Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26, 2009
Two great quotes I gleaned from yesterday's New York Times Book Reviews:

"There is no standard nowadays of elegant letter writing, as there used to be in our time. It is a sort of go as you please development, and the result is atrocious."
—An unnamed woman at the turn of the Twentieth Century criticizing the postcard craze

"Our desire to outstrip Time has been fatal to more things than love. We have minimized and condensed our emotions. . .We have destroyed the memory of yesterday with the worries of tomorrow. . .We do not feel and enjoy; we assimilate and appropriate."
—A 1901 British newspaper editorial bemoaning the telegraph, as quoted in "The Tyranny of E-Mail" by John Freeman

Continuing our march through our first 100 covers of True West, as the year 2000 ended with a tepid tone, I felt I needed to turn up the heat a bit to get some much needed attention for our efforts. The old stuff did not seem to be working. At the O.K. Cafe in Tombstone I told one of my partners that I intended to run a topless gunfighter on the cover of the next issue. Bob McCubbin was not pleased with this news, but I proceeded anyway:

The January 2001 cover raised some eyebrows, but not newsstand sales. To boot, it was at this time that Marcus Huff and I got crossways over the editing of Old West Journal and he stormed out of our offices. With my back to the wall, I made a bold decision: I tore up the half-finished February issue, and inserted in its place, a 32-page excerpt from my book on Wyatt Earp. I asked our art director Dan Harshberger to pull out the stops and give me an arresting cover that asked questions. Here is the cover Dan The Man came up with:

This cover is not only arresting, it broke all records for sell-thru and remains today the best selling issue in our 100 cover march. We have four copies left and they sell for $250 each. We have several times tried to recreate the elements of this cover to hopefully capture lightning in a bottle one more time, but none of the knockoffs (and you will recognize them as we go along) have come close to this home run. This cover and this issue put us back in the game. There would be more successes in 2001 but, as the year progressed, none of us knew then what we know now.

"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera."
—Dorothea Lange

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