The Arizona Republic has asked me to do an editorial on Why Do We Remember the O.K. Corral? Handed in the copy on Monday and now I'm doing a scratchboard illustration to go along with it.
I found this early effort, from 1981:
Not too shabby. Yes, this was in 1981 during the centennial year of the fight, and this was before I knew what Doc Holliday was wearing (gray, broad-brimmed hat and long gray coat). Of course there are other nitpicks in the piece as you'll see in the subsequent sketches I worked on this morning:
I like the idea that the center would be neutral space from the gunsmoke, so I'm trying to bend the perspective to get a more dynamic design:
I rather like the design, above, at left. And it has Ike Clanton running away, Morgan just went down and Virgil is about to get a bullet in the calf of his leg.
You'd think by now, I could do this scene in my sleep, and to some degree I can. Plus I have superb photo reference, starting with a super 8mm film I took from the roof of Fly's Boarding House on October 26, 1981 during the centennial re-enactment in Tombstone. In addition to that I have restaged the fight a couple of times, most notably at Pioneer Living History Museum in 1992 when I utilized a ladder and did the fight shot for shot.
Here's a still photo taken from my 8mm film in 1981 (they re-enacted the fight twice, and I shot it once from the roof and once from the ground):
In about 2003 we went to Tombstone to do a photo shoot with Jennifer Tilly and ended up in the corral (bottom photo, above) with a group of PRC cowboys dressed pretty damn close to history. Notice Ike Clanton's bandaged head, and Tom McLaury's untucked blue shirt (that's Wes Fuller at the left end, and behind him is the head of the Billy Clanton statuette seemingly bugged at our revisionist interpretation). Even with all of this great reference I still have problems capturing the image I have in my head.
It doesn't help that several days ago I got an email critique from a Navajo-Cherokee In-din sitting in a bar in Wichita:
"You're so-so as an artist (and you know it) but your gem is you know how to promote."