Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February 28, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
Fred Nolan from Chalfont St. Giles, England sent me the following from Buckingham Books, under the heading: Thought this might make your day.

12. BELL, BOB BOZE. ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY THE KID, DOC HOLLIDAY, & WYATT EARP IN THREE SPECIAL PRESENTATION BINDINGS. LIMITED TO TWELVE COPIES. VOLUME I: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY THE KID. Phoenix: Tri-Star-Boze Publications, Inc., 1996. Second edition, Revised and Expanded. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies in brown leather, with gold stamping on the spine and front cover, numbered and signed by the author. Full leather, 192 pp., illustrated, maps, plates, portraits, credits. Ilustrated by the author. This edition is expanded over the first edition from 120 pages to 192 pages. Full leather slipcase with gold stamping on front cover. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. VOLUME II: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF DOC HOLLIDAY. [Phoenix: Tri-Star Printing, 1995]. Second edition, Revised. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies signed by the author. Full leather, gold stamping on spine and front cover, 128 pp., illustrated, map, plates, portraits, credits. Illustrated by the author. This edition has been revised over the first edition. Full speckled cloth slipcase. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. VOLUME III: THE ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND TIMES OF WYATT EARP. Phoenix: Tri-Star-Boze Publications, Inc., 1995. Third edition. Revised and expanded. Quarto. Limited edition of twelve copies signed by the author. Full leather, gold stamping on front cover and spine, 142 [2] pp., illustrated, map, plates, portraits, credits. Illustrated by the author. This edition is expanded over the first edition from 128 pages to 144 pages. Full speckled cloth slipcase. Both book and slipcase are in "as new" condition. These three volumes have been specially produced for presentation in fine bindings and limited to twelve sets. Together they provide a host of information about three legendary characters of the Old West. The Set of Three: $2000.00 (22479)

It did.
February 28, 2007 Bonus Blog
Here's living proof we become all that we encounter. A week ago, as I huddled in a United puddle-jumper on the way back from Cody, Wyoming to Denver, (on my way to New York from seeing my mom), I encounterd a subtle, sunrise, sky effect out the window. Somewhere over Thermopolis, Wyoming at about 6:40 in the morning, a thin, orange line appeared on the horizon and a dramatic, purple cloud dissected it, falling down into a blue-ish, purple, snow-clad landscape. I pulled out my sketchbookand and tried to get as much of it down as I could in the dim light. I was working with a black pen so I had to make notes as to the colors.

Cut to: New York City and the Jacob Javits Center: after walking the New York Comic Con and perusing (or should that be wallowing?) in all of the Manga-Anime-Yaoi style, I came home for lunch today to whip out a Honkytonk Sue for the May issue which goes out the door tomorrow. As I ate lunch I looked at my sketchbook for landscape inspiration and encountered the early morning sky sketch, then set about doing a pensive Sue, pushing the front of her hat up. I didn't think the snow was appropriate for Sue's world, but I poached the landscape and nailed the cloud, by the way. As for Sue, well, let's just say she's way more Yaoi than I'd ever admit:

—Old Cartoonist Saying

As for New York Sitings:
"I got a kick out of your New York stories which reminded me of the first and only time I was ever in the Big Apple. I had arrived a couple of days ahead of the rest of the cast and crew and decided to go for a walk around town with the production manager. We walked all the way up 5th Avenue to the CBS Building to check in with the producer, and on our way back to the hotel, we passed a smallish man in a suit who smiled, nodded and said, 'Hello' to us. It was only after we had continued on another few yards that my friend said to me: 'Was that who I think it was?' 'Yep,' I replied. And as we turned to take a second look, Ed Sullivan had already disappeared into the crowd."
—Steve Lodge

"If you can achieve action, you will achieve happiness."
— L. Ron Hubbard
February 28, 2007
Worked hard on finishing both my Billy the Kid classic gunfight and my editorial. Robert Ray helped me layout the Joe Grant gunfight and we culled several BTK paintings that will be in the Albuquerque Museum show (they are requesting 28 of my paintings). Our goal is to have a strong presence in their gift shop, when the thousands of people get out of the show. Should work, at least on paper. Ha.

When I was in New York I saw a ton of advertisements for the upccoming Frank Miller movie-graphic novel adaptation of 300 which opens soon. Posters were plastered on walls, vacant buildings, on cabs and buses. On Saturday at the showing of Pan's Labrynth I saw the extended trailer for the Spartan splatfest and it looks, in a word, marvelous.

Of course it isn't new at all. It's essentially a remake of the 1960s flick The 300 Spartans. Also, in the 1950s Steve Reeves starred in a series of sandal epics that touted the three Bs: big battles, big biceps and big breasts. As we walked down Park Ave. in NY and a bus came by with the movie poster for 300 blaring out at us, I laughed, because it really is a modern retelling of all those old Steve Reeves movies. And, of course, if you want to get technical, it goes all the way back to Homer doesn't it?

The story of 300 is about the battle of Thermopylae Pass where King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans stood and fought against a million Al Queda fighters, I mean, Spartan fighters, and fought to the death. Yes, we are living in strange times, but then I have a hunch that all times have been strange. Although I would have hoped that the familiarity of the cycles would be comforting, but instead it's just daunting. Stop war? Good luck.

Onion Headline de Jour
Bloodless Coup A Real Letdown

“Of every one hundred men, ten should not even be here. Eighty are nothing more than targets. Nine are real fighters. We are lucky we have them, they the battle make. Ah, but the one. One of them is a warrior, and he will bring the others back."
—Hericletus, 500BC

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

February 27, 2007 Bonus Blog
Here are two photos I forgot I had taken in New York. The first is from Friday at the New York Comic Con and is of Larry Gonick (right), Marisa Acocella Marchetto (center) and Paul Hutton. This was taken as the events describing Jackie O were unfolding in real time.

This photo (below) captures Bob Brink (left), Hutton and Tor Forge Executive Editor Bob Gleason at restuarant 103 West on Wednesday night. The waiter is bringing us all steaks and they were very good.

Bob Gleason told us many stories but my favorite was about him being just a kid in the biz back in the sixties and going to an apartment where Harold Robbins was finishing a novel. Two hookers in the bedroom and a passed out publisher in the front room, all waiting for Harold to do his magic. Robbins was the Golden Goose in those days, churning out The Carpetbaggers, The Adventurers and many other best sellers.

"I'm afraid the book biz has been reduced to a consignment business."
—Bob Gleason
February 27, 2007
Scrambling to catch up on the May issue which goes out the door on Thursday. The Top Secret Project has totally consumed my time for the past three weeks and now I need to get back in harness. Feels good. Worked on the Joe Grant vs. Billy the Kid shooting this morning. Need to do several pieces of art.

And speaking of Billy the Kid, the big Paul Hutton curated Billy show in Albuquerque is coming up in May and I got in the mail a release form for my 30-some pieces, this morning.

When I was doing the True Grit voice commentary for the DVD a couple months ago, the producer gave me copies of Hal Wallis' hand written production notes and I got to looking at them last night, and it is pretty amazing. For example, Robert Duvall got $4,500 for his work in the movie and Dennis Hopper got $1,500. Jay Sliverheels (note says, "Indian @ hanging") got $850 for a week's work. Jeremy Slate got $15,000 (triple Duvall's fee and double what Darby and Campbell got!!). Of the three big stars, John Wayne got $75K (and the note says "+%"), Glen Campbell got $6,250 as did Kim Darby.

The building of the rocks for the snake pit that Darby falls into at the end cost $400 which included the mold and cast. According to the Wallis notes, bad weather cost them $49,137 and the crew evidently consisted of "71 men—4 Sundays @ 11 hours" plus "2 regular days at 11 hours" came to $40,115, for a LOC total of $171,840, with the Hal Wallis notation next to it, "$86 under bud." Ha. Really some low numbers, but it was, after all, 1968.

Another Larry Gonick gem from New York. When he heard we were doing a graphic novel he said, "I've got three words for you: Fourteen-point-type." Ha. He's referring to the large type needed for the reading ability of the average graphic novel reader. I think he meant it as hyperbole, but it is true that comic readers prefer larger type. Most magazines are at 9 or 10 point, so 14 point is pretty large.

Plus, two elevator stories from New York. On Wednesday I was riding down the elevator at the New York Athletic Club and we stopped on one floor and a very New York style woman got on, took one look at me and remarked, "We have Canadian Mounties now?" My reply, looking straight ahead: "No ma'am, Arizona Rangers." She had no idea what I was talking about, but it made me happy.

On another descent, a haughty, patrician of a gent got on and I said, "Good morning," and he looked at me like I was complete pond scum and turned his back to me, his neck bristling with contempt all the way down. I have to say, I don't miss that "class" aspect to the Big Apple. At least when people look at me with contempt out here on the desert, I know who they are and can respond in kind, "Honey, now stop it. Kids, I know you're kidding."

Onion Headline de Jour
Motley Crue Signs Sexual-Harrassment Guarantee

"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
—Mark Twain

Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26, 2007
Good to be back in Arizona and back in the office. Yesterday, Kathy and I drove down to the Cine Capri at the 101 and Scottsdale Road to catch the 11 o'clock showing of "Pan's Labrynth." No lines, we were the only ones! Walked right up and got a ticket ($14 for two), walked inside and there were no lines for popcorn ($3.50 cash). Seven people in the theatre, got great seats. And this after all the airport lines I had to endure, not to mention the lines all over New York. And did I mention the weather? Patented 70 degrees and sunny.

Totally enjoyed the movie. In fact Kathy rated it as the best movie she has seen this year and that includes "The Departed," "Babel" and "Little Miss Sunshine." I wouldn't go that far, although it was a very imaginative flick, very intense, with Mexican and Spanish sensibilities ("put a root under your bed in a saucer of milk and your baby will survive.")

On Thursday at the New York Comic Con seminars on graphic novels, the first panel we sat in on, had an old friend of mine on it. Larry Gonick, who grew up in Phoenix (Central High), and is the creator of The Cartoon History of The Universe, among other amazing little gems, was there front and center. His mother Molly used to babysit Deena when she was little and we really liked her and invited her to our house for parties. Larry has had the incredible experience of having Jackie Kennedy Onassis as his agent. I'm not making this up. As you may know, Jackie worked for Harper's and she loved Larry's books and got him mentioned in Ann Landers newspaper column and the phones rang off the hook and the sales doubled, then quadrupled. Then a religious nut in Texas wrote Ann Landers complaining about several biblical references in the comic and Jackie had some religious expert (Tim Cahill?) write a scholarly response backing up every one of Larry's assertions and Ann printed that and the sales took off again. When I asked Larry what Jackie was really like he said, "When she talked to you she never looked over your shoulder, she looked right at you. She was gifted that way." Or, at least that's what I think Larry said, because I was looking over his shoulder at Marisa Acocella Marchetto, a famous graphic novelist who was coming our way.

Marisa created the best-selling graphic novel Cancer Victim: A True Story, about her own battle with cancer, and she is a regular cartoonist at The New Yorker. She joined us just in time to ask, "So what was Jackie O really like?" Larry regaled us with several more astonishing stories ("she was rail thin, 90 pounds of carbonite steel."). Larry also raved about my sketch book (it takes a Zonie to appreciate it because I don't think Marisa was all that impressed). He offered to take our Top Secret Project to his current agent at Harper's, and I thanked him and told him we would take him up on that when it was ready.

Other graphic novel factoids I learned at the conference: there were 2,800 titles released last year and they have surpassed comic books in sales as of this year. Graphic novels had $75 million in sales in 2001 and $330 million last year. Manga comics account for 46% of those sales and Manga also made $5.2 billion in licensing fees, last year. Yes, that's with a "b."

Yes, it's a mighty big business. In addition to the Yaoi phenom (see post below), there is an American title called "Lost Girls" (written by Alan Moore and drawn by Melinda Grebbi) which sells for $75. That's per copy. It's a graphic novel, supposedly quite erotic and it's very hard to find. Believe me, I looked.

Onion Headline de Jour
Publicist Schmoozes Wife Into Sex

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can take him to a new place where his tail gets to slapping into some outrageous shit."
—Old Cartoonist Saying
February 25, 2007
On Friday night in New York, Paul Hutton and my son Thomas Charles, who took the bus up from Philly, ate at Victor's near Times Square. It's a Cuban restaurant and I've eaten there several times (in 1982 when Kathy and I first went together to New York, and then in 1995, or so, when Allen Barra came in from New Jersey and took us there). Great food and good convseration about graphic novels, history and movies. The only mishap was a server spilled wine on my jacket. They gave me club soda and offered to pay for the dry cleaning and I guess I could have gigged them for a free meal, but I didn't. I didn't want to ruin a good time by acting like some rube from out of town.

As we finished dinner, Thomas' old girlfriend Mirium, from Guinea, dropped in after work at Bloomingdales, and we took a cab from there to go clubbing. Actually, that's too strong. Kid's go clubbing, we went to a single club—Tao, which was techno, world beat loud, and full of the beautiful people. That is, if you don't count the aging college professor and the executive editor of a certain old west magazine (heavy on the "old"). It was fun to watch though, especially the lengths young people go to in order to "hook up." It really does have a primitive tribal aspect to it, which I could never have seen when I was in it, because, well, I was too horny to see past my antlers. And speaking of antlers there were quite a few big racks on full display.

From there we took a cab (it was bitter cold, in the low twenties with a sharp wind) back to South Central Park and walked down to the Park Lane Hotel for a nightcap. My son and I had the sipping brandy and The Top Secret Writer stuck with his Amstel beer. We ended up at this cozy upstairs bar all three nights, and it was the polar opposite of the noisy Tao, although I did spot several big racks there as well.

We all went to the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday, and had to listen to the indignant Hutton ripping all the modern art, on several floors. One so-called painting really got to him and he made me come back and look at it. Consisting of three blank , white, framed canvases in a row, Hutton riffed on the ridiculousness of it: "That's obviously a framer's statement about what is important." Hutton was in rare form, affecting an English accent as he described how he would report to his students whenhe got back to UNM: "Why yes, I went clubbing at Tao and then I went back to the New York Athletic Club and slept in my tie." He was quite funny and frankly, right on about most of the art. However, he, and all of us, appreciated the Pablo Picassos, the Klimts, the Van Goghs (two, including "Starry Night") and the Toulouse la Trec.

Flew home last night arriving at Sky Harbor at 9:20, got home at 11. The Top Secret Writer was stranded in NY by high winds in Dallas. American Airlines cancelled his flight home to Albuquerque (he had to change planes in Dallas) and he had to spend the night at a Holiday Inn on Long Island. I don't think he slept in his tie.

Back To The Drawing Board
The bad news is our prototype did not generate the heat it needed. The good news, that's what a prototype is and we think we know what we need to do to make it fly. I sketched all the way home (five hour flight) and did about two
dozen sketches of scenes I want to do.

"Vision without execution is daydreaming."
—Bill Gates

Saturday, February 24, 2007

February 24, 2007
Met with a top executive at HBO yesterday at 11:30. She took us to lunch at a French restaurant off 42nd Street. They have a series on Wounded Knee coming out in May and they'd like True West coverage. We also heard about other projects, including the wrap-up on the Sopranos and the special movie being made to end Deadwood.

At two, Paul and I took a cab to the Jacob Javits Center and walked the Comic Con. As I mentioned yesterday, the grapic novel portion of the biz generates $330,000,000 a year in sales, but 46% of that market is Manga (pronounced man-guy, and it supposedly means "irresponsible drawings" in Japanese. Manga is that big-eyed drawing style that dominated the Pokemon phenom several years back. In fact, there is a theory that is what introduced or at least made it mainstream to an American audience. And, just like Toyota in the car biz, the Japanese are dominating in the comic biz as well.

The oddest and freakiest aspect of all this is a new phenom called Yaoi (pronounced Yow-ee) and when I heard of the format of this new genre that is exploding right now, I couldn't believe it. We learned about it on Thursday at the graphic novel seminars and everyone there talked about it like we all knew what the hell they were talking about. So I had to see it for myself. Paul and I found a booth that specialized in Yaoi and I talked with the publisher, an anglo woman about thirty. Here's how that conversation went:

Me: "You've got to explain this Yaoi thing to an old man. Did we hear right that the theme of all these comics is boy on boy sex and it's aimed at 13 to 15 year old girls?"

Pub: "Yes. It started about seven years ago among teenage girls who were dissatisfied with mainstream Manga and they started writing their own stories."

Me: "So these 13-year-olds want to see men on men action? I don't get that."

Pub: "Nobody on the planet is more perverted than a 13-year-old girl."

Me: "No one ever told us that when I was growing up in Kingman. Are there stories where it's boy and girl?"

Pub: "No, we tried that and they don't like it."

So I bought a Spanish Yaoi Western called Stallion and it is quite amazing. The key thing here is that the "boys" are drawn very feminine, so I can't wait to get home to talk to a certain therapist about what is going on here. But one thing is certain:

"You can't teach an old dog, new tricks."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, February 23, 2007

February 23, 2007
Bob Brink, Paul Hutton and I took a cab down to the Jacob Javits Center at ten yesterday and registered for the NY Comic Con. The first seminar on graphic novels started at one, so Paul and I went on down to Ground Zero to see where the towers once stood. Very moving, many people crying. Ate a cup of soup at O'Hara's pub that we recognized from the many documentaries. They were closed for seven months. There were several fire fighters eating lunch in there and that had an eerie effect.

The graphic novel seminars were quite instructive and it was amazing to hear the double-digit growth in this new medium. Sales of $330 million last year got our attention. More later, meeting an executive from HBO. More later

Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007
In meetings all day. Bob Brink reserved a stunning penthouse suite on the 16th floor of the New York Athletic Club with spectacular views of Central Park, the Dakota and Columbus Circle. We held court there in the morning with our book agent James Fitzgerald and a publisher with the unlikely name Brando Skyhorse (of Skyhorse Publishing fame). Mr. Skyhorse, or as I called him, "Please-Redman-No-Horsehead-In-Bed," was not interested in the graphic novel, but pitched us on repackaging my six existing outlaw and lawmen books for a broader audience. Our agent told a joke: "Did you hear about the Pollack who got into publishing to make money?" And, Brando followed with, "How do you make a fortune in publshing? Answer: Start with a larger fortune."

By the way, Bob Brink lent me a pair of his slacks which I've been wearing with some satisfaction (nobody has jumped me in the lobby, like they did the first night when I wore my Wranglers).

At lunchtime we met the head honchos at King Features Syndication in the second floor dining room. As we walked through the crowded room I noticed that many were gawking at me and I soon found out why. A waiter practically ran to our table and said snippily, "Sir, may I check your hat." He carried my custom $1,000 Optimo lid away like he was handling a dead rat. Talk about hat Nazis! Later in the day when Paul Hutton arrived we tried to get a drink in the bar and there was a sign that said, "All hats and coats must be checked at cloak room." The entire room was empty of people, except a stoic bartender at the end of the bar and I said, taking my hat off, "Can we come in for a drink and I'll put my hat in my lap?" "No sir. You may check your hat at the cloak room."

On the positive side, as Paul and I sat in the lobby and waited for Bob Brink to come down for dinner, someone tried to use a cell phone and the doorman loudly reprimanded him and forced him to put that oppressive device away. Now that I liked! As I came into the city on Tuesday night, almost every person at every intersection was walking and talking on a cell phone. To say it is an epidemic, is an understatement. So that a gentleman's club would ban these incessant gizmos, I greatly admire that.

One of the editors for King Features, Jay Kennedy, remembered my comic strip Honkytonk Sue, and said, "Do you still live on MacKenzie?" Well, I did. In 1978! What a memory. Jay wrote a very collectable book, "The Guide to Underground Comics" and somehow had remembered not only my comic book character but the street I lived on at the time. Now that's detail retention!

At six, Bob Brink, Paul Hutton and I hailed a cab and went up through Central Park to Broadway and 103rd to meet Bob Gleason, executive editor of Tor Forge Books. After drinks at Henry's, a local pub, we walked up to a restaurant called 103 West. Bob Brink and Bob Gleason hit it off because Gleason is a huge fan of Jim Brown, the hall-of-famer, and, of course, Bob Brink played football with Brown and is to this day one of his best friends. So, as Hutton joked, "You two have a book deal, and Bob Bell and I are out in the cold."

Actually, Gleason is interested in the graphic novel and we had a very good discussion about the parameters of doing business together.

We got back to the NYAC at about midnite and Paul wanted to walk down and see the General Sherman statue, across the street from the Plaza Hotel, which is being totally remodelled by the way. Stood out in the cold and admired "the man who saved this country," or, that's the distinguished professor talking.

Then we retired to the Helmsley Hotel bar for a nightcap and talked of the day's events, meetings and possibilities. One thing is crystal clear: the prototype is far from being finished and I have to use cartoon balloons whether I want to or not. One of the King editors said, "It looks like a picture book." Ouch! Just the reaction I didn't want. However, Mr. Mott (the name of one of our characters in the GN, by the way) remarked on the artwork, saying, "You can't sustain this level of art for the entire book, can you?" I took that as a complement.

Today we are headed downtown to the New York Comic Con for a day of graphic novel seminars and then dinner tonight with Allen Waxenberg, a retired editor at Hearst, at Club 21.

Before lunch yesterday I was sketching in the lobby and when Bob Brink came down I said, "Thankyou. This is a total thrill for me just to be here and meet these incredible people." Bob laughed and told me to go put my sketchbook in my room because I couldn't take it into the dining room (you can't do business or put papers out because it is considered unseemly). So I've been here less than 48 hours and I've broken three rules and I'm wearing strange pants. Really another world.

And, by the way, if you haven't already done so, go register your vote on our new poll. Do you read Western comics/graphic novels?

"Nothing is impossible. We just don't know how to do it yet."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21, 2007
After five airports, a "puff" security check, 8,000 air miles and 1,300 warnings about not leaving my baggage "unattended" I have arrived in New York. Now I need a pair of dress slacks or I can't have breakfast.

Since Carole Glenn booked my flight to Cody one way, and at the last minute ($1,650) I got flagged for being a security threat (thankyou Mohammed Atta!). Had to go to the airport on Sunday to personally pick up my ticket. When I called the toll free number for USAirways, I got some guy in India (thanks outsourcing bastards!) who, when I asked hm if there was a closer place to pick up my ticket (Sky Harbor is 40 miles from my house) he said, "You can go to Yuma."

So I spent three hours of my Sunday driving down into the Beast to pick up a damn ticket.

Flew all day Monday, with a stopover in Denver. Every flight oversold, and my connection to Cody was delayed for two hours so they could "find a crew". They found one coming in late from Durango, and we finally got airborne at eight at night. Got to Cody at 9:40 and to my mom's at ten. Thanks to Chris Randolph for picking me up at the Cody Airport!

Lou told me about my mom's condition (not good, she's not eating much, almost totally confined to hospital bed which they've put in her bedroom). Went in at 11 and woke her up. She was thrilled to see me, but kept saying, "When are you coming back?" I'm here now mom, I kept saying, but she was stuck on me coming back.

Lou woke me up at four, got back to the Cody airport at 5:40 and flew all day, arriving in New York last night at 7:20. Thanks to Bob Brink I am staying at the New York Athletic Club on South Central Park and I knew they had a rule about wearing a tie, jacket and good shoes, but when we tried to go to dinner they kicked me out for having on jeans.

More later. I'm gong to try to go to breakfast but I'm dreading this encounter:

"I'm sorry sir, no pants, no service."
—Head Dick

Monday, February 19, 2007

February 19, 2007
Still wrestling with what to do with the word balloons in the Top Secret Project. Here's some good advice I got last week:

A Carpenter's Take On Balloons
"Here's what they did with The 9/11 report: A Graphic Adaptation

"I offer this unsolicited opinion: use the balloons. The story and the art will win the day, not a tricky graphic design alternative to the tried and true balloon. Of course this is from a man who earned his undergraduate degree in literature by reading Classic Comics and whose master's thesis at the Biloxi School of Bartending was titled: Chic Young's Blondie: Cartoon tits as context within a postmodern nocturnal emissive cultural hegemony."
—Tom Carpenter

Worked on soldier scenes yesterday. Here's a Tom Horn study of him practicing roping with twine. The real Tom was a professional roper, in fact he won a very early Phoenix rodeo in 1888, so I gave him this little habit, mainly because when I was growing up, my Kingman cousins, all did this. They were always roping, even air roping. You couldn't talk to them without them making roping motions (kind of like a businessman doing his putting stroke in his office). Anyway here a study for that. Needs work, but I like his outfit:

One of the scenes in the Top Secret Project has a roomful of soldiers in a dusty and dak adobe. I worked on this effort for some time but unfortunately killed the effects. As it is, it looks more like Night of The Living Dead Troopers. Ha.

On Saturday I drove down into the Beast to attend a fund raiser for Terry Earp. She was hit by a truck while in a crosswalk on her bike. Fortunately she had her helmet on. She is recovering in Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado in Chistopher Reeves old room. The event was at the Sierra Bonita Grill, a new restauarant at Seventh Street and Glendale. Here's the official report on the money they raised:

"We had a very successful benefit tonight at Sierra Bonita for Terry and Wyatt. The place was jumping and the final total was $9826.00. Sheldon Knopp and Nate Hopper out did themselves and their staffs were just incredible. A couple of the young waiters came up after the event and gave me their tip money because the wanted to give it to Wyatt. Now that is a sweet thing. Wink and her staff were hopping and she came up with incredible auction items. They must have had 75 auction items at least. Linda Bilque it was great to see you and thanks for your donations. The lady that got the Hawaiian Spa gift was thrilled. Marshall donated books, Gary and Peg Sprague were there and bought some great items.

"Wyatt was moved so deeply by the event and the generosity. Everyone had a great time, the food was incredible, the staff at Sierra Bonita was wonderful.

"Bob Boze Bell came down and donated some great items and we thank him for coming as well. He's a hot auctioneer too. And folks if you need an auctioneer Marshall is your man, he and Bob got $700 in less than 5 minutes for a two night stay at the Phoenician. Money was flying around and yea I was the dudette counting it.

"Wyatt was at Sun Lakes this morning, with us this afternoon and then did a show at Rockin R so he will probably sleep well tonight.

"Bless each of you who gave your time, your love and your thoughts and ofcourse your money for this benefit tonight. Im still on a natural high. It feels good to help and Im sure you all know what I mean.
— Kathy, The Collins Group

I came in to the office early this morning to tweak the prototype before I leave. I'm flying to Cody today to see my mother. Then I'm flyiing all day tomorrow to make it to New York. May be spotty in here, depending on wi-fi in the multiple airports I'm going to be lounging in for the next 48 hours. Carole ticketed me on Friday and United quoted a price of $1,4650, but by the time I called to buy it, the price was $1,650. Expensive to fly at the last minute.

Onion Headline de Jour
Nation's Tall Asked To Stand Back

"My watch is three hours fast, and I can't fix it. So I'm going to move to New York."
—Steven Wright

Saturday, February 17, 2007

February 17, 2007
Last night Kathy and I had a great dinner at Cartwright's. It's a top-rated steakhouse which is right next door to the True West offices. She bought so I won't record the damage but let's just say she spent a C-note on her husband and call it a day. Ha.

Robert Ray worked late last night getting the prototype for the Top Secret Project ready for New York. We slammed and jammed all afternoon, pruning and tweaking (we added Dan Harshberger's colored backgrounds and that looks mucho groovy). Still hanging out on the word balloons but it's going to be fine for show and tell.

Train Brain Drain
My father watches your program [True West Moments on The Westerns Channel]. He's a big fan. He tells me that he wants to see a stature of Wyatt Earp that you featured in one of your programs. He says it is near Bisbee, AZ next to some train tracks. At 91 he doesn't get all the details correct sometimes. We traveled to Bizbee today and were not able to locate it even after asking the local tourist info centers. Can you give me some idea of its location? Seeing that stature would mean a whole lot to him. Thanks so much.”
—Congressman Bill Redmond, New Mexico

I am so sorry. The statue is at the Tucson train station. When we recorded this bit, the train museum in Tucson didn't want their name on the piece (their “historian” claimed the script was too sensational and not accurate). This was after we had filmed the bit and were getting ready to go to Tombstone to film. We were running late so we couldn't refilm, and because they were being so stupid about the script we felt oblidged to take the plug for their museum off the piece (I know, this is so stupid I still can't believe it). So, consequently, at the beginning of the True West Moment I say, "The train from Benson glided along these tracks. . ." I got a call from the Benson Chamber of Commerce last summer and the guy said, "What did you say on the Westerns Channel? We just had the fourth tourist today coming in looking for a statue of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday."

The Tucson Train station of course is right down town and well marked. When you go be sure to tell the museum how sorry you are that everyone is going everywhere but to their musuem. Ha.

I got word this morning that my mother is very sick and I may need to fly to Cody tomorrow. She got the flu a couple weeks ago, it didn't get better and she went into the hospital and still didn't improve. Hospice is coming into her home on Monday and I'm afraid if I wait until after the New York trip it may be too late. She's 85.

Onion Headline de Jour
Bush Determined To Find Warehouse Where Ark Of Covenant Is Stored

"The best leaders create an atmosphere of mutual respect while setting out goals that fill up the days with striving rather than conspiring."
—Dale Dauten

Friday, February 16, 2007

February 16, 2007
I just got off the phone with The Top Secret Writer. He is driving to Colorado to pick up his kids. He got the pdf prototype last night and raved about the images, but we're still at an impasse with the cartoon ballons. Meanwhile, Will Shetterly sent me a link to the V For Vendetta site and I took a look at the way they handled the baloons. Intriguing, but we still need something that works for our hybrid.

We are now going to strip down the prototype into more of a movie trailer and play the tease for all its worth:

Big voice: "Two slim whirlwinds with issues, fight to the death, before retiring to casino life on the res."

Last night I practiced my best Fred Remington style, aping several character types by the Western master. Here they are:

The trick will be to take this style and apply it to our characters in the Top Secret Story, so that Remington will be illustrating characters and scenes from our story. Then I need to marry those sketches with a funky, aged texture, so that it looks like a page out of Remington's sketchbook a la 1888. Very ambitious, but I'm not aware of anyone ever doing this in a story. Usually it's a writer (think Viva Villa and Lawrence of Arabia), but since this is a graphic novel, how fitting that an artist is our conduit in the story. And we see his art. And if I do it right, some readers will wonder, "Is that really Remington's sketches? Did he really sketch Tom Horn and Al Sieber?" Of course he didn't, but he was there at the same time as they were. Unfotrunately he didn't have the ability to see who would become famous a century later. This isn't just Fred's problem. Ha.

On Wednesday I bought long-stemmed roses for all the women in our office (8), then went back to Bashas' and bought a dozen roses for Kathy. Tonight we're going to dinner at Cartwright's, next door, for a post-valentine's day treat (she's buying).

Onion Headline de Jour
Upper-Middle-Class Man Vows To Never Forget Middle-Class Roots

"To be elated at success and disappointed at failure is to be the child of circumstances: how can such a person be called master of himself?"
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 15, 2007
Finally cleared out weather wise. We had more rain yesterday, but it's bright and sunny now (3:22 p.m.). Bob Brink, Joel Klasky and I met the Brown's for lunch today at Tonto Bar & Grill. We talked at length about the future of Festival of The West and our involvement with them. Mary and Jim have been at it for 17 years. Amazing. I will present Mary the festival of the year award in March for all her hard work putting on the festival.

Went home after lunch and finished three images for The Top Secret Project. The first is a dry-lake sequence, where a certain lanky whirlwind meets a strange procession coming the other way on a big, dry lake. Great opportunity to do dust and lots of it. Still wrestling with how it will look after a herd of cattle go by, churning up the lake bed into a massive dust bowl. Quite challenging because it should look quite surreal, and yet you need to be able to determine who is who. Not easy, but oh, the pictures in my mind! They are perfect! Too bad I'm not. Ha.

And here's two scenes of the San Carlos sequence. Having more fun with dust and getting it down.

Working hard to upload the prototype to the Top Secret Writer. We're still arguing about whether we will use cartoon balloons or not. Unfortunately, most identify balloons with graphic novels and to leave them out flirts with the reaction, "Oh, this is just a book with pictures," which would not be a good thing. There are exceptions. Frank Miller's epic GN 300 (which is coming out as a movie soon) has no captions, although he utilizes comic book lettering for narration. Meghan bailed into our narrative this morning and had several suggestions.

Onion Headline de Jour
Man, The Terrorists Win At Everything

"You will never 'find' time for anything. If you want time you must make it."
—Charles Buxton

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 14, 2007
Finished three San Carlos scenes for the Top Secret Project yesterday. I had to smile when I illustrated the Triplets in the background of the scene below, which illustrates a certain rider cruising through a stand of wickiups. The Triplets are those three peaks in the background, and are prominent reference points on the San Carlos Res. i smiled because I know that Dale Miles and the locals will enjoy the attention to detail. The second scene shows our rider descending into the Gila River bottom with long rows of military tents in the background. This is based on a photo taken in the 1880s, when the area was known as "Hell's Half Acre."

And here's another scene of the same rider approaching San Carlos headquarters (it was never a fort). It really was a motley post in those days and much dreaded by soldiers. That's Mount Turnbull in the background. This was executed from reference photos I took last summer when the Top Secret Writer and I drove down there to see for ourself what all the hub-bub was about.

I'm still hanging out on about a half-dozen scenes. Robert Ray and I attacked the whole document with much vigor yesterday but it is a long way from being done. May have to postpone the printing (should go to Jiffy Printing tomorrow, if I have a prayer of carrying the prototype to New York with me next Tuesday). It can't go until it's ready. And we've spent too much time working on this to just rush it out.

Onion Headline de Jour
Vatican Tightens Nocturnal Emissions Standards

"Every choice carries a consequence. For better or worse, each choice is the unavoidable consequence of its predecessor. There are not exceptions. If you can accept that a bad choice carries the seed of its own punishment, why not accept the fact that a good choice yields desirable fruit?"
—Gary Ryan Blair

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13, 2007
Robert Ray came in and fixed the server problem this morning. For some reason, both Meghan's and my computer reverted to an old server number and refused us access. Shades of Hal from 2001, which by the way, seems so antiquated now. I remember being in a theater in Tucson (1968?) watching the Stanley Kubrick futuristic flic and reflecting on how strange and unimaginable that date seemed from that time and place. It's also ironic that it's the year of 9•11, so the bottom line is none of our most inspired imaginings can fathom the actual ridiculous future (see quote below).

During my outhouse push several weeks ago, I did this one, forgot about it (and didn't send it to Jeff at the Westerns Channel!). It's a pretty good example of outhouses being constructed right over a creek. Oh, imagine the environmental impact statement on that puppy!

Here's two more fire studies for the Top Secret Project. Sweet cliff effects on the top one. After the fire, our lone scout rides "the black." Did several versions of this (see directly below). May use them all. Very sooty. Like the early morning effects.

Frederick Sackrider Remington came out to San Carlos in 1888 and sketched the natives over the shoulder of soldiers. Here the Yale Cowboy is, sketching over the shoulder of Tom Horn. And yes, that's Beauty, the Apache maiden who figures so prominently in our story. This is a scratchboard and I tried to capture Remington's style of rendering. Check out the forged signature at bottom, left.

Meghan, Robert Ray and I had a pow-wow this morning to finish the prototype. Dan Harsbherber did a pass at layout and style yesterday and we are going to incorporate some of his slick tricks (wonderful cactus drop caps). I'm going back out to my studio to finish the last five images, and then we are going to lock it down this afternoon, send a pdf file to the Top Secret Writer for his approval. We go to New York a week from today.

And speaking of which, I just got word that Stephen Colbert is going to be at the Comic Con we are attending.

We have a new poll up. Check it out right here and go cast your vote:

Where do you often purchase items when you "collect the West?"

a. Auction Houses
b. eBay
c. Other online auction site
d. Craigslist
e. Antique/Collectible stores
f. Antique Shows
g. Friends

Onion Headline de Jour
No One Admits To Fart Joke

"The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future."
—Frank Herbert

Monday, February 12, 2007

February 12, 2007
Big time in Wickenburg on Saturday. Dan and Darlene Harshberger met Kathy and I at the Carefree Highway and we drove together the 45 miles to Wickenburg. Got to the head of the parade at 8:30. Met Joel and his brother Ed, Trish and Sam. I stood in the back of Dan's '55 and we cruised down the parade route. Joel and Trish walked in front with our big True West banner, while Kathy, Darlene, Sam and Ed ran along the sides and handed out 1,000 magazines. Crowds were great. Lots of cheering and waving. "Wavers get a free mag!" I yelled which almost always got a big reaction.

I worked the rest of the weekend on The Top Secret Project. Finished about five paintings. Brought them in this morning to scan, but having problem with the server, or I'd show them to you. Will try to get them up tomorrow.

Unexpected rain yesteray afternoon. A female rain, actually. Gentle and consistent with nagging thunder. Very nice although I lost about ten photos I forgot which were out on the patio. I drank coffee out there in the morning. Laid out the reference photos then went inside to work. Forgot all about them until it was too late.

Onion Headline de Jour
Report: Our High Schools May Not Adequately Prepare Dropouts For Unemployment

"Turn loose, give up, you'll never learn how."
—The late Rod Goebel, a Taos artist who taught how to let go

Friday, February 09, 2007

February 9, 2007
Still not quite over the cold but I'm feeling better. Got up this morning and hit it running, finishing off several set pieces for the Top Secret Project. Set piece is slightly misleading. In some cases I'm using studies which, believe it or not, was inspired by Bob Dylan, who, has often used click tracks, or rhythm tracks in his finished album mix because he felt they had a certain honesty that the polished tracks did not have. I have always remembered that and so when it came time to scan some of the narrative images for the Top Secret Project I have thrown in several little studies, that in some ways are "more honest" than the big board serious stuff. Here are two examples from the dry-lake-fire sequence in the prototype. Both are small, approximately 6"X7" but there is a definite dramatic mood in them that's missing from some of my big efforts (which I'll show you tomorrow):

Cogent Advice And Timely Too
"BBB, if you're doing an upcoming Billy the Kid issue how about a Classic Gunfight with the Kid vs. Joe Grant? You're a Daisy if you do."
—Mark Kilburn, TW Maniac 235, SASS 11889

That's exactly what I did Mark so thankyou very much. And yes, Fred Nolan, I used your annotated "Authentic Life of Billy the Kid" as my guide, and yes, you'll get credit and a plug in the piece.

Buckeye Blake is in town and wants to meet at El Encanto for lunch. Tonight is Wonderful Russ's birthday and Kathy and I are meeting him and Wendy for dinner tonight.

Big parade tomorrow in Wickenburg. Dan Harshberger is driving his classic Ford pickup over and I'll stand in the back, while Joel Klasky, Kathy, Darlene Harshberger, Samantha and Trish hand out True West magazines. Looking forward to it. They really know how to throw a shindig in Wickenburg at their Gold Rush Days.

"Onion Headline de Jour
New Dad Thinks Baby Might Be Gay

"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."
—Joel Arthur Barker

Thursday, February 08, 2007

February 8, 2007
Feel better today. Slept good, although I did wake up with fever sweat. In spite of my gloomy, under-the-weath attitude Robert Ray and I managed to finally get some images in the 16-page prototype for The Top Secret Project yesterday afternoon. That felt very good. Massaged in six pages of images. As soon as I do this, a metamorphasis starts to take place. What had been planned for three pages, now looks better at two when I can view it in the layout. And all the prep sketches and roughs in the world can't do that, at least for me. Certain things edit themselves, and other avenues open up that I didn't realize were there.

We're still wrestling with how to handle flashbacks, or jumps in the story, but at least we're in the water. Ha. That's a fitting metaphor, because I often walk around our pool, putting my toe in the water and putting off getting in because it's too cold, then finally when I get in—I don't want to get out! Poor starter, bad finisher, great splasher!

When Kathy and I visited Charlie and Linda Waters in Vegas last November, I stole a Vegas magazine out of their guest house. It had a fashion shoot out on a dry lake somewhere north of Las Vegas, and the dramatic clouds and cracked lake bed were perfect reference for a set piece I wanted to do in the Top Secret Project. Finally, here's a study, pilfered from the pilfered magazine:

Now all it needs is five Indian riders, way off in the distance, traversing the lakebed from left to right and kicking up dust from the late afternoon light.

Our newsstand consultant, Harvey Wasserman, came out yesterday and wanted to know what we did last October to drive sales so dramatically on the newsstand (sales were up 15%). That was our Val Kilmer and Kurt Russel cover, which featured the 125th Anniversary of the O.K. Corral fight and we also had the bombshell about Kurt Russel claiming he directed the film instead of Cosmotos. Although I told Harvey we would be hard pressed to duplicate that serendipity again, he insisted we would be fools not to try and replicate it. We are considering two options: YouTube at The O.K. Corral (the new phenom of Tombstone and Western videos cut to different songs) and Wyatt Earp at the Movies (there's a new book by Michael Blake on all the Wyatt Earp movies). Hell, we may do both.

Harvey also weighed in on our Royal Wade Kimes cover (going out to subscribers next week) and said emphatically "it's not True West. It looks like a truck magazine." He shook his head and predicted doom and gloom on sales. We shall soon see. We knew it was a gamble when we did it and that it was out of our comfort zone for covers, but we really wanted to reach, and sometimes a reach, is, well, a reach. Ha.

If you want to see the video podcast of my interview with Terry Ike Clanton, here's that link:

Onion Headline de Jour
Doctor Unable To Hide His Excitement From Patient With Ultra-Rare Disease

"Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads."
—Erica Jong

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

February 7, 2007
I had a crappy night last night. Clammy, headache, didn't take Nyquil (which was a mistake). I thought I was turning the corner but still got the head cold. Bad dreams. The Top Secret Project is a mess. I have nothing. I'm a loser. Nothing new. Ha.

Last night I was interviewed on Terry Ike Clanton's podcast: it was a "Live" Old West Video Webcast (7PM pst) from and the Haunted Saloon. Ike Clanton and Bruce "The Bartender" interviewed me. We had fun. Terry's a good guy. Always has some new angle to promote. Evidently podcasting is getting huge. I'm not quite hip to that scene, but I've read about a history teacher, named Lars Brownworth, who has a hit on the Byzantine Empire, of all things. It has become a phenom with 140,000 listeners. Amazing. How many avenues of media are we going to be able to actually use? Evidently, more than I ever dreamed of using. I'm still trying to learn how to take a picture with my phone.

You can check out Terry Ike's deal at

We're working hard on a big Billy the Kid issue in conjunction with the Albuquerque Museum (May 12th opening). Paul Hutton is curating a big show on the Kid and he wrote us a smashing cover story. Dan already executed the cover and it's in the can. Need to come up with new cover heads. Meeting with our newsstand consultant at ten.

Robert Ray and I are going to start laying out the prototype today. I don't know if it's the cold or my attitude, or both, but I don't feel very confident at this time.

Onioin Headline de Jour
Immune-Deficient Realtor Forced To Spend Entire Life In Housing Bubble

"If you don't learn from your mistakes, there's no sense making them."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

February 6, 2007
I have a head cold. I think I got it a couple weeks ago, fought it off, but it came back after the art show last Saturday out in Fountain Hills. It was for the Artistas Vaqueros group of which I'm a member and I had a grand time, talking with all the artists, especially Carlos Hadaway, who goes by the nickname "The Arizona Kid." I met a ton of people and perhaps one of those handshakes did me in. Stuffy head, tickly throat, headache, etc.

I saw a rare sight on yesterday's bike ride, a bobcat. He walked right across the road just below our house. He was about 100 yards out, but he was a muscular little fellow. I wouldn't want my dogs to tangle with that little bad boy. Later, he waltzed right across the front yard and around by the chicken house.

Speaking of the chickens, got two eggs today. I've been making up their damn little straw beds every night so J.D. won't gig me. Of course they kick it all out on the floor of the chicken condo, then poop all over the brooder. If that isn't a metaphor for having teenagers, I don't know what is.

Robert Ray called me on Saturday and told me he thought the cover was fine (Banta Fed-exed a sample cover to his house). So they went back on press in Kansas City.

Had a staff meeting this morning and played a little contest. Carole printed out all of the employees who have worked here for the past seven years (there have been 85, including Deena Bell, who sold ads briefly back in 2000) and I told the staff that the person who identifies the most ex-employees (what did they do at True West), will get a prize. Second prize will be a free lunch with me. Of course everyone asked what the first prize was, and I said, "Lunch without me." They all laughed and we bailed in. Some of the names were quite obtuse, like Atilla, which is the actual given name of one of our printers. I'm not making this up, his name is Atilla, as in the Hun. Actually a nice guy who gave us credit when no one else would. Of course, everyone got Mike Melrose (Sales Manager!), and some suprised me, like Betty Huff (only Robert Ray remembered her as Marcus Huff's wife and she worked in shipping and other capacities). Other names that stumped almost everyone were, Jay Steiner (regional sales guy), Mare Rosenbaum (editor), but Abby actually got Patty Talahongva (a Native American writer and editor). One former employee's name elicited this response: "Convicted felon!"

Robert Ray got second place and Abby Pearson gets to take a friend to lunch.

Onion Headline de Jour
How Could I Get My Wife's Funeral So Wrong?

"I always wanted a brain, so I finally married one."
—The Arizona Kid (Carlos Hadaway)

Monday, February 05, 2007

February 5, 2007
Finally, some great weather! Sunny, high about eighty, both yesterday and today. Went for a long walk with Kathy and the dogs.

Worked hard on finishing set pieces for the Top Secret Project Prototype. Got another three pages done. Slow going.

I got this word from Mark Boardman, quoting a Jesse James site about the postponed Brad Pitt film. Here it is:

"Here are some comments by some show biz insiders who have seen previews of THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD: Holy S**t. It's so close to being a full-fledged masterpiece, it literally had me sitting there, saying things like 'Where the hell has Casey Affleck been?' He's a LOCK for some sort of major acting nod. Be it Globe, Oscar, something. Nobody comes out of this movie without viewing that guy in whole other light. Mindblowing. I'm not bullshi*ting you guys. He's that good. And Brad Pitt has never been better in a film. He too, should be lauded for what he accomplishes with that role. The guy projects a menace I've never seen and goes very, VERY deep.

"There are moments of still and utter silence between characters as tense and awkward and terrifying as anything you've ever seen. Andrew's ability to just allow a scene to develop gradually and let the audience watch and observe without the need for rampant schisms of rocket propelled editorial breaks is the mark of a true master.

"We throw words around like 'brilliant' and attach greatness to things that in the end don't really deserve that level of praise...This one DOES. I'm hoping Warner Brothers understands what this film can be and allows Andrew's cut to see the light of day. At nearly three hours it's something of such sublime, elegiac beauty and vicious intent, that I don't think we'll see a film like it for a long time to come.

"I went to a test screening of this film in Pasadena a few months ago ...Affleck is amazing in this film and Pitt keeps getting better with age. Sam Rockwell and Mary-Louise Parker are also great in the film.

"Very little dialogue is spoken by Pitt and when the violence is unleashed, it is brutal and real. I think the cut we saw was easily three hours.

"Shades of Terrence Malick, Sergio Leone, John Ford, Peckinpah. I was wondering what happened to this film. Glad to see Dominik is still toiling away on it. A close cousin to this film, in my opinion, is Unforgiven. Hopefully Warners will give this film the same treatment they gave Eastwood's.

"Also, the cinematography in this film is sublime and striking. Roger Deakins is one of my favorite DPs working today and his work on this film ranks with the work he did on O Brother, Where Art Thou. Actually the look of both films is very similar. Breathtaking cinematography.

"Brad Pitt has come a long way from the stoner in True Romance, (although that scene was great). Pitt has definitely proved himself to be a great actor and im glad this movie does that title even more justice.

"Three hours is an impressive runtime, I'd love to see everything Dominik wants us to, cuts can be a b*tch.
Wow. I really hope we get to see the same cut of this...Hopefully it wont be sliced and diced when it comes time to release it theatrically."
—Eric James

Onion Headline de Jour
Bashful Terrorists Won't Take Credit For Attack

"Don't f*** too much. Your paintings will be all the more spermatic."
—Vicent van Gogh

Friday, February 02, 2007

February 2, 2007
Another bitterly cold morning here in sunny Arizona. Frost everywhere. I imagine the Snowbirds are geting irritated. $400 a night hotel rooms and it's as cold as Duluth (at noon).

We got a call from Bart at Banta at eleven this morning. The Royal Wade Kimes cover is running on press and he thinks it's too blue, so he stopped the presses and called us (now that's a good rep!). Robert Ray pulled up the cover color numbers and we conference called Dan Harshberger to decide what to do. Banta is overnighting an example and Robert will decide this weekend if it's too blue or let it run. Robert showed me the threshold of color and we determined what is too blue and what is tolerable. The cover has a retro, sepia, or bleached out, tan photo effect and too much blue will kill the effect. Not sure how it happened, but Robert thinks it might be print gain. Nice to have qualified help.

Buckled down at six this morning and consolodated the text fot the Top Secret Project prototype. Emailed it to the Top Secret Writer and am waiting for his feedback. We have a deadline for Feb. 10. We're going to New York in three weeks to meet with our book agent and several publishers.

Speaking of which, Bob Brink set up a big pow wow with one of the Hearst affiliates, and he asked me to move up my trip by one day to make time for a lunch meeting with the head honchos. Rather exciting. Now we really need that prototype done! Of course, I complain but at the same time thrive on this kind of pressure.

I went home for lunch and while I ate an apple, I whipped out some more cover ideas for Paul Cool's Salt War book. He said he liked one of the front-on images from yesteray's sketches so I got the inspiration to build on that. Although the actual "war," or fight, took place in San Elizario, the salt flats they were fighting over are many miles north, near Cornudas. I just was out there last February, driving the back way from Van Horn, Texas, after attending the Alpine Texas Cowboy Auction at Sul Ross University. The Salt Flats aren't as dramatic as you might imagine (not like the Bonneville Salt Flats for example). So I gravitated to a cover image that would feature a lone guard standing in, or on, the salt flats, or running through them, defending them. And from there, I envisioned a desert disolving into a salty heatwave, and what if the lone guard had a reflection? And what if the reflection was the polar opposite: hispanic on top, anglo on the reflection? Or, the other way around? That could be cool. Need to add some oxen in the background as the natives had pulled salt out of there for hundreds of years, and then some Texans came in and you can phone in the rest of the story. Ha.

Onion Headline de Jour
Oprah Stuns Audience With Free Man Giveaway

"Only a life lived for others is worth living."
—Albert Einstein

Thursday, February 01, 2007

February 1, 2007 Bonus, Bonus Blog
This morning I got this Email forwarded to me and I thought you might enjoy the answer:

“I enjoy Bob Boze Bell's 'True West Moments' on Encore Westerns, but I have a question. Does it strike you as odd in the one regarding a Tombstone, AZ policeman singlehandedly disarming three gunfighters, then Mr. Bell saying 'Sometimes history isn't fair, is it?' - he doesn't even mentioning the policeman's name? Granted, on his artwork shown in the piece, the name of policeman (Jim Flynn) is shown on the screen for maybe three or four seconds, but that's hardly a way to make history more fair, is it?

“Since that piece is already completed and running on the air, there's probably nothing that can be done about it at this point. I just wanted to point out to you that Mr. Bell is perpetuating the unfair situation. Since I'm a former TV director, I was trained to see everything on the screen, but the vast majority of viewers were not trained that way. I'm sure the majority of Encore Westerns' audience still does not know that policeman's name!”
—Ed Ryba, Hollywood, CA

Well, Ed, you caught us in a flub. When we filmed this piece in Tombstone in November 2005 we didn't have a teleprompter and I was reeling it off from memory. And in so doing I called him John Flynn. When we got back to civilization I realized my mistake and called the producer Jeff Hildebrandt at the Westerns Channel and told him the gaff, and he edited out me saying the wrong name on camera and we hoped most would read his name on the screen. It figures a director would catch the oversight. Ha.

Are you a subscriber to True West and what have you directed that I may have seen?
February 1, 2007
As promised, here's two more pages of sketches for Paul Cool's new book. These are all on the theme, or point of view, of the hispanics who attacked the main Texas Ranger position at San Elizario. They actually launched "a rocket" (this is 1870s), thus the streak in the sky. I have more coming from the Texas Ranger's position, but, as you know, I enjoy illustrating the muy grande, muy guapo sombreros:

February 1, 2007
Still cloudy and rainy looking but no precipitation as of two P.M.

Started working on scenes for Paul Cool's new book on the El Paso Salt Wars. Here's my first rough sketch, done last night at the kitchen table. I did more this morning and will publish those this afternoon:

News From The Front Lines
"Joseph Lobrillo called and subscribed for 2 years. He met you at the Tombstone 125th and loves True West magazine. He is a reenactor."
—Carole Compton Glenn

The Best of 3,000
We are closing in on the end of our sketchbook tour. Here is a sneak peek at my hand-drawn schematic for the 16-page prototype of the Top Secret Project (below, left). Every scene and plot point it here (assuming you can see it). On the right are several takes on a rico carriage bouncing across a dry lake, which will appear on page five or six of the prototype:

And finally, here's the page after my 3,000th sketch, which brings us to the end of the line for this batch. But be forewarned I am well on my way to 4,000 and won't rest until I hit 10,000 (the magic number that my cartoonist friend Dave Sims pegs as: "Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in him." We shall see.)

Onion Headline de Jour
Iraq Declares Partial Law

"When a writer uses his secret wounds as his starting point, he is, whether he is aware of it or not, putting great faith in humanity."
—Orphan Pamuk
February 1, 2007
Remember the Westerns Channel promo for the "Magnificent Seven" I was raving about? Well, we had it up for a month until The Suits from a certain channel discovered it was up there and demanded it be taken down. Can't blame them. Who wants tons and tons of free publicity?