Really chilly this morning, but it's supposed to get up to 80 today. The Top Secret Writer is coming out for lunch today to go over our wayward half-breed, Mickey Free.
We got attacked by five beefy javelinas last night (our gates are off, being fixed and we piled chairs and wooden barricades in the gaps but the Bastards blew right by that). Peaches was going crazy. I finally took a mop and, while making a modified version of my coyote disperser voice, herded them out the gate. But not before they knocked over the chicken feed barrels and ate all the chicken food. They came back twice more in the night because they are pigs after all, so we didn't get a great night's sleep.
100 Covers: Dead Man Tells A Tall Tale
As we moved into 2004 we utilized one of our strongest weapons, Phil Spangenberger, and turned him loose to do a major feature on Six-guns of the gunfighters:
In March, we tackled a growing problem in the Western field and that is fake stuff being sold for outrageous prices. Dan The Man created a spectacular cover, one of my all-time favorites of any we have done:
In fact, I would put this cover in the top five faves of all we have done. This type of cover entered our lexicon, as in, "I think it's time for another Big Face cover."
In April we introduced our very popular True West Maniac Club and within a few months sold 1,000 plus memberships:
For May we tackled the transcontinental railroad and David Crockett:
With the failure of The Alamo and The Missing (Ron Howard's Western with Tommy Lee Jones), and the moderate box office success of Hidalgo we didn't have much faith in a new HBO series to be called Deadwood. Lo and behold, it was a roaring success and we rushed to make hay with it:
In July we went back to the Old West icons and played with the cover magic of numbers:
Yes, for some reason people buy covers with numbers on them. Sales prove it. Unfortunately, when everyone starts using numbers then the effectiveness is diluted.
In August I rolled the dice and put a dead man on the cover:
Several business types cautioned me against doing this, but I was determined to get some attention for our little ol' magazine. I can't say it was a total success, but I did get a phone call from a pretty hip guy in Boulder, Colorado (he's a film producer) and he told me he saw it on the newsstand and went, "Now, there's a cover with attitude!" Ha. Totally anecdotal, but it made the gamble worth it to me.
Sticking with the death kick, I did a blood soaked cover to draw attention to a big feature on The Wild Bunch:
While visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming I saw a great rodeo poster of African-American rodeo legend Bill Pickett. Thanks to our friends there, we got a good scan of it and utilized it for a cover story in October:
We ended the year with a great cheesecake shot of Dale Evans in all her cowgirl glory:
As we approached our fifth year with True West we expanded travel, did another stunt cover (this one with Jesus! Yikes!) and had the audacity to ask the question: Is The Wyatt Earp Era Over?
Got some interesting feedback on that one. Ha.
“Yes, it is well known that all Texas Rangers have Mexican blood. On their boots.”
—Annie Proulx, Accordion Crimes