Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30, 2010
Mighty oppressive out. High 111, overnight lows in the low eighties. As I'm fond of telling everyone, this is the weather that keeps out the riff raff.

However, one of the positive by products of this severe weather is the big clouds that come our way. Here is a study I did last night of a careening thunderhead over Skull Mesa, north of our house:

Big and broiling, floating mountains, two miles high. As much as I'd like to join my neighbors up in the cool pines of the Mogollon Rim, the trade off is getting to witness these wonders.

Doing these little summer cloud studies is therapy for me. It actually relaxes me. Sometimes this makes me feel guilty with so many art assignments on my plate, but I can't help it. It's almost instinctual. Gee I wonder what ol' Burke has to say about this?

"Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out."

—Michael Burke

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29, 2010
Working on a big rodeo issue for the fall. Have a great story on the legendary Casey Tibbs by Stuart Rosebrook. Going to be sweet.

My good friend Shay Maxwell has developed an online faro casino. Check it out right here.

We are starting to get the big clouds now. Was looking for some sketches in my studio and found this from last summer:

Also, found this canyon sketch that has some nice attributes:

Did this almost two years ago. This was when I was closing in on the 10,000 bad drawings quest. If I learned one thing from that exercise it is that the looser you paint, the better the chances are you'll eventually hit on something that works. I'm much more likely to bail into a study because of this daily regimen.

Gee, I wonder if ol' Kettering has anything to say about this?

"Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don't want to fail is the last time you try something. . .one fails forward toward success."
—Charles F. Kettering

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28, 2010
Just got off the phone with Hugh O'Brian. He's 85 and still as feisty as ever. Wants me to send him a list of shows he should attend. Also, a friend of mine is writing Hugh's biography and is pitching on us doing excerpts in True West.

Ever sit around and wonder what Ed Mell's art studio in Phoenix looks like? You know, the one I spent six years sharing with him? Well, wonder no more. Here is a sneak peek.

On Poker, The Cowboy Game
"Our national card game still combines Puritan values—self control, diligence, the steady accumulation of savings insured by the F.D.I.C.—with what might be called the open-market cowboy's desire to get very rich very quickly. . .Yet whenver the big-bet cowboy folds a weak hand, he submits to his puritan side."
—James McManus, in Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker
June 28, 2010
Kathy is on a classified trip to interview soldiers coming back to the states from Afghanistan. Can't even say where it is or what she is doing. Very proud of her. She will be there a month.

We have a design meeting this morning to go over the July and August issues. Our art director, Dan The Man Harshberger is on his way out here even as you read this.

Worked this weekend on an Apache Kid sequence: The Fight In The cave:

If an Apache sits by a fire with his back to the world it means one of two things: he's contemplating the end, or he's decided his own end.

The Apache Kid sits alone in a cave the Yaquis call "Hole In The Sky". He is tired of running, tired of being alone. He knows the fire will give away his position but he doesn't care:

In the morning they appear at the mouth of the cave and he is ready:

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires. . .courage."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25, 2010
Like October 26, July 14 and 9•11, today is one of those dates we history buffs notch and reflect on what happened out in the middle of Nowhere, Montana in 1876. A perfect storm of what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong. To me, the craziest part of how perfect it was, is that after Reno's charge, Crazy Horse spent an hour getting his makeup on before entering the battle, and they still won. Just bizarre and amazing. But then, the whole thing is crazy extraordinary in every detail.

Apache Endurance
Working on a new batch of True West Moments and I'm going to feature the Apache woman (I believe her name has been lost to history) who was captured by Mexican slave traders in the 1870s, sold and shipped from the mainland of Mexico to Baja, where she was purchased by a rancher in the mountains. She worked as a servant for some time, but began hoarding food and planned her escape. She left in the middle of the night, heading east to the Sea of Cortez. Once she located the water, she turned left and outran, and out-foxed the hunting parties sent out to catch her. She made it to Yuma Crossing, and waded across the most shallow part of the Colorado River (she couldn't swim), and from there joined a couple other Indian women as they traveled up the Gila River. They were attacked by another tribe and her companions killed but she made it all the way back to the White Mountains of eastern Arizona to her family. She was rescued by her brother-in-law and in Apache custom they must not look at each other face to face, but they allegedly made an exception in this case and she made it home after a extraordinary run (how many miles is it from the interior of Baja, say San Felipe, back to Fort Apache? 500 miles?).

Now, here's where I need your help. Where did I get this story? Ha. Was it in Bourke? I know it's in the Geronimo library somewhere, but I can't place it. Let me know if you know where this story came from so I can substantiate the main points. Thanks.

"Move and the way will open."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24, 2010
One of our sales reps, Joe Freedman, has a very interesting group of childhood friends. Joe grew up in the Detroit area and his crew of buds includes the director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and another director Josh Becker (Princess Xena) and actor Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and Burn Notice), actor Tim Quill (been in every Raimi movie). There's actually a couple others, but I'll stop there. Pretty amazing group of guys.

Evil Dead: The Musical is being presented by Nearly Naked Theatre at the Phoenix Theatre in the Little Theatre trhough July 3rd. More info at

Speaking of nearly naked theatre:

"The new measurement of success is not by how much you're growing, but whether or not you're still here."
—Sharla Hartgraves, co-owner of Here on the Corner boutique in Tempe
June 24, 2010
Robert Ray came in my office and asked me if I have read the article for the next issue about the English couple hiking up to Fort Bowie last September and as they were ambling along (it's a mile from the parking lot to the fort site), all of a sudden, up on a ridge they spied U.S. cavalry making their way along. They just about dropped in their tracks, it was so surreal. Turns out it is a cavalry group that annually reenacts the shipping of Geronimo back east in 1886. Chris Zimmerman, is that your group?

Speaking of Chris, here are some of my sketches poached from his photos of the group in action:

Yes, the photos were taken by Ty Holland. Meanwhile, here is another stab at cavalry and Tom Horn:

And here are a couple more buffalo soldier studies:

"Victims say "We have no heroes anymore' but that's ot true. If we would open our eyes, we would see more heroes than ever before. The first one each day is right there in the mirror."
—Steve Chandler

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 22, 2101
Supposed to hit 111 today. Got the misters on in the chicken house which creates a funny scene. As you may know chickens aren't real fond of water (madder than a wet hen), and it's hilarious to see them avoid the misters (some drip a little bit too much), then run back, freak out, leave, come back, get cool, get hot, never satisfied to stay in one place. Kind of like stock traders on Wall Street, no?

Had some mule thoughts this morning and how it applies to Mickey Free. Found this page of sketches from last year:

Struggling With The Struggle
Some days I wake up and wonder what the hell I am doing. As I drink my coffee I think about how publishing a magazine is kind of like running in front of a train. Then I go for a walk with Peaches, hear the birds, look at the saguaros and feel a bit better. Then, I come back and read the obits, stunned every single day by how damn young so many dead people are. Then I go out to the studio to sit and ponder my future. I draw a page of sketches, then go into work where the fan sometimes is really blowing real hard, if you know what I mean and I think you do. So, it's a struggle and sometimes I wish it would end, or come to a happy resolution so I could relax a bit.

Gee, I wonder what ol' Sigmund has to say about this?

"One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful."

—Sigmund Freud

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010
Getting up to 110 today. Yesterday, when I was driving home from the office the entire town looked deserted. Nobody out on the streets or in the cafes or even at the post office. Too hot. Kind of liked it. It keeps the riff raff out.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the promotion of our Managing Editor, Meghan Saar, to Editor of True West magazine. Meghan has worked here almost eight years as managing editor and in that time she has impressed everyone with her passion for excellence and especially her inspiring work ethic. Please join me in applauding her elevation to a major leadership role in our company.

Escalante's Elbow
In Escalante, Utah I met a dog named Elbow. Actually, "met" is too strong since the lazy lug never woke up the entire time I was there with Ed Mell eating a veggie green chile burger made for us by a pretty cook named Ellie:

"A man is what he thinks about all day long."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21, 2010
Had a nice quiet Father's Day. Went into the Beast last night to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at Harkins' Camelview 5. This is the Swedish language version with subtitles of the mega-successful trilogy (Hollywood is making an English speaking version even as you read this). Enjoyed it, very sadistic and sexually violent (those Swedes!) but it has a new kind of female lead who I can't imagine Hollywood allowing, say, Sandra Bullock, to be so morally ambiguous (same thing happened to the English version of La Femme Nikita where a French speaking stone cold killer gets watered down to "appeal" to American tastes). It was long, though and Kathy said they were quite true to the book.

Cinematic Scenarios
Worked quite a bit on a variety of cinematic scenarios, like this:

This is a sequence of Los Muertos villagers, who Mickey Free encounters, walking through the dust stirred up by red-eyed Mexican cattle on the dry lake bed beyond the road to Fronteras.

Meanwhile, here is a frame from the sequence of General Crook's massive, punative expedition into Mexico against Geronimo:

And, here's a scene from Cole Younger's troubled dream of bloody, Minnesota cornfields:

Bad news from Hollywood: the new Jonah Hex Western opened last Friday and "bombed" with "just $5.1 million." Ouch! We really wanted it to do well. The review I read said it looked good but was just a tad short on story. Gee, I wonder what ol' Elbert has to say about this?

"The line between failure and success is so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at t atime when a little more effort, a little effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success."
—Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010
Bob Brink lent me his copy of The Publisher: Henry Luce And His American Century and I finished it last night. Brilliant, but weird guy. Of course, he co-founded Time magazine, created Life magazine, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, and he made a gazillion dollars, but he sure seemed like a lonely, depressed guy. He was married to Clare Boothe Luce, who comes off like a total nut job. A prominent psychiatrist gave her LSD in 1958 to help cure her depression and she liked it so much (and took numerous trips) she encouraged Harry to take some for the sake of their marriage. Dr. Sidney Cohen accompanied Clare to Phoenix where the Luces had a home in the Biltmore. The doctor dosed the publishing magnate, and took notes. This is Harry's trip, described by the doctor, after taking 100 Gamma of LSD: "at 11:45 Harry sat at his desk, lit a cigarette, and began reading Lionel Trilling's biography of Matthew Arnold, interrupting himself occassionally to discuss the relationship between Arnold and Cardinal Newman." it goes on, and he does see some vivid colors about two hours later, but that is some strange, but bland trip, no?

Speaking of strange trips, I told my kids yesterday at an early Father's Day dinner at our house, that I have felt like Scrooge in Christmas Carol with all these people out of my past revisiting me. First, Andy Opsal contacted me on Facebook (he Googled Swea City, Iowa and my bio came up). Andy asked if I remembered him being our neghbor in Swea City and I responded, "I don't think I would forget the kid who told me there was no Santa Claus." He had no memory of it, but it really freaked me out (bad trip!). I didn't know who to turn to but when I got home from college I asked my mother what the deal was. No, just joking. I was seven, but probably still too old to be believing in Santa anyway. In the good news department I learned to ride a bike on Andy's front lawn with his parent's pushing me along until I finally got the hang of it. A very vivid memory.

A day or so after hearing from Andy, an old dorm suite mate from Cochise Hall at the University of Arizona contacted me. His name is Mike Roberts and he was a walk-on middle guard for the Wildcats in 1965, got kicked off the team for throwing a smoke bomb in Apache Dorm, got transferred to our dorm and almost immediately ordered a whole bunch of pizzas with an old checkbook he had found in his roommate's belongings (his roommate was Don Wilhelm, also on the football team and a kicker who held the record for the longest field goal for quite some time). My Kingman roommate, Steve Burford and I were appalled by this larceny, but I seem to remember we ate some free pizza. Later, Mike got into trouble again, didn't have any money to go home to Pittsburg so I took him home to Kingman on Spring Break. We went to Sam's Pool Hall on Front Street, next to the Beale Hotel and according to Mike he sank the nine ball twice, once on each break—in a friendly game of nine ball. Some tough (Chicken Esquibel?) wanted to take him apart, but Mike claims I interceded and saved his life.

Mike joined the marines and came back to the U of A in 1969 and as he was walking across the mall, he heard a rock band and, in his uniform, came striding up to see me playing drums (probably on Born to Be Wild). He said I called him out on the microphone. I don't remember this, but it does have the ring of semi-rock-band-probability to it.

Next up, another U of A neighbor, Tim Coury, called me and said he had some stuff I might want. He came out and we went to lunch at El Encanto. He brought me a whole stack of stuff. I recently posted his collection of old Dick Matric comic strips I created and that ran in the daily Wildcat, along with photos of me and him on dirt bikes, and he also saved my Sociologist 101 notebook (Kathy thinks is really weird). And, for good measure, Tim gave me a stash of old Life magazines (more on that in a minute).

Rolland Serrano, who got his first job washing dishes for 50 cents an hour at the Tideway Cafe in Kingman saw the photo I posted of Al Bell's Flying A and the Tideway Cafe, and contacted me. We haven't seen each other in 40 years. Then, out of the blue, in comes Alan Tapija and Tommy Acuna to my office. Both Kingman kids. Alan was an excellent second baseman and we were both on the first Kingman Little League team to win the Northern Arizona Championship in 1959. We both laughed remembering when we got kicked out of the Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff because one of our teammates threw water balloons from our room on the second floor, hitting businessmen and a woman on the street.

On Friday I had lunch with Linda Smith and Rachel Bonza, two Kingman honeys, and they told me, among other things, they had lunch recently with Chuck Pectovitch, who, amazingly, is the guy who threw the water balloons and got us kicked out of the Weatherford Hotel.

So, this morning I spied the old Life magazines at the foot of the bed and I thought I would take a look and see what was going on in 1961. "The Recession Is Over" was one headline, and "terrorists" in France killed a mayor and injured a dozen more with a bomb. The "insurgents" were fighting over who would represent Algeria. Soviet dancers created a "socialist satire" on rock n roll called "Back to the Monkeys," which ironically predates the Beatles and the Monkeys. John Steinbeck wrote a piece on an oil rig in the Pacific digging "to get core samples of the earth's never-before-penetrated second layer" at 601 feet below the water! Wow! Wonder if that will ever be beat?

Wince City
Big ads for Royal Typewriters, the '61 Buick ("as fine, as new, as you can go"), the Argus self-threading movie projector (under $100), a transistor RCA Victor radio that will fit in your pocket ($24.95) and this gem: "How sugar helps dieters put the brake on appetite." (there are only 18 calories in a level teapsoonful of sugar). Brought to you by Sugar Information, Inc, a non-profit organization.

"Blessed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!"
—Lydia M. Child

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19, 2010
Worked this morning on a variety of blue skies, starting a dozen, honing in maybe six. Also, picked up a discard file study and tweaked it, adding Mickey Free as he makes his way across the ridge (see previous MF posting) and puts some distance between himself and the fire:

Tubed a bit of it (left-hand-corner), but I like the atmosphere and the hot against the cool. Starting a big O.K. Corral commission piece today and a stagecoach for a friend.

"An eight year old today sees the internet with about as much fascination as you see the toilet. To kids, they're the same. Nothing magical, nothing exciting, just there when they need it."
—Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway scooter

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17, 2010
Big Billy issue going to the printer today. Lots of reaction from all my Billy pards, like this one:

BBB: As you can imagine, I'm hopelessly addicted to your blog and have been reading with great interest your door/no door theories. Garrett writes that the door to Pete's room was about 20 feet from the end of the porch. Poe writes that the Kid stepped from the porch into "the doorway of Maxwell's room," not into a hallway. There is a circa 1882 photograph of the Maxwell residence (illustrated in your fine book) that shows a door where it should be. And then there is the large Charles Foor map drawn in 1927 that depicts Fort Sumner as it appeared when Foor arrived there in October of 1881. Foor was Fort Sumner's local historian of sorts for many years, and he knew Garrett. On this map, Foor drew the route Billy took that fateful night of July 14, 1881, and he has the Kid walking around the perimeter of the parade ground and into that very same door to Maxwell's room.

As far as the military floor plans, I have not seen them, but if there was indeed no doorway when the structure was first built, the Maxwells had many years in which to convert a large, deeply recessed window into a door. Mike Pitel, who created the Fort Sumner historic brochure for the New Mexico Tourism Department, and who has spent a good deal of time researching all things Billy, pointed out to me that Maxwell had made $10,000 in improvements to Fort Sumner by 1872, which was reported in the Willison Survey of that year (see attached).

Now, regarding the stickers and cowpies problem, I'll go back to the Foor map. Foor does not have Billy walking diagonally across the parade ground; he has him walking around the perimeter, where it was undoubtedly hard packed from numerous wagon and buggy tires, the iron shoes of horses and mules, and the harsh New Mexico sun. And as it was a bright, moonlit night, I think a pile of horse dung would be pretty easy to spot (maybe that's why Billy didn't see Poe and McKinney initially, he was watching where he was stepping!). I also think there's a bit of a "sissy factor" when we look back at that time. As pampered 21st-century Americans, we find it hard to believe that someone would walk out on the dirt in their stocking feet. But Billy had spent many a night camping out on the trail. I seriously doubt that he and his associates would refrain from removing their boots for fear of encountering a pesky sticker.

I'll add in closing that there are many things in our world that don't make sense, so it should come as no surprise that sometimes history doesn't make sense -- but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Remember, John Poe had such trouble making sense of the events of that night that he eventually threw up his hands and proclaimed that Billy's death had been foreordained. Of course, the strange, illogical, and hair-raising aspects of Billy's death are what make that night so fascinating, and why we'll be discussing it for a long time to come.
—Mark Gardner, author of the new Billy book: "To Hell On A Fast Horse"

And speaking of Lucien Maxwell and his buying Fort Sumner, got this from Steve Sederwall, which is the public auction poster advertising the sale of the buildings. Lucien Maxwell reportedly paid $5,000 for the layout:

Steve wants to make sure I credit Dave Turk for finding this gem. I don't believe it's ever been seen. I love this kind of stuff. The arguments, the new finds (it's amazing!).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16, 2010
I've been inundated with visitors the last couple of days. This morning Alan Tapija and Tom Acuna came in, and later, in comes Mike Roberts from Pittsburg. He was a suite mate from Cochise Hall at the U of A in 1965. Mike was a football player and got kicked off the team for throwing a smokebomb in Apache Dorm. They transferred him to Cochise. I took him to Kingman on Spring Break and he almost got into a fight at the local pool hall when he sunk the nine ball twice, on the break. The local hustlers thought he was a cheat. Ha.

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens
In 1991 I traveled on a research trip to Fort Sumner to meet Joe Bowlin who owned Bowlin’s Trading Post at Taiban, not far from Stinking Springs. Joe also owned the Billy the Kid Museum and was president of the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang at the time and along with his wife Maryln, a tireless proponent of all things Billy the Kid. We spent the day seeing all the sites, from Stinking Springs, the Brazil-Wilcox ranch, the Yerby ranch, Sunnyside (really disappointing!). One of my goals for my illustrated book (published in 1992) was to accurately illustrate the events leading up to the Kid’s death. Of course, Old Fort Sumner itself was long gone, but Joe took me to the Abreu house nearby which local folklore said was built to the same specs as the Maxwell house at the fort. I took a series of photos for art reference and had Joe pose in the doorway of the corner room. I was struck by several things: that was a very small room (20’ X 20’ according to the army floorplan) and it made sense to me that there would be outside doors to all the rooms along the porch. As is often the case when I visit the actual sites where history has happened, it starts to make sense. This was the case at the Abreu house, and I built my narration from this building. Here is a photo of Joe sitting on the porch of the Abreu house:

And here's Joe standing in the doorway of that tiny room:

Unfortunately, conventional wisdom is often misinformed, and that is what happened when Gregory Smith discovered the original floorplans for the fort buildings in the National Archives. Apparently there were no doors along the porch, all windows. Now, it is possible that the Maxwells created doorways along the outside wall, but if there wasn’t an outside door to Pete’s room it certainly forces us to look at the event with new eyes. Joe Bowlin passed away in 1993 and Maryln in 2008.

Speaking of Billy the Kid, in the early nineties when I was drawing my first scenes for the book, I put the arm on several neighbors to re-enact the killing of the Kid. One of my neighbors was perfect for Pat Garrett. Three time Olympic Gold swimmer Charlie Hickox was six foot four and he agreed to come down and "play cowboy." Charlie was also a ferocious basketball player and I hated guarding him in pickup games at the Cave Creek school.

I tapped my neighbor across the street, Ed Donaldson, to play Pete Maxwell, and I went outside the neighborhood to get Gary S. (who is 5 feet 7) to portray the Kid. Here we are, in my bedroom, recreating the scene of the Kid approaching Pete's bed:

In the dark he can't see Garrett. (this is Garrett's version and, as Steve Sederwall points out, "Wait a minute, Garrett can see the Kid has a knife in the dark, but the Kid can't see a six foot sheriff?"). Anyway, I don't think Pete Maxwell had an alarm clock radio behind his head, but then I don't think he had an Alamo style headboard either (I tease Kathy that it's the Last Stand Bedstead).

Charlie Hickox, 63, died Monday of cancer.

"We seldom stop to think how many people's lives are entwined with our own. It is a form of selfishness to imagine that every individual can operate on his own or can pull out of the general stream and not be missed."
—Ivy Baker Priest

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15, 2010
Spent all day working on the death of Billy the Kid. Gus Walker did a great map of the death scene in Maxwell's bedroom. We incorporated a new find, by Gregory Smith, who found the original floor plans for Fort Sumner in the National Archives. Fred Nolan provided a sweet bit of a 1942 interview with Kid Dobbs. Really puts an interesting new spin on everything.

See, this is one of those runny jello moments, as it applies to history. In 1991, I was hard at work on finishing my first book on Billy the Kid. I sent a floor plan of the Maxwell house (which was drawn, or extrapolated from the Abraeu house, since the Maxwell house was long gone) to five Kid experts and asked them, "Where was the bed? Where was the door? Where was Garrett? And where was the Kid? All five came back completely different. But, extrapolating between them I managed to create a scenario in my mind that made sense and that's the way I drew it in my subsequent 1992 Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid.

With the finding of the original floor plan all my due diligence was overturned in a heartbeat. The doors are completely different and the hallway has flagstone! Really?! Flagstone? Are you kidding me? Is there also a sliding glass patio door? You can't make up anything more outrageous than the truth, can you?

An old college friend, Tim Coury, came out today and told me he was cleaning and found some stuff I might want. Here's a photo of me eating a taco in 1968, plus me and Tim and his girlfriend (later wife) Annie, on rented Hondas in 1968:

And here's a cartoon strip I created, called Dick Matric, which ran in the University of Arizona Wildcat newspaper in 1967:

Yes, the comic featured my neighbors, Tim Coury and Hank Widenmann, so that's why Tim saved them.

Tim, for some reason, also saved a notebook of mine from a Sociology class. As you might expect, the notes start out very serious, but then, day by day, more drawings appear in the margins until, well until this:

No surprise, and no degree.

"I'm going back in time. Next week I'll be playing vaudeville, and then I'm going to be a steamboat captain."
—Conan O'Brian, in his "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour"

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010
We've had a couple very nice days. It was actually cool on Saturday. Amazing. Still, I hooked up the misters for the chickens today. Supposed to climb up to over 100 again. It's still very dry and nice though.

Went home for lunch and celebrated finishing the big Digging Up Billy the Kid painting by cleansing my palate. Whipped out a scene of Mickey Free climbing a darkened ridge with the Valley of Fire behind him:

Some nice effects here, with the Kid muted in detail because we're looking down into some pretty bright hot spots, which softens his silhouette. Mick's mule Tu, is a sure footed beast and he takes the steep ridge in stride, even though his eyebrows have been singed from an earlier jump through those very flames below.

Feel revitalized about Mickey. Want to get back on the story. Gee, I wonder what ol' Ernest has to say about that effort?

"All good books have one thing in common—they are truer than if they had really happened."
—Ernest Hemingway
June 14, 2010
Worked all weekend on the big Digging Up Billy the Kid painting, although I did take off yesterday afternoon and, along with Kathy and Deena, went to a movie down at Harkins', Scottsdale Road and the 101 (Get Him to The Greek, so-so, 7). Afterwards we had dinner at Gordon Beirsch (sp?). Nice talking to the girls.

Got up at 5:30 this morning and got out to the studio at six. Really wailed on the painting. Here it is before I started:

Added eight more figures: Steve Sederwall, Ms. Cooper, Paul Andrew Hutton, Bill Richardson, Drew Gomber, Fred Nolan and a couple more I can't ID for obvious reasons. Finished at nine, drove it to the office where Robert Ray shot it, scanned it, tweaked it and dropped-shipped it to our art director Dan The Man Harshberger. Issue goes to the printer on Thursday. Can't wait to see what Dan does with it.

Speaking of Kingman childhood friends, got a request from a center fielder with a great arm, Roland Serrano, who wants to see one of the new True West Moments. Here is upcoming schedule:

Times are approximate and are Eastern/Pacific zones

Thursday, June 17 at 7:56am
Sat, June 19 at 6:58 pm
Monday, Just 21 at 8:52am

My good friend Gary Ernest Smith unveiled his statue of Lois Lane at Metropolis, Illinois last Friday. Gary also did the 15-foot statue of Superman in Superman Square.

"The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the spirit of adventure. He never tries anything new. He is a brake on the wheels of progress."
—M. W. Larmour

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13, 2010
Need to absolutely finish the big Digging Up Billy the Kid painting today. Got a decent likeness of Governor Bill Richardson this morning, working now on Ms. Cooper casting the first stone. Struggling. Need to add another five or six faces, fix Billy's hands, add a wristwatch to a cameraman and call it a day.

Meanwhile, got this question:

"Why were doctor’s offices located on the second floor of buildings in Gunsmoke and other western shows? It does not make sense."
—Jorga W. Altman

This is a very good question. Actually, there is some precedent for it. In early towns, business offices for doctors, lawyers, etc. were many times located on the second floor, over commercial businesses like mercantile establishments or saloons. You still see this in many older cities, although the current style is stand alone buildings, usually on the outskirts of town or in the suburbs. But in the old West, with everything compacted into a small area, it was a natural way to get
double rent for the landlords and in the case of doctors, what better
place to be than over a saloon where everyone is armed. Ha.

Bob Boze Bell
Executive Editor, True West magazine

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11, 2010
I've always been fascinated by band names and where they came from: "The Beach Boys," "The Beatles" and "The Stones", for starters. And "Nirvana", "Pearl Jam" and "U2" for the next wave (true, I realize these bands are at least three waves ago).

Cowpies & Cockleburs
The name of a band? In today's parlance, "Not hardly, geezer dorkster." We seem to have turned a corner for band names. When I was starting out it was all cars and things: "The Novas," "The Chevelles," "The Deltones", or, straight ahead names, like "The Five of Us", and "The Ducktails." As the sixties morphed into the seventies and then burned into the eighties and nineties it got harder and harder to come up with something new or original (one of my favorite band names from the eighties was "Moose Dicks From Outer Space"). And, don't tell anyone but in the late sixties I was in a band named "Central Heating".

But, the new names I'm hearing and reading about seem to be segments of sentences, like this one: "What Laura Says." Really, what does Laura say? Oh, you say it's the name of an indie-pop Tempe sensation? Okay. And, how about "Jimmy Eat World"? Or, "Yourself and the Air", or "School of Seven Bells"? These are band names and I'm not making these up, folks. These names make Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers seem absolutely ancient by comparison. And, if these are any indication—By Comparison—will soon be a name of a band, if it isn't already.

This musing led me back to a story idea I had twenty years ago, called "The Last Baby Boomer," wherein some poor sap is still around in 2050 and all of his Beatle references, all of his Stephen Colbert references, all of his Jerek Deter references are lost on a clueless populace. Now, that would be lonely, and, someone, perhaps reading this, is going to be that person.

Given our penchant for attention, I do imagine there will be some cheering when the last Boomer croaks. Ha.

When the crew from the Outdoor Channel was taping in my studio, the producer picked up a stagecoach piece in my unfinished pile and started raving about it. Here it is:

This is a set piece for an unfinished opening sequence in El Kid, my proposed story about Billy the Kid after he left Lincoln and before his capture at Stinking Springs. No one has done much from this period. I have very good photo reference utilizing master vaquero Lee Anderson and Bill Glenn as models. May reattack this concept. Here's another frame from the sequence:

"Manos Arriba!" Which I believe means "Hands Up!" in Spanish. Manos Arriba would be a good band name.

First I need to finish the big, ambitious Digging Up Billy the Kid painting. Spent about an hour on it this morning before I came into work. Hope to finish it this weekend.

One of my biggest stoppers is I want both to be perfect. Gee, I wonder what ol' Olivier has to say about this?

"Striving for perfection is the greatest stopper there is. You'll be afraid you can't achieve it. . .it's your excuse to yourself for not doing anything. Instead, strive for excellence, doing your best."
—Laurence Olivier

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 10, 2010
Been talking to some of my regional publishing friends, and, knock on wood, things are looking up around our neighborhood. Our business is up 40% over last year (June issue is traditionally our weakest performer). And the word on the street among my compadres is that money is loosening up for advertising in several categories. In print!

Went home for lunch and worked on a bank of hands reaching for the sky. Going to marry it to a flying skeleton piece I did several weeks ago:

I call this "Billy The Kid Just Out of Reach," which is just how the dang Kid has been, both in life and in the grave. And here it is with the scratchboard hands married to it:

We're also working with a certain Kid buff on the Fort Sumner death angle, working from his research which shows that the Maxwell house probably did not have an outside door from Pete Maxwell's bedroom (it was accessed from a central hallway). This is totally different than my research, but then I went there in 1991 and had the late Joe Bowlin show me the Abreau house, which allegedly was exactly like the Maxwell house so I used that configuration. However, the army floor plans for the fort clearly show a central hallway and only windows on the outside. This changes the dynamic of the Kid's final movements and adds even more fuel to the fire for those who think Billy was in Paulita's bedroom, heard someone talking out on the porch (Poe and McKinney), came across the hallway in his stocking feet and asked "Quien es, Pete?"

It has never made sense to anyone I know that the Kid would be walking across the parade ground in his stocking feet. And for those of you who think he did, I have two words for you: stickers and cowpies.

No, the scandal was too great (Pete's sister Paulita was only 15!) and they had to get the Kid out of that house in order to preserve everyone's honor and dignity. It was just unseemly. And, also unrealistic. ha.

If this doesn't make any sense to you, don't worry, Gus "The Mapinator" Walker is working on a concise map even as you read this. Still, it won't be perfect and I can already hear the teeth grinding amongst my Kid friends, but then when it comes to perfection I kind of go along with ol' Wolfgang:

"The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection."
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

June 9, 2010
I have been remarking about the ridiculously small new style Canon video cameras that totally don't look like a serious video camera. We shot all of the new Classic Gunfights segments on this little puppy. Costs $3K and does almost everything. Here's our shooter Rob, holding the fake looking sucker in the True West building right outside my office:

Doesn't that look fake? I mean, it's a GD still camera. What's next, an eyelid camera?

Oh, yeah. Coming like a freight train.

Rob told me that sound has not kept up with the video revolution and that they're still using remote mikes, with the power pack, about the size of an old cell phone, which you still tuck into the back of your pants. What's next, an anal depository microphone?

Don't ask.
June 9, 2010
The Outdoor Channel crew showed up at my house this morning at 7:30, and working against the rising heat, we taped six Classic Gunfight segments in quick succession. In fact, I nailed most of them on the first take, and we only had to redo parts of several because of airplane noise, Peaches chomping on her squeak toy and Kathy coming home from Jazzercize and chomping on her squeak toy.

Other than that it was a slam dunk.

I did a segment on Custer (Trapdoor Springfields vs. Winchesters), Elfego Baca (How did he survive all those bullets fired at him?), Beware of Armed Townspeople (Northfield, Minnesota and Coffeyville, Kansas), Where did gun spinning originate and why is it so cool, and two soiled dove pieces, The Nude Duel That Will Not Die, and Mad Ma'dams: Shot In The Public Arch (one of my faves of all time).

Afterwards the crew came up to the True West offices and fimed B-roll of the staff and myself pretending to work. Ha.

Thanks to Meghan Saar True West magazine got a very good review on The piece, written by New Yorker Fern Siegel is right here.

"Perfection does not exist. To understand this is the triumph of human intelligence; to expect to possess it is the most dangerous kind of madness."
—Alfred de Musset

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

June 8, 2010
Finished taping seven segments of Classic Gunfights for the Outdoor Channel at about three this afternoon. We filmed them all at my house. They're coming back in the morning to do a half dozen more. No teleprompter this time, just chatted, off the cuff, like I do here. Ha.

Speaking of great TV producers, Jeff Hildebrandt has joined the blogosphere and you can follow him and his righteous cowboy poetry right here.

Got our office copies of the July issue. I think Jim Hatzell is going to be a very happy cowboy (don't tell him, but his photo is on the cover).

I'm reading about the launch of Life magazine in "The Publisher: Henry Luce And His American Century." Amazing story. The mag was too popular! They lost money for the longest time because they couldn't control the circ and the prnting. As a test they sent 450 issues to a small town back east and they sold out, so they upped the draw to 1,000 and it sold out, then 2,000 and it sold out. They sent 4,000 issues and it sold out! I told this to Trish Brink and she quipped, "I don't think this is a book you should be reading right now."

Ha. Wonder what ol' Geoff has to say about all this?

"Few things look as unstable as the rock-solid certainties of previous ages."
—Geoff Nicholson

Monday, June 07, 2010

June 7, 2010
Went home for lunch and worked on the big Digging Up Billy painting. Worked about an hour then came back to the office.

While I was in Mexico I was inspired by a couple of painting studies I actually did before I left. Here's the first one, which was salvaged from my reject pile:

This led to the line, "It fell out of the sky and landed atop Skull Mesa". From there I whipped out this image:

It's called the "Protracted Landing of El Bastardo." Not bad for a total Ed Mell ripoff. Ha. I did struggle with it though and I know a certain Russian guy will give me props for that:

"Originality and the feeling of one's own dignity are achieved only through work and struggle."
—Fyodor Dostoyevsky
June 7, 2010
Back in the office, returning calls and catching up on the next issue (Digging Up Billy the Kid). Worked on the big cover painting yesterday. Still several days out. Very ambitious.

Just got off the phone with Dale Miles, the official historian of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. He had bone cancer but is recovering and is speaking on Geronimo at the Tucson Historical Society this Friday. His voice sounded good. Dale was quite helpful in our research on Mickey Free and the Apache Kid.

A friend of mine is working on the film Cowboys And Aliens which begins filming next week in New Mexico. Going to be a big one.

News From The Front Lines
"Your May Issue with Sonny Jim on the front cover was the talk of the town while sitting at Gallup's Famous Earl's Restaurant at the counter eating my usual, recently. I sat next to Southwest Photgrapher Gary L Langston whom knew Sonny and sent in the original story to BBB. Owner Ralph Richards comes over to look at the best cover all year and mentions that Sonny Jim would come in on Saturdays and sit in that Corner. Thank you for recognizing a Modern Native American Legend."
—TT Hagaman

Lots of reflection in Mexico on my work and what it all means. Gee, I wonder what ol' Bertrand has to say about this?

"Continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingrdients of happiness in the long run, and for most men this comes chiefly through their work."
—Bertrand Russell

Sunday, June 06, 2010

June 6, 2010
I usually mark up my hardcover books pretty good, making notes, marking quotes I like, for example in the Warren Beatty bio, Star, I just finished:

"Never underestimate the narcissism of a writer."
—Elia Kazan


"Sam Peckinpah is a prick, and Robert Altman is a c#nt!"
—George Litto, agent for both

"The straight roads are the roads of progress, the crooked roads are thee roads of genius."
—Robert Towne

"[Bonnie and Clyde] helped start the no-bra trend, because Faye [Dunaway] didn't wear a brassiere in the film. That's a contribution Warren made that nobody gives him credit for."
—Kenneth Hyams

"[Directing] is all detail, detail, detail. A hundred million, thousand billion details. When it's raining and your girlfriend. . .is saying, 'Why aren't you doing such and such?' and the person you are working with has to go home and return a call to his press agent, and lunch is being served, and the head of the union says, 'Well, you have to stay over there for another ten minutes because they have to have coffee,' and then the camera breaks down, and there is noise, a plane flying over, and this wasn't the location that you wanted. . .are you going to have the energy to devote to the detail of saying, 'That license plate is the wrong year'?"

—Warren Beatty

"Life is short, movies are written on water, you can't take them with you, the quality of your own life is the reality."

—Charlie Feldman

"'Perfectionist' is the scariest word on a studio lot."
—Peter Biskind

"Movies are never finished, they're abandoned."
—Dick Sylbert
June 6, 2010
Just back from Rocky Point, Mexico. We were celebrating Kathy's 60th B-day (it's actually tomorrow) and Deena's 30th birthday (actually May 7). Being the Puerto Penasco vet she is, Deena rented a big house on Los Conchos Beach. Weather was perfect, light breezes on the porch, left doors and windows open all day and night. In the evenings it was Pacifico beers and La Julio tequila, plus Patricia's homemade green chile and quesadillos, oh, and shrimp scampi. Ay-yi-yi, it doesn't get much better than that. Bill Glenn also joined us, and the Radinas, Brad, E.J., Mercedes and Debbie rented a house a couple miles east of the estuary but joined us several times.

Blogless On The Beach
We were out of cell phone range, not to mention Wi-fi range, so no texting, no cell phones blatting and no email or blog posts. I must admit it was hard at first (where are we headed?!), but we quickly got used to the techno-vacuum and replaced it with the soothing sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. I think this is the longest I have gone in years (7?) without posting a blog. Now that's a sad record. Ha.

Bob Brink lent me his copy of "The Publisher: Henry Luce And His American Century" by Alan Brinkley. Needless to say, I am respectful and in awe of his vision and tenacity regarding the daunting task of creating a new style magazine, Time, which ironically is in severe decline today. Still, his angst and the battles he fought, all ring true for me from The Razz, New Times and on through True West. The scale may be leagues apart, but the problems and the challenges are the same.

"On the face of it, this is not the easiest job imaginable."
—Henry Luce, describing the start up of Time magazine