the program?" We laughed. Does he ever know me! I want my mother's photo on it and I want it to look nice and frankly, this is what we do. I don't want some Kingman ding-bat, mimeographed piece of doo doo. This is for my Mom and she's going out in style!

I thank the Universe for good friends (Robert Ray is one of them) and for calmer heads who keep me grounded, like this:

More Graphic Advice
Okay, telling you that you knew how to write and draw comics when you did the Honkytonk Sue books probably doesn't help, but maybe this will: 
1. The point of a comic book panel is not to be admired. It's to move the reader on to the next panel. Don't try to do your best work on the storytelling pages. Reserve that for the cover and don't agonize over the storytelling pages. Let those pages feel a little unfinished. 
2. Your subject is compelling. That's at least half the battle in making readers happy. 
3. You can't please everyone, so please yourself. And then the readers who like you, meaning everyone who's ever read two issues of True West and/or Honkytonk Sue, will be happy. And they'll tell their friends, and they'll tell their friends.... 
4. While you're dealing with your mother's affairs may not be the right time to work on the Secret Project, or it might be the perfect distraction. Give it a good try, and if it doesn't feel right, focus on other things for a few weeks and try again. 
5. Do a version of the whole book without agonizing over any of it. Then decide if some panels or pages or the whole thing needs to be redone. You can't know what you're making until a first draft is done. 
6. Ignore all advice that feels wrong, especially from me. 
—Will Shetterly 

Onion Headline de Jour
Bush's Approval Rating Of Other Americans Also At All-Time Low

"Seven National crimes: I don't think. I don't know. I don't care. I'm too busy. I leave well enough alone. I have no time to read and find out. I am not interested."
—William Boetcker

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