Got a call this morning from a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, who is doing an obit piece on Ted Yeatman, who passed away on November 1. After praising Yeatman's stellar research and skills regarding Jesse James, Fred Rasmussen, the reporter, asked me how I got along with Ted. That was a tough one. Ted was a challenge for my staff, to say the least. I tried to answer as honestly as I could.
100 Covers: From Wipeout to Mickey Free
As we close in on the last two years of covers on our march from the January 2000 issue to today, it's interesting to me to note how wide the swings are for themes on covers. Here's our January, 2008 cover:
In the fall of 2007 I attended True Grit Days in Ridgeway, Colorado. For three days, Jason Strykowski and I sat in a tent and looked out at a constant stream of 200-plus people waiting to get a peek at Angie Dickinson, Johnny Crawford and Kim Darby.
Sitting there it became crystal clear to me: we live in a celebrity driven culture. Thousands of people came to this tiny town to see the three of them, while we sat there with one or two people coming up. The celebrity tent had long lines all weekend (snaking right in front of us). We quickly realized we needed to work the lines and began giving mags to many of them. On the way home, it finally sank in to me why Cowboys & Indians runs a celeb on each and every cover.
First came Russell Crowe and Glenn Ford on our 3:10 to Yuma cover (see October, 2007), then came Brad Pitt as Jesse James, followed by Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men, and we followed that into January of 2008 with:
Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. As with most trends, the strength and length of it depends on results and when I attended the Dude Ranchers Association confab in Cody, Wyoming in January of 2008, I brought along these covers in a power point presentation and showed them to the banquet dinner crowd of about 300 people (all dude ranch owners or ranch hands). I was stunned when I asked for a show of hands and only one guy in the room had seen all three movies (and he was from New York!). A handful had seen 3:10 to Yuma. That's when another realization hit me: they may be bigtime celebrities but not that many Westerners are seeing their movies. Ha. This ended, or at least curtailed my shortlived love affair with Western movie stars on the cover.
It was during this stretch, in February of 2008, that I had my heart attack while playing "Wipeout" at a reunion band gig in Kingman. My able staff worked on without me for about six weeks. Although I worked on the April cover concept, not much inside came from my hand:
I really like this cover of Geronimo: the idea that the Travel Issue banner is on the wall behind him, like a Wild West poster. Very clever, Dan The Man!
When I got back in harness I became obsessed with amber glow. I noticed that photographs with an amber glow, especially log cabins with the lights on, really appealed to me. I wondered if that might be true on covers. So, that idea led to this cover:
I was obsessed with having just a couple lights on in the house behind Buffalo Bill.
We had some controversy on the next cover choice for obvious reasons, but I still like the cover:
The July issue was supposed to have amber glow but it didn't quite get there:
Switching gears, in August we featured a wonderful black and white image of a cowboy, his boy and a dog:
It doesn't get much better than this for my tastes. Back to amber glow for the September issue:
Although I normally rave about Dan The Man's design, I can't say this cover is one of my faves:
I chose the photo because of the cool hat Charlie Russell had on and it's totally buried behind the logo. However, Dan totally redeemed himself with the next cover:
This really has all of the design elements I dig, along with understated elegance and yes, a touch of amber glow. Perfecto! Dan hand colored the sepia photograph and did a masterful job. It was a great way to end a tumultuous year.
Next up: the year we are living in now. Ha.
“Watch out for the idiot behind me.”