Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31, 2009
On Saturday morning, bandmate Wayne Rutschman and I decided to walk from the King's Inn to the final rehearsal at the Fairgrounds. Crossing Old Route 66 we walked straight into Ricca Drive (the very first subdivision in Kingman) and, of course, as we walked, we began pointing out the houses where many of the coolest girls in Kingman lived when we were in high school. Among the houses we pointed out, were the houses of Michele Gilpin, Gail Nash, Debbie Dunton, Karen Cooper, Linda Whiting, Barbara Finn, Cathy Swift, Judy Gillespie and Doris and Di Wells. Those are just a few if the honeys two old ex-horndogs could remember:

These girls, I mean women, who are pictured here were poached straight out of my high school annuals and even though I didn't try extra hard to portray any one individual, I think more than a few will recognize themselves. And, for the record, not all of them lived on Ricca Drive (like Ms. Torres).

Speaking of high school annuals, I know I am in the minority but I have never been fond of tattoos. When my kids were about ten I did a very devious thing: I showed them all the beehive hairdos in my high school annual and asked them if they thought the dos were hip. "It's ridiculous and hideous!" they both said, at the same time trying to run from the room. I went and got them and said, "We thought this fashion was the coolest and would never change." Then, I added this: "Imagine if all of us were stuck with this same hairdo today? Would that be a curse?" Oh, YES! they said without reservation.

"Well, if you get a tattoo, this is what you're going to look like in about twenty years."

So far, neither kid has a tattoo (that I know of).

"All is fair in love and child rearing."
—Old Parent Rationalization
March 31, 2009
Here are two photos taken from an iPhone of the opening at the Kingman Fairgrounds last Saturday night. The woman at left, is a hospital administrator who looked in our high school annual and came to the Exits Exit dressed exactly like Dorian Trahan. She had a bow in her hair and everything:


After hobbling onstage, the band went into "Route 66" and I did my patented Mick Jagger meets Where The Action Is moves:

"Music is the Doctor"

Mike Torres' sister Be Be took these photos. And yes, the band is wearing hospital scrubs.

"Goes to Saint Louie, Joplin, Missouri, Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty, and see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico. Flagstaff, Arizona, don't forget Winona, Bixlo, Barstow, San Bernadino."
—Mick Jagger's version of "Route 66" (leaving out Kingman altogether)

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30, 2009
The ceiling lights of the ambulance looked vaguely familiar, but the oxygen mask fogged my glasses, blurring out everything. I felt my heart beat quicken as the driver hit the siren. The attendant leaned over me and said, "The last time we did this you had no pulse and no heartbeat."

I knew one thing: it was D J View, all over again.

I heard the sliding doors rake open as the gurney jiggled and then lurched onto cement. I could hear gasps and then clapping—then major Kingman style hooting. We turned a corner then slid to a stop.

A paramedic on my left side yelled out, "We have a 61-year-old male heart attack patient. What do you want us to do with him?"

I heard Charlie Waters say over the microphone, "Is there a doctor in the house?" Several voices in the crowd yelled out for Dr. Michael Ward.

More hooting.

I felt a stethoscope on my chest and a finger on my eyelid, arching it up.

"He's good to go!" the doctor said loudly.

One of the firemen took off my oxygen mask and another took off the IV. I stood up and put on my glasses. The firemen removed my hospital gown to reveal my freshly ironed Exits jacket which we bought in Vegas in 1964. In front of me I saw every pretty girl I ever had a crush on in high school, standing not fifteen feet from me and they all had that look that said, "If I was thirty years younger I'd have your baby!"

I thought to myself, "Yes, and if I was thirty years younger, I'd have an erection."

From there I tried to get up on the stage but I couldn't, so Wayne Rutschman held out his hand and helped me up. As I hobbled to the microphone, Charlie Waters said, "Glad you could make it." And Steve Burford said snidely, "Yeh, but you're late."

The assembled Exit bandmates, 13 in all, then slammed into "Route 66" and we brought down the house, raising some $20,000 (after expenses) for Kingman Regional Hospital to buy more defibrillators in order to save more wretches just like me.

"Deja vu is when you think you have already experienced a present situation, but D J View is reliving an experience you had no business surviving the first time."
—Old Drummer Saying

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27, 2009
Kathy and I are hitting the road this morning for Kingman. The big fundraiser for Kingman Regional Hospital is tomorrow night at the Kingman Fairgrounds. They have sold 600 tickets and are expecting 700 people, which would make it the biggest crowd the Exits ever played for.

I have been practicing every day, for three days. Ha. Going to wear my heart monitor to the rehearsal this afternoon and make sure I don't repeat Wipeout.

Last night, Mad Coyote Joe and I MC'd the 11th Annual Bachelor and Bachelorette Auction at Harold's Cave Creek Corral and I was talking to the band before the gig and Joe, of course, told the Boze-Almost-Died-While-Playing-Wipeout story and the kid (who first played a guitar in public on our old radio show "Live From The Mineshaft, The Jones & Boze Show" when he was 15) thought that was the coolest thing.

"Death has a sexy allure in youth which fades with age."
—Old Drummer Saying

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26, 2009
Went home for lunch and whipped out a cool little piece on Mickey Free's contentious relationship with his jack mule:

This, by the way, was a daily occurrence for the Mickster. Whenever he set out on the trail, his combative mule always gave him a chance at a blue sky experience. The name of the painting is: "Damn You Tu!" (Free called his mule Tu, which is Spanish for "you".)

Been studying a book "Masters of American Comics" which was published in conjunction with the Hammer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Taken by the power of blocks of black:

Yes, that's Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), Jack Kirby, Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon), Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth)

And these are sketches are 8,416 thru 8,423. Ah, you say you want a revolution?

"If you want to start a revolution, start a magazine."
—V.I. Lennin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25, 2009
Carole Glenn often gives us feedback on the phones so we can guage our reader's temperature. Here is a call she took today:

News From The Front Lines
Laura N. called to renew her subscription today. After she completed this, she asked Lynda to speak to a supervisor and Lynda put her through to me. Laura was laid off last September from her job with Toyota as Customer Service Specialist. She wanted us to know that Lynda was very sincere and had qualities you just can’t teach people.

Laura said she couldn’t afford to pay her rent, but couldn’t stand the thought of not receiving TW, so renewed her subscription.

She also mentioned that she really likes the cooking section in the magazine and especially likes that Sherry keeps it “true” by using ingredients that were used in the old west. She said that she hopes we will keep this authentic and not doll it up as some other publications have.
—Carole Glenn

"Sometimes holding on makes you stronger; sometimes letting go does."
—Old Vaquero Saying
March 25, 2009
I did something last night that I haven't done for the past 367 days: I got my drums out and actually laid some licks on them. The last time I did this was on March 22, 2008 at the Old Elks Lodge in Kingman. Didn't have the heart to do Wipeout, yet.


The benefit concert to raise money for Kingman Regional Hospital is this Saturday night at the Fairgrounds.

We're having a big debate here at the magazine on how to monetize content. As newspapers and magazine all around us bite the dust, the industry conversation sounds like this:

Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni (in Publishing Executive magazine) claims "Print is not dead—its publishing model is." He goes on to say, "We have to reinvent our publishing model. We have to continue to create that great content we are known for, but we have to charge for it. It is time for our publishing model to depend once again on circulation as a major source of revenue. We have to be in the business of selling content."

Of course he doesn't say how to do it, but he points to Consumer Reports and Cook's Illustrated as each having 1 million paid circ online.

He ends with "The illness has been diagnosed: It is the publishing model and not the ink on paper. . .It is time to find a cure. Long live print."

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
—John Wooden

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009
When Shoot magazine went out of business last year, we took over their subscription list to honor the remaining issues owed to subscribers. I received this email from a former Shoot subscriber:

On Mar 23, 2009, at 9:00 PM, Hugh Macmillan wrote:

Dear Bob,

64 years ago, in England where I was born, I fell in love. Which may seem a little strange as I was only 10 years old at the time. The object of my affection was Western movies. Every Saturday morning I would climb onto a Number 13 bus and pay the conductor my fare of one penny. Clutching my sixpenny-piece for the movie ticket, I willed the big red double decker along the Edgware Road to the Odeon Cinema just as speedily as traffic would allow. Many trades used horses to power their deliveries in those days, and often a coal-monger or brewery cart, drawn by their magnificent teams of Shires or Clydesdales would slow my progress. But beautiful as they were, it was Silver and Trigger I really wanted to see.

Cowboys have always been my heroes, my role models, and the age-old conflict between good and evil that has been the basis of staged entertainment for millennia appealed enormously.

The war ended, my father went to live in Africa, and in 1948 I followed him. 60 years went by, and although I was able to collect and shoot a variety of guns, there was no call for 44.40 or 45 caliber single action sixguns, or Winchester 73s or simple side-by-side coachguns. Africa was all about self-protection, hunting the Big Five, and following visits by the late great Col. Jeff Cooper - practical pistol shooting. Then came the birth (rebirth?) of Cowboy Action, and from 13 thousand miles away I joined SASS. In my spare moments I would take out my SASS badge, pin it on my shirt, and take my Ruger Old Army cap and ball pistol to the nearest range. Alone and in my seventies, while shooting round holes in a piece of paper supported by bits of wire in the center of an old tire, I relived moments from many decades earlier, priceless moments with Gene, Roy, The Lone Ranger, Tonto and the other heroes of my youth.

I'm now 74 and LIving in San Antonio, where my wife and I hope to spend the rest of our lives. I belong to two CAS clubs. I have a beautiful pair of USFA Rodeos in 45 cal., a Uberti replica of the 73, and a TTN coachgun. I'd love a single shot rifle in 45-70, but my pension won't allow it. The fact that macular degeneration has robbed me of all central vision in my right eye is a nuisance, but I'm fine with the Rodeos. Folks do comment about my stretching my head across the stocks of my long guns to enable left eye sighting and right hand shooting! I explain that I'm way past trying to become left handed - especially with a lever gun.

Why this letter? Well. I wanted to subscribe to a magazine that supported my favorite past time, and took a year's worth of Shoot! You know the rest of the story. I just want to express my gratitude to you for taking over Shoot subscribers and for giving us a more comprehensive magazine. Your sense of history, depth of knowledge, scope of coverage, and the fine illustrations in True West go way beyond guns (without excluding them) and offer all who love the Old West precious moments of peace! Yes, peace can come even from action filled times. The peace of a simpler life. A time when the good guys wore white hats and a little boy on a London bus found joy in The Cowboy Way.

Thanks for all that you do. Best regards,

—Hugh, aka Longshadow SASS#70099

"The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes."
—Benjamin Disraeli
March 24, 2009
We get so far out front of ourselves that I often lose track of where we are. Case in point: May is at the printer and we are working on parts of June and July and September issues. Someone at Festival of the West asked me about the Alamo and I had to stop and think if that is already out, or if it's something we are working on, or something we did two years ago (the Alamo piece is at the printer).

I finished Tom Lea's "The Wonderful Country" on Sunday. Hated for it to end (always a sign of a good read). Really enjoyed the Mexico sojourn passages, like this:

"Martin Brady had breakfast by a farmhouse door at dawn, three leagues from Chihuahua. The taste of the greasy gordas the woman gave him and the stale coffee, stuck sour in his throat. His bones ached unrested, he felt dizzy from the long motion of his ride, and his eyes stung. When he had given the woman a real, he went to the well in the farmyard and from a leaky bucket dashed water on his face. Then he mounted Lagrimas and rode tired, on a tired horse, toward the city."

Lea gets the grind of a long ride really good and he has the feed and care of horses down to poetry. And by the way, Brady's horse is named Lagrimas, which means "tears", as in crying, in Spanish. Of course there's lots of Mexico in Frederic Remington and his drawings for Mickey Free:

And, by the way, the woman with Bruce Dern at Festival of the West looked quite a bit like NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon's main squeeze:

Just got off the phone with Joey Dillon and he is Josh Brolin's gun and tomahawk coach on the new Jonah Hex, which goes before the cameras on April 1. Joey tells me this one is going to be "bad ass." Joey is also in line to coach another graphic novel-headed-for-the-big-screen, Caliber.

I've been told the difference between heaven and hell can be quite minor. Case in point:

Heaven is Where:
The Police are British,
The Chefs are Italian,
The Mechanics are German,
The Lovers are French
It's all organized by the Swiss.

Hell is Where:
The Police are German,
The Chefs are British,
The Mechanics are French,
The Lovers are Swiss
It's all organized by the Italians.

That pretty much says it all, eh?

"My treasures do not chink or glitter, they gleam in the sun and neigh in the night."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23, 2009
Got the word yesterday that the Top Secret Writer was in the hospital for the past two days. He's had pneumonia for eight weeks (he wasn't feeling well last weekend when we hiked to Cottonwood Springs but he was hoping this was the end of it). He didn't get better and Tracy Lee was driving Hutton to the emergency room when he passed out. They had him on a drip. He told me from his room, "I can be this miserable at home." Got a Blackberry message this afternoon that he's going home tonight.

I told him he couldn't die now because we are so close to finishing the Mickey Free project (see below). He agreed, but he's so damned stubborn and besides, he rarely listens to me anyway.

Had lunch today with cowboy Bill Dunn of Alberta, Canada. He and his lovely wife drove down for Festival of the West and he came out to Cave Creek to get the tour. Took him to El Encanto and we both had the chicken mole enchiladas.

After lunch with Bill I went home and finished a portrait of Major Bullis:

This is for the end section of the Mickey Free book where we talk about what happened to everyone. All of Bullis's improvements to San Carlos were wiped out when San Carlos Dam flooded the post. Notice his portrait is faded because of a huge watermark. Too heavy handed? Perhaps, but this is the nuance I love in Old West stories, excuse me, Old West graphic novels.

"There are some things we can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction."
—Franz Kafka
March 23, 2009
On Saturday, we gathered at two in the Green Room, behind the main stage at Festival of the West. It was a pretty stellar group back there with Bruce Dern and his statuesque female partner, Rex Allen, Jr., Johnny Western and Jessie Colter (the widow of Waylon Jennings and a performer in her own right). The new mayor of Scottsdale and the Police Chief were also there.

Bruce Dern's partner pulled a power move on Mary (founder of the festival) and more or less demanded to be moved up in the lineup, because as she later told someone standing near me, "We are both working." This stunt came off as major snotty and pretentious, since it clearly implied that we weren't working and had no where else to be. Needless to say, as beautiful as she was, she lost major points with me. Mary had to quickly rejuggle the entire lineup to cater to her wishes, and Bruce went on first.

While we were waiting to go on, I went over to introduce myself to Rex Allen, Jr. (I knew his father) but he gave me the brush off. He was clearly irritated at something. Turns out a musician out on the stage was playing an instrumental version of Rex's hit "I Love You Arizona" and he said with some disgust, "What am I supposed to do when I go out?" I told him I knew exactly what he should do. He asked what that was, and I said, "Play 'Louie Louie'".

He didn't think that was funny. I'm guessing he also doesn't think it's funny that a guy who lives in Nashville is famous for singing a song called "I Love You Arizona." On that, he and I would agree. I don't think it's funny either. Irritating. But not funny.

Back at our booth, Sheri Riley wanted to meet Hugh O'Brian, so I took her over to where Hugh and his wife Virginia were seated, selling publicity photos, and to be a good sport I bought a picture of Hugh as Kusac:

He signed it and I paid him $20, then Sheri wanted a photo, so he invited her back around to kneel by him and I took a phone photo. Then Hugh wanted a photo of me and him (he said to Clint Walker, "Have you met my son?" pointing at me). He's such a character. When Sheri stepped back and took a photo, he barked, "Closer!" So she came in close and took this shot:

Robert Fuller came by our booth asking for Henry Cabot Beck, our Westerns editor. Fuller wanted us to pass along the message that Beck's interview with the star of Laramie, Wagon Train, Emergency and Walker, Texas Ranger was the best interview he has had in the last 15 years. The interview is in our April Travel issue of True West.

"You play the hand you're dealt. I think the game's worthwhile."
—Christopher Reeve

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 22, 2009
It was a year ago today. Believe me when I say that I perused today's obits with extra interest. All of those fine people (there were multiple pages) lived through March 22 of last year, but didn't make it to this anniversary. For some strange reason through a bizarre series of flukes (and some great friends), I did.

As if it was a staged event, yesterday at Festival of The West was a massive love fest. Literally hundreds of fans walked up to our booth all day long, shook my hand and said one of two things: "Thanks for all you do to keep the West alive," and, "Are you feeling better?"

Many scolded me: "Slow down. We need you!" and others were more specific: "Try raw chocolate. It lowers your blockage." Others were project specific: "I'm glad you lived because I am going to help you get Mickey Free on the big screen. Yes, Mickey Rourke is perfect for Mickey, I want David Carradine for Sieber. You've got to lower the size of Mick's mule. 18-hands is too high. That's six feet. Make it fifteen hands and we'll get 'er done."

Two African-American couples from Los Angeles literally shrieked, "It's Bob Boze Bell," came over and asked to have their pictures taken with me. They were all decked out in Western bling and they told me they watch the Westerns Channel every day. (note to Jeff Hildebrandt: if the response to all of the comments exactly like this are any indication, your ratings must be stellar).

Of course it wasn't all sunshine. I did get into a disagreement with Bruce Dern, Hugh O'Brian was his usual bombastic self and I thought Rex Allen, Jr. was a bit of a jerk. More on that later.

"By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, [journalism] keeps us in touch with the ignorance of
the community."

—Oscar Wilde

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20, 2009
Going to my Wallace speech in about ten minutes, then over to Westworld for an appearance at Festival of The West.

Worked last night on a clean scratchboard style for the Mickey Free book:

More later.

"The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money."
—A. J. Liebling

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18, 2009
In meetings most of the day, developing a new category for True West. We flew in an experienced editor from Minneapolis who is an expert on the category and we discussed ways to make it pay (i.e. mo' ads).

Trish and Michelle are on their way to Festival of the West to set up our booth down at Westworld. It runs thru Sunday. I'll be out there all day Saturday.

Yesterday, I got a phone message: "Bob, this is Wallace. Call me." I thought to myself, hmmmmm, there is only one person I know with the first name Wallace and he did a legendary kid show with Ladmo for thirty years. He left a number. I called it, and asked to speak to Wallace. It was him. He wants me to come speak to his group of friends down at the old Bud Brown's Barn on Friday. I'm going.

The May issue goes out the door in about an hour. Kind of quiet in the office. Robert Ray brought in a homemade trifle and I had some of that.

Got this from our movie editor, Henry Beck, yesterday:

By the way, Lee Marvin's estate in Tucson—7000 sq ft house, 12 acres, Joseas Jessler design, is up for sale. She was asking 6mil but has dropped that a bit. Wanna split the difference?

Lee Marvin's estate, check it out.

When I lived in the Old Pueblo, I ran into Lee on South Fourth Avenue in the mid-seventies. He was just an old guy in a white t-shirt, cordial, but kind of shy, or, standoff-ish.

Just the other night I saw him on The Westerns Channel in "Pocket Money" which was filmed in Tucson around that time. I remember not liking the movie at the time. Paul Newman plays an airhead cowboy trying to buy Mexcian cattle for a crooked cattle dealer (Struther Martin). Lee Marvin plays a shifty, blow hard gringo in Mexico and he is just brilliant. It must be age dependant (written for people of a certain age) because I thought it was great this time around.

Ex-employee and current friend, Rob Bandhauer dropped by the office and gave me a present:

Thanks Rob.

"History is not life. But since only life makes history, the union of the two is obvious."
—Louis D. Brandels

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17, 2009
I have been in a funk all day. I went to yoga this morning and just couldn't stop kicking myself for blowing that Alamo cover painting. We did a half-a-happy-baby pose, but I wasn't a very happy baby. That scene was so sweet in my mind's eye and I just cartooned it.

Damn it all! I just hate being so incompetent.

Meanwhile, our water heater sprang a leak last night so I had to go home after yoga and wait for the plumber. I took the opportunity to paint on a larger version of the cover, hoping to save it. Couldn't finish it, so, paid the plumber ($576 house account) and came back into the office.

Deep inside the beast, Dan Harshberger was tweaking my painting in his computer and, unbeknownst to me, adding another sky color and punching up the Burger King sign glow:

Amazing. Now THAT is a decent cover! It certainly pays to have talented friends. Congrats Dan. You are the Man. Now I'm a happy baby.

"An oldtimer is someone who can remember every detail of his life story, but can't remember how many times he's told it to the same person."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16, 2009
It just never seemed right to me. The first time I went out to Iron Springs (actually styled Mescal Springs on modern topo maps) was in March of 1980. Kathy was eight-and-one-half months pregnant and I hauled her out there in a borrowed truck (my truck overheated on a side trip to Arivaca and we had to leave it there to get a new radiator. Undeterred, I borrowed Johnny Weinkauf's pickup and we took off for the site of the infamous Curly Bill shootout). I brought along Stuart Lake's book, "Frontier Marshal" and when, late in the day, we finally got to the site on the topo map marked Mescal Springs I stood on a rock and read these lines:

"The fork to Iron Springs climbed a narrow, rocky canon into the Whetstones, a veritable inferno beneath the desert sun, and, after two or three miles in which no sign appeared that others recently had used the trail, vigilance relaxed. Wyatt loosened the gun belts around his waist. Horses and men were weary and hot.

"About one hundred yards from the waterhole, the trail rounded a rocky shoulder and cut across a flat shelf of deep sand. Ahead, Iron Springs was hidden by an eroded bank possible fifteen feet high. Beyond the hollow, where the mountain slope resumed, was a grove pf cottonwoods. Between this grove and the waterhole was an abandoned shack, hidden from view by a bluff. Across the sandy stretch Wyatt rode, coat unbuttoned, six-guns sagging low, Winchester in the saddle boot, Wells Fargo shotgun and ammunition belt looped to the saddle horn. His horse had quickened at the scent of water and Wyatt let him make the gait.

"Fifty feet from the spring, intuition brought Wyatt up short. He swung out of the saddle, looped his reins in his left hand, and with his shotgun in his right hand, walked forward. Texas Jack and Sherm McMasters, still mounted, were behind him. Holliday and Johnson, much farther to the rear. In the sand their advance made no sound. Another step gave Wyatt full view of the hollow. As he took it, two men jumped to their feet less than ten yards away, one yanking a sawed-off shotgun to his shoulder, the other breaking for the cottonwoods.

"Curly Bill!' Sherman McMasters yelled in astonishment, wheeled his horse and ran.

As I read these words aloud, a lone cow looked at me, chewing his cud. He didn't seem to buy it either. Drops of water dripped from a pipe. There were no cottonwoods, only mesquite trees. It didn't match the narrative in any way.

I actually mulled the idea of going farther up the trail, but with a very pregnant wife, I decided not to attempt it.

Someone else had the same reaction, and his name is Bill Evans. Several years ago, while on an ATV with his son, and coming in from the other direction, he rode through Cottonwood springs and as he came up on the flats from the spring and turned around, the entire fight suddenly made sense to him.

Bill told several Earp scholars but they told him he was crazy, that the site was where it had always been thought to have been. He finally convinced a group of Tombstone fanatics to go take a look see, and that's when Gary Roberts called me and told me I ought to go look see for myself.

One of my partners, Dave Daiss, has a ranchito in Elgin, so the Top Secret Writer and I met him and his doctor at Dave's ranch house for breakfast on Sunday morning. From there we drove about five miles and met Bill Evans at a cattle guard on the Fairbanks Road. Parking our vehicles at a nearby ranch, we took off on foot:

In this first photo we are walking northwest (those are the Whetstones in the background) and Iron Springs, where the fight was for many years thought to have been fought, is off to the right:

Mescal Springs and Iron Springs are located between the two hillocks in the left side of this photo. The big peak, at right, is referred to as Lone Mountain in the literature and, with this approach, finally matches the location on Wyatt's hand drawn map.

We stopped from time to time as Bill read to us from the source materials. Dave Daiss and Bill are from the area and they were heavily armed. This corridor is still dangerous (if not more so) because it's favored by drug runners (we could see the border from the hike). Dave had a Colt .45 and a Winchester but as he jammed a clip into a .45 automatic he said as he stuffed it into his pants, in back: "It's fun to bring the Old West stuff, but I always like to have some stronger stuff." Ha.

When we met Bill Evans, Dave half apologized for the arsenal, but Bill (a retired military helicopter pilot) simply smiled and pulled up his shirt. He had brought along his own artillery.

When we approached the springs we couldn't see it until the last fifteen feet. This matches the Earp narrative exactly:

Plus, there were cottonwoods and several huge trunks of old cottonwoods in the wash. One of the uncanny aspects of this site is that the canyon walls to the south are almost exactly as Will James rendered them in his drawing of the fight, which appeared in Billy Breakenridge's book, Helldorado. Although just a line drawing sketch, it's right on. I guess it's possible James came out to do due dilligence in the 1920s, but I kind of doubt it.

From the 15 foot hight ridge, looking down into the spring area, this is what Wyatt Earp saw:

Yes, a Tucson doctor, a helicopter pilot and a distinguished professor all aiming hardware at Mr. Earp. Actually, the boys are standing where Bill believes the cowboys were when Earp dismounted and surprised them.

The site is not perfect. Bill hasn't been able to locate a foundation, or any remnants from the line shack (although one version has it being just a tent). But, in my mind, the terrain finally matches the narrative and having encountered other roaming locations (Ripsey Wash where the Apache Kid escaped being the latest example. The site moved a couple miles from the long reported site when an astute researcher finally found it).

We are going to return to the site in the next several weeks with horses and video tape and shoot POV pictures to help illustrate the piece in True West. I may also do a True West Moment of this deal-io, eh Jeff?

"The only constant is change."
—Old Vaquero Saying
March 16, 2009
Back from a busy Southern Arizona jaunt. Got in at eight last night. Spoke at the very first Tucson Festival of The Book on Saturday. They were expecting 50,000 (and I think they came close); the organizers worked on it for 18 months. Went to dinner with the director of the Arizona Historical Society, Bruce D., and Paul Andrew Hutton at Maynard's, a new restaurant in the old train station (where Wyatt and Doc got Frank Stilwell). Long day Sunday out in the Whetstone Mountains hiking up to Cottonwood Springs with guide Bill Evans, Dave Daiss, Dave's doctor—Charlie, and the Top Secret Writer. Got good pics and I'll post them later.

Got up this morning at six and finished the cover for The Battle of Alamo Plaza:

I am disappointed. Had such high hopes for this painting and it ended up in Cartoonland. After I scanned it, Robert Ray stuck his head in my office and said, "Do you want me to send that Low Blows artwork down to Dan?" Ha. Bastard. He as gigging me, as Low Blows was the title of my New Times editorial cartoon book.

The subhead is going to be: History vs. Progress. Guess Who's Winning?

“There is not shortcut to painting; no man can tell you how to do it.”
—N.C. Wyeth

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009
Went home around ten and bailed right into a series of Alamo covers. In typical fashion, I ruined two immediately. Here's they are:

Looks more like Rosy The Riveter than Davy Crockett. Didn't like the building development either. The other one ended up looking more like Che:

This one could be called "The Wrath of Crockett," as Davy cleans out the money changers on Alamo Plaza. Ha. Too biblical for my tastes.

Kept coming back to the original study, which is smaller than the others (it was intended just as a study):

Hmmmm, I really like the compactness of the buildings in this one, with the Alamo squeezed in, and overshadowed by all the signs (which, of course, is the entire point). I have at least another four hours to go, lettering all the signs and bringing out the detail in the skyscrapers. This is problematic because I'm leaving at six in the morning for a book festival in Tucson and then on to Cottonwood Springs to see the probable site of the Curly Bill vs. Wyatt Earp confrontation. Won't get back until Sunday night and issue goes to press on Wednesday.

Here is another set of sketches that shows the basic components I'm trying to squeeze in:

All my paintings are failures until they are successes unless they stay failures, which happens more than I'd like to admit. I also realized this afternoon this is really a glorified editorial cartoon with aspirations of N.C. Wyeth. Speaking of Wyeth, his studio mate when they both studied under Howard Pyle, has something he wants to add to all this:

“I would work my heart out over a series, and then it all seemed small and fleeting when transferred to the magazine page which people turned over and forgot in an instant.”
—Allen True on his disappointment with magazine illustration, 1905
March 13, 2009
I started on the Alamo cover assignment about a week ago. Before that we considered using part of the big painting done for John Wayne's The Alamo, but it had two problems: it was too busy for effective cover copy placement, and, although it's a great painting, it really doesn't look like John Wayne (which is always a plus for commercial covers).

We were going to zone in on a vertical (magazine cover scale) portion of the painting with the three main characters and the Alamo behind them. I even considered doing a new sky (with a neutral cloud bank) and marrying it to the painting in Photoshop, but we ultimately decided we needed something original and unique to our coverage.

Here are my first sketches:

Pretty straight ahead with the typical iconic imagery of Crockett on the ramparts swinging Old Betsy at the attacking Santa Ana hordes. I first envisioned a couple of jarring reminders of the present, like a Burger King patch on a Soldado, and maybe a Ripley's Believe It Or Not sign on a wagon.

That was my angle when I did these sketches last week (at least in the bottom, right hand sketch, which I did first):

I developed a stronger swinging Crockett on Wednesday:

And I have three other versions of this on different sized paper.

Spent yesterday finding and printing out reference pics of the surrounding buildings in San Antonio. Someone, maybe Mark Boardman, said that Ernie's is a popular eatery near the Alamo, so Robert Googled it and printed a jpeg of that as well. Went home at about 5:30 and worked until 7:30 last night on Alamo Plaza architecture and signage:

Now to put all of these elements together in a claustrophobic, multiple vanishing point perspective.

That is my goal today. Gee, I wonder if the legendary painter Mr. Pyle has advice to offer me?

“If, in making a picture, you introduce two ideas, you weaken it by half—if three, it weakens by a compound ratio—if four, the picture will be really too weak to consider at all and the human interest would be entirely lost.”
—Howard Pyle

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12, 2009
Sometimes I chuckle for days over a witty remark. Case in point: The other night I was watching Stephen Colbert interview a guy from NASA. When Stephen asked the guy if he believed in space aliens, the guy said no, and Stephen replied, "Then who's probing me when I go camping."

Too funny. I'm still laughing over this. In fact I'm smiling as I type this. Amazing, the power of zane.

"At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; at forty, the judgment."
—Benjamin Franklin
March 12, 2009
The Alamo cover package is getting better by the hour. Lots of loose ends and quote tweaking, high res images retrieval (Meghan tracked down a photographer in England last night who ended up sending us a great photo of the plaza today, showing all the modern buildings. Everyone shoots away from the sky scrapers.)

The feature layout went down to Dan The Man Harshberger today and he is going to put his creative stamp on it. I'm still wrestling with the cover image. Finally got the action dynamic I wanted last night:

I like the extreme action in this study (Davy, excuse me, David, looks like he's going to take down all the tall buildings with one swing). I pushed Crockett all the way to the left of the design to make room for headlines and text on the right. Now to lay in the hodge podge of buildings and signs.

Debating how modern to render them. Color, or sepia?

“I have seen yesterday. I know tomorrow.”
—inscription in the tomb of King Tut, 1338 BC

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009
Worked last night on desert color schemes and a silhouette idea for the Alamo cover:

This morning I whipped out these sketches, taking the concept a bit further:

I'm thinking of the headline: The Battle For Alamo Plaza

With the subhead: Guess Who's Winning?

May change it, as we move through the process. Or, not.

"It is only the wisest and most foolish that cannot change."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10, 2009
Here's a question I got today that revisits a subject we talked about recently:

On Mar 10, 2009, at 5:06 PM, Tricia wrote:

Hi, I grew up watching Alan Rocky Lane, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, etc. in reruns and even now watch shows or Westerns frequently. We get True West off and on. I hope someday to get further west than Branson (been to CA but as 9 yr old and just Universal Studios in 1979). I'd even like to finish plans to organize a Western and Indian Pow Wow festival here in eastern panhandle of WV where I now live.

My mother and I have questions for you for True West Moment.

I am a Cviil War portraying Confederate spy Belle Boyd and First Lady of Confederacy Varina Davis. I've been an extra in CW movies, but not Westerns (yet!) I'm a sometime pioneer reenactor. I'm used to wearing large hoop dresses as well as camp dresses. I grew up on watching Westerns and wondered about methods of travel. A couple years ago, I saw my first "real" stagecoach. It was supposed to be one used in "Gunsmoke" and was owned by a West Virginia collector. I sat in it. But it was very small inside and narrow. The ones on TV or movies look larger. I wondered if this one was "legitimate" or if the ones on television and in movies were made larger than real life. I recall "Maverick" or "Stagecoach" show and movie for examples. They crammed a lot of people in it.

Can you tell me how large the original stagecoaches were? I know people were smaller, but how many could really sit on one seat and/or in floor?

Two things. First of all, you need to get True West every issue! Because we cover every aspect of every question you have covered.

Yes, stage coaches were smaller than we like to think, however, I was just at the Booth Museum in Cartersville, Georgia and they have both a classic Concord Stagecoach and a mud wagon (which had a lower center of gravity with open sides). Believe it or not, the Concord actually had a middle seat. I have been researching this because in the Apache Kid story, he is being transported to the train station in Casa Grande to be taken to the Yuma Territorial Prison, and on the way there, the sheriff and his deptuy, the stage driver and nine prisoners are in, and on, one stagecoach. They could sit three on each bench and two on the middle bench and two on the box, with room for several more on top. We've got photos (see below) of four or five sitting on top of the stage!

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

This photo was sent to me by Fred Nolan in England. Here we see five Buffalo soldiers on top of the stage and you can clearly see the gent seated in the middle bench inside the stage. When I was in Cartersville, I took a photo of the bench for drawing purposes (they had straps that ran from the ceiling to act as back braces. I'll run that photo another day.

"When a fellow says it ain't the money but the principle of the thing, it's the money."
—Frank McKinney Hubbard
March 10, 2009
Had a design review for the June issue with Robert Ray, Abby Goodrich, Meghan Saar and our intern, Ashley Briggs, at ten this morning. Went over images to make each and every feature pop. Going to do a four-page potato chip on the V-topped boots and knife sheath in front of holster thread that ran in this space several weeks ago. Excellent photos from The Lawmen of Texas.

Going home this afternoon to work on the Alamo cover illustration. Had Robert Ray pull down a Burger King sign, a Ripley's Believe It Or Not logo and the San Antonio skyline. Thanks Google!

Did my six sketches last night at about seven:

Long day. Fighting across a wide front.

"You must not fight too often with one enemy or you will teach him all your art of war."
—Napoleon Bonaparte
March 10, 2009
One of the best cartoonists ever, Gary Trudeau, is currently riffing on the inane Twitter phenom and the recent Geronimo news story where a relative of the Apache leader, Harlan Geronimo, is suing to get back the head of Goyathlay from Yale:

I have a couple connections to this story. I met Mr. Trudeau in the late eighties when he came to Phoenix for a benefit. I really enjoyed talking with him and he's very down to earth.

In August of 1994 I took my kids and made a Geronimo research road trip to New Mexico. In Mescalero, New Mexico I met Harlan Geronimo who claims to be a direct descendant to the legendary warrior (there are several "Geronimo" families in New Mexico who have dubious lineage and they all claim the others are fake). I took a couple photos of Harlan, but one of them really intrigued me. I caught Harlan laughing and when I got the pics back (pre-digital) I was struck with the fact that you rarely see photos of Apaches laughing (fierce warrior, noble savage and all that). I utilized the Harlan photograph to create this pen and ink drawing of "He Who Yawns" yucking it up:

I have long believed that Apaches need to get their zane on (when you get to know them they are very funny):

This cartoon, which ran in the Phoenix New Times upset quite a few white people, but the Apaches I talked to loved it.

I don't really believe the Yale secret society has Geronimo's head even though a letter written by a member of the secret society around the turn of the twentieth century claims they do. My theory is that if they do have an Apache cabeza it's probably Mangas Coloradas, who was beheaded and his head shipped back east for "study." Perhaps as time went on and Mangas' fame declined and Geronimo's celebrity increased, whoever had the head of Mangas switched the name to Geronimo. Anyway, that's my theory, but either way it's too weird, even for a comic strip.

"Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy."
—George Carlin

Monday, March 09, 2009

March 9, 2009
Went home for lunch and tried to save a muddy failure on my studio floor (ruined on Saturday). When you put about four layers of paint on a surface, it turns to mud. Not satisfied, I pushed it to one more level:

Ahhhhh, muddy, mud, mud. He is crying though, but not as hard as I am.

"The trouble with the profit system has always been that it is highly unprofitable to most people."
—E.B. White
March 9, 2009
Woke up to rain this morning. Very nice out. Got a big coyote lying in wait for Peaches every morning. He is so aggressive he's been coming right into the driveway to grab at her.

Had a so-so weekend on art. Made lots of mud. Been working on rim lighting:

But ruined a couple boards trying to extrapolate the effects for a face of anguish. This one, at least is presentable:

But not very anguish oriented. Meanwhile, Deena Bean and Frank came out yesterday for Bobbycakes (dad's pancakes). We got to talking about her trip to Washington D.C. where she spoke at a conference. She also told us how much she enjoyed the Natural History Museum and the art museum. That led to a discussion of the merits of Van Gogh and then to a museum we visited in Madrid in 2003 called El Museo Sorolla, which was in the house of the painter, Joaquin Sorolla. I had forgotten how much I was impressed with this Valencia talent. Got out the book I bought at the museum and poached a couple scenes for my daily sketches:

The sketch at the bottom is called "Madre" which is Spanish for Mother. it's a simple painting of a mother in bed with her newborn. Just their heads are showing. The other Sorolla poach is "Cotilde con sombrero". Cotilde was Joaquin's wife and he painted her wearing her big hat.

Trying to finalize a cover idea for our Alamo package. Thanks to the many comments on this site, I have been noodling a concept of showing Davy, excuse me, David, swinging his trusty Ol' Betsy as he's being overtaken, literally by Burger King, Ripley's Believe It Or Not and various sky scrapers. It's going to be a jarring cover, but then that is the heart of the dilemma.

"In times like these, it's helpful to remember that there have always been times like these."
—Paul Harvey

Sunday, March 08, 2009

March 8, 2009
Almost every week I write something for the Arizona Republic in their Plugged In editorial section. Here's today's comment:

I can't believe a downtown group paid some ad firm $160,000 to come up with an image-makeover slogan for Phoenix—"Arizona's Urban Heart." Are you kidding me? That's just a fancy way of saying, "We finally have an urban mess like the rest of you." Vegas has a great slogan: "What happens here, stays here." With that in mind, here are three more accurate brands, totally free:

• "If it's happenin', we eventually get it."

• "Light rail, heavy mental."

• "Phoenix: Rising from the ashes like molasses."

End of comments. Staff writer E.J. Montini also had a column about this ridiculously weak slogan. E.J. mentioned two slogans from other locales that I loved:

• "New Jersey: You Got A Problem With That?"

• "Miami: You May Not Get Shot."

This last one was written by Dave Barry, of course. Brilliant. I think the best one I've heard, since this hit the papers is one I assume E.J. thought up:

"Phoenix: Chill."

Friday, March 06, 2009

March 6, 2009
Went home for lunch and whipped out another face of anguish (this is number 8). Had a good Harper's Weekly muttonchops-faced guy to emulate. For some reason he came out looking like Sean Connery:

I guess an alternate title would be: "Sean Connery Loses An Erection."

Or, maybe not.

"It is only the wisest and most foolish that cannot change."
—Old Vaquero Saying
March 6, 2009
We're working on a big, Alamo package for the May issue. There is an ongoing fight, on how to best honor the site. Historian and filmmaker Gary Foreman has put together a very creative plan to recreate the entire fort with all of the original walls, so that visitors can experience what that space looked like during the battle (many tourists come to the Alamo site and look puzzled, usually before commenting, "Gee, they all fit in this tiny church for the fight?"). So, to that end it would be great for visitors to have a good perspective on the historic fight. However, many historians are dead set against the plans, because it calls for tearing down other historic buildings (some from the 1850s), and as the city grew up around the site, today we have a Burger King, curios, a Ripley's Believe It Or Not and other cheesy stuff. In Foreman's plan, these buildings would come down and a historically accurate replica of the fort would be put up.

To this, Paul Andrew Hutton says, "You don't build something fake on historic ground."

Within that sentence is the heart of the fight. It's amazing, we're still fighting over the Alamo. Going to be very controversial, which really means it will be a good issue.

Meanwhile, I worked last night on classic landscape designs, poaching from the masters:

Yes, that's Maynard Dixon in two, Turner, Parrish, Leigh and Frank Tenney in the others.

"True freedom lies in the realization and calm acceptance of the fact that there may very well be no perfect answer."
—Allen Reid McGinnis

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 5, 2009
Went home for lunch and whipped out another face of anguish. I know, I know, enough of anguish, but I have to illustrate this narrative line: "Thousands died from every side." And while I won't do a thousand, I need at least a dozen to convey the carnage both in Mexico and the U.S. during the Apache wars. Here's a grimacing vaquero buying he farm:

Meanwhile, I'm cruisin' on sketches. These are 8,275 thru 8,281:

Got the abstract bent going, probably as a counter to all of the realistic stuff on Big Billy and Little Mickey:

"When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike you, don not wait until he has struck before you crush him."

—Franklin D. Roosevelt
March 5, 2009
Went home a little early last night and spent an hour on the Big Billy oil painting. Laid in a new sky:

Trying to capture that nighttime, murky sky. So so results. Feel somewhat like I'm working against the wind here. Gee, I wonder if old Winston has a metaphor about this?

"Kites rise highest against the wind—not with it."
—Winston Churchill

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

March 4, 2009
Got a question on a line from the movie True Grit:

In the movie True Grit, after the shootout with Lucky Ned Pepper at the cabin and our group was back at the outpost with the Indian scouts, John Wayne's character turned to Glen Campbell's character and said "You backed up?". What does this mean? I hope you have an answer, it's driving me crazy.
—Mike Owens

I didn't know the answer so I asked screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook and a couple other movie guys but they didn't know either, so I sent it to Marshall Trimble:

I had to order a dvd of the film from Amazon to find the answer for you as none of my western movie experts could remember the line but here's what it's all about. Right after the shootout Lucky Ned Pepper gets away because La Boeuf (Glen Campbell opens fire too soon). Rooster tells him they will take the bodies of the slain men to the trading post and leave their bodies to be buried. La Beouf protests saying they're letting Lucky Ned get away. Rooster gets very irritated and tells him to "Back off," and proceeds to tell him exactly where Pepper is heading. Then Rooster says to La Beouf, "Are you backed off?" This is his follow up remark to "Back off," and what Rooster means is, "Do you savvy what I'm trying to tell you." As you know, from their first meeting, Rooster is annoyed with the young upstart Texas Ranger and won't put up with him questioning his actions. By the way, I hadn't seen True Grit in a while and even though I've seen it several times, I always enjoy it. Now I have a copy of my own.

—Marshall Trimble

PS. If you'll send me your town/state of residence I'll forward this on to the editors of True West. They require that info before they'll publish a Q/A.
March 4, 2009
Been working on broadening my color palette in my six sketches a day. Did these last night:

From time to time I get queried by youngsters regarding a career in history. Here's one I got this morning:

On Mar 3, 2009, at 5:59 PM, Stephanie wrote:

Dear Bob Boze Bell,
Hello, my name is Stephanie Burnside and am a subscriber to True West Magazine. I love to learn about the American West. My favorite people to learn about are Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. But my most favorite is Billy the Kid. I am considering becoming a historian and a writer when I go to college in 2010 and am wondering if you could share any of your favorite things about what you do. I was also wondering if you would recommend any good books on Billy the Kid. If you have any interesting information to share with me I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Stephanie Burnside

How great that you are interested in history. First of all, like you, I have loved the Old West since I was a kid, and I am living my dream. I do exactly what my passion is: finding out the truth about history, and creating articles that tell the true stories of the West. It doesn't get any better than that.

You need to read anything by Frederick Nolan and Robert Utley on the subject of the Kid. Michael Wallis has a new book out on the Kid that is good. And, may I humbly suggest, you need my Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid to put it all in perspective.

Also, check out our Community at truewestmagazine.com as we talk about Billy the Kid almost daily and some of the big names in the field are on there sharing new finds, etc.

Good luck to you on your journey, and don't give up. Remember this: 95% of people have jobs they got from a relative or a friend. That means, in most cases, the job chose them, they didn't choose the job. So if you set out to be a historian and actually become one, you will be automatically in the rare 5% of the population. You also need to go to the University of New Mexico and study under Distinguished Professor Paul Andrew Hutton. He loves all the things you love and he will guide you to the Promised Land.

And finally, remember that work is only work if you'd rather be someplace else. And I'm exactly where I want to be. I hope you join us in the field.


"Hooray for the last grand adventure! I wish I had won, but it was worthwhile anyway."
—Ameilia Earhart

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 3, 2009
Our Managing Editor, Meghan Saar, talked to Phil Spangenberger this morning and he's still in a lot of pain after his stroke. Thanks to all of you who have sent cards. We are forwarding them on to Phil's wife Linda.

Meanwhile, here's a photo of Phil on the set of 2002's Hidalgo, looking mighty sharp, as always.

Jim Hatzell sent the photo. Both Jim and Phil worked on the Disney Western.

It's easy to remember the first time I met Phil. It was at 2:30, October 26, 1981 at the 100th Anniversary of the Gunfight Behind the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. I didn't see any advertisements or hear about any events, I just knew I wanted to be there at 2:30. Turned out, Harold Love, the owner of the O.K. Corral, had quite a show planned and Phil was the main performer.

I always thought Phil had a big ensemble re-enactor group that worked with him, but come to find out, Phil showed up solo, worked out his routine with three guys he had just met (the show was so flawless I thought they had been working together for decades). I took a photo afterwards. Here's Phil, center in red. They are standing behind Fly's Boarding House. That's Richard Ignarski on the right:

This is the day I met both Phil and Richard. Also in the audience, but I didn't know it at the time, were Jeff Morey Lee Silva and Bob McCubbin.

"You S.O.B.s have been looking for a show and now you can have it."
—Phil Spangenberger, in the corral
March 3, 2009
Went home for lunch and finished up another anguished face:

Really struggled with this one. In fact, it was ruined a couple times, but I kept going. Over the past few months I've learned how to knock back passages that are too strong with pure water and brush strokes. It's one of the by products, or benefits, of my 10,000 drawings exercise. The more one paints, the bolder one gets and the bolder one gets, the more one learns about the elasticity of paint on paper.

Anyway, the Bluecoat is mighty anguished, ain't he?

Meanwhile, I found a very strong cloud piece I did last year:

Very moody and strong. I'm going to create an entire sequence, starting with this scene and cutting to a dance in the White Mountains. The Apaches love to dance and come from miles around. Of course, just like in our culture there are those who can't dance very well. . .

"He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven."
—Old Vaquero Saying