Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 27, 2009
Lots of great comments from Sunday's Arizona Republic article on the O.K. Corral. Although the piece was only 600 words, it was a major challenge to make sure all the info was correct. For example, number of feet between buildings (18), number of shots fired (30, "approximate"), age of Doc Holliday (30), year of the first Helldorado (1929), the actual name of Walter Noble Burns' book (Tombstone: An Illiad of the Southwest) to name but a few of the facts that needed checking and double-checking. But, after all these years of doing this (40+), I instinctively knew no matter how much due diligence we did there would still be something I missed. Got this email this morning:

"I enjoyed your Arizona Republic article on 'Why the O.K. Corral still captivates.' One small point, Walter Noble Burns was not a sportswriter. He was a literary editor for the Inter-Ocean and a crime reporter in the main for the Trib, with occasional articles on different subjects, but not sports. He also covered the Pershing expedition to capture and punish Pancho Villa- see my article in the current Wild West History Association Journal.

"Imagine a sports writer trying to write about Wyatt Earp! Hah! It'll never happen!"
—Mark Dworkin

Mark is making a joke about Allen Barra and Casey Tefertiller, both sports writers who have done books on Wyatt Earp.

Speaking of mistakes, we've received a number of phone calls and emails, like the phone call I got yesterday from Brian Gardner, a subscriber from Grove, Oklahoma who told me the photo in the current issue on page 51 is not Jock Mahoney, but is Guy Madison. Both actors wore fringed leather pullovers and are somewhat similar in appearance, but Brian is correct:

100 Covers: The Collector's Editions
After the departure of our editor and the success of the Wyatt Earp issue (Feb. 2001) we knew we were onto something. We decided to march through the icons of the west, featuring them one at a time, like this cover on Geronimo:

We also decided to extend this concept by having guest editors who were the foremost experts in their field. We sent out faux Wanted Posters with a $1,000 Reward to all of the Old West organizations and within no time we had one of our first guest editors:

Paul Andrew Hutton was an excellent editor for Custer. Not only did he provide the great cover art (Hutton's collection of Western history materials is a literal treasure chest. He has filled an entire condo with his stuff), but Hutton also brought to the table some very big names in the history field which gave us some much needed credibility. This issue is the only issue on my watch that we went back to the printer and printed another 5,000 copies because the Little Bighorn Battlefield Museum requested more copies. The last time I was there they were still selling this issue (eight years later!).

Next up, Wild Bill:

Of course we knew Doc Holliday would sell, so we went to Dr. Gary Roberts as our guest editor:

And, by the way, the "Collector Edition" banner on the covers created a 10% to 15% increase in sales on the newsstand. Things were really clipping along, but on the morning of September 11th, as I sat at the dining room table with Jesse James-Northfield, Minnesota expert Jack Koblas going over the route of the James-Younger gang's escape, the phone rang.

"Turn on the TV. Someone flew a plane into the World Trade Center."

Everything came to a standstill. It took me four days to get home from Minnesota (all flights were canceled for several days). When I got back to the office, things were glum. Everyone was depressed, business was bleak. It shows in our January issue (which we were working on in September and October):

It would be a slow climb back to any kind of normalcy, but we were up to the challenge.

"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go but ought to go."
—Rosalynn Carter

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