For the past week or so, I've been studying famous battle paintings and I've noticed that the fighters in the portrayals always seem to be of two types: the heroic, chest-out defiant one (think Joan of Arc or Custer), and the fatally injured, but heroically posed woe-is-me-dying pose, complete with knitted eyebrows and a hand to the breast right out of some 1890s melodrama. These have never seemed very accurate to me. They certainly don't look like the fights I have witnessed growing up (true, they weren't gunfights, but still, a rock fight on the playground must have some similarities, no?)
When I was in high school we often had fights in the park next to the "new building," at lunchtime. The cry would go out, "A Fight in the park!" And off we'd go to see some fistful of testosterone carnage. Or, more accurately, "Hey, Mickey Campa is going to beat up someone. See you in the park!"
Mickey was our resident fisticuffs champ and I have personally seen him wail on more than one face.
One time two guys were goaded into meeting in the park. One was a good guy, a Mexican kid, and the other a scraggy white guy, like me. We all met in the park, but the two guys didn't want to fight. They were prodded and goaded and chided but they didn't really want to be doing this. Finally, a friend of the white guy, a dude named Stan Legg, jumped into the fray and said, "Oh, what the hell," and he punched the Mexican guy with a so-so haymaker. Suddenly the entire crowd went ballistic and while four or five In-dins (the Hualapais were there supporting the Mexican dude) jumped Stan and, as they staggered across the grass, all legs and fist flying, the rest of the crowd broke into small fights here and there. Me, I was doing the sideways shuffle, with my hands up at chest height and ducking, weaving and bobbing, trying to find the exit. Which I did successfully.
All through biology class my heart was beating so fast I could barely sit still.
As promised here are a series of illustrations I have been working over the long weekend, trying to capture that sideways shuffle I have personally witnessed:
Here are a few more sideways shuffle studies:
And here are those sketches applied to the heat of the Mesilla Brawl On The Mall:
From this fight I switched gears and did some sketches for the Burnside Rifle Classic Gunfight:
The newspaper reported that the two shooters, who were 80 paces apart missed each other, in part, because a dust storm enveloped the dueling site obliterating the field of fire:
Decent dust and wind effects. Gee, I wonder what ol' Alighieri has to say about that?
"Worldly fame is but a breath of wind that blows now this way, now that, and changes name as it changes direction."