Saturday, November 29, 2008

November 28, 2008
Worked on El Kid coming up out of the frozen creek, a la "The Terminal." Not done. Got some good steam. Trick is to know when to stop. I keep laying in washes, trying not to go too far. So far, so good.

Speaking of going too far, met Deena at Harkins' on Bell Road at 3:30 to see Australia, the new film by Baz Luhrmann. It's basically two films, one a great, big, sweeping Western (Red River) and the other a WWII flick (Tora, Tora, Tora!) mashed together, along with The Wizard of Oz (literally a movie within a movie) thrown on top. And in between is every cliche in the book (Oh, no! The cattle are stampeding and they're heading for a cliff!). Still, most of it works. The first movie I loved (it didn't hurt that Hugh Jackman looks like a young Clint Eastwood, right down to the same hat Clint wore in The Outlaw Josie Wales,) and I would have given it an 8.5 (think Quigly Down Under). It had a very clean wrap up with a nice bow and everything. But then they started over! I remember at the end, or, what I thought was the end, of the first movie, thinking, "Gee, I wonder when the Japanese Zeroes dive bomb the harbor like I saw in the previews? Maybe during the credits? An epilogue?" No, the movie starts over, after the happy ending and then we get the dive bombers. He had me at "The Drover" but then, it went on and on. Ultimately, too much for me and I actually came off my 8.5 rating, back to a seven, or maybe an 8.5 for the Western and a 6 for the WWII flick.

Meanwhile, Kathy gave it a 9.5 and Deena agreed with her mama. Hugh Jackman was ripped for the part (he allegedly worked out every day) and the romance was way over the top (Baz knows how to capture women). I also read somewhere that Nicole Kidman's pregnant tummy ruined some of the scenes and parts had to be re filmed after she gave birth. She was great though. Very sexy and likeable.

Favorite scenes were of a large horse herd running around the ranch house (it's a recurring scene). Fantastic tracking shots, with thunderous hooves and dust. The blocking and the camera movement throughout the film are stunning. Okay, I admit I liked it more than I'm letting on, but it does get silly at points and it's way too long. Perhaps Shakespeare can put an end cap on all of this?

"Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing."

—William Shakespeare

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November 26, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Dan the Man came through with two excellent cover designs. Now I can't decide which I like better. Dan reminded me that the big one looks like the old True West and that doesn't bother me at all, in fact it's actually a plus as far as I'm concerned. However, there is somethinig quite cool about the small rider. Here they are:

And here's the big storm, small rider cover:

Dan and I both like the integrity of the small rider cover. It plays against newsstand law (you must have a big image, preferably a face, preferably a come hither face, with cleavage) which could, in fact, make it stand out on a crowded deck. The problem with this one is that the damn ISBN Bar Code box is ruining the dynamic. And if Dan puts it on the left side, the border monument will look like it's growing out of the box. I asked Dan if he could add some foreground to the bottom of the painting to deepen the painting and push the rider up about a half inch so he is at least riding over the box.

All of this assumes we will go with this cover. Not sure. Meghan is leaning towards the small rider, saying, "It matches the tone of the article inside." Going to mull it over turkey tomorrow. Gee, I wonder what Sam thinks?

"The past is inescapable, though it can be reinvented, reinterpreted, into something entirely your own."
—Sam Taylor-Wood, British artist
November 26, 2008
Woke up to rain. It's snowing up north.

Last night Kathy and I met Deena for dinner. Fun hearing about her adventures in Central America with Frank.

As I returned home, I noticed the night sky as I turned down Old Stage Road. It was cloudy and the lights of Phoenix (unseen, over the ridges) gave the clouds a warm glow. Got home and went out to the studio and whipped out this study from memory:

What caught my attention were several big holes between the clouds and the black night beyond reminded me of the ice holes I had been rendering all week. I realized that sky effects are quite similar to water and ice (makes some sense since one is reflecting the other). Kind of zen like, no?

And speaking of ice and snow, I finally finished the "One Last Obstacle" painting:

This is El Kid contemplating his next move (perhaps this is the cover as a metaphor for the economy?). The frozen creek is too wide to jump and too thin to ride over. This leaves him with one alternative:

This morning I had a dental procedure called Zoom. It took two hours and while I was lying in the dental chair being zapped by magic light, I kept gazing out the window at the gentle, gray clouds rolling in overhead. They were so subtle, like this:

"You can't make music unless you have something to play. You can't make music unless you have something to say."
—Richard Avedon quoting Willie Nelson, in the English edition of Harper's Bazaar

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November 25, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Went home for a late lunch and, of course, reworked the original Border Rider for about 45 minutes. It is closer to my original idea of a dangerous sky and the wide open nature of the border area down around Naco and Columbus, New Mexico:

But, Dan H. thinks it's too small of an image (the rider) for a cover, so I may use this in my editorial to introduce the cover story.

Back to Snow And Ice:

Also, finally added El Kid leading his horse across the frozen creek. Not exactly what I had pictured, but it will have to do:

Much to do before Thanksgiving. Mostly painting, but some writing. Got a dental procedure in the morning. Two hours. Then cardio rehab. May work late tonight.
November 25, 2008
Finished the Jan-Feb cover painting this morning. Worked from about seven to 10:30. Half decent skeleton. Had great reference:

I really wanted the sky to be more "dangerous" since Jeff Milton is riding the border and it's a January issue which traditionally calls for a winter sky and this one is pretty fall looking, but I need to move on. I literally could do 12 more versions of this scene for another week or two.

And still may. Ha.

Bill Dunn, who knows a thing or two about snow, critiqued my hole in the ice study for the El Kid sequence and he commented that the sky was too blue and needed more overcast color, perhaps green (to match the frozen creek). He is correct:

Thanks Bill. I also added some distant buttes which helped anchor the piece. Now all I need to do is add the Kid wading across, leading his horse.

Jim B. commented on my recent, frequent mentions of Mexican food stating his concern that I'm slipping into my old, unhealthy habits. It's perhaps not as bad as it sounds. For example, just because I mentioned they served Mexican food at the Spirit of The West Awards show last week, doesn't mean I ate any (I didn't).

Meanwhile, about a month ago, at cardio rehab, we had a doctor come in and preach to us about the Neanderthal Diet. The premise being, we ate nuts and berries and meat and no bread or milk or cheese for 6 million years and it's only been in the last 5,000 years that we started processing grain and milking cows. The doc claims if we'd go back to the cave man diet we'd be healthier and live longer. It makes some sense but I absolutely love this New Yorker cartoon which brilliantly lampoons this position:

Deena's back from a two week trip to Belize and Guatemala. We're meeting her tonight at El Conquistador for Mexican food. I'm having soup.

"I was born in Indiana and reared on too much soft poetry."
—Victor Higgins, one of my fave artists of the Taos Seven

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 24, 2008 Bonus Bonus Blog Post
Went home for lunch and worked on the rough sketch I did this morning. changed the background to a stronger color, and put it in silhouette (inspired by Maynard Dixon), to hopefully pop the rider a bit:

I may put a skull and arm bone in the foreground, as you can see, the horse is reacting to something. The tentative headline is Border Riders: Dangerous Then, Dangerous Now.

On Nov 21, 2008, at 11:05 AM, Richard Proctor wrote:

"Thoroughly enjoyed your Mickey Free 'novel' with Paul Hutton. And your illustrations. (And your BBB Blog on the web.) Now, it is not clear if the writing is truly from Remington's notebook, or is it your writing? And which drawings are truly Freddy's, as the R is different in some of his signatures?

"If the writing is not from his notebook, what references did you use, besides Paul's vast knowledge? I am a fan of all things Tom Horn."

—Richard Proctor (Grandson of the Cheyenne undersheriff who hanged Tom Horn)

Thanks. I felt a little uncomfortable aping Remington's artwork and passing it off as the real deal, so I created a signature: 'Freddy Remington' so that years from now it will be a tad harder to pass one of these off as the real deal (at least that's my conceit). As for the writing, Paul Hutton used a smattering of actual Remington quotes, but Paul was able to masterfully capture Freddy's bombast. 99% of the copy is Hutton creating the prose. Paul can better answer his reference for Horn, although I know we both used Horn's autobiography.


"An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it."
—James Michener
November 24, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
As promised, here's the photo of lovely Ava and her husband, and son, who came in last Friday:

"Such gushing."
Sheri Riley, observing the above photo being taken.
November 24, 2008
Kathy and I went up the hill to Prescott on Saturday for a speech I gave at the Phippen Museum (it's near Granite Dells). They are hosting a "Vaqueros & Buffalo Soldiers Art Show" and I spoke to about 45 people on vaqueros and the Buffalo Solders. One of the people who showed up was Bertie Lightfoot who reminded me she is the older sister of Arnold D. Thomas, one of the most notorious bad boys to ever come out of Mohave County. I told Bertie there is a movie called Roadhouse 66 starring Judge Rineholt about fast cars and faster women in Kingman and I swear the bad boy of the piece is based on Arnold D. (someone told me the screenwriter lived in Kingman in the late sixties).

The director of the museum, Kim, and the curator, James, took Kathy and I to dinner at the Bonfire in Chino Valley on Saturday night. Good food and had a great time. The museum put us up at a B&B in Paulden, run by Mark and Marcia Baugher. He is a farrier and we had a nice chat about all things Western. Got home Sunday afternoon and worked on a painting idea for our Jan-Feb cover:

We're doing a feature on the Mexican border and it mentions Jeff Milton, who was an early day border patrol guy. The only difference was in those days they were trying to keep the Chinese out.

I wanted to portray the border area where they have these big, white, stone markers. Here's another take, or study, on the landscape:

Wanted to give Dan The Man a couple designs, and so I did one this morning of the rider being larger. Not finished but here's another take on it:

"They know enough who know how to learn."
—Henry Adams

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 21, 2008
Just had a wonderful couple, Joe and Ava from Nevada City, California, in the office. Ava is a huge fan of True West Moments on the Westerns Channel and she asked her son, Gary, if he could fix it to come out and meet me. Robert Ray took our picture and we'll post it later.

Ava asked me when we are going to film some new ones, and I said Jeff Hildebrandt is going to schedule a new batch for the early part of 2009. Aren't you, Jeff?

Meanwhile, here's a photo of myself and Lee Anderson, in his best vaquero outfit:

This was taken at the Bison Museum at Wednesday night's bash and I'm holding my Spirit of The West Award.

Here's another fan letter for Mickey Free:

"Just got my November-December issue of True West. What an absolutely, fantastic piece of work in the Mickey Free story. It is an all time historical classic! I'm sure glad you survived two heart attacks and I know you are too. I have only one regret and that True West is 8 X 10 instead of 3 feet square. Such a fine collection of some of your best art. Good work Bob Boze Bell."

—Bill Dunn

The response to Mickey has been unanimously positive. I told my staff I have been waiting, and expecting, the inevitable rip: "I don't subscribe to True West to read some damned comic book!"

But, so far, nada. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining, because as ol' Asimov so aptly puts it:

"From my close observation of writers, they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review."
—Isaac Asimov

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Last night's event, People Keeping The Spirit of The Old West Alive, at the Bison Museum was a ton of fun for me. Catered Mexican food and beer from The Silver Spur and lots of old photos, half-truths and full of it legends about my life.

The host, LeeAnn Sharpe really did her homework; she had some great images, like this one, taken by Ralph Rippe. This is the same 1890s three-piece suit from Kansas I mentioned earlier. If I ever publish the "10,000 Bad Drawings" book, this would make a very sweet frontispiece:

The custom roper boots were made by Johnny Weinkauf. Here's another image LeeAnne projected on the giant screen last night. This is another Ralph Rippe image taken of me at Ed Mell's Studio (when I was in residence we called it the Mell-Bell Studio): The dog's name is Apache and the fact that he is yawning (Oh, man, how many more photos of this guy are you gonna take?) just makes it that much sweeter. The leather vest, with the rodeo stamp images, was also made by Johnny Weinkauf:

Speaking of dogs, here is a great shot of Dusty, the sweetest Australian Shepherd that ever walked the planet:

This is a promo piece for the "Jones & Boze Radio Show", designed by Dan The Man Harshberger, by the way, with the front page of the foldout (above) and the inside image, below:

And, of course, the punchline to the whole story (and last night's narrative) is the one thing out of all my accomplishments I'm most proud of:

And that would be: being married to the same woman for 29 years—and forcing her to have my children. Left to right: Kathy Sue Radina, Deena Bean, BBB and Thomas Charles.

"Here's the secret to a successful marriage: When you're wrong, admit it, and when you are right, shut up."

—Old Vaquero Saying
November 20, 2008
Got in late last night from the Spirit of The West Alive Show. Had a great time down at the Bison Museum. Photos and highlights to follow.

One of the snow panoramas I have always wanted to paint, is this scene:

This is a sweeping look at the snow covered Hualapai Mountains from Coyote Pass, in Mohave County, Arizona. I have long wanted to do a painting of Captain Hardy parked on horseback on a ridge above the pass (left, foreground), overseeing a 24-mule team struggling up his crude road (Hardy created a toll road from Fort Mojave to Prescott in the 1870s). The freight wagons and the mules work their way up the pass with bullwhips cracking and men swearing. The tentative title might be "Bullwhips at Coyote Pass."

News From The Front Lines
"Huge fan, just finished reading Bad Men (3rd book of yours I've read). Love you using the Ditka quote, but he was a tight end, not a linebacker."
—RT Hernandez, Fontana,CA


This is funny to me because I went out into the production room and asked if Mike Ditka was a linebacker. Robert Ray assured me he was, and Lauren Googled it and confirmed he had in fact been a linebacker. Somehow, I have a hunch RT knows a bit more than Wikepedia.

"Remember that not always getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."
—Tenzin Gyatso

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008
Worked on developing yesterday's study with the holes in the ice. Noticed in the Google reference photos that creeks iced over have a sort of gray-green-blue sheen, because the water underneath the ice is showing through, but in a dull way. Worked on capturing that effect this morning:

Of course, there is sometimes snow on the top of the ice and that creates it's own texture. Killed some of the starkness of the busted ice (from the first study, see yesterday's post), but it feels like a frozen creek to me. Now to add El Kid and his horse trying to cross.

Meanwhile, two scenes in front of this, we see the Kid dismount and study his frozen obstacle. It's too wide to jump and too thin to walk on. This is the under painting (below). Needs some more fleshing out, but I like the dark blue in the foreground which indicates the ice is very thin and the water is right on the surface. The Kid sees this too.

Meanwhile, Gus sent me the name of the famous photographer who took "Terminal":

"Yup, that’s Stieglitz, 1893."
—Gus Walker

Really wonderful steam effect. Hope to capture this as well in the sequence.

Tonight is the Spirit of the West event at the Bison Museum. See you all there.

"Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."
—Abigail Adams

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
I have to say, Google is about the most amazing thing that has come down the pike since the '57 T-Bird. I posted my first try at a frozen creek earlier, then, for grins, I Googled "frozen creek" and got amazing examples of every kind of creek in every kind of weather, frozen, half-frozen, just amazing. Then I Googled "horses in snow" and "horses wading in water" and got another slew of great reference images.

On Sunday night Kathy and I watched a Javier Bardem movie called "The Dancer Upstairs." All through the movie we kept looking at each other going, "Man, this looks very specific on the filming locations and aren't they speaking Quechua?" We couldn't wait for the ending credits so we could read where it was filmed, but when the end titles came they were blurry. So, I simply went over to the computer and Googled "The Dancer Upstairs Movie Location" and there it was: filmed in Portugal, Madrid and Quito, Ecuador. This last location really made sense because they had a scene of driving up to the mountains in a pickup and the women had on their distinctive bowlers, like this:

And, the Google site, went on, the movie was based on the terrorist Guzman who founded The Shining Path in Peru and was captured in 1992 above a dance studio in Lima. None of this was in the movie. It was all played generic, although they mentioned Mira Flores at one point. Don't know why they were being so coy, or obtuse, but, in the old days (B.G.: Before Google) it would have been practically impossible to find out any of this.

Meanwhile, Robert Ray and I are working on the layout for El Kid and I asked him to come up with a small logo to run at the top of the page, kind of like we did with Mickey Free where we ran the Freddy Remington signature on each spread. Here's what Robert came up with:

Pretty cool, no? Also, here it is in application:

It's a work in progress, but I must say I feel better about the whole effort today. I do get down on myself. Gee, I wonder what a legendary linebacker has to say about this?

"Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal."
—Mike Ditka
November 18, 2008
Had a dentist appointment at nine this morning. Same old prognosis, but I did get a new metaphor thrown at me: "Mr. Bell, the train left the station quite a while ago, and if you don't start flossing, it's going to be too far down the track to ever come back."

With a straight face I asked the dentist if it would be possible to book the train straight through to the next dental depot and get off there? Not sure, he got the joke, but he and his assistant have the tools to tone down any one's sense of humor.

"Close your mouth on the tube, sir."

As I mentioned, last Saturday morning, Kathy went to tape a show on PBS and a Jerry Yarnell painting show was on and she came back in the bedroom and said, "Are you interested in a show on "How To Paint Snow"?

Damn straight! I came in half-way through, but I did learn several things from Jerry (evidently the show has been on for 20 years). He paints the foreground snow a darker blue and then paints out, in negative space, the snow highlights. Very clever. So I tried this technique with my six sketches:

Not bad. Thanks, Jerry!

On the El Kid snow front, I'm at the storyboard point where the outlaw lad breaks up the frozen creek with rocks and then wades in, leading his horse across. So, what does a frozen creek, that's been busted up with rocks look like? Not exactly sure, but here's my first stab at the phenom:

There's a famous photo of New York trolley horses enveloped in steam from their sweat hitting the freezing air (Steglitz? sic). I want both the Kid and the horse to have that effect as they emerge from the icy water. Very ambitious. Stay tuned.

"The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do."
—Walter Bagehot

Monday, November 17, 2008

November 17, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
Went home for lunch and finished the opening scene of El Kid for the January issue:

I'm worried that I'm way overproducing. Here's the study:

It took me half the time, and in some ways the study is stronger, or certainly, good enough. Sigh. So, going backwards, here's the rough sketches for the layout, done over a week ago:

And here's the second page of sketches, done on November 8th:

I almost like the roughness of the sketches better than the damn colored washes. I always do this (and I suppose at this late date, it's ridiculous to think I would do anything different), but it's so exasperating. I really want to find a happy medium, where I can layout a rough storyboard, then execute it, quickly, say, within a day, into a finished product. Not three weeks for an unfinished product. Ha.

This was the problem on Mickey Free and here I sit, all these months later, trying to start fresh, but falling into the same old traps. Fate has been so cruel to this ADD lad. Gee, I wonder what old Baltasar has to say about this?

"A prudent man will think more important what fate has conceded to him, than what it has denied."
—Baltasar Gracian
November 17, 2008
Still crankin' on snow scenes. Here's a dynamic little scene of El Kid jumping a rail fence, north of Anton Chico, on his way to a certain seniorita's adobe:

And here is a mountain snow scene (the trees are poached from a Banana Republic ad):

"Men often applaud an imitation, and hiss the real thing."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008
Speech went fine yesterday. Talked to 25 enthusiastic history lovers at the new Cave Creek Library. Sold four books and we had a grand old time.

On the way back out to the house, I got gas for the John Deere at the Circle K ($2.39 a gallon) and met Joe Yaeger at three. He came thumping down the road on his 1948 Series D John Deere. Took us about twenty pulls, but we finally got that stubborn fly wheel on my grandpa's 1940 John Deere to turn over and the big, ol' thumping two stroke—that takes me right back to being three-years-old and riding with my grandpa out to the chicken brooder—came to life. Pulled it out of the tractor garage and took it up the road and back, Joe then took a turn and when he got back we parked it back in the garage, wiped it down one last time and then we each had a beer and talked about how messed up the world is and how John Deere is still a good investment because they stayed with their strength and didn't go all diversified (don't know if this is really true, but it sounded good to two guys drinking beer).

Finished another El Kid snow scene today. This one has El Chivato jumping a fence in the snow on his high strung horse as he heads for the snow covered hills. Pretty decent effects. I'll post it tomorrow from the office. I need to start the '49 and it's being stubborn.

"Well, Kid, if you wouldn't let it sit for three months, maybe it wouldn't be so stubborn."
—Allen P. Bell, long gone, but his voice is still in my head

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 15, 2008
Caught an art show on PBS this morning called "How To Paint Snow." What a kick! And, I did learn a couple things.

Got the 6 volt battery charger on the '49 Ford (bought brand new at Stenseth Motors in Forest City, Iowa. The car never left the family. My father had it restored and I inherited the little family gem from him). Also cleaning up the John Deere which belonged to my grandfather, Carl Marvin Bell of Thompson, Iowa. Joe Yaeger is coming over at three to start it and give it a whirl.

But first I have a speech at one at the Cave Creek Library:

"It's all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation."
—Rob Gilbert

Friday, November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008
Drove down into the Beast this morning for cardio rehab with the girls. First work out without the heart monitor. Christie taught me how to take my own pulse (two fingers on the wrist, count beats for ten seconds, multiply by six and that's your heartbeat).

Worked this morning on El Kid jumping a snow covered fence on horseback. I'm gettin' this snow thing down!

Speaking of Snow. . .
"Just wanted to cool down your computer with this winter scene taken by cowboy, Erwin E. Smith way back in 1908 on the Texas panhandle. It looks like he's got on all the clothes he owns!

"Really like your snow and how deep it looks. Clean too! No yellow!

"I never lived where there wasn't snow for at least six months of the year and it got pretty dirty by April. Seen a lot of yellow snow painted by dogs, young boys, old boys too! Even made some yellow myself.

"Charlie Russell would have old cowboys come to visit him at his home in Great Falls in the winter. It annoyed his wife Nancy that these old punchers would rather use the backyard as a toilet rather than the one in the house. "Can't teach an old dog new tricks", I guess.

"I'm quite amazed how well you create snow and that very cold look when it's in the 80's outside!"

—Bill Dunn, Canada

Well, Bill, feast your eyes on this snowbank painting, finished last night:

I also reworked an earlier posted image. I just thought it needed a tad more detail (whipped into shape with a blue pen, by the way).

I also used a trick on this illustration I learned from my first watercolor teacher, Ina May Moore. She showed us how to use a tooth brush, dipping it in paint and then using your thumb, flip the brush hairs with your thumb, spraying, in this case, white paint, to create snow flakes. Cool, no? My tentative title for this painting is: "Amazing What A Cowboy Will Do For A Good Bowl of Green Chile." Ha.

And here's another Loosey Goosey, done yesterday afternoon when I had a brush full of paint and a hankerin' to push it around on a blank piece of paper. I call this one, "Moonlight On The Glacier":

My six sketches a day project is gaining steam. I'm rapidly closing in on the 7,500 mark (three-quarters of the way to 10,000 bad drawings). Here's 7,457 thru 7,463:

Lots of nice, subtle things on this page. I absolutely love the light wash image in the upper-right-hand corner. If I could do that every time out, I would be dangerous (rather than mildly irritating).

Catching Up With Gus
What’s the big deal about an actress getting her nose cut? Jack Nicholson got his cut in Chinatown! Just wondering if Ike Clanton might have relatives living in Alabama? There have been two incidents of cattle rustling in Decatur in the past couple of weeks. about $15,000 worth stolen.


"Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is."
—Thomas Szasz

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13, 2008
Still busy with snow scenes. Posting all of this work prompted this question:

On Nov 13, 2008, at 1:45 AM, Huffines, Alan C COL MNC-I Red Team wrote:
“Why are you doing all this Kid stuff? Aren't you trying to finish a
graphic novel on Mickey?”

We are waiting to see if any publisher picks up the project as a book. If someone does they will no doubt have modifications: drop this, don't do that, do more of this. The 20-page excerpt was just that, a treatment of the story with a sampling of graphics. So, when someone picks it up, I'll finish the GN. In the meantime, I'm moving on and launching a graphic novel department in True West to highlight other characters and stories I have always wanted to do (funny what a heart attack will do to your motivation). El Kid is one of them. The Mexicali Stud is also on the short list, as is The First 47 Loves of A Soiled Dove: The Pearl Hart Story.

Speaking of the Kid, here’s Fred’s Hilarious Reply to Yesterday’s Question:
“My dear fellow, are you mad? Do you think I, ten years your senior and six times more decrepit, am any better than you at carrying the complete text of every book and every anecdote ever written about or connected with the Kid in my head? I will be honest with you (and I do not make that promise to everyone) and say I cannot recall ever --ever --encountering that cowboy story you mention.

“I recall a scene in Cal Polk's memoirs where they had to get a wagon that went through the ice out of a river, a task that involved first, drawing straws to see who had to get into the water, then those two cutting a 'road' through the ice, pushing the cut ice under the uncut ice, fixing a rope to the wagon, then throwing it to the other boys who hauled the wagon out, with the two still in the water pushing from the back. I recall a story of Siringo's where one of the boys jumped into the Pecos fully clothed yelling "Hurrah for Billy the Kid!" but nothing, nothing like the tale you wish to tell. You may find this disappointing, but to me it is a revelation and a blessing to know that I am not anally retentive after all.

“There are something over a thousand Kid books out there, mi amigo, and I wish you joy of reading or re-reading all of them to locate that yarn. Maybe you would do better to call upon your vast army of blog readers to see if any of them can place it. One thing is for sure: I cannot.

“Mother of mercy, is this the end of [Frede] Rico?”

—Frederick Nolan

And, we got this letter today:

"Just a short note of appreciation on the Nov./Dec. issue. It could possibly be your best edition in a couple years! (And that is really saying something). The graphic "Novella" about Mickey Free was not only entertaining and intriguing but a thought provoking 'page turner.'

"I did have one question thought concerning what I thought was one of the few undisputed facts of Tom Horn's early life. Scotland Co., Missouri was where I thought he was born and where at age 14 or so he left home to go West. Never had I heard of the Memphis, Tn. connection other than a possible place he visited or passed thru while on his way West. Can you clear up my confusion on this point?"
—Eric A. Graf, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I'm checking with Paul Hutton and Larry Ball (who is writing a new Tom Horn bio) about this, but I have a hunch I may have pulled this out of my ass at the last minute to fill a blank space (which I often do).

Yep. Just heard from Hutton: "BBB: It came out of your ass, and you did the pulling. PH"

Still scanning images for the Spirit of The West program. Here is one of my favorite photos of Ed Mell and I. I think Ralph Rippe took this photo at our shared art studio in the mid-eighties. Ralph took our photo standing next to each other (and one of those shots, author Don Hagerty used in his bio-art book on Ed Mell), then after a dozen photos or so, Ralph wondered what Ed would look like in my hat. Ed took my hat, put it on and made a goofy face. I look quite thrilled with the look as well. Ha.

Another photo has a pretty amazing backstory. In 1984 I took my family back to Iowa to visit my Norwegian farmer relatives and on the way we stopped at an antique store in a small town east of Dodge City, Kansas. Browsing around I found a three-piece suit from an estate dating back to the late 1890s. I always need artistic reference to put on models so I bought it for $30. When I got home, I discovered it fit me like it was custom made. Ralph Rippe also took this photo:

"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."
- John Maynard Keynes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 12, 2008
Went home for lunch and worked on El Kid churning up a steep hill in the snow, climbing a snowbank, relentless in his quest to find a good bowl of green chile:

When he finally reaches the adobe, high up in the mountains, where he knows a fresh pot of green chile is simmering on the stove, he finds a frozen creek too dangerous to cross on top of the ice. So he throws several big rocks in, busting up the ice and then leads his horse across, on foot. Dripping with icicles he leads his horse to the front door:

This is actually based on a true incident where one of the cowboys in the Billy the Kid story (Evans? Siringo? I can't remember, but Fred Nolan will) got caught on the wrong side of a frozen creek and worried that his horse would break through the ice and drown them both, he broke the ice, then waded across, leading his horse, and rode to a nearby ranch with frozen pants on (not to mention other probable frozen extremities.) Every time I see a frozen creek I think of this true incident.

Gee, I wonder what Edgar Allan Poe has to say about this theme:

"Never to suffer would never to have been blessed."
—Edgar Allan Poe
November 12, 2008
A week from tonight, on November 19, at the Bison Western Museum (South of Bell Road on 91st St.) I am being featured on the Spirit of The Old West Alive, which I am (alive), and which is basically a "This Is Your Life" presentation. The director has asked for archival photos and mag and book covers so I brought in a box full this morning and Abby is scanning them (and laughing). I just went in and asked what she was laughing at, and she said, this:

This photo was taken by award-winning-photographer Jon Gipe for a feature in New Times Weekly on Baby Boomers turning forty (so that would make it 1986). This was taken on a back street, behind the NT office building deep inside the Beast at 12th St. and Jefferson. Jon walked behind me and he kept saying, "Turn on me. Come on, turn on me." After about ten turns I finally turned and screamed out, "I can't take it anymore! All this god-damned media pressure!"

I was joking, of course, but he got a great shot that sums up in a crystal clear moment why I eventually had two heart attacks. Ha.

Tis the season for new books. Just got in a $75 puppy on the stagecoach paintings of Marjorie Reed. Interesting life story. Didn't know she lived in Tombstone for a while in the eighties. She also went thru a gaggle of cowboys. Ha. The book, "All Aboard: The Life and Work of Marjorie Reed" is by Gary Fillmore a local (Cave Creek) gallery owner. Also got a new book on the "Historic Photos of Theodore Roosevelt," by Stacy A. Cordery. I didn't know Teddy was involved in a trolley car accident (which evidently clipped the back of a carriage he was riding in during a speaking tour). The Governor of Massachusetts was killed and TR suffered from a leg wound that eventually required surgery.

Amazing. I learn something every day on this job. What's harder for me to believe, is that legendary historian Robert Utley says basically the same thing, below:

News From The Front Lines
"I've been enjoying your El Kid stuff, and I'm a bit of a Billy fan myself. I ran across something at work today, a proposal (that's been around for awhile) for a 60 foot tall statue of Billy here in downtown Las Cruces, NM, along with a museum/retail building to go with it. The artist proposing it is Bob Diven. ( and he's got a pretty cool life size statue of Billy coming along too.
—Seth Wilson

Man, that is totally cool. Especially the observation deck on El Kid's hat. Ha.

“Bob, I truly enjoyed the article the you put together about Mickey Free. At times I felt like I was on the trail with them (Mickey Free, Tom Horn and the Apache Kid). Great article, I don't have the words. True West, IS about the West. Thanks.”
—Jay Mault, Ramsey Minnesota

"Paul [Hutton]: I read the long item (what does one call it) by you and BBB in True West. I did not expect to be especially edified, but I was. It was a very good presentation combining text and graphics. Gave me a new feel for Mickey Free. Congratulations to you and BBB."
—Robert Utley

A great man must be mindful of nine things:
1) to look beyond what he sees
2) to listen beyond what he hears
3) to be gentle in looks
4) to be respectful in manners
5) to be true to his words
6) to take pride in his works
7) to ask when in doubt
8) to think of the consequences when in anger
9) to think of justice & fairness on accepting an advantage
—Confucius (551-479 BC)

"I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble."
—Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008 Bonus Blog Post
After our lunch at the Silver Spur (good food, bad service) I went home and did my sketches. Still obsessed with snow effects: