Tuesday, July 31, 2007

July 31, 2007 Bonus Blog
Can't go home. Waited too long at the office. Took off at about six, with rain really coming down and made it past the first big wash, Grapevine, which wasn't flowing hardly at all (I have five washes to traverse to get home). When I turned on Cahava Ranch Road I had a hunch that the fourth and fifth washes might be ripping and I wasn't disappointed.

The fourth wash was moving way too fast and I remembered going through this very wash in about 1991 on my way to my radio gig, early in the morning, and being in a 5,000 pound Land Cruiser and the sensation of the water pushing the car sideways. Got through, at four in the morning, then had to go past the other five washes and made it to work (KSLX), but as I limped through I realized just how stupid the stunt was. Fortunately, this time (going the opposite way and in a 2,500 pound Ranger) I had a more mature outlook: "That raging water will be the death of you Kingmanistan Boy."

Reluctantly turned around and started back. Cars on Spur Cross, going northbound, were backed up and I could see the headlights turning around. I knew the window was closing for me to get out. Got to the next wash and it was starting to really roar. Met a car coming the other way, and took a chance, and waded out into the rising water. Made it across, barely. The guy behind me hesitated and as I topped the ridge going towards Grapevine he was still there, and I knew I could be trapped between the washes for the night. Can 't go home, can't go back to town.

Got to Grapevine and it was a trickle, ripped across and went to Tonto Bar & Grill to wait out the storm. Had dinner (Apache beef and two glasses of Cabernet, ($28, plus $5 tip, Sue account). Other refugees from the storm were there and I learned the power was out in Carefree and many other washes were flooded, leaving many stranded. This has only happened maybe six times in 21 years. Got out at eight, drove up Spur Cross and as I rounded the bend saw the blinking lights. Now Spur Cross was closed at Grapevine. A long line of cars backed up and a sheriff's deputy at the front of the line, keeping everyone safe.

Turned around and came back to the office. Mighty quiet here at 8:30, right back where I started, at 8:30 this morning. But it sure beats one thing: trying to breath in an upside down Ranger. Ha.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
It's Amazing How Much You Can Learn About A Person Just By Hiring A Private Investigator

"Life is like the car pool lane. The only way to get to your destination quickly is to take some people with you."
—Peter Ward
July 31, 2007
Just started to rain (5:45 P.M.). Sky is dark. Still at work. Stressed to the gills. Trying to finish the storyboarding of the opening scenes to Mickey Free while juggling my magazine responsibilities. We're working on the editorial calendar for 2008 and that is taking time (fortunately, very strong ideas from Meghan Saar, Mark Boardman and Jason Strykowski). Got saddled with a possible cover illustration for the next issue. Could be a stunner cover, but I need to get all of my stuff in by Friday, so I can clear the decks for my trip on Monday. Going to have to pull some late-nighters.

After a web meeting this morning, I went back home to my studio and worked up about five pages of storyboarding. Not finished, but rough layouts to give to Jason for layout and balloon handling. Finally got the layout of the first ten pages roughed in. Plenty of holes, but Jason is scanning and inputting as fast as he can.

We also have to complete a doubletruck ad for the October issue. This is also for Mickey Free and I need it roughed in by Friday as well. Not to mention Classic Gunfights and my editorial. Too much to do, but it has to be done.

I Don't Think They're In Kasas Anymore
"Marc and Alice Ferguson told me over the weekend that J.R. and Robyn from the Lake Way Hotel in Meade, gave up the good fight and moved back to CA. Believe the hotel is still for sale with just a caretaker and not taking reservations but that information has not been confirmed - their website is still up. Kansas is poorer without them."
—Ed LeRoy

Too bad. Really nice people who invested in an old hotel in Meade, served great food, put us up at the Classic Gunfights Extravaganza a while back. Unfortunately they got crossways with some wackos who give Kansas a bad name, and they finally gave up. I hate it when good people run up against small thinking. It's the bane of creative people everywhere. Usually there is a way if there is a will, but there are limitations:

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Actually, Suicide Not The Easy Way Out For Area Quadriplegic

"The theatre is like a faithful wife, while film is the great adventure—the costly, exacting mistress."
—Ingmar Bergman, 89, who was married five times and knew a thing or two about mistresses, and he also died

Monday, July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007
Jason just came in and inundated us with gifts from the San Diego Comic Con. Huge shopping bags (3'X3' with "Superman: Doomsday" on one side and "Smallville" on the other) and the special Comic Con DVD collection of 300 complete with a mask and other goodies ($50). Paul and I will fight over this item (actually Paul can have it). He also brought software for myspace comics, which is another avenue we need to pursue. Whew! First we need to get our website and MickeyFree pages up and running.

Meanwhile, here are some of sketches and artwork I belabored this weekebnd. Still trying to capture the Remington style of doing things, with mixed results. Below, left, is a rough sketch of how the prisoners sat in the Middleton nine-seat stage bound for Casa Grande (thanks to you John Culligan!). Really like the head on the right, middle page, but it's a dead-on knockoff of a Remington, so it doesn't really count. Need to push it to include new scenes done with his panache. That is the ballgame, to mash a metaphor worthy of my Kingmanistan kin:

Here's a page of Mickey Free images, trying to incorporate the dramatic posing of modern day comics. Semi-successful but not very Remington:

These two studies are way too Batman and not enough Sackrider. Ha:

Yesterday, a big thunderhead piled straight up over Ratcliff Ridge and rather than take a photo, I ran out into the front foyer and sketched the scene:

This is the looseness I want to convey in my storyboarding. Easily said, said the frenetic fanatic.

"Often the search proves more profitable than the goal."
—E. L. Konigsburg
July 29, 2007
Yesterday was our 28th wedding anniversary. Celebrated by eating a bean burro, alone. Ha.

Got a very cool stagecoach postcard from Fred Nolan in England. It shows the stage coming into Santa Fe and appears to be a contemporary illustration, that is, drawn from that early period when horses running were illustrated like rocking horses. Note the windows on the stage looking more like a cathedral facade than a Concord. Accurate? Not sure. Also, can't tell if the "La Fonda" sign has been added later, as I believe it was known as the "Exchange Hotel" in the early 1880s. Still, it's inspiring. And I thank you Fred!

Jason's Final (and only) Dispatch from "Geek Diego"
"After three hectic days in San Diego cruising the 5 and the San Diego Convention Center, I have learned a few things. Regardless of the size of the venue, 160,000 people is too many. On many occasions I have tried desperately to get into a panel or film showing and a line of thousands has prevented me. We missed the 300 showing to catch an advance of Superbad, but didn't get into Superbad and missed most of 300 [which they showed in the Padre's stadium]. The Warner Bros staff actually decorated Petco Park, home of the Padres, with fake red satin and red carpets.

"It also amazes me just how much skin floats around this place. More than anything this is an inappropriately dressed people convention. Some folks have clearly spent months toning their abs specifically for Comic-Con. Some have not.

"As far as the Mickey Free project is concerned, a few things were made apparent to me. I spoke to a brand manager from Diamond Distribution and he said that any publication marked as informational and historic will be pidgeonholed immediately. But, if it is full of action and uses non-modern, throwback-style art, he indicated that it has a chance. I took his card and he is awaiting a proof from us.

"I also picked up a copy of comic creating software. It is a little sharper than the brand we are currently using. Most importantly, it is designed to publish directly to myspace. If that sort of publication is good enough for Dark Horse, publisher of 300, its good enough for Mickey Free.

"I am told that one other publisher has a historic line. Although I can't find it here, Evil Twin comics has a line of comics featuring historic philosophers in action. Sounds likes its worth a read. Yes, I said philosophers.

"Publishers will run second editions of comics that are well-received during independent trial releases. I would vote for a limited release of Tri-Star Boze books.

"The postcards I placed on the freebie table vanished. Good news? Hopefully."
—Jason Strykowski

Worked all day on storyboarding. Executed some 27 scenes, or parts of scenes. Will post them when we get dialogue balloons in place. Woke up at 1:30 and began fretting at all of my shortcomings. My efforts arre too muddied and overwrought. Need to back off a notch and let it fly. Not easy. Ran through this for at least an hour, or more, before I drifted off into REM sleep.

Woke up hopeful. Took a good look at all the weekend work and I'm making tiny progress, but still. . .

"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
—Samuel Johnson
July 28, 2007
Kathy is now docked in Peru, visiting Tomas. I sent her an update on what is going on back home. Here is my message:

Went to town this afternoon. Trying to rain, very muggy out. Went down and got the dry cleaning. There was a $45 fee for storage.

Just kidding. I was kind of worried, but the girl said it was paid for and gave me two packets of clothes which is great because I needed pants. The girls in the store were kind of glad I got them too as I ripped open the bag and put on a pair of jeans. Everyone kind of wrinkled up their noses like they had never seen a 60-year-old pantless guy before.

From there I fought my way down to Desert Ridge (man the traffic is bad, cars on top of cars). Stopped at Aaron Bros and got some artboard and more felt tip pens ($76 Sue account), then went up 44th to Dixileta and cut across to Scottsdale Road. David K's old rental house appears to be long gone. Two or three new subdivisions going up, filling in the last spaces. Looked like West Phoenix, with no empty spaces to speak of.

Got to Bashas' to get final groceries before the trip. Ran into Ellen, the bartender at the Mineshaft who fell out of a third story window at Rocky Point while drinking, and survived. She is house sitting at Bruce and Sheila's and warned me she might come up and visit. I said she could as long as she stayed out of the Crow's Nest.

From there I went to AZ Wines and bought some more wine and a Wine magazine with a good design I want to show the staff. Went by the office to check on your snapfish photos, but got sidetracked on forwarding the Source Book cover to Trish, ran out of time (wouldn't attatch), realized I had milk in the car and fled home.

Buddy was in the house (he head-butted the front door again). It's been thundering all afternoon. I came in and called his name and he came cowering out and shot for the door, going out that little hole he's made in the screen door. I had to track him down and retrieve a pair of your panties. Where do these dogs get such rude manners? Not from me, I can assure you.

Gave my three chickens some leftover lettuce and came back to the studio to try and get another work session in tonight. Peaches is at my feet, and Buddy is curled up on his chair. And I must admit, he looks so much better without the women's underwear on his head.

End of message to Kathy.

Reworking the opening sequence to the Mickey Free story. Here's our hero riding out of a dust storm towards San Carlos. The rider is in pencil. Wanted to see if the positioning would work. Will rework it in paint this afternoon.

It's been just over a year since Paul Hutton and I travelled to Bisbee to work on the MIckey Free story for the graphic novel. Looking back over the notes, it's interesting to see what still works and what has changed. Here is a photo of the two of us, hard at it, in the Canyon Rose Suites, taken July 22, 2006. Wendy, the manager, took the photo:

"Go for the moon. If you don't get it, you'll still be heading for a star."
—Willis Reed

Friday, July 27, 2007

July 27, 2007
Well, all I can say is God Bless the internet. Blog reader John Culligan sent me this Franklin Mint replica of a stagecoach with the roof off to see the three-seats:

Very cool. Thanks John.

Trying to get my truck window fixed. On hold with JC's Glass, for a three-way confirmation deal. Lots of VIN (vehicle Identification Number) questions, reading long numbers and letters over the phone, over and over. Now I'm listening to some crappy Kelly Clarkson type singer that I'd like to strangle if I could only reach through the phone and destroy the CD. But I can't. So I sit here on hold typing this to ease the pain of modern life. Ha.

Still on hold (9:20 A.M.). State Farm Link Agent just came on at 9:22 and told me the coverage is complete and the payment is zero. I told her I love those kind of zeroes. They are coming out Monday. Meanwhile, I drove the truck to work today like some Okie puttering out of the Dust Bowl, leaving shards along the roadway.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Special Olympics Investigated For Use Of Performance-Enhancing Hugs

Terry Earp Touch And Go
A TV producer, Steve Bodinet of Channel 3, called yesterday to get in touch with Terry or Wyatt Earp about a book she is supposedly doing. I called Wyatt (yes, that's his real name) and he told me Terry has been up and down, with 19 operations so far. She was hit while in a crosswalk, on her bicycle, with a helmet on, by a driver who ran a stop sign. She was dragged some 90 feet. The helmet saved her life. Still, it's amazing she is even alive. Been in special care in Denver for some time, got worse, coughed up blood recently, then came out of it. When I said to Wyatt, "So she's not working on any book then?" He said, "Oh, yes. It's called 'Final Chapter' and is going to be symbolic of the Boomer's last act." Wow! That woman is such a visionary. She has always been out front of the crowd at every milestone. For a good look at the both of them check out their website at:


Wyatt also told me his take on a certain type of Western historian:

Typical Western Historian ‘Tude, Re: Personal Turf and Containment
"I got it all right, they got it all wrong and anything they got right they stole from me.”
—Wyatt Earp

We both know plenty of "experts" in our field who resemble that remark.

"Keep that brush moving, if anything, you might get a slight breeze."
—Ray Geier, artist, teacher and fan of the blog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26, 2007
I called Bruce Dinges at the Arizona Historical Society down in Tucson to find out about the three-seated stagecoach they have on display and got this reply:

"Here's the response I received from Laraine Daly Jones, our curator. I took a look at the coach. It would be tough to photograph the interior."

"No, we have no interior images of our stagecoach but I have a description of
what the interior seating should have been like vs what ours is now,
courtesy of Tom Peterson.

"First, they were known as 'Nine Passenger Coaches', with 3 riders each on
the two end seats and 3 more on the center bench seat. The upholstery behind
the end seats and the top liner was made of a brocade fabric. The wood bench
seat in the center was covered with tufted leather, unlike ours is now.
Missing from ours, is the back support strap for people on the bench seat,
which hung from the ceiling and conected to sockets in the doors. Tom says
they are the first thing lost off the stagecoaches. Riders sitting on the
center bench would have to interlock their knees with the people seated on
the end facing them, because there was insufficient space to do otherwise.

"Henry Ford Museum and the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry are supposed
to have coaches similar to ours; they may have mor faithful interior
restorations and/or photos.

"Furthermore, the coaches often had extra riders, 3 on top facing the rear
with their feet hanging over the 'boot', and 3 more on a seat behind the
driver, with feet on the back of the driver's seat. Next to the driver sat
the mesenger ('shot gun'), and possibly one more person. Am image of a
packed coach is supposed to be in "Arizona Territory Illustrated" 1884 and a
line art version used on an AHS Journal cover in the mid to late 1970s. A
verbal description of a bumpy ride from Phoenix to Prescott in a snowstorm,
1880s, can be found in a manuscipt at AHS, collection name uncertain at the
moment. Tom used a shortened version of it in his thesis, also in AHS
collection under "Theses".

"Sorry, I can't provide a photo. However, researchers are welcome to come and
look and take their own. I can't guarantee any great quality, due to angle
and low light levels, but if Bob wants to make an appointment, maybe we can
help him obtain a useable image."
—LDj, Museum Collections Manager, Arizona Historical Society, Southern Division
July 26, 2007
As promised here is one of the opening spreads for Mickey Free. The narrator, of course, is Frederick Remington:

Mickey Free's Crooked Trail
It is a bold person, or a fool, who will dare make the claim that a wilder savage ever lived than an Apache Indian, and so it is no small irony that a bronco Irish-Mexican gave them all a run for the money. Also, hard to believe, is that this same derelict of human degradation would meet an Apache boy, raised by whites, and that the two of them would became fast friends. This too defies logic, but it’s all true.

The short version is this: the Apache Kid was outlawed by a revenge killing on the reservation. When he hit the outlaw trail the last time he didn’t leave much more trail than a buzzard, and it took years to unravel it.

Chief of Scouts, Al Sieber, sent his first sergeant, the famous tracker Mickey Free, with a picked party of trailers, to pick up the Kid’s trail, and they travelled deep down into Old Mexico. Eventually Mick caught up with the Kid and something happened that no one has ever figured out. At least that’s the story I heard at the time these events unfolded.

But let’s start at the beginning.

When he was just a boy, he started a war. The longest in the history of the United States.
July 26, 2007
My request for a three-seat stagecoach paid off immediately (note to self: keep writing blog!):

"You will find what you are looking for in the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tucson. I believe they called the gallery the transportation section. There is an Abbot Downing stagecoach on display and it even has a couple of old trunks on the roof. You get a good look at the interior by climbing up a staircase and standing on a platform to look in the windows.

"I have a photo in front of me that clearly shows the bench in the middle of the stage between the side doors. The bench is padded but has no back so a passenger could face either way, depending where the pretty ladies were! It looks like the bench is hinged so that the two outer sections can be folded into the center if not needed.

"Probably could carry nine people inside on the three benches, that is as long as they weren't three Frederick Remingtons!!

"I saw the coach when we were in Tucson this past March."
—Bill Dunn

"The Wells Fargo Museum in downtown Phoenix has a Concord Stagecoach on display:


"The museum is open 9-5 Monday through Friday. The guy I spoke to says the coach is a three-seater.”
—Tom Gronski

The Mickey Free Postcard Deluge
Lots of orders for the free Mickey Free postcard. Some were quite entertaining, like this one:

“I'm the one with the house for sale in the dip at the first wash you come to from Spur Cross Road, on the right. Now I'm living here somewhere in the neighborhood of Johnny D. Boggs. So I hear. Send me the Mickey Free postcard and sign it however you want. I am a huge fan, read your blog everyday and appreciate the rain picture of Cave Creek.
—Gerri Gosney

News From The Front Lines
"Lloyd Lang from Stockton, CA ordered Classic Gunfights, Volume III, (hardbound) today. He has 1 & 2 and really loves them. He has read True West magazine since 1953. Very nice man.
—Carole Compton Glenn

“Friendship isn't a big thing; it's a million little things.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 25, 2007 Bonus Blog
Samantha Somers took some excellent photos of the deluge on Monday. This is looking off the front porch of the True West World Headquarters at about four P.M. The submarine, I mean Toyota (or is that Hummer?), is heading eastbound on Cave Creek Road. Several roads going north were closed for about three hours as the waters raged down through the canyons. I heard the flooding was extremely bad up in Camp Creek-Seven Springs areas where the fires burnt all of the underbrush (i.e. anything that will stop the water).

July 25, 2007
Been swimming every day, although I missed on the big rain day. Feels good. Need to exercise more. My three chickens (there's a TV title waiting to happen) are doing fine. No mister now. Really muggy out and soggy in the coop. One of them (Gert) was bitching about it all the time I was feeding this morning. "You call this a condo? Where's the buffet? How come we never get to go out?" Stuff like that.

Jason Strykowski is leaving in the morning for the big Comic Con in San Diego. This thing is huge. They get upwards from 150,000 people at the four day event. Last Friday, he and Robert Ray whipped out a postcard for the trip. Abby Pearson added her thing to it on Monday and JC Printing whipped out 500 postcards. This is on the front:

So, the Top Secret Project is not so secret anymore. Yes, we are doing a graphic novel on Mickey Free and I will post storyboards and various script ideas right here on the blog, so you can see the work progress and even comment on it.

And, by the way, if you'd like a postcard, just click on the contact me button, above, and send me your mailing address, and how you want it signed. I'll send you one right out (as long as supplies last).

One of the things I ran across is a reference to Eugene Middleton's stagecoach having three seats inside the coach. I don't think I've ever seen this. The usual Concord stage has two benches, facing each other. The stage that carried the Apache Kid and seven other prisoners, had three benches. Is anybody familiar with this style stage and where I might get a good reference for it? I want to illustrate it accurately. By the way, the stage carried 12 people. Middleton, the driver, with two Indian prisoners up on the box with him, one prisoner riding on the boot (the back of the stage where luggage usually went) and eight inside, including Sheriff Glen Reynolds and deputy Hunkydory Holmes. That is one packed stage. No wonder the passengers had to get out and walk up the rainy grade west of Kelsey Wash.

And, by the way, if I was casting the BBB Straight To Home Video Movie here are my choices:

Kathy Radina: Bonny Hunt

David K. Jones: Jack Black

Jeanne Sedello: Eva Mendez

Wonderful Russ: Josh Regen

Bob Brink: Anthony Hopkins

Robert Ray: Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Abby Pearson: Lucy Liu

Carole Glenn: Susan Sarandon

"Romantic comedy is entertainment in the service of biological imperative. The world must be peopled."
—David Denby, on the new comedy of the sexes, specifically "Knocked Up" in New Yorker magazine

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24, 2007
As I was leaving the driveway this morning I noticed the driver's side door was ajar and as I kept driving, I opened and slammed it. The entire glass window shattered. Sat looking at it, stunned. Finally, turned around and put the Ranger in the garage and got out Kathy's Escape and drove it up to work. Glad I did, because it started raining again about ten.

Took the editorial staff to breakfast at Flapjack Deli Cafe to go over the 2008 editorial calendar. Got some very good ideas for themes and coverage.

Well, Robert Ray sent me another video, so let's take a gander. This was taped out at Festival of the West a couple years ago and is a good example of not using a teleprompter. I had to memorize the script (not easy) and perform it with a crowd gawking behind the camera. Notice how much more natural I seem without the "head locked down" phenom that happens when I'm reading off the teleprompter:

Carole's son, Bill, just wandered into the True West offices and we introduced him around. Good to see him. He's a great kid.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
New Gas Bill Designed By Some Kind Of Freaking Maniac

Sometimes I wonder if all this hard work will ever pay off. Then I think of something Ron once told me:

“This principle applies in business and in life: When you give enough, then you will receive.”
—Ron Kaufman
July 24, 2007
Got hit with a gully washer yesterday afternoon about 3:30. Came down for a good hour. My neighbor Joe Yeager said we got about 1.2 inches. As I left the office to go home at 5:30 I heard the TV helicopters hovering in the sky to the west and knew immediately what that meant (they were taping the flooding at Grapevine Wash, their fave photo-op spot). Drove to Grapevine Wash and sure enough traffic was backed up for a half mile and Spur Cross was closed and guarded by a sheriff's deputy (otherwise everyone would have tried to cross). Turned around and met Mark Boardman at Tonto Bar & Grill for dinner. Got home at 7:30 and did my six sketches.

Got two postcards from my Honey. These are of the hatmakers and the street where she bought my hats:

Casting Ideas For The BBB Straight To Video Movie
"So, who would play you? Not Nick Cage... hmm... Drew Carey maybe? No, he's busy now with Price is Right... Someone willing to wear a 20 year old, out of style shirt with shorts and dress socks... Wow, I think the readers need to have a field day with this one, Bob... Who would play Kathy? Someone smart & funny... and tolerant... Salma Hayek (with ice cubes for the tub)? Michelle Pfeiffer? Julia Roberts? I'm thinking that John Lovitz would be good for David K. Jones..."
—Harold Roberts

My talented Cody, Wyoming friends, Steve and Preston Randolph put together a nifty promo for Classic Gunfights, the TV version. You can check it out right here:

Really struggling with the Top Secret Project. Carole Glenn sent me a few words of encouragement:
"Your opportunity for success is right in front of you. Don't procrastinate when faced with a difficult problem. Break your problems into parts and handle one part at a time. Develop a tendency toward action. You can make something happen today. Break your big plan for success into small steps and take the first step right away.

"Success starts with beginning."
—Carole Glenn

"You mean, like now?"

Monday, July 23, 2007

July 23, 2007
Well, yesterday was the last day of the big Billy the Kid Show in Albuquerque. Comes down today. It was amazing, and I'm hearing rumors that it may be reassembled at another museum. More later.

Got the word last night the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Suppers has closed and is for sale. This is the very popular Thomas Etheridge property north of Wichita that spawned the Wild West World theme part. The dominoes keep falling.

Working hard on images for The Top Secret Project. Here's two pages from my sketchbook. Not a bad likeness of Fred Remington (at left) sketching at San Carlos:

Speaking of Freds
"Am just back from a three week trip that included appearing in the BTK Symposium in ABQ (where at long last I met Johnny Boggs and liked him a lot) and a trip to Cheyenne for the WOLA Shootout. During my stay I mailed you a copy of my Tascosa book—did it get to you safely? Oklahopeless just sent me the dustwrapper for the BTK Reader. If nothing else it will confuse would-be Michael Wallis purchasers.

"You seem to be managing well without Kathy. How, I cannot imagine."
—Fred Nolan

More Amazing Bachelor Comments
“Sure do enjoy reading your daily account of your tumultuous life. Makes mine seem rather ordinary! Glad you will be seeing your sweety soon. I can tell you miss her.

“Today and tomorrow I'm at a local ranch rodeo and have set up a table to sell books in the trade fair there. Had a good day today and sold a few cowboy books to some happy people.

“On Sunday I'll be off to the Bar U Ranch to help out at the chuckwagon camp. I love telling lies and pouring cowboy coffee for the "dudes" , I mean tourists. At the camp we talk about the days before barbed wire and how the plow changed the world of the old-time cowman forever.

“This is the ranch that the great Harry Longabaugh worked punching cows in 1890. He was a well behaved boy in Canada, I think he's was afraid of the Red-Coats. Also worked in a hotel bar in Calgary in 1891 before heading back south across the line to get into big trouble. Have a tall cool one for me and keep writing. Best cowboy wishes from the foothills of Alberta.”
—Bill Dunn

Hats Off To The Missus!
"Long story short, I saw these hats on the wine tour, and they were selling for about $65. After checking with BBB, we decided he needed one, but when I tried to find one in Valparaiso, I just couldn’t. It was the last day in port, the sun was setting, and I was walking along a row of venders near the ship asking, 'Hay un sombrero de Huaso?' To which they all said 'no', except one man, who wrote on my map the name of the store on Argentina Ave. where I could buy one. Oh goodie, I know Argentina Ave!! So I hop on the bus, and find the store in a blink (thanks to the name on my map) and inside are huge rolls of vinyl & upholstery fabric, belts, saddles, and two kinds of sombreros de Huaso. I bought them both. The felt one was $25, and the summer straw $20, but don’t tell the students who paid $65!!

"Honey, I also got the poncho for only $25. Can't wait to show you."

Meanwhile, I have a neighbor who thinks my life should be a movie and he sends me ideas, like this:

"Keep thinking about that fictional biopic on Kid Boze, 'Out of the West He Rode'. The 1940's gave us Walter Mitty. The 1980's gave us Clark "Sparky" Griswald in the Vacation series. For the 00's, America, (aka Los Estados Unidos for all our local friends visiting without benefit of AAA maps), American is ready for Life with Boze, the 'Everyman' who views life through the pallate of many colors of guache and finds wisdom in the common sense.

"Cue the guy from Holywood with the voice... Oh forget it for now. The story has gone back for a major rewrite and recasting. I am not sure about the young Shia Labeouf playing Bob as a young man. We are talking with Sam Shepherd, a real life writer, about playing the mature Bob Bell."
—Tom A. (cat whisperer)

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
I Support The Occupation Of Iraq But I Don't Support Our Troops

"Hat, hats and more hats! What else could a man want in a woman!"
July 22, 2007
Worked again all day on painting images. Here's another happy accident on two Indian profile heads, which speaks to the duality in all men:

And here's one of the poached sombreros out of "The Big Stampede" starring Johne Wayne. It is a projected image because I wanted to make sure to get the heighth right. And man, is that sucker high. I would never have drawn it freehand that vertical, but I have the frame image to prove it:

House was cleaned by Patti on Friday so I had some running room, in terms of trashing the house, which brings us to:

Confessions Of A Part-Time Bachelor, Part II—Messages to Kathy:

• Man, I run through the socks. I just did the laundry two weeks ago!

• Is it my imagination, or does the sink fill up with dirty dishes without me even being here?

• You have been gone for five weeks. Do you think I should change the sheets?

• How many varieties of ants are there, and how come they find the tiniest places to come into the house? Last night I went into the bathroom and these little, fast-moving red ants were coming up out of the drain.

• Is recycling the third Saturday of the month? And if it is, I missed it—again.

• Will the dry cleaner sell our clothes if I haven't picked them up since you left?

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Enchanted By Own Innocence, Michael Jackson Molests Self

Mark Boardman flew in today and is staying with me. We had tacos at about five. Fun talking with him.

"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."
July 21, 2007
Huge rain last night. Came down for about an hour or more. Worked late in the studio so the dogs wouldn't flip out.

Got up today and worked half the day on exploratory paintings, pushing paint and seeing what happens. There are countless failures, but here's a happy accident:

It's Changing Woman, among the clouds, blowing good wind to our hero. Spent the rest of the day on more serious stuff. I'll post some of that tomorrow.

"Nothing good or great can be done in the absence of enthusiasm."
—Tom Peters

Friday, July 20, 2007

July 20, 2007
Netflix sent me "The Big Stampede", 1932, starring John Wayne so I popped it in my computer at work to see if I could poach a scene or two for art reference. Got some good riding stuff. Here's a prophetic scene at the beginning. Which came first? The horse's name that appealed to Wayne, or Duke naming the horse after himself?

Bob Pugh at Trail to Yesterday Books put a "highly recommended" tag on Classic Gunfights, Volume III and his orders are going through the roof. He called again today to order more books. Got an email from someone else who wanted his phone number (he's not online, nor does he have a website). You have to reach Bob the old-fashioned way at:

(520) 293-1260

Got two postcards from Kathy in Chile. They leave tomorrow, heading up the coast towards Peru, where she'll stop and see Thomas Charles, then on to Nicaragua to see me.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Nationwide Headband Trend Traced Back To Area Sophomore

"Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes the furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The 'sure thing' boat never gets far from shore."
—Dale Carnegie
July 20, 2007
J.D. came down last night and installed a little chicken door in the coop. This is for the country club wing where the hipster set can go in and enjoy the mist machine, catch a little R&R (do the Funky Chicken) and watch some fine-feathered chicks do their thing.

Just kidding, although J.D. did install the little door. Worked last night and this morning on sunset atmospherics

Probably ruined another image. Here it is before (at left) and after another pass (at right):

Studying several books, including the double-set: Frederick Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne. and The Apache Kid by Phyllis de la Garza, Western Lore Press

Answering Machine Messages I’d Like To Hear
Hi. I am probably home. I'm just avoiding someone I don't like. Leave me a message and if I don't call back, it's you.

It's rather painful trying to get the Top Secret Project ready for next week's launch, but you know what the Old Vaqueros always say:

”We can only achieve successful change when the pain of growth outweighs the pain of staying where we are.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 19, 2007 Bonus Blog
Got another call from Bob Pugh down in Tucson and he says he is getting tons of orders now for Classic Gunfights, Volumes I and I (the new book, volume III is pulling orders for the previous volumes). Some libraries are ordering five of each. Sweet.

Also got a couple rave reviews from participants:

"Many thanks for CLASSIC GUNFIGHTERS. A splendid book; and such blurbs! Annie & I were especially delighted in the dual copies, which will make property settlement matters easier, should that bridge ever have to be crossed. I have only skittered around the chapters, but a certain theme seem apparent . . . men. What troublesome creatures they are. Gus's maps are a treat. And thank him for putting Cucho back in its spot."
—Dan Buck

"The book and check received; thank you!! And what a book! Stunning. Epic. Evocative. You truly are the master at depicting 'the moment' in Western history—something neither a camera nor a classical painter could have caught: the instant, the twinkling, the split section of action in its purest distillation. I'm very grateful for the copy, and for seeing my work very sharply reproduced therein. Keep up the great work....and don't spread yourself TOO thin all over the place...we want you healthy, and producing many more decades of stuff!"
—Gary Zaboly

" By the way, this is post number 1,800."
July 19, 2007
Woke up at 2:22 A.M. and had this epiphany: "One good Remington." Went back to sleep, and woke up at 2:34 A.M. with this addition: "One good Remington is worth a thousand words."

Art & The Art of Arm Breaking
"When I was going to the American Academy of Art in Chicago 30 years ago, I had an Instructor that told us that it takes 2 things to complete a successful watercolor painting: #1 Talent. #2 A Friend to break your arm when the painting is finished!"
—Jim Hatzell

In the point by point responses to the Battle of Big Dry Wash criticisms, Dr. Sam Palmer alluded to tracking Al Sieber's movements by the unique weapon he was carrying. Sieber carried a .45-.75 Centennial Winchester and Palmer has been able to track him from tree to tree at the battle site, by the distinctive markings on the ejected shells. Here's an update on the weapon from the good doctor:

"In 1876, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduced the Model 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial, celebrating the anniversary of the declaration of Independence from British rule. The 1876 was chambered in much more powerful hunting cartridges than the 1873 model. Those living on the frontier welcomed it, for this was where Grizzlies frequently dined on settlers and large plains game required long range shooting to place meat on the table. The Model 1876 was the first big game repeater and would become the favorite hunting rifle of one of the greatest of all American outdoorsmen, Theodore Roosevelt. The Cimarron 1876 is the first and only 1876 made since this model was discontinued in 1898. Chaparral Arms has created a Cimarron Winchester Model 1876 45-75 With either 22", 26" or 28" Octagonal Barrel $850.00"
—Dr. Sam Palmer

Sam also told me on the phone one of the hostiles was shooting something called an "English Express," that makes a distinctive boom when fired. Another amazing thing is some of the Apaches in the fight had hollow point bullets.

The september issue of True West goes out the door this afternoon. It's a powerful sucker with great coverage on the endurance of the horse. Thanks again to Paul Boord who started all of this with a question to me that ran on the Westerns Channel last year. His question launched an entire issue as a theme.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Five Minutes of Watching Indian Channel Leads To Five Hours Of Watching Indian Channel

"A picture is worth a thousand euros."
—Vincent Van Google

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 18, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog

Right Is Wrong
"As a 7 year art student at Paradise Valley Community College. I agree with your analysis. You did ruin the beautiful painting you had in the one on the left. The left painting brings my eye to the riders and the simple red rock in the background is very Mell like in that it only has and needs, the architectual elements of the mitten. The right painting is much too complex (background especially) and takes away the 'breakaway' element I feel with the original."
—Allen Fossenkemper

Seven years? You spent seven years in Community College to tell me that? Too bad you are probably right.

"Knowing when to quit is an art in itself."
—Vincent Van Google
July 18, 2007 Bonus Blog
Went to lunch with Carole Glenn at Saba's. Had a cool salad on the greens. Carole bought.

Relative Books Sales
"Read your stats re: books sold. Congrats. Well-deserved. Im pretty proud of the sales of my book, too— 50 copies sold nationwide. It is a book entitled 'An Introduction to Spirituality,' about addiction recovery (sobering topic) Self-published and I never did pursue a big distributor It is sold through Corrections Counseling Inc. in Tennessee No book-signing tours scheduled at this point."
—Steve Sanders

Prelude To A Post Conclusion
As promised, here's the three page letter tearing apart our coverage of The Battle of Big Dry Wash. The man's research who we based our article on, Dr. Sam Palmer, replies to each point:

Dear Mr. Bell:
I generally enjoy your magazine but in the August 2007 issue you wrote an article, “The Battle of Big Dry Wash”, which is full of errors and unsubstantiated statements. Part of the problem lies with your choice of references.

Dan Thrapp wrote well with the information he had at hand (1960’s). Since then other important sources have surfaced and have been written about by more recent historians—Collins, Sweeney, and Spicer for example. Doctor Sam Palmer must surely have been lacking many of the authentic sources when he came to some of his conclusions. Only the good Lord knows what Gus Walker was thinking when he concocted his maps.

I have taken the liberty of listing below the more blatant errors:

1. On page 60, paragraph 2, Adna Chaffee was a Captain (Bvt. Major) not a Colonel. Andrew W. Evans was a Major (Bvt. Lt. Colonel) at the time of the battle, not a Colonel as he is so identified on the upper map on page 61.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “In an undated letter to Britton Davis, Morgan recalled that “Major Chaffee ordered me to take a few men and cross the Canyon.” He does not refer to Brevet Major. Chaffee signs his reports as Captain not Brevet Major. Putting Col. Is a small glitch.”]

2. On page 61, paragraph 13, the battle ended because of failing light not a hail storm. The hail storm did not occur until about 10 am on July 18th as clearly stated in Major Evans report. Captain Chaffee’s report also does not mention a hail storm on July 17th. Sgt. Fred Platten’s account says the hail storm occurred about 10 am on the 18th of July and put a finish to their ‘mopping up” operations. (Platten was one of the late arrivers on July 18th from Fort Whipple and was one of the “mopper-uppers”).

[Doctor Palmer responds: "You have one source from a Sergeant in a command that showed up the next day and certainly did not participate in any 'mopping –up' action.

"'Apache’s Last Stand' – Will Barnes pp 45 - Cruse and Morgan gave the following particulars of the fight; “About dark the day of the fight a terrible thunderstorm such as are common in the mountains of Northern Arizona, swept across the country. The rain turned to hail which covered the ground…”

"Lt West recalled that the hail was so paralyzing that 'Major Chaffee got so cold and wet he had to stop swearing.'

"True West Magazine pp 71, July-August 1962 PP71 'It was now too lat to do much more. Darkness had come, and with it a raging hail storm, accompanied by lightning and thunder more severe than even the old-timer could remember.'

"Al Sieber – Battle of Big Dry Wash – pp 255 – 'It had been a day of fire and slaughter, and now a raging storm swept out of nowhere to put a stop to it.'

"Interview notes with George Morgan’s grandson 1989 – He stated that his grandfather told him that he had been shot and was sure he was going to die and that as the storm hit and it began to hail he cursed the thought of having been shot and now freezing to death.

"In an unpublished version of Cruse’s account he states 'We then fixed Morgan who was in great pain and chilled to the bone.'

"'Arizona Historical Review' - Morgan and Cruse commented that 'when they found poor Conn he was half buried in hail'

"Research with meteorologist Sean McLaughlin who stated that although there are no documented weather reports from the 1880’s the weather patterns for the Rim area have not changed significantly and it would be extremely unlikely that a Thunderstorm, let alone a thunderstorm with hail would occur in the a.m."]

3. Al Sieber and his small number of Indian scouts crossed at what was and is known as “Rock Crossing.” To do otherwise would have put them in plain view of the renegade pony guards who were located directly north of where the advancing Sieber party would have ascended. Reports state that Seiber and his scouts approached the pony heard from the east, which would have been accessed fromm “Rock Crossing” (Rock Crossing, unfortunately, was not included in this map—it would have made my conclusion more credible).

[Doctor Palmer responds: “The physical evidence of 45-75 cartridges disagrees with the assumption that Sieber crossed at Rock Crossing. Having spent nearly 25 years walking the battle field and the surrounding terrain, I can tell you that the pony herd guards would not have seen Sieber and the scouts. A study of a topo and actually walking the area (when Blue Ridge is dry) the presence of cartridges and having an observer present looking for someone proves that Rock Crossing was not the site used by Sieber and the others. I can show you where they left the horses before they crossed also.

"Morgan presentation – The papers of the Order of the Indian Wars 1940 – 'Finally He (Chaffee) directed me to take 18 of his men, get over the 'Wash' to the East and gain the mesa across the Wash' to the east of the Enemy’s position.' we had a very difficult problem getting to the bottom of the 'Wash' but once there it was safe enough running across to the opposite side where we were able to gain the top.]

4. On some early maps East Clear Creek does not descend the Rim as shown. It originates a mile or so to the east of present-day Potato Lake and flows generally northeast towards Winslow. It would have been enlightening for your readers to have this confusion explained.

[Doctor Palmer responds: "While Gus Walker did digress somewhat from the map I sent him, the map on page 61 does not show Chevlon Creek descending the rim – so what’s your point? Chaffee most likely consulted an old map that still showed East Clear Creek’s original name Big Dry Fork of the Little Colorado.]

5. On page 61, under “Apache Time Line”, you describe the prelude to the Battle of Big Dry Wash. You took it to April 18th, 1882 then with hardly a pause you jumped to July 6th 1882. Two paragraphs later the story ends abruptly. A whole bunch of interesting stuff happened between July 6th and July 18th, the day of the “mop-up.”

[Doctor Palmer responds: “So what, that’s not what the story was about!! There was a lot that happened after the battle – Read Haskell’s report dated Whipple Barracks, Prescott July 22, 1882, 12:05pm; Mason’s telegram received at Whipple Barracks July 25, 1882, 11 am; Evans telegram Dated Camp on Chevlon’s Fork July 19 via Verde 21 1882 Received Whipple Barracks, AT July 21, 1882 10;10am.]

6. On page 61, paragraph 1, you state the Bronco Apaches as being 54 in number, including women and children. On page 62, bottom paragraph, you state that Na-ti-o-tish gathered adherents along the Gila—and numbered about 54 fighting men. . .”. Na-ti-o-tish’s route of march was no where near the Gila River after he left the San Carlos agency and headed for McMillenville. You should be forgiven for this little glitch. The number reported varied greatly as did the number of hostiles killed. The early number of Bronco Apaches involved was 40 some with no distinction of how many were warriors, women, or children. Later, when the participants were pardoned at the insistence of Eastern do-gooders the number claiming participation rose. It seems everyone wanted to get in on the act. Likewise, the death count varied for several reasons. Some dead were carried from the field immediately after the battle. Some wounded died later where they had crawled off into shallow caves. (Many skeletons were reportedly found between Rock Crossing and Jones Crossing.) The official Army chronicles listed 16 hostiles dead, but that was at a time in history (the 1890’s) when the Army was minimizing the number of Indian deaths due to encounters with Whites. The actual body count at the battle site was 22 but this may not be accurate as the battle reports say that some of the renegades may have been helped along to the happy hunting grounds by Indian scouts who had old scores to settle.

6. [Doctor Palmer responds: “If you look at the map it shows the route of the Hostiles (no one called them Bronco Apache back then) all of the microfilm records refer to them as hostiles, this group or any other group that was not on the reservation. As to number your guess is as good as mine and you can give all the reason you want but the are the facts;

"Chaffee’s report – 14 bodies were left on the ground

"Evan’s telegram July 21, 1882 – 10 indian men left dead on the field.

"Dispatch received at San Francisco July 19, from Whipple Barracks 'During the night the Indians broke, leaving six dead bucks on the ground. The scouts report about 20 more were killed.

"Received at the War Department Presidio of San Francisco, July 17, 1882. The following received from Commanding General Department of Arizona. Hostile Indians – about forty-two, many women and children…

"'The Truth About Geronimo' – pp 38 there were fifty-four hostiles in the fight. We subsequently learned that twenty-one were killed on the ground.

"'True West' magazine pp 71, July-August 1962 (Dan Thrapp) 'A quick survey of he battle scene revealed 22 dead indians'

"Evans telegram July 18, 1882 – 'Hostile indians supposed to be about forty-two men, many women and children…'”]

7. On page 63, paragraph 2, under “Aftermath”, C.D. Wingfield was a boy at the time of the battle and his tory came to light in 1929 about 47 years after the battle and is the source of some of the ‘windies” and unfortunately a stretch of the imagination. His account of Private Pete’s demise is unauthenticated. Somewhere I have an account which states that Private Pete, who was assigned to Capt. Abbot’s group, was killed in the initial exchange of gun fire with the renegades who were heading south into the “Big Dry Fork” in their encircling maneuver. The Indians supposedly killed by Al Sieber was Private Sam who was left where he fell and presumably included amongst the body count of the dead hostiles. Private Pete was believed to be buried near Private McLernon.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “Private Pete – Killed at the Battle of Big Dry Wash. Private Sam was not killed at The Battle of Big Dry Wash.

"Private Sam appears on the monument at the site and official records as surviving the battle.

"Will Barnes – Private Pete was the only scout listed as killed in the battle and was apparently shot through the head.

"Chaffee report – Killed – Charley CoE Indian scouts

"Note – Since writing this report I have learned that Pete instead of Charley was the name of the Indian scout killed. No report of any other scout killed.

"The hostiles never attempted to “head south into Big Dry Fork” as stated in the letter. – They crossed a ravine west of their camp (as evidenced by the artifacts on the field) at which time they ran into the flanking troopers."]

9. The map at the top of page 61 has many errors. The report that the renegades plundered down gthe Salt River is to the best of my knowledge unsubstantiated. Capt. Drew from Fort Thomas rendezvouised with Evans proably at or near Gleason’s Flat and the main trial of the hostiles was also cut near here on the north side of the Salt. The hostiles killed rancher Gleason and his helper. Evans reports they followed the trail leading north on the high divide between Canyon and Cherry Creeks. They passed to the west of Sombrero Peak and Mustang Ridge which are both natural barriers. The map is erroneouis in that it shows the trail going north on the west side of Chery Creek after going down nearly to the confluence of Tonto Creek and the Salt River. The map on 61 shows the trail ascending the Mogollon Rim just south of Chevelon Creek. This is about 30 miles too far east. The hostiles and pursuing Army units actually ascended the Rim on the old Colonel Devin trail (also known as the Tunnel Trail). In fact, depredations at the Middleton, Sixby, Christopher, Roberts, Meadows, and Belluzzi ranches indicate the approximate route taken by the hostiles. Major Evans does a good job in his battle report on filling in the fine points of the renegade trail. (it should be remembered the hostiles were also driving about 100 head of stolen stock in addition to their own mounts. They sent small raiding parties off to right and left to do the mayhem while the main body pushed on towards the trail up the Rim.

[Doctor Palmer responds: “From Cruse’s unpublished account – 'Evans, left the post early on July 14th and by forced march reached the lower Cibicu (about a mile below the scene of the fight) a little before dark, and went into bivouac there, resuming the march the next morning, reaching the point where the San Carlos trail crossed the Salt river (exactly where Roosevelt Dam now is), at the mouth of Tonto Creek. Here is where the hostiles had camped awhile and the signs were very fresh. All patrols returned by dark and from their reports we determined that the main body had gone on the trail leading across the Tonto basin'

"'The Truth about Geronimo' – pp 42 – 'when the apaches reached the Salt River crossing the apache trail they had sent some of their party down the river to raid ranches in the valley, the main body continuing along the trail north'

"Headquarters Department of Arizona Whipple Barracks, Prescott July 31, 1882

“killing 16 warriors whose bodies were found, and the capture of the hostiles camp, saddle and reserved ammunition, 9500 metallic cartridges Cal. 45, of 100 horses and mules (including those killed and 6 squaws and children.'

"Evans telegram July 21, 1882 – The number of horses killed on the trail is now reported as 17. This accounting for over 100.

"Evans report - “the herd captured numbered some 80 odd head”]

The shame of all this is that you have perpetuated some untruths and “windies” in your article. I wish somhow we could undo what has been done. Myself and a friend (who is a close frined of the late Jim Walker) might be able to assist in such an effort if you are interested, and I hope you are interested. . .a follo-up article would fill in some of the voids in your article and diplomatically correct the errors. It could be titled: “The Battle of Big Dry Wash—Prelude to Conclusion.” My friend can supply computer-generated maps far superior to those used in the article.

—David T. Ricker

[Doctor Palmer’s final response: “There is so much more I could tell you about the Battle of Big Dry Wash but it is obvious you already think you know everything. I have visited the site a least 2 dozen times a year for the last 25 years. I have visited all the sites along the trail leading to the battle and have aerials and satellite imagery of the entire route. I showed the late Jim Walker where the staging area was after he had visited the site for 20 years."]

"Who says we are obsessed beyond all reason?"
—Professor Bancock
July 18, 2007
Yesterday as I went out to the end of the driveway to get the paper, the sky above Continental Mountain had a pre-sunrise glow of delicate orange. The image stuck in my head and this morning I whipped out the following study from memory:

The sky was actually more rosy than this and Ratcliff Ridge is covered with way more saguaros, but I kind of like it. The rider, of course, is on his way to the premiere of the Top Secret Project, which launches on July 26th.

If you couldn't make out George Washington making out with a pig in yesterday's posted painting, here is a clearer map of the two (top image). Now go back and see if you can't see them smooching.

"I dreamed last night George Washington was making out with a pig."

"A Capitalist Pig?"

"No, just a regular pig in lower case letters."

Got a three-page diatribe letter, criticizing our coverage of The Battle of Big Dry Wash. David Ricker of Payson criticizes our history, Gus's maps and my I.Q. Ha. So we scanned the letter and emailed it to Dr. Sam Palmer and he spent all night last night answering each accusation. I'll post the whole thing later today.

J.D. and I drove down to Home Depot this morning to buy a mist system for the chickens ($43-something, house account). We're going to install it tonight when it gets cooler.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Bacon Just One Of Sprint's New Downloadable Ring Scents

"It is the appreciation of beauty and truth, the striving for knowledge which makes life worth living."
—Morris Raphael Cohen

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

June 17, 2007
Woke up to overcast skies. Humid, but cool out (low eighties). My last remaining three chickens are quite miserable and I've decided to buy them a mister or a portable air pad cooler. On the way in to work this morning I called J.D. and asked him if he wanted to go down to Home Depot with me to buy a chicken air conditioner and he said, and I quote, "A what?"

J.D. is opting for the mister. We're going tomorrow morning, assuming the chick-owns survive that long.

I don't know if it's the muggy weather, but yesterday's art attempts were muggy-ized as well. Here's a midnight dreamscape. In those blue clouds I see George Washington kissing a pig. What that says about my subconscious, only a dream analyzing neighbor would know (two of my neighbors are dream analysts).

Here's two pages of my sketchbook. That lightning sky was so cool, but then I ruined it by trying to add yellow to the burst and totally killed the effect. So I went back to red-black. Ha.

Feedback On Endurance And A Second Opinion On Salma Hayek & Ice
"I think your latest additions to the Endurance painting enhanced it. Looks great in my opinion. I think your art work is getting better as the years go by. You know how it goes though, you won't get millions for your paintings - but your kids & grandkids will...

"I checked out the YouTube video of T Bell... Has he grown up into a responsible adult or what? (well, I'm referring to the Peace Corps gig) I seem to remember that he was quite the handful for you while he was in his early teens, wasn't he? You used to comment every once in a while on the radio about his troubles... You and Kathy have to be proud.

"RE: Living in the heat of the Old West.... sorry, I think I'd be able to handle it if Salma Hyek were bathing me in ice cubes... wow... Salma Hyek... I could handle it if I were bathing her in ice cubes..."
—Harold Roberts, Tucson

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Woman Sensitive About That Thing On Her Face

I just read in Time magazine that J.K. Rowland's Harry Potter series of books has so far sold 325 million copies in 66 languages. So I decided to do an inventory of my books. Here are the sales figures as of July 5th:

Total Copies Sold: 69,252

Best Seller: The Illustrated Life & Times of Wyatt Earp, 22,473 (fourth printing)

Second: The Illustrated Life & Times of Doc Holliday, 17,504 (third printing)

Third: The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid, 13,223 (second printing)

Fourth: Bad Men, 8,670 (second printing)

Fifth: Classic Gunfights, Volume I, II, III, 7,382 (all in first printing). Sales for my seventh book, CGIII, are just starting to come in and I'm confident the Classic Gunfights series will eventually outstrip the sales of the other books.

The funny thing is, there are probably individual book stores that have outsold my entire library with Harry Potter books. And speaking of humor. . .

"Humor is, I think, the subtlest and chanciest of literary forms. It is surely not accidental that there are a thousand novelists, essayists, poets or journalists for each humorist."
—Leo Rosten

Monday, July 16, 2007

July 16, 2007 Bonus Blog
Closing in on another milestone: one thousand, eight-hundred blog posts (I'm at 1,792). Pretty amazing and enlightening, to boot.

Went home for lunch and met the plumber from Desert Foothills Plumbing, to fix the float in the studio bathroom toilet. Bill was $151 (what'd I tell you?) but he was a True West Maniac and recognized my stuff everywhere and said as I got out my checkbook, "Do you have a Doc Holliday book here you could sell me?" He bought both a Doc and the new CGIII. So that pruned the bill a bit.

As soon as Bob Ehle and Ebed left, up drove James from Desert Foothills Air Conditioning (yes, they both have similiar names). He got on the roof and yelled down "You got a bad 60 Amp fuse." He installed it, checked everything else out, helped me replace the filter in the hallway and I gave him a True West magazine. Bill: $64.

Man, it's nice having AC! I couldn't live in the Old West even if Salma Hyek bathed me with ice cubes every day of July.

While the crews were climbing in and out of the house, I did what I do best: make small paintings that talk to me. The study (top, left) is Gan Dancer's Midnight Delight (Gan Dancers are Apache ceremonial dudes). The big, blue monstor on the right is "Stairway To Heaven," a fitting depiction of a certain segment of my generation who climbed those stairs a little bit too long. Notice the distended, discombobulated spine, the steam adled cranium—you get the picture:

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Bob Marley Rises From Grave To Free Frat Boys From Bonds Of Oppression

"Once a human being has arrived on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him."
—Virginia Satir
July 16, 2007
AC went out last night. A ceiling fan saved my life. Checked the breaker, three times, but it won't start. Called Desert Foothills Air Conditioning Service (that's a $150 call, if I'm lucky), and the service rep is coming out "sometime today."

Last night my neighbors, Bob and Lynn, came over for tacos and beer. It was their 40th Wedding Anniversary and so we talked about how they pulled that off. Bob worked at NASA and assisted the moon landing, so I had him look at my DVD player, which ate "The Horse Soldiers" and wouldn't cough it up. Bob easily opened it up with a small Philips screwdriver and jerry-rigged it to open at my command. Amazing.

Called my Aunt Jean in Fort Sumner. Got Uncle Bud on the phone. He was just in from bailing hay (he's 76!). Jean is up in Clovis where they are starting a trailer park. Something they were quite successful at in Kingman. A couple of dynamos, really.

Got inspired to add another layer to the Endurance painting. Probably ruined it, but here it is, (before, at left) and finished at right:

Seth Hoyt sent me a photo of our own Johnny Boggs in Northfield for a book signing. Pictured with the author are, from left, Chuck DeMann, Chip DeMann and Hayes Scriven, executive director of the Northfield Historical Society who organized the event.

Actually started storyboarding the Top Secret Project yesterday. Used typing paper so I can squelch my uppity, over-producing tendenies. Got two pages in the can, crude text balloons and all. Watch this space (actually, watch out for this space) when the whole mess, or a good part of it, appears right here, starting July 26.

Finished a book I got at Hon-dah Resort at the Joint Arizona-New Mexico History Conference last April. "Sometimes The Blues: The Letters And Diaries of Frank Hammon, A Lonely Frontiersman In Globe And Phoenix, 1882-1889" is about a Globe, Arizona part-time deputy who probably arrested The Apache Kid. I say, probably, because in his diary entry for October 23, 1889 he writes, "I went to San Carlos with Deputy Sheriff Ryan after some indian prisoners. Called on the ladies at the school. Met Williamson and the other boys." He goes on the next day, "We left San Carlos with three prisoners and seven witnesses. Arrived in Globe all OK. Capt. Johnson gave us an escort of four soldiers and an uncommissioned officer."

And that's it! No mention of the Kid or any details. It would be like being at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963 and writing in your journal, "Rode in motorcade. Saw some cute babes. Met Lee Harvey for drinks afterward. Arrived home OK."

Great photo of Eugene Middleton though. The book by Susan Clardy is published by The Arizona Historical Society and we are reviewing it in the next issue (Sept.).

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Cost Of Living Now Outweighs Benefits

"If you are afraid of loneliness, don't marry."
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July 15, 2007
I found a book called "Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets" written by a zany friend, Barry Friedman, who is the foremost expert on this stuff. I was looking for Indian blanket designs to incorporate into a certain character's wardrobe. Got some good, moody stuff:

Seems rather Apache Noir, if there is such a thing, and I believe there is.

Lessons Learned And Then Learned Again
Finished “The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics” by Dennis O’Neil this morning. Jason Strykowski lent the book to me and while i knew virtually all the concepts in the book, it’s sometimes enlightning and refreshing to revisit the form and review the fundamentals. Among the nuggets I got from O’Neil:

• Realistic dialogue involves the reader more completely than any other single device. [“Like, duh!”]

• Don’t imitate the masters but seek what they sought. [“Money!”—Hugh O’Brian]

• We know things by their opposites—we have a concept for light because we know dark, of low because we know high, and so forth. Maybe tragedy seems all the more tragic because when we’re witnessing it we have a recent memory of comedy. [Yes, I believe one of the reasons a BLT is so tasty and satisfying is because of the cold lettuce and tomato contrasted with the hot bacon. Same dynamic with the taco or hamburger. What’s tragic is when the lettuce and tomato are heated as well, like at some fast food joints, and there is no contrast.]

• One of the reasons we read stories is to imagine ourselves having another existence—heightened, more exciting and fulfilling, but recognizably human. [which is why Casper The Friendly Ghost is so richly rewarding to me]

• Storytelling is probably man’s first act of civilization. [Although if you asked men they would probably nominate the push up bra as the first benefit of civilization].

• When authors in How To books try to define and explain “humor” they always use an example that’s not funny: “A man walks into a psychiatrist’s office and he says, ‘Doc, you’ve gotta tell me. Is it possible for a man to be in love with an elephant?’
“The psychiatrist says, ‘Absolutely not.’
“The man says, ‘Are you sure? Because this is very important. please, doctor, look me in the eye and tell me you’re absolutely positive that a man cannot be in love with an elephant!’
“The psychiatrist says, ‘I studied at all the finest schools. . .I have every degree a man in my profession can earn. . .I’m absolutely, positively certain that a man cannot be in love with an elephant!’
“The man sighs, whips out a three-foot piece of jewelry, and says, ‘In that case, doc, can you tell me where I can get rid of an engagement ring this big?’” [and then Mark Evanier, who wrote the Humor segment, goes on to say], “If I had more room in this piece, I might have had him ask three times—that would really point up his urgency and build us up for the payoff—but I don’t think I’d stretch it out any long than that.” [Thank God! I can only stand so much laughter before I pass out.]

“All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest, hmmmm-mmmm-mmm.”
—Simon & Garfunkel, “The Boxer”
July 14, 2007
Got a rave review from a professional artist I know about one of the endurance of the horse paintings I did. Unfortunately, it's the one we didn't use!

"Finally had a chance to get over and take a look at your sketches on your blog site, since I haven't had a chance to do that in a while...scrolled down and WOW!! The stuff you did of the cowboys ridin' outta the picture was awesome!! The version you did in silhouette is just plain killer...lots of action and color, the cleaned up version is nice too, but really like the one on the left. You sure can handle the red well, that's hard as hell and my hats off to you!"
—Jeff Prechtel

And speaking of those paintings:

Riding To The Right
I noticed that in your sketches, horses are always moving from left to right. Is there a reason for that, or is it just a coincidence this week?

As a silly aside, I once saw Donald O'Connor interviewed, and he said that most dancers, when they do a full spin at top speed, spin to their right, while he spins to his left. He said that when he interviewed with Gene Kelly to do "Singin' in the Rain," he was hired on the spot. Later, when he got home, he suddenly remembered he forgot to tell Kelly that he spins to his left and worried he'd be fired once Kelly found out. A tad later, the phone rang, and it was Kelly with a worried tone. He asked, "Which way do you spin when you dance?" Turns out, he was "worried" because HE spun to the left too and assumed O'Connor spun to the right and figured O'Connor would turn down the job once he realized that Kelly "spun the wrong way." We know now that it all worked out fine. But...the next time you're watching any Gene Kelly flick, note that with rare exceptions, he does in fact spin to his left! And it's rampant in "Singin' in the Rain" when he's with left-spinning O'Connor.

Anyway, I give you that boring "True Dance Moment" because I'm curious as to whether, like dancers, artists "lean" in one direction or the other in terms of profiles of persons (always the left side of the face?), the direction of action (left to right versus right to left?), which side of the canvas the trees or sun or people always appear on, etc.
—Deborah Lee

Thanks. Great dance story. Never knew that. The reason these horses are all going to the right is that the feature in the magazine the piece is on starts on a spread, then continues on the next page (to the right). So, we are anticipating them turning that way, the momentum is going to the right.

Worked all day on lining out The Top Secret Project. Here's some lightning sketches, literally:

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull are on their Western World Tour and here's their itinerary:


Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Family Feud Continues Years After Game Show Appearance

"You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with."
— Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Friday, July 13, 2007

July 13, 2007
Got a call from Tucson bookseller Bob Pugh this morning. He has received ten copies of Classic Gunfights, Volume III, and has sold them and is reordering more. Always good news to an author.

And speaking of authors, had dinner last night at Thai hotspot Malee's in Scottsdale with Will Shetterly and Emma Bull. They both have new books out. Will's newest is "Gospel of The Knife," and Emma's is "Territory," her fantasy telling of the Tombstone story. Their publishing house offered them an eight city book tour via airlines and Will countered: "Give us the money and we'll drive to sixteen." So they drove up yesterday from Tucson for their first stop at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale.

After dinner (they bought), I drove down to the venerable Scottsdale book store and along with a dozen others listened to Will and Emma read excerpts from their new books. Emma also played guitar and sang three rousing songs, which had us all tapping our toes and smiling. She's very good (I had never heard her, but she is a legend in many parts of the West). Emma's book just came out this last Tuesday. Next stop San Diego, then Burbank, San Fran, Vancouver and on across Canada, coming back to the states in Minnesota, I believe.

House much cooler last night. Slept good. Chickens survived, dogs still around, life is good.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Area Dog Will Never Live Up To Dog On Purina Bag

Worried about the Top Secret Project. My self-imposed deadline of July 26 is just thirteen days out and we have a whole bunch of nothing. Afraid we're going sideways. Lots of effort, but much of the plotting and story points seem to be at cross purposes.

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
— Douglas Adams

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12, 2007 Bonus Blog
Gus Walker ("The Mapinator") received his comp copy of the newest Classic Gunfights, Volume III and I asked him for a critique and what he liked about it. Got this response (FYI: Gus is notorious for not using capital letters):

"obviously my favorite part is on the opening page where it says Maps & Graphics by Gus Walker.'

"no, serioulsy i think it is the best of the three and should be since we should have learned from the other two. content wise, i don’t think you can’t exactly compare it to Blaze Away because you were following a theme beyond random fights. as far as a sampling of Old West gunfights i think it is better than CGI. of course i would hope someone looking to buy would want both CGI and CGIII, or better, all three. i enjoyed seeing some art i don’t think i have seen before and also some new photos such as the Medicine Lodge banks interiors.

"only a couple of groans and they are resricted to the maps because that is the part i am closest to. they are basically cosmetic or aesthetic and most readers would probably not notice them.

"Map pg 24 - The label for Stillwater doesn’t have a circle symbol to locate the town and i probably should have labled some of the rivers.

"Map pg 63 - Did not label California as a state. i’m sure folks know what it is having labels for San Francisco and L.A. etc., but it still bus me.

"Map pg 67 - There is no lable for Medicine Lodge. can’t believe i let that one slip by.

"Map pg 78 - This could be one that haunts. the lable for the San Carlos Rez is in the upper right hand corner of the rez and i think that would actually be the Ft. Apache Rez. also, there is a small San Carlos lable, almost too small to read, near Globe.

"Map pg 99 - on the opening maps some of the type is approaching non-critical mass, being almost too small to read with out heavy lenses.

"Map pg 120 - in the Phase Two map the numeral “2” is a different size than the others. probably go to the gallows for that one!

"Map pg 106 - nice, goodlooking map by somebody
in the Production dept. before picking out a few faves i think i might need to go back an read everything."

And you thought I was critical?

Red sketch series number 33:

I got three postcards from my Honey yesterday. She's having a great time on her Semester At Sea trip down the Pacific slope of the Americas. I believe she's in Chile today, which reminds me of a classic Dusty Chaps tune: "Chile Today, Hot Tamale."

Speaking of hot, working hard to locate the watch of Sheriff Glenn Reynolds, who was killed by the Apache Kid. Just got off the phone with his grandson in Arkansas. I love talking to the oldtimers, they are such a hoot.

Got some very good ideas today on the Top Secret Project. More later.

"Several big ideas have come by taking a deep breath, leaving the bulding and taking a nice long walk in the sunshine down to get some ice cream."
—Nolan Bushnell
July 12, 2007
Lost another hen this morning. Down to three. Very hot out and miserable. It was 87 degrees in the house when I got home at 6:30 last night and that's with the swamp cooler on. Slept without sheets and woke up in a sweat several times. Not fun. Switched over to AC this morning, going throughout the house to close the windows. Drives up the utility bills, and we try to avoid it as long as we can, but enough it enough.

Whipped out a surreal blood-splattered boulder piece this morning. Just happened. Let it take me where it wanted to go. Had fun:

My six sketches for the day continued with the same idea and the same pool of paint. Dark and foreboding, a tapestry of evil. Hey, I'm stealing that!

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Politician Awkwardly Works The Bathroom

"You cannot get lost on a straight road."
—Old Vaquero Saying, (True enough, but I'll bet I could get side-tracked very easily.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 11, 2007 Bonus Blog
If you are curious about how the Ruidoso News handled the Drew Gomber shootout, here's the link to the story:


One of my blog readers, Steve Sanders, labeled it: Drew Gomber Meets Grew Domber

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Law Enforcement Officials Call For Creation Of Bulletproof Sleeves

Remember That Cowtown PSA We Taped Last September?
"Just had a couple come in from Kansas City who had seen a 'Cowtown PSA' on cable tv starring your own self—so they loaded up the car and drove down to see us. Earlier today, we had a family of four from Germany who went on-line back home as they planned a trip to the states and deliberately chose to fly in to ICT because of Cowtown. We get guests from over 150 foreign countries annually but anecdotal stories put a human face on it. Just felt like sharing the news........" 
 —Ed LeRoy, Operations Manager, Old Cowtown Museum

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
—Douglas Adams
July 11, 2007
Went to bed anxious last night. Really unhappy with the Endurance of The Horse painting, but was too tired to start another one. At about 11:20 I was awakened by Buddy Boze Hatkiller head-butting his way through the bedroom door and flying into the house. I sat up and heard the thunder. Started to rain. Went and got Peaches, hiding in the studio, rode out the storm with them, then decided to get to work and started two more versions of Endurance. Worked until about 1:30, then went back to bed.

Here's my six sketches for the day, which are pretty weak as well:

The first of the second efforts (at left, below) was perhaps a tad too complicated and I soon bogged down. On the second try I went back to the basic idea and tried to stay subtle, tried to leave out unnecesary detail and I think it works:

Worked on these from about six in the morning until 9:30. Found two quotes that speak to all of this angst:

East Meets West: Dueling Quotes
"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials."
—Lin Yutang

"To know essential details from unessential details is the study in all arts. Details there must be; they are the small things which make the big things."
—Frederick Remington

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

July 10, 2007 Bonus Blog
As a parent of a male offspring in the Peace Corp I sometimes worry about whether he is getting along with the natives in his home country (Peru) and whether he is exporting family traditions in a positive manner. I think you will agree that I have no worries in either department. Check out this video at


In the search window, type in: Peace Corp B Day

American? Oh, yeah. From Kingman? Not quite (but close enough). There is no doubt that this boy is mine. Don't worry, I've already contacted the American Embassy.

Went home for lunch and worked on the painting for Endurance of The Horse. Not happy with the results. Going to do another one, but scanned this one for Abby to start the layout.

The Other Fellow's Version (In The Drew Gomber Shootout):
"I went to visit my brother-in-law to have a few cervezas, but wouldn't you know it, I went to the wrong house. Some guy came out yelling at me—'caboose! mongoose!' or something— he didn't speak Spanish. But I got the distinct idea he wasn't my brother-in-law. I jumped in my truck, lit up a cigarette, and all of a sudden the pendejo started shooting at me.
Fortunately his aim was as bad as his Spanish.

"I had no idea non-smoking laws were a capital offence in New Mexico."
—Anon No Mas (otherwise known as Dan Buck)

"It is the appreciation of beauty and truth, the striving for knowledge which makes life worth living in Peru."
—Old Peace Corp Saying
July 10, 2007
Got the news yesterday that Thomas Etheridge, the man who spent some $30 million on building Wild West World north of Wichita declared bankruptcy yesterday morning and closed the park after being open for only two months. Bad weather is blamed (132 tornadoes on opening day, plus record rain and flooding ever since). See May 15-35 blog entries in archives (top of page).

When it comes to mashing metaphors I will put up my fellow hometown folks against anybody on the planet:

Mashing Metaphors Kingmanistan Style
"Well, Mr. Bob Boze Bell, the dice is in your corner of the stage."

Worked at home yesterday aftertoon sketching Endurance of The Horse illustrations for the big, opening spread we are doing:

Spent last night studying two books: "Frederick Remington: Selected Writings" Castle Books, 1981; and "The Collected Writings of Frederic Remington," edited by Peggy & Harold Samuels, Doubleday, 1979. Great poaching material for period venacular and terms.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Fetish Only Realized After Watching Wife Drown

We sometimes get letters from prison inmates who subscribe to our magazine. As you might guess they are attracted to our stories on Old West outlaws. Here's a good example, which came in yesterday:

"I, myself, am trying to get out of the life of crime, so I won’t end up like my ancestors [he claims lineage to the Daltons] but its harder than people think. Especially, if its in your blood. I enjoy being on the run and breaking the law, and get away with breaking the law. I’ve broke the law over 200 times in 4 states, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and only got caught and convicted 20 times, 6 of them being felonies. From 1987-1992 and Dec 1994-Sept 1994 and 1996-2005, that’s 15 years of breaking the law. I’ve only landed in prison 3 times in my life."
—current con

So, he's got that going for him. Perhaps we'll feature him in a 2053 issue of True West.

"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."
—Old Vaquero Saying