Friday, August 31, 2007

August 31, 2007 Bonus Blog
Did another interview this afternoon, this one with the Washington Post. The interviewer talked to me about the new Brad Pitt Jesse James movie. Story will run this Sunday or next.

Robert Ray and I worked all day finishing the opening scene for Mickey Free. When I mentioned yesterday that Robert thought my best work was in black and white back in the eighties, here is what he was referring to:

This was a page for a Honkytonk Sue opus, "The Man Canyon" that I never finished. This is why I'm so nervous about finishing this project. By the way, thanks for all the emails of support. I do appreciate it.

There are too many styles going at once, and a couple gaps in the narration (where I resorted to Paul Hutton's prose to carry the pages), but I think you'll get an idea of where we're going. Remember, it's a work in progress. So, without further ado, the first dozen pages of the graphic novel are roughed in and ready to look at:

You can check it out at:

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
State Of Minnesota Too Polite To Ask For Federal Funding

—proposed tourist slogan for the city of Yuma, by me ("Low Blows", 1983)
August 31, 2007
Yesterday I was influenced by a comment Robert Ray said. I told him about my dilemma of wash vs. scratchboard vs. black and white. He, Robert Ray, said he thinks my early pen and inks (as in 1975-85) still stand and are stronger than anything else I've done. Okay, so I took a crack at the opening sequence of the Mickey Free graphic novel, utilizing a black and white approach. Here it is.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

August 30, 2007 Bonus Blog
Since my therapist is back in town I have been complaining to her that I can't seem to wrap up the Top Secret Project (a goal I had made to accomplish in the 10 weeks she was gone). She stunned me by saying, "Maybe you aren't a graphic novelist." She pointed out how, in her opinion, Garrison Keillor is an excellent monologue-ist, but a so-so writer of novels, and that Bob Dylan is a great song writer, but not a very good writer, or movie director, or actor. "Have you considered pulling the plug on the whole project?" she asked me. The very idea was both devastating and intriguing ((I'm tired of the pressure and the grind, I've had enough) She encouraged me to give it one more day and if it doesn't fall into place, let it go. I decided I would write in here a full confession on how I had failed. I went for a bike ride and felt invigorated. I can do that! I'm a failure! This is something I'm really good at!

I came into work and talked to Trish and Robert Ray and they both were supportive. So we started working on the layouts and since I didn't have anything to lose, it started happening. The logjam, which seemed so frozen, started to move and the ideas came and my drawing got stronger and stronger. Amazing. Admiting to myself that I had failed, allowed me to move forward.

And, of course, once I started to move and groove, I couldn't shut if off. Here is my daytimer. I had a long phone conversation with photographer Jay Dusard and as we chatted my hand was just flying. Check it out:

Got a phone call before lunch from Henry Beck. He said, "Do you want to be famous?" I didn't answer, because I know myself well enough to know that if I was famous I would be a good candidate to end up like Owen Wilson. Ha. Poor guy. Too high on the Bi-jahn list. So, even though I didn't answer, he laughed (and probably assumed I do want to be famous) and warned me I was going to get a call from The New York Post, regarding the new movie 3:10 To Yuma. Sarah called at one and we talked for about fifteen minutes about why I think Westerns are making a comback—why now? Ha. I've been answering these same questions for eight years. Whenever a new Western comes out, reporters want to know why? What's wrong? How did this happen? The piece will run this Sunday.

"The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall."
—Vince Lombardi
August 30, 2007
Several have commented about my posting the hat photos on the blog (the Huasso with the "sissie string" being the most prominent). Here's a good example:

"First let me say it takes guts to wear a hat and wearing one you think makes you look silly, in front of your constiuency is just plain brave. I'm suggesting that a more somber countenance (and softer lighting) would have made you look better, even in the geometric number."
—Larry Murphy

My favorite comment was the one that said the Huasso made me look like a cross between Little Red Riding Hood and Wyatt Earp. Ha.

Here's the happy ending to the story. Kathy went to Home Depot last weekend and found these hat hooks and we put them up around our bedroom, and put all the hats she bought on them (plus I included a couple of my prized hats from the studio), creating a veritable hat museum. Here is a panorama photo of the view I wake up to every morning:

"You can often judge a man by the hats he doesn't wear."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August 29, 2007 Bonus Blog
One of the things I realized while staying in Antigua, Guatemala is that I love towns that have ducked progress. Whether by economic disaster or natural disaster, towns that have been "cocooned" make me so very happy. This would be towns like Lincoln, New Mexico, or, Guthrie, Oklahoma, or, Bisbee, Arizona and Jerome. These towns all had success pass them by. They missed high rise glass office buildings and urban renewal and most of the trendy phases of development that have plasticized and homogonized almost every community in North America.

In the case of Antigua, the ancient town suffered so many earthquakes, volcanic eruptions (the town sits between three and one is active!) and mudslides, that one of the governors finally had enough and said they were moving the capital 45 miles east and that everyone had to leave the town. This was in, I believe 1733, or so. Of course, as people are prone to do, some didn't want to leave, and although the officials came and stripped all of the many churches and government buildings of paintings and ornate stuff, they left the buildings. So, today, there it sits, like a time capsule from the prime of Spanish Colonial rule. There's more: in the case of Antigua, it was basically revived by an American woman named Elizabeth Bell (no relation) who moved to Antigua when her father, a promotions man for Sunset magazine, found the town in the late 1960s and moved his family and his young daughter, Elizabeth, to the cocooned town. Her story tomorrow.

Meanwhile, like many Western bergs, my hometown suffers from the opposite problem. What hasn't been gutted has been abandoned. Here is a photo of downtown Kingman in the 1930s or 40s. We're looking east on Front Street, later Andy Devine. At left, is Desert Drugs, where I bought all my issues of True West magazine. The building was torn down several years ago and is a vacant lot. Think of the comparison: one town has buildings dating back to the 1600s and even the ruins are still standing, and the other town can't even save buildings from the 1930s. I often joke that in Arizona if you see a building that's from 1951, people go Ga-Ga: "That's incredible! How did we miss that one!?"

August 29, 2007 Bonus Blog
Samantha Somers and Dan Harshberger have teamed up to come up with a new coffee mug design. It's pretty cool and utilizes all of my Billy the Kid portrait efforts. The O.J. Billy (top row, second from left) is probably what prompted the comment at the recent Billy the Kid show in Albuquerque: "Bob Boze Bell is a tad over the top."

Speaking of The Billy the Kid Show. . .

“Thanks for printing all the potshots at me on your blog. Of course, I remember Glenn Ford very well as do most intelligent film buffs of any age. He was a fine second-tier star and the original 3:10 was one of his better and more charming western performances (although Van Heflin is, as always, better). No modern actor (outside of a hard-working character actor) will ever make as many films as Ford and other employable actors from the 40s and 50s made, because there are not nearly as many titles released every year now as then. Russell Crowe is presently a bigger star than Ford ever was at any time in his long career (like it or not). Anyone under forty who is not a film buff will not know Glenn Ford (and his mother would barely recognize him from that awful photo you are using). I thought you were in the business of selling magazines! That cover will not attract attention on a crowded sales rack. I will await the sales figures on that issue to see just who eats crowe.”
—Paul Hutton

“For all the Ford dissenters: Humor us old fogies! And if they do a remake of, say, Man Who Shot Liberty Valance!, humor us again and put Jimmy up front as well!”
—Sharon Tally

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Report: Some Sort Of Primary Just Happened
August 29, 2007
One of the things I learned from Nora Henn, of Lincoln, New Mexico, is to let the reader in on the gag. When I came out with my first Billy the Kid book in 1992, she was quite blunt in her accessment: "You can't run photos and drawings and try to pass them off as real. It's not fair to the reader, especially if they're interested in history." I took that criticism to heart and have since given plenty of clues and evidence of when I'm "monkeying with the deadwood," as Wyatt Earp would put it.

Case in point: in our forthcoming graphic novel on Mickey Free, the narrator is none other than Frederic Sackrider Remington and I have executed quite a few scenes in his style to give the illusion that he is narrating (and illustrating) our story. So when it came time to put in his familiar signature, Nora Henn's words were ringing in my big ears. So I came up with this:

Probably some will still not get it and think I'm trying to pass off my illustrations as his, but I think Freddy would get a kick out of it. Ha.

Buck Bucks Ford Trend
“Not that anyone asked me, but Paul Hutton is right & the recollectionists are wrong, unless you are running a nostaglia magazine, and I'd rather you not answer that question.

“Glen Ford was a fine actor, though not well remembered today. In his invaluable, how-can-anyone-live-without-it NEW BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF FILM, David Thompson says: ‘Ford is generally likable on-screen and has managed to make genial, relaxed sincerity interesting. Such ease has often directed him toward Westerns, to comedies, and to romantic dramas. To all these genres he has brought care, authenticity, and intelligence.’

“Thomson singled out three movies -- none a Western -- as Ford's best, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) and a pair by Fritz Lang, HUMAN DESIRE (1954) and THE BIG HEAT (1953). The last-mentioned lit up TCM a few weeks ago. Joining Ford in the noir merriment were the turbulent Gloria Grahame and the granite-faced, coffee-pot throwing Lee Marvin.

“Russell Crowe on the other hand is a fine actor, widely known, and the star of the about-to-be-released remake of 3:10 TO YUMA, which should be cause for whooping and hollering, not to mention a TW cover. “
—Dan Buck

Bowery Boze?
I just have to weigh in on those great hat photos. (1) Not a good match. Makes you look like a character from Peruvian version of "The Bowery Boys." (2) Annoying cross between Wyatt Earp and Little Red Riding Hood. (3) Water-soaked Indiana Jones (4) Now thats closer to YOU. Add about 3 inches of brim and a little droop and-- whoomp, there it is!
—Steve Sanders

The Top Ten Reasons I Procrastinate

Hugh O'Brian Update
While I was in Nicaragua, my new friend, and legendary Wyatt Earp actor, Hugh O'Brian called and asked Carole Glenn if she could remember why he called. She said she couldn't so he said "Goodbye." Hugh is 82.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
I Must Regretfully Decline Your Invitation To Appear In Court On July 28

"Shoot straight, stab upwards."
—Saying on back of niteclub bouncer T-shirt

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 28, 2007
Working on a variety of things. Got a half-decent sunset effect going the other night:

Hutton Steps In It
"Regarding Paul Hutton's comment (blog 8/24) "...a movie star nobody remembers"...??? Paul must be 10 years old, does not go to the movies, does not watch old movies on TV, or he lives in a cave.

"Glenn Ford is much more of a movie star than is Russell Crowe. Glenn Ford made 109 movies, many of which were westerns (The Sacketts) during his career while Russell Crowe has completed 37. Granted Crowe is still alive and still making movies (and he is a fine actor) but he is far behind Ford in cinematic achievements -- Crowe is trailing Ford by 72 movies! Crowe is a fine actor but the cover is very well done, and spotlights the actors appropriately.

"Ford received a special tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007). He had the fastest draw among other actors in Western movies -- 0.4 seconds from drawing to firing -- faster than James Arness (Paul, James Arness played Matt Dillon on "Gunsmoke) and John Wayne (Paul, please don't tell me you don't know who the 'Duke' is or I'll go out and hang myself in frustration) -- both of whom were fast draws.

"Glenn Ford was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 1978.

"He also severed his civic duty. He was a Marine during WW II and served in Vietnam as a reserve officer. Glenn even went on jungle missions with a Special Forces Team. Later, at the age of 50 Ford volunteered to serve for three months as a liaison officer attached to the Marines in Vietnam -- with the rank of Colonel and was under enemy fire several times.

"'...a movie star nobody remembers'...??? Such a thought pains me such that I think I'll go bang my head on the wall!"
—Ben C.

“I guess my name is nobody since I not only remember Mr. Ford but revere his work and was sorry to see his passing. These fellows today have a long way to go to come up to his level,and also Richard Widmark, William Holden, Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea.”
—James "nobody" Trumbo.

"I can't believe Paul Hutton saying Glenn Ford is a movie star nobody remembers. I sure remember Ford - and so do a hell of a lot of others, who not only grew up watching Ford's movies, but younger fans who see him all the time on TCM, AMC, and the other Cable Movie Channels we have today. I'll sure remember Glenn Ford - a whole lot longer than I'll ever remember Russell Crowe when he fades away."
—Steve Lodge

American Idle Hat Heads
“You really need a Searsucker suit to go with that Superfina hat. you might even pass for a southern senator.”
—Gus Walker

What a clever and creative way to say I look like Huey Long.

"#4 gets my vote for best hat too, looks like the right one to wear on a deck drinking your favorite delicious cold beverage. (A magazine editor /publisher once told me you need to spend a lot of time on a deck drinking your favorite delicious cold beverage.) Why argue?

"After spending way too much time as a gd graphic designer (as a printer I know ALWAYS calls any graphic designer, sometimes he just says gd squared) over the last 24 years, I laughed out loud reading yesterday's quote, and have passed it on to many today."
—Ray Geier, Ardent Design

"Guns dont kill people, people with mustaches kill people"
—"Minnesota" Mike Melrose

Monday, August 27, 2007

August 27, 2007 Bonus Blog
On the trail of the Panama hat was a sordid, potentially ugly affair with a happy ending. Kathy is an avid shopper and when she gets on the hunt, lookout! She got it in her mind she was going to get me a fine Panama hat and she really did her homework and she was on a mission. A mission which expanded with each country she visited (she landed in eight and bought hats in six!). So I now have a whole bunch of new hats. Some that look better on me than others.

Let's start with the the exotics, that looked good "on paper" but not necessarily on my head. This first one is a Peruvian hat with great native designs, but unfortunately, with it on I look like a Jersey gambler who flunked a Rorschach test and had to wear the ink design home. The second hat is a Huasso hat which is muy authentica in South America.

The biggest tragedy on the hunt is this Superfina hat (below, left) which takes three months to weave and costs $350. It looks a bit too businesslike (thus the sketch from earlier today illustrating the progression from "cowboy" chapo to "ciao" lid) The last hat, she got in Antigua for $60 (she bought me two different styles) and is one of my favorites. The good news is that we created a hat museum in our bedroom and prominently displayed all of these hats where they can be seen and enjoyed. And they do give me much joy!

As I mentioned when we were in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega's wife is the promotions director of the country and she has put up all these billboards, spinning out demented "Democracy" slogans which seem as empty as the Nicaraguan Palace of Government (below). The whole place had an eerie silence, like a Nuetron bomb had been detonated and eradicated all the people, but left the buildings.

In Guatemala there were all of these armed guards outside businesses, like this one, outside a bank in dowtown Antigua. Even convenience stores had them. It actually was kind of calming to see them.

Here's an image of a woman with goods balanced on her head. This was very common in Nicaragua, less so in Guatemala:

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Study: Reality TV, Reality Unfair To Blacks

"To this day the American graphic designer is largely looked upon by the manufacturer and the advertiser as a necessary evil, barely tolerated as the budgetary inconvenience he represents and resented for asking a price for so dubious and intangible a commodity as creativity."
—Leslie Cabarga, in her book Progressive German Graphics, 1900-1937
August 27, 2007
Some have complained that I haven't paid off on the hat Kathy was going to get me on her trip. Actually, one person (Charlie Waters) has been quite persistent in seeing an image of me in the hat. The hat story is a dramatic one. In fact, here is a sketch of what happened on the hat deal:

I will post the hats and the explanation later today.

"For success in science or art, a dash of autism is essential."
—Hans Asperger, Viennese pediatrician

Friday, August 24, 2007

August 24, 2007 Bonus Bonus Bonus Blog
Alan Huffines just sent me the link to the preview for the new Brad Pitt "The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward Bob Ford." I must say it looks very good:

"We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
—Benjamin Franklin
August 24, 2007 Bonus Bonus Blog
And this just in from New Mexico:

Have You Driven A Ford Into The Ground Lately?
"Hey, are you really going to run a particularly unflattering black and white photo of a movie star nobody remembers on your cover and stick Russel Crowe down in the corner? Was there a big meeting on that design epiphany? Of course, I don't know nuthin' bout birthin' babies or cover design."
—Paul Hutton

When I came back from Guatemala, we have nothing decent for the cover (nobody liked my Remington iPhone idea). We decided we wanted to go with Russell Crowe and 3:10 To Yuma, but we had totally limp publicity shots, very weak. We tried to use a Christian Bale image but he is virtually unrecognizeable (nobody in the office knew who he was—bad sign) , probably because he looks more like Alice Cooper on a bad hair day. The image they sent us of Crowe, is the one we use, but it can only run at the size it is on the cover (plus I really dislike the look, he's barely recognizeable as well). We cast around and isolate an image of Glenn Ford from a movie poster that has excellent reproduction quality (scanned at very high resolution). I drive the scan down to Dan's house (22 miles in 110 heat) and we put our heads together and try and figure out how to blend the two images to make it work.

On my way to Nicaragua I had a layover in Houston. At a Hudson Newsstand they had a five foot blow-up of the new Texas Monthly magazine with two cowboys from the King Ranch on the cover. It's black and white. Very sweet. I buy it and bring it back to Arizona. Dan and I look at that retro, black and white cover and determine to squeeze some of that retro-ness into our cover.

That's how we got there. Plus, the Russell Crowe image is muy so-so looking, don't you think? Hopefully, the big cowboy image of Ford's head and cowboy hat will capture most of the people we aim at, regardless of their ability to recognize him. So that's the birthin' babies version.

"I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a perparation for this hour and this trial."
—Winston Churchill
August 24, 2007 Bonus Blog
I got this from Gus Walker this afternoon:

Handcar Handicap
"In that True West Moment that's running on the Westerns Channel right now, after you jump on the handcar and yell yee-haw and go off camera there is a pause and then some kind of wha hoo yell. did you fall off the handcar or what?"
—Gus Walker

No, I didn't fall off, but it was a scary stunt, because the handcar had a step-brake lever right in the middle of where I had to jump. We asked the two pretty girls pumping the handcar to really get going and I would catch up to the camera, mounted on a golf cart, and leap onto the moving handcar. And if I missed the jump by a couple inches I would land on that brake and probably go head first off the other side. For a sixty-year-old guy, this wasn't easy, but I made it, and I think the extra Wha Hoo! was half a reaction to actually making it. Ha.

"Ads are like children. Some turn out good. Others bad. But they're all fun to make."
—an ad for The Creative Circus, an ad agency in Atlanta, Georgia
August 24, 2007
Had a good meeting this morning with Jason Strykowsky and Robert Ray regarding our Mickey Free project. We're still wrestling with the balloon concept. How big, what typography and how prevalent? Mad some progress though. Set a deadline for September 19.

Here's a page of sketches from two days ago. Notice my take on Al Sieber (middle, right).

Joel Klasky and I motored down to Scottsdale before lunch to take a gander at the new Bison Ranch Museum. Gary Martinson was our host and he showed us his massive bison collection, and his new Flagg art collection, which is also quite impressive.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Guatemalan Coffee Picker Happy If Single Person Starts Day Alert

"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these."
—Paul Harvey

Thursday, August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007 Bonus Blog
Fallout from our darn language:

News From The Front Lines
“Eileen Biggs from Telford Stropshire England called to subscribe to TW for her husband, Malcolm. They visited Tucson and Tombstone in July and picked up some TW magazines there. She said her husband has read the issues they got cover to cover.”
—Carole Compton Glenn

"I have this picture of two Frenchmen talking. One produces a fiddle from under his coat and says 'Viola!' And the other one says 'What the f**k are you talking about?'

"C'est voila, Monsieur, when you wish to say 'there it is/you are!'

"Better still is 'Stropshire' the wonderful new British location Carole has invented. Over Here, 'stroppy' means argumentative, pushy, in-yer-face. That there might be a whole county of stroppy Brits conjures up a delightful kaleidoscope of hostile shopkeepers who either refuse to serve you or shortchange you, tradesmen who won't come out when you call them, innkeepers who delight in turning away would-be guests, and the like. No doubt Mr and Mrs Biggs of Shropshire could tell you more.

"Souss Amer-ee-ca, take it awaaaaaayy!"
—Frederick Nolan

"Read your blog for the day (what can I say? I'm addicted - so tell Kathy & whoever else to "shut it!"). Anyway, that English lady that called for the subscription for her husband is from Telford, Shropshire, not Stropshire - and don't you dare say shire as in hire... it sounds like sure.

"How do I know, other than being brilliant? Been there (when I was stationed in England) and have pictures of the infamous bridge @ Ironbridge Gorge (Severn Gorge) which has the worlds first iron bridge - build 1779. And this area is called the "birthplace of the industrial revolution."


Historically Yours,

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Study: Watching Fewer Than Four Hours Of TV A Day Impairs Ability To Ridicule Pop Culture

"The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall."
—Vince Lombardi
August 23, 2007
Here's the Frederick Remington sketch of Al Sieber, from James Ballinger's book "Frederick Remington's Southwest." It seems obvious to me he copied this from a well-known photo of Sieber, on crutches. The face angle is exactly the same (it's in Classic Gunfights, Volume III, in the "Tragic Pow-wow" gunfight). Check it out and see if you agree.

Speaking of CGIII, I got a nice blurb in this morning's Scottsdale Republic for my booksigning this Saturday at 2 P.M. at Barnes & Noble, on Shea and the 101.

Finished the Matt Warner image to accompany his narration of the Staunton-Murphy campfire shootout. He wrote his narrative in the 1930s, some forty years after the events, and it's clear he was aping the pulp fiction of the latter time, utilizing narrative like, "I do all my shooting with the Marlin, shooting from the level of my hips. In close range rifle shooting you can't wait to sight your gun from the level of your shoulders. If you are an experienced gun fighter, you can tell by the feel of it how to swing your rifle from your hip level with dead accuracy."

Warner had a horse shot out from under him, and in his narrative it goes like this: "While my horse is falling I grab my .30-30 Marlin repeating rifle from the scabbard on the saddle with my left hand, my Colt six-shooter from my belt with my right hand, throw my feet out of the stirrups, and land on my feet as he strikes the ground. Seeing Milton's shoulder exposed above a log, I shoot him three times with my six-shooter. Three bullets enter his shoulder in a space no larger than your hand and range down into the body."

Great narrative, but most of it is hooey. Two of the guys he shot were in a tent (one of them asleep). Ha. Excellent example though of how the violent events of the nineteenth century morphed into the one-man heroism of the twentieth. And you can blame most of it on writers.

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Jews, Muslims, Hindus Agree On Chicken

"Silence is one of the great arts of conversation."
—Hannah More

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007 Bonus Blog
Finishing the Matt Warner shootout at Dry Fork, Utah. Meghan is editing it right now. Utilized two books, Matt's own "Last of The Border Riders" and a book I got from my friends in Helper, Utah earlier this summer, "The Wild Bunch at Robbers Roost" by Pearl Baker. I had forgotten that Butch Cassidy and Elzy Lay robbed a bank in Montpelior, Idaho to pay for an attorney to defend Warner and Wall in court. Those Utah outlaws were pretty wild up there.

Speaking of outlaws, Meghan forwarded me a link to an MTV interview with the director of the new 3:10 to Yuma, which we are featuring on the cover. Here are two comments I thought were interesting:

JM: I felt that the Western had been hurt by a couple of things. One is the over historical epic-ization of the Western. The Western was never about historical accuracy or teaching a history lesson, not the great ones anyway. They were about character. To my taste, one of the mistakes in Westerns I’d seen was this ponderous sweeping Remington painting kind of Western with the big sweeping strings where suddenly I felt it was more about someone getting lost in the idea of making a Western than actually making a story about characters living in the West.

MTV: It sounds like you didn’t want to make “Wyatt Earp.”

JM: Could be. And then there was a post-modern thing where I felt like a lot of Westerns had just become tributes to movies. I didn’t arrive on set everyday with a frame blow-up of a Sergio Leone or John Ford movie. At a certain point I think it’s incumbent upon you to just let go. Shoot it like George Stevens would shoot it. Shoot it the way John Ford would shoot it which is to say without some kind of compendium of DVDs in your trailer. Just do it. Be in the moment and make the movie. Look at the people and what they’re doing and the sets your friends have built and make the movie. That to me was the critical mental adjustment I wanted to make.

You can access the entire interview at

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Cases Of Glitter Lung On The Rise Among Elementary-School Art Teachers

"There is very little difference in people. But that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative."
—W. Clement Stone
August 22, 2007
Yesterday, I picked Kathy up at Terminal 4, Sky Harbor Airport at 3:30 and we immediately went to lunch at The Matador. Sat in the same booth where Deena broke the very first glass on opening day, 26 years ago (Mike, the Greek owner, was thrilled and came over and said in his culture, breaking a glass is good luck). We both had the huevos rancheros and margaritas. Fun.

From there we went up to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Mexican Printmaking Show (my second viewing). Ran into James Ballinger, the director, and asked him about the catalogue for his 1992 Remington show that had a sketch by Fred of Al Sieber (Brian Dippie alerted me to this). James smiled, took me into the gift shop, dug around in the back issues and, viola, there it was. I'll run the sketch later.

Really hanging out on Classic Gunfights for this issue (goes to press tomorrow). Gus Walker sent in two great maps, so that will help. Thanks Mapinator!

News From The Front Lines
“Eileen Biggs from Telford Stropshire England called to subscribe to TW for her husband, Malcolm. They visited Tucson and Tombstone in July and picked up some TW magazines there. She said her husband has read the issues they got cover to cover.”
—Carole Compton Glenn

In June of 2004 I attended a WETA (Western English Trade Association) conference in Keystone, Colorado. I remember the breakout sessions being very profound and useful, and even though the speakers were talking about Western clothing I thought it applied bigtime to our situation at the magazine. I took notes and copied everyone I thought might benefit from the info. One of the people I copied was Wonderful Russ. He evidently saved them for reference in his business (real estate), and found them recently:

Wonderful Is Wonderful
“Just found this in a saved file and thought you should see it again. LOL
—Great Big Wonderful

June 7, 2004
Just got back from a leadership conference and I know you love the knowledge from these affairs as much as I do. Here's my notes:

Lessons Learned: Keystone WETA Leadership Conference June 4-6, 2004

• What do we do that's stupid? What do we need to stop doing? Make a list (see next item)

• The FUBAR list: what things have we done to "foul up beyond all reason", and we need to have this as a list to give to new employees so they won't go there.

• Hispanics are driving the boot market right now (what can we do to capture this market?) . Hip Hop is driving belt buckle sales, and hats especially in diverse, loud colors.

• Women don't buy brands, they join them.

• Men refer 2.6 people to a brand they like, women—21.

• The 8/16 Rule: if people had good service they'll tell 8 people, if it was bad they'll tell 16.

• The idea that gets the most resistance is probably the best idea (The John Wesley Hardin cover?).

• Women often make the best sales people because they actually listen, and like to talk. It is an acquired talent for most men.

• We need a radio partnership. KNIX, KMLE, KSLX, KZON, exploit!

• is the benchmark for convenience. One click and it's on the
way. Also, if you make an order for more than $25 you get free shipping. This is huge.

• You need to create social interaction (like at Festival of the West),
create events.

• Freebies to the right people. Jones Cola gave away it's pop to the hippest
people they could find. (story with this: "Who's the coolest person you

• 340,000 people are currently making a living on e-bay.

• Affluence always trumps culture. Money rules.

• 19% of American wage earners believe they are in the top 1% of wager

• You have got to make your customer go Wow! Do we make our customers go Wow!?

• Praise in public, criticize in private . Motivate with family by being a
family, you need to involve your employee's family to create a happy

• EZTDBW: Easy to do business with

• Success is never final

• It's not the big that eat the small, it's the fast that eat the slow.

• The Big Secret: treat everyone special.

• Always follow through in a timely and consistent manner . We cannot become what we need to be by being what we are now.

"The key to success is to double your failures."
—Tom Watson, former CEO of IBM

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

August 21, 2007
We are putting the new Russell Crowe-Christian Bale movie, 3:10 to Yuma on the cover of the next issue of True West. Henry Beck has written a great piece and landed a very cool interview with Elmore Leonard (the author of the original story). They snuck the movie last Monday in Scottsdale and Peter Fonda, who’s also in the film was on hand to talk to the screening audience. I was in Guatemala, but one of my friends caught the sneak, and here is our exchange.

“I don't remember what happened in the original movie with Glenn Ford - it's been many years since I've seen it. And I haven't read the short story by Elmore Leonard, so I don't know how this new movie differs from them. But there were some holes in the plot. Do you ever watch a movie and yell at the screen, 'Don’t go in there!', or 'What are you doing that for?!!!' There are a few of those moments in this film. The stand-off at the end was not too realistic. I thought what Russell Crowe's character does at the very end was extremely preposterous until I noticed one small detail, and then I thought maybe it's not so unbelievable, for a story that was over the top to begin with.

“I don't think this is supposed to be a realistic western. It's more in the vein of Quentin Tarantino—a little strange, very violent, and as Peter Fonda says, 'character driven.' It reminds me of most modern cop/prisoner films, where you have to suspend your disbelief quite frequently. I mean, was Midnight Run believable? Or 48 Hours? Or Coogan's Bluff? No, but they were very entertaining!

"I don't think the plot holes will keep people from seeing it, because the acting and action are so good. By the way, someone says in the movie that Contention, Arizona is 80 miles from Bisbee. I think it's really more like 25 miles. Just one thing that bugged me! And while watching this, I wondered if they really had to go from Bisbee to Contention to catch a train to Yuma.

"I also forgot to mention that during the filming, a horse was put down because of an accident. He ran into a camera dolly, with a long arm sticking out, mounted on a truck. The rider was an Indian (can't remember what tribe) who broke his shoulder, and punctured a lung if I remember correctly, and was in the hospital for the rest of the shoot. He was supposed to be in Russell Crowe's gang. Peter Fonda said he went to visit him every day - and Peter was the only one of the cast who visited him at all."

On a scale of one to ten, how much did you enjoy the film?

“I would give the film a 7 1/2.
1) Great acting by Bale, Foster, and Crowe.
2) Beautiful scenery, including desert, mountains, high desert snow, and one chase scene shot in what must have been an abandoned train tunnel.
3) Almost non-stop action, including a fight scene with a Gatling gun mounted on a stage coach.

1) Occasionally weak plot

P.S. By the way, someone says in the movie that Contention, Arizona is 80 miles from Bisbee. I think it's really more like 25 miles. Just one thing that bugged me! And while watching this, I wondered if they really had to go from Bisbee to Contention to catch a train to Yuma."

Yes, as a matter of fact, you would have to catch the train at Contention to get to Yuma, from Bisbee. The connections are: Contention to Benson, change trains, then on through Tucson, Casa Grande, Gila Bend and on to Yuma. Interesting."

Also, when I was in the eighth grade, we came to Phoenix for a state student council confab. I represented Kingman Junior High school as the student body president and I think Jeri Penrod, Lynn L. and Charlie Waters also came along. Our principal Blaine Benson and the student council sponsor, Mrs. Plummer, also acted as our chaparones. We stayed at the San Carlos Hotel in downtown Phoenix and attended a movie at the Fox Theatre. I remember two instances distinctly. When we were walking to the theatre, a bum hawked a lugie right off the sidewalk (growing up sheltered in Kingman I had never seen such behavior). And the movie was 3:10 to Yuma starring Glenn Ford. I sat next to Mrs. Plummer, and I remember that at one point in the movie Glenn Ford is sitting on a bed in a hotel in handcuffs. He makes a movement and the bed squeaks. He says, "Must be the bridal suite." I was mortified at the sexual innuendo! My head was as small as a pea and throbbing. I couldn't believe I was sitting next to Mrs. Plummer and hearing this decadent dialogue!

And that's all I remember of the entire movie.

“I don’t agree with those who say, ‘Isn’t it terrible what Hollywood did to your book.’ Hollywood hasn’t done anything to my books – the books are right over here on the shelf, untouched.”
—Brian Garfield, “Deathwish”

Monday, August 20, 2007

August 20, 2007
Did laundry and cleaned off an art table in the breezeway this morning before I went into work. Kathy is coming home tomorrow and I want the house to look nice.

Kelly Augherton, a neighbor from down the hill, took good care of my dogs and three chickens.

Worked last night on more black and white images. Still not clean enough. Kind of going sideways, but I don't know what else to do:

Dave Rathbone was the sheriff of Mohave County in 1976 and he bought one of my art prints of "Hualapai Roundup" for his office. Later he and his wife moved to Grand Junction, Colorado. Last week they sent me this photo of my mom and dad on their wedding day. My parents were married in Saint John's Methodist Church in Kingman, where Clark Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard the famous actress were married, not long before. I believe Ms. Lombard was killed in an air crash over the Hoover Dam area during the war. She was on a USO tour. Anyway, here's Mr. and Mrs. Allen P. Bell:

Dang cute couple, if you ask me.

I've been reflecting on all the changes we have made in the eight years of putting out True West magazine. I ran across a photo in my studio of the original crew, and of all those in the photo, only Carole Glenn and I remain.

Read a great piece in Vanity Fair about the genesis and evolution of The Simpsons, and how success has taken its toll. The creator Matt Groening is totally estranged from one of the key producers who polished Matt's crude drawnings and made them shine (and commercial), and evidently Matt rarely talks to James L. Brooks anymore. The grind of fighting in the trenches every day wears on people and I suddenly understood why Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin became estranged, and of course The Beatles, and ten thousand other groups. What's truly amazing is how so many of my crew are still here. And most of them even talk to me! Ha.

"If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
—Woodrow Wilson
August 18-19, 2007
Stayed home and worked all weekend on images for the graphic novel. Didn't even go up to the office, as I often do on weekends. Here's two pages I did on the plane ride home from Guatemala. The stewardess came by with drinks and cracked, "Hobby?" looking at the sketchbook on my lap with a sarcastic grin. I pointed at her drink cart and said, "Hobby?"

Actually, I wish I'd said that, but of course I thought of it after she left. What I actually said was, "No, it's an obsession." The hobby comment really got my goat, though.

I was quite impacted and influenced by all of the textile colors I saw in Guatemala, as is witnessed by these sketch pages I did when I got home and had access to some colored gouache paint (below):

Had a good phone conversation with Paul Hutton on Saturday and he suggested more of a Honkytonk Sue look as a possibility for Mickey Free. As you may have noticed, I went through a color phase on Sue (in True West magazine), then went back to the black and white because it's cleaner and stronger. Shifted gears, on Saturday, and decided to aim for a cleaner black and white look. Hard to do. I'm so used to cross hatching and shading:

I hate it that I'm still failing so much on these images. I wonder what Annie has to say about this?

"Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over gain, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose—not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember."
—Annie Sullivan

Friday, August 17, 2007

August 17, 2007
Long one yesterday, digging out from ten days away. Robert Ray gave me a ride down to the airport at 5:30. Got my Ranger out of longterm parking at terminal two ($88 cash), then fought my way home in rush hour. Stopped at Bashas' in Carefree and bought groceries ($52-something, house account) and got home at eight, then did my six sketches for the day, thereby finishing another sketchbook (June 11 to August 16).

Lots of emails and phone calls worried about my son Thomas, who is in Peru where the earthquake hit. Here is an email from him:

“I was in Lima stopped in traffic on a mini-bus when the quake hit. We thought it was the driver being a douche with a little brake/gas action but then we saw everyone running out of their houses. Kind of a long day and to make matters worse got bit by a dog on the walk up the hill to my house. It didnt go throught my jeans but there is a mark. I’ve got the right mind to kill that dog right now. Peace Corps is going to mobilize the volunteers already in the field in Peru to go help out in Ica. Tomorrow’s a BBQ at the training center, next weeks a rap up and the swearing in ceremony and then Im off to site for good.”

And Speaking of Which:
"Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your blog notes from Nicaragua and Guatemala. Sounds like things haven't changed all that much since when I was there in the 70's. I'd like to see your drawing of the jack mule. I had a great riding mule when I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras. Old 'Jack', who all my neighbors called 'Yak', was a great old character, and he established the inherent nobility and intelligence of all mules in my mind. I thought about your son today with the news of the quake in Peru. Since he is out in his host site, I'm sure he missed all the excitement.

"Here's some mule-related wisdom from Central America:

"Una piedra en el camino
Me enseno que mi destino
Era rodar y rodar.
Despues me dijo un arriero
Que no hay llegar primero
Solo hay a saber llegar."

(A stone in the road told me my destiny, which was to roll and roll. Later, a mule driver told me: You don't have to get there first. Just know how to get there.)
—Maggie McQuaid

Well, Maggie, here you go:

I really enjoyed the clouds in Central America. They seem so much closer and whispy than here in the north (left). And here's the big mule at the Filadelfia Coffee Plantation I sketched (above, right). We had a great room at the Cloister in Antigua, Guatemala for three nights and I sketched the objects and windows in the room (a perfect way to achieve my sketches without leaving the bed. Ha.) And here's another sketch of the volcano above Finca Filadelfia (Antigua is ringed by three volcanoes, one of them active!). Below, is a sketch I did looking out the door of the Textile Museum in Antigua. It captures a Mitsubishi unloading goods on a side street:

Later, that same day Kathy found a great shop north of our hotel and they had an entire wall of masks. While she shopped I sat down and quickly sketched my favorite ones. I almost bought the one at lower left, to put in my office. I loved the crazed eyes and tongue, thinking it would make anyone laugh who came into my office, but ultimately, I passed because I bought a machete instead! More on that later. They had a book on Diego Rivera in the hotel living room and I spent a couple nights reading about Mexico's most famouse muralist. I also sketched the table stand with our Chilean wine on it. Notice how the shape of the portable stand, mimicks the shape of the adobes at top.

First Classic Gunfights, Volume III Book Signing Set
“Yes, we're on for Saturday, August 25th at 2:00 PM. for BBB to come in for a book signing. The event is listed on our website and will appear several times next week in the Arizona Republic. Laura Holka, producer of the Pat McMahon Show indicated they are trying to set up an interview next week. I'm still working on a Republic interview.”
—Larry Siegel, Community Relations Manager
Barnes & Noble, 10500 N. 90th Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

"Think continually about the things you really want, and refuse to think about the things you don't want."
—Brian Tracy

Thursday, August 16, 2007

August 16, 2007
Back in the office after a long day of travelling yesterday. Had a transfer in Houston and my bags didn't make it, so I landed in Phoenix at about 6:15 P.M. without keys to my Ranger. Had to take a Super Shuttle to my house ($46 plus $4 tip). Bags arrived at 1:30 in the morning. How they found my house is beyond me. The Shuttle driver did the GPS address thing and it didn't even come close to mi casa.

Good to be back. Did lots of sketches on the trip. Here are a few highlights:

Lots of waiting in terminals, this first page is from Sky Harbor (above, left). Don't try to read the notes (the scanner reversed the image). The second page (right) was done airborne on the way to Nicaragua. Met a woman from upstate New York named Deborah Blow who is the executive director of North Country Mission of Hope. They are based in Plattsburgh, New York and she and her group were on their eighth trip to Nicaragua to help build housing for a poor village. No electricity, they sleep on the ground). She and her friends weren't alone. A guy sitting across from me was part of a U.S. group bringing baseball to the Nics, with uniforms and equipment and several ex-pros, also on the flight. I was the only slug, coming totally to binge on food and booze and sleep all day.

These next two pages (above) were sketched in Leon, Nicaragua. The first page in the luxurious El Convento Hotel, where I wrote my blog entry on the second night there (the one about the rain and the wine, August 7). They had amazing art and statuettes, which I took some time studying to try and capture their method of caricature (this became a theme as you shall see):

The humidity was quite oppressive, but every night we were there the rain came and the thunder rolled. Here I am sketching the rain soaked streets, from memory (above, left). And also the many horse drawn carts (Caballos de Carretas). At right are two side streets we saw on our way to the Subtiava Barrio.

More tomorrow.

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."
—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Monday, August 13, 2007

August 13, 2007
Got into Antigua, Guatemala yesterday afternoon. Antigua is what Santa Fe pretends to be. Really old and classic Spanish colonial. Great restaurants, cozy B&B inside an ancient Spanish home. I'm sitting out on a patio with a gurgling fountain and pond. Massive vines and plants everywhere. A light drizzle on the roof and mosquitos carrying dengue fever on both arms.

Speaking of which, they scared the patootie out of us at the "Pre-Port" which is a briefing on the boat, where a state department kind of guy, came on and said, "First the bad news, Guatemala is a medium security port, with roving gangs who commandeer the chicken buses, shoot a random tourist, then mug everyone while the guy bleeds in the aisle. We had a volcanic eruption yesterday, the Peten region is off limits because of sexual assaults, Guatemala is in the bloodiest election campaign in its history and a German tourist was beheaded last year for taking a photo of a baby in a village where they suspected him of being a baby snatcher. The good news is, free margaritas at Frida's every Wednesday night from 5 to 7. And good luck getting there!"

We took a bus trip to visit a coffee plantation and had a police escort. There are guys standing in front of stores with shotguns.

So, this is one country where Kathy and I haven't ran down the streets yelling, "We're from France! We're from France!" Although I did go into a random house with my video camera saying loudly,"Seig Heil! Bambinos! Yo quiero Bambinos!"

Not really.

"You know, one of these time you're going to get caught in one of those Mexican countries down there and not get back."
—J.D. "Mad Dog" Nelson

Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 12, 2007
Went on a group tour bus to the Filadelphia Coffe Plantation just outside Antigua, Guatamala. Beautiful place with hand made cobblestone roads, walls and buildings. Saw the entire process from coffee bean (looks like little cherries) to the cup. Made me appreciate a good cup of coffee, which they served us at the end of the tour.

Sketched a great jack mule, all saddled and waiting along side the plantation stables. Also, got good sketches of the rain tattered mountains, mostly volcanic.

Rained pretty hard on the trip back to the ship. Got back at about six. Some went right back to Antigua for a mixer at the University. Kathy, myself and two other couples went to a loud, fish cafe overlooking the bay and our ship. Solved life and got in late.

Leaving in the morning for Antigua again. Staying at a very nice hotel, The Cloisters. I fly out Wednesday, and Kathy continues on to Ensenada on the ship. She flies home in a week.

Friday, August 10, 2007

August 10, 2007
Last night we went up on the top deck and watched the ship (you get chastised referring to it as a "boat") slowly move out of the Corinto harbor. Evidently a local captain guides the boat, I mean ship, out through the channel, then a tug boat comes along side and the captain jumps, literally, into the tug and goes home. According to someone deckside, this is the method both coming and going, in all of the dockings on the trip. An announcement came on at about ten this morning giving our longitude and latitude and the nautical info (we were 150-some nautical miles from Nicaragua) and that the ship had so far logged some 8,000 miles going down and back up the western shores of the Americas.

Everyone loves Kathy on the ship and I get big smiles from all the students (300) and faculty. The ship is a floating city. Kathy treated me to a massage, a facial and a haircut this afternoon in the Wellness Center. Very nice.

Attended Spanish class and a class on Mayan civilization from three, count 'em, professors, one visiting the ship, from Guatamala, our next port.

By the way, tell the state department, we talked to quite a few people in Nicaragua, and all but one were quite critical of Daniel Ortega. And the one who was positive talked so fast we couldn't tell if he was hedging or what. The people of Nicaragua are quite charming and resilient and they will do fine.

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostilities."
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday, August 09, 2007

August 9, 2007
Well, we survived Nicaragua. Kathy and I are ten feet off the Western shore at Corinto (snuggled inside the humungous Universe Explorer, the ship that serves as the campus of Semester At Sea).

Actually saw an ox-cart today! Stunning to say the least. I had read in the Nicaraguan Guide Book they were still used, but even though I had my eyes peeled to see one, it wasn't until we were in a cab headed for the bus station that I saw the oxen at the head of a carreta, just outside the bus compound. Saw oodles of horse drawn carts, they are everywhere, fighting traffic, truck drivers yelling snide remarks as they lumber by. For some reason, the Nic men love to ride in the back of trucks, standing up, facing the wind, even out on the highway.

This Just In: The Baseball Cap Has Conquered The World
It's official: the baseball cap has become the universal headgear in every country in the world. I realized the impact when we were riding a mini-bus to Chinendega, and everyone we saw on the road, whether riding farm equipment, bicycles, horseback or on foot had on some version of a baseball cap.Hmmmm.

On Wednesday morning, Kathy and I walked 11 blocks to the Subtiava Barrio in Leon, which was the indigenous village, which the city of Leon usurped in 1610, after fleeing an earthquake and, or, volcanic eruption which buried the oldtown. Huge church, built in 16-something. Really staggering, the scale of these Spanish behemoths. That these crews came over from Spain, and then using found materials, built these sophisticated structures, many stories high, at the time when the Jamestown crew were patching together thatched huts, well, it's a bit humbling to an old North American Chauvanist.

The only downside was the humidity. We were soaked by the time we got back to the hotel. Fortunately we had AC in the room. Big storm came in both nights. Heavy rain and thunder. Ate dinner at a place called "Menu." Ha. That was the sign, vertical, on the outside. I had the Indio Viejo de carne (Old Indian steak). Quite good. Kath had the Carne Adobada. Bill was 100 Cordobas, which translated to $5 (the exchange rate is about 20 to one.

Went to a concert last night and saw Louis Enrique, the Bob Dylan of Nicaragua. He was fantastic, although I think I understaood maybe five words during the entire two-and-a-half hour concert. Kathy bought the CD ($10 American)

Took a cab ride to Poneloya Beach for dinner last nighht. Cab ride was $20, dinner was $7, plus I got a massage at the dinner table for $7.

There's more but the ship is heading out to sea and I have to go see this... .

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

August 8, 2007
The guide book says Managua, Nicaragua is "arguably the world's most peculiar capital." An understatement to be sure. Our guide, Mario took us to the capital grounds and there was no one there to speak of. Huge buildings sitting vacant. Large tracts of land nearby with chain link fences surrounding them. It looks like a giant foreclosure on a big-box store. Daniel Ortega won't live in the presidential mansion, instead works out of party headquarters. Big billboards on every road tout Ortega (he appointed his wife the tourism director, or promotions person and she has evidently designed these big outdoor campaigns, saying "Mas democracia, mas poder." Seems mighty ironic given the recent history of Orgega and the country.

Mucho horse drawn carts, all seemingly by the same horse: rail thin, small and gray. They are everywhere. Combine that with women walking down the street with large watermelons, trays of fruit and other household burdens on their head and you feel like you have travelled back in time about 50-75 years.

Of course there are the kids in baseball caps and Mets t-shirts so it's not all quaint-ville, but still it's astounding to see the provincial still living large in the jungles of Central America.

I had a dream last night that I went to Sky Harbor airport and I was caught in a timewarp and it was 1965. Ticket agents were smoking and laughing. People were hauling luggage around, inside and out, going out to their cars to get stuff they forgot, walking around the tarmac and chatting up the airline workers, who were also smoking and laughing. When we got on the prop plane, a passenger wanted to go into the cockpit and show the pilot his new Bowie knife. The stewardess put out her cigarette and ushered him in. I could hear laughter and see the smoke billowing out of the cockpit area.

Times have changed.

" Si pequena es lat Patria, uno grande la suena."
Ruben Dario, Nicaraguan poet laureate, "If your homeland is small, you imagine it large."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

August 7, 2007
Flew all day yesterday, arriving in Nicaragua at eight in the evening.

Kathy and I are sitting in the massive-open air lobby of the Convento Hotel (it was a nun convent in the old days) in old town Leon, Nicaragua. It is raining and delightful. Andre Previn is playing in the background and we are sipping a Chilean Cabernet which Kathy got for only five dollars. I say this not to gloat, but rub it in. Ha.

I'm also wearing my brand new Panama hat which Kathy bought for me in Equador. It has a special "superfina" Montecriste weave.

This morning Kathy and I paid a taxi driver named Mario to drive us to Granada (named after Granada, Spain) to see the place where William Walker took over the country. The American soldier (the Nics call him "El Diablo") of fortune caused them fits in the 1850s. I believe Ed Harris played Walker in a recent movie.

The taxi driver brought his wife, they got into a snit fit, and we drove to Leon in silence and the heat, sweating like pigs. Got here about two, had a delightful lunch in the restaurant and took a nap. Life is good.

"And they do live like this in Nicaragua!"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

August 5, 2007
Started raining last night and sprinkled on and off all night. Woke up with steamed windows. Nice and cool on the bike ride. Saw Christa Barro out in her corral with one of her horses and I said, "Did you?" And she laughed and said, "Yes, I delivered the pizza and wings down to your house. I didn't want to go inside, but I knew if I left them out there the dogs would eat them." I thanked her for the great Barro's pizza (they are part of the family that owns the company and Mike, her husband, runs several of the stores, I believe). Christa evidently saw how famished I looked every morning as I rode by on the bike and decided to help me out. Pretty damned sweet.

Peru, Peru, Get Ready, Tomcat's Ready For You
My son Thomas Charles got his Peace Corp assignment yesterday. He is going to be stationed in the Colca Canyon region of Peru, and his host town (which I'm not allowed to tell you) is at 11,211 feet above sea level. Tomas tells me, "The area is very touristy so I'll have all the ameneties there. As far as my house goes, I'm living with a family that has a 20-year-old daughter, no funny business, and two older sons who work in tourism. Of course after my first three months of community analysis I can decide to stay with this family or I can move to another one. It is a brand new site so I'll be the first Peace Corps volunteer there. The running water is outside so cold showers and the bathroom is a latrine, outside as well.”

Forgotten Praise From Jack Jackson
"Looking through a pile of old magazines - having a bit of a clearout - I came across an issue of 'Comics Journal' from 1981, containing an interview with Jack Jackson. I must have bought this issue about the time I purchased a copy of his 'Comanche Moon', which I liked very much. Re-reading it today I came across this interesting quote - I wonder whether you have seen it:

"Have you seen the stuff this guy Boze Bell's doing out of Arizona, 'Honkytonk Sue'? He's done three books, and they're real slick. Good stuff. You can see him grabbing from all that's around him."

"He seemed particularly impressed that the strip was obviously taken from your own experiences and your own background. Do you know Jackson at all? I wonder whether he ever did any more Western strips after 'Comanche Moon' and 'Tejano Exile'?"
—David Ashford

Yes, I had completely forgotten about that comment. Which is weird because that is a high complement coming from that Texas legend. It's interesting that he picked up on the "grabbing from all that's around him." angle of Honkytonk Sue at that time. One of the reasons for this was that I came from the school of National Lampoon (that magazine and Mad before it, constituted my humor education), and I really kind of lost that edge when I got into this arena. Oh, I've tried it (Topless Gunfighter, The Good, They Gay & The Ugly), but then I get emails like the one from Mark Boardman. Actually Mark is on the hipper end of the scale. I have other business associates who go bananas when I do stuff like that.

Anyway, Jack's comment is kind of eating at me. I was on fire in 1981. What happened? Well, I had just had a kid (Deena), then another one (Thomas Charles) and I had to get serious. Hmmmmm. Actually, I'm still on fire, maybe too many fires. Ha.

Here are my sketches for this weekend. Still on the skeleton kick (right) and experimenting with flare lighting (left):

And an explosion of violence and death and our hero is sucked right up into the vortex of the storm:

I guess the real problem is being so scattered and unfocussed. I decided to sit down and paint what my brain feels like. Here it is, the inside of an ADD fevered brain:

Scary, huh?

Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Frederick's Of Anchorage Debuts Crotchless Long Underwear

"Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what's urgent, learn to focus on what is really important."
—Stephen Covey

Saturday, August 04, 2007

August 4, 2007
Someone left me a to go order from Barro's Pizza, in my house! Came home on Friday night from dinner at Cartwrights's and there was a to go box on the counter. No note, or explanation. On my answering machine was a message from someone saying they were ordering to go. Called the number and left a message thanking them for the pizza (I couldn't recognize the voice, or understand the name, or the caller I.D.).

So, I invited J.D. down to have pizza last night. I let him eat for a good fifteen minutes and when he didn't pass out, or start gagging, I joined in. Pretty good stuff. Whoever it was, we two bachelors thank you.

Here's an idea for a book title:

The Book of 10,000 Bad Drawings
Chronicle the genesis of the journey. That cartoonist Dave Sim (of Cerebus, Aardvark-Vanaheim fame) once said, "Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in them." And it's our duty as students of art to purge ourselves of those said drawings. This was part of the inspiration for my series of sketches (that and the fact I wanted to get better). Anyway, if the book ran the highlights, by date, and you could see a progression of improvement, that could be a cool book.

And FYI, these sketches, below are numbers 4,358 thru 4,360. Almost half-way to a book:

These are studies for Mickey Free to illustrate a page of death, inside a desert storm, a metaphor for the Apache Wars. Have some good skeleton imagery, so have been poaching and leaning on that to the degree that I just flat out did a bloody skull:

This one is called "The Cult of Death." Original, eh? I'd post some more, but I don't have time.

"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying, 'I don't want to.'"
— Lao-Tzu

Okay, smart Asian Guy, I want to, but I have to pack for Nicaragua. Is that okay?

"To make excuses where none are needed is a muy lame deal."
—Lao-Tootie-Zoo, Jr.