Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 31, 2010
Catching up in the office. Lining out the next 10 Graphic Cinemas for 2011 and beyond. Meghan Saar and I had lunch with our Westerns Editor Henry Beck yesterday at the Saguaro Grill in Carefree ($49, includes tip, biz account). We discussed, among other things, the huge success of the Old West video game Red Dead Redemption. Their website claims they have sold 5 million games so far which would make it the biggest news in our arena in a long time. There is a rumor of a movie and Brad Pitt playing a starring role.

Last day to vote in our Best of the West poll. Don't be intimidated by our categories, you are free to add any categories you think we are missing. And, if you fill out the poll you will be in the running for a BBB original of Virgil Earp going down at the O.K. Corral

Although my artwork has never been a stranger to controversy, some scenes have evoked unintended consequences, like this composite scratchboard which I submitted to a show at Sky Harbor Airport about ten years ago:

Several women on the jury thought I was condoning violence against women and wanted it removed. Perhaps they were right. When I heard about their interpretation of the scene I wanted to kick their
collective arses.

Bought about ten art books near Deena's new digs in Los Feliz last weekend. Gee, I wonder what ol' Robertson has to say about that?

"To be a book collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser."
—Robertson Davies

Monday, August 30, 2010

August 30, 2010
In the dog days of August I am often reminded of my days playing drums in a legendary honkytonk in The Old Pueblo. Six nights a week, bug infested neon and straining airpad coolers gave way to off key harmonies and a pedal steel.

A couple years ago I did a scratchboard of my memory of playing in The Hayloft, utilizing my son, Thomas Charles, as the model:

Those were lost years and remind me of an old saying:

"No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back."

—Old Vaquero Saying
August 30, 2010
Back from a long weekend in LA. Kathy and I left on Saturday morning at seven and drove to Blythe, California for breakfast at the Las Palomas Cafe. Then, on into LA proper via I-10. Landed in Los Feliz (the Angelenos inexplicably pronounce it Los Fee-lez. Crazy.)

Met Deena, her boyfriend Aaron, Thomas Bell and his girlfriend Pattara, and unloaded that van in about an hour flat. Here are the six movers in front of the Snakes On A Plain U-Haul:

L to R: BBB, T. Bell, Kath, Pattara, Deen and Aaron

"It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights. But on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones I've never gotten credit for."
—Glenn Gould

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26, 2010
Here's a historic photo from September of 2001 (doesn't say the date, so don't know if this is post 9•11, or pre) of four True West Babes.

Left to right: Editor Mare Rosenbaum, Sales Rep Suzanne Gunther, Subscription Maven De Anne Giago and Editorial designer Abby Pearson. All have moved on except Abby (who got married and is now Abby Goodrich) who has been with us for nine years. Amazing. All of these women are quite talented and had a huge influence and impact on not only the survival of the magazine in those turbulent times (read my business timeline at BBB Blog if you don't believe me) but they helped put in place many of the systems we still use today.

I salute you True West Babes!

"Show me a successful man, and I'll show you a surprised woman."
—Old Vaquero Saying
August 26. 2010
Here's a low res scan of the first page of our very first Graphic Cinema:

Goes to press today.

"As you earn the right, you explain less."

—Ridley Scott, on the commentary track of Blade Runner

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August 24, 2010
Heavy thunder this afternoon. Big thunderheads over Continental Mountain. Very hot, heat index is predicted to be 120 degrees, that's with humidity factored in, I believe (heard this in yoga class from one of the seven women in the class. I was the only guy.

Went home for lunch and finished a campfire scene:

A little garish, but the flame out between the legs of the soldier and scout is kind of nice. Decided to try another one before I came back into office, so whipped this one out:

This one actually ended up being more of a card game where things are going south, pronto with that Arab guy on the right. Ha. I actually poached it from an Afghanistan photo, so my stolen sources are showing, even when I try and hide them. (especially when I try and hide them!)

"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues."
—Elizabeth Taylor
August 24, 2010
Robert Ray and I are still wrestling with the Graphic Cinema layout dilemma (goes to press tomorrow). Rather that try to blend my scratchboard art in four-color (very, very difficult to hold those tiny scratches on press in four layers of color), we have opted to put a tone on the scenes, matching the color images. Still leaves the problem of word balloons. (stark white or a subtle tone of the background color?)

Got this in today: Oregon-California Trails Association honored True West Magazine with its Distinguished Service Award, presented to our contributing editor Candy Moulton, on August 11 in Elko, Nevada. If you want to get more details from Candy, her # is 307-327-5465. Her e-mail is candywwa@aol.com

Here are a couple of scratchboards from my files. First up The Sweeper:

Kind of has a sweeping movement to it, no? Also, here's a controversial image of Custer in death, with a bullet hole in his left temple.

Did he commit suicide? Did one of his troopers do it for him? Or, was it a coup de grace (blow of mercy) by a comrade of Crazy Horse?

"Funny how people look for a person to blame for something that's everybody's fault."
—Al Sieber, as imagined by Paul Andrew Hutton

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August 21, 2010
This morning I helped my son move into a tiny apartment in downtown Phoenix. My job was to drive his El Camino with a box spring mattress down to the Filmore and Fifth Avenue area while he drove my Ranger with a chair and his personal belongings. His girlfriend Pattara followed in her car.

Memories of the Beast
It was 113 today, so as I motored down into the Beast many hot memories came flooding back. For some reason I flashed on looking at cheesy, gay-nineties, flip cards at the penny arcade on Washington in 1964 when we came down to play Valley teams and stayed at the Palomine Motel on West Van Buren, then walked to the downtown area to take in the sights). Turning onto Filmore I remembered coming up from the U of A to visit Kingman pom pon queen Susan Moore at an old Victorian gingerbread house in 1967. Working at New Times when the offices were on the second floor of the Westward Ho (and also having my first date with Kathy Radina on the first floor of the Westward Ho at a Christmas NT staff party featuring the Southern Tornado, in December of 1978) and, over there, I remember going to a Stay Power revival style meeting at first and Garfield with Steve Burford in 1970. The oil additive franchise offering turned out to be a pyramid scheme, but the motivating film they showed us featured Earl Nightingale and his words changed my life. Behind the Westward Ho, was the building that housed KTAR radio. It was there where I appeared on a talk show along with a spokeswoman from Women Take Back The Night (they had kidnapped 1,000 New Times newspapers and demanded Mike Lacey fire me for a cartoon feature I did on how women who suffer from PMS don't seem to have a sense of humor). When the leader of the group, Chiquita Rollins was asked what she thought of me and my work, she said, and I'm not making this up, "I don't think Bob Boze Bell is funny, period."

All of this sordid personal history happened within a five block area from my son's new apartment.

So, I've got that going for me.

After we got T. Charles moved in we went over to Verde, a new Mexican food joint for a late breakfast and then to a hippie coffee shop for toddies (water soaked for two days in coffee grounds). And then up to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Cezanne show.

Still wailing on scratchboards, like this one, which I call "One Angry Dude":

Nice and loose. Wish I could get this lubricated on a consistent basis. Also, here's the chief of scouts at San Carlos when Mickey Free chased down the Apache Kid:

Anybody know his name?

"Mickey Free is half Irish, half Mexican and all son of a bitch."
—Al Sieber

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20, 2010
Spent all day scanning and working on scratchboards for upcoming Graphic Cinema pieces. Some you have seen, like this one of Mickey Free dumping two heads on Captain Pearce's table at San Carlos:

That is Remington's fave Lt. at left. Lots of atmosphere in this one. Here is a cave sequence with the Apache Kid arriving at dusk:

And here is the Kid with his captive maiden sitting at the campfire in the same cave:

A subtle sequence to be sure, but it should play just fine.

And here's a color image I tweaked at lunchtime of Mickey riding across the plains:

Time to call it quits and go eat some mole with my son, his girlfriend and Kathy at The Conky Donk. And, that ain't no lie.

"If a thing is absolutely true, how can it not also be a lie? An absolute must contain its opposite."
—Charlotte Painter
August 20, 2010
I watched the director's cut of Blade Runner for the second time last night (two different commentary tracks, one by the special effects guys and the other by the screenwriters and producer-types). Learned a ton. Going to watch the actual movie tonight.

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation
I haven't gone back to school in the fall since 1970 but I still have that sensation in late August about what I made of my summer. And, every year, without fail, I'm filled with a vague hope for a new beginning on the first day of school (this time I'm going to be confident and the girls are going to really like me!).

Anyway, I traveled quite a bit this summer, met some pretty dynamic people and actually learned a thing or two. The highlights:

• Every day get your heartbeat up to 220, minus your age. All you need is one minute of this. The Cleveland Clinic doctor, who told me this, says all the rest is muscle tone, but for optimum health, this is all you need.

• Studies prove that two daily glasses of red wine are beneficial to your health, but it isn't the red wine, it's the alcohol. Doesn't matter what kind. What is probably the most important part is that you limit yourself to just two. The discipline itself seems to have some impact on health. Makes sense.

• Write three thankyou notes a day. The same Cleveland Clinic doctor told me they don't know why, but it increases well being, more so for the sender than the receiver. Amazing. I've been doing it pretty steady for about two weeks and I do feel better (your card is no doubt still in the mail)

• You can be swimming in alcohol but if you take ten deep breaths before you are administered a breath test you will blow a zero.

Went home for lunch and finished three paintings. This one has been around before but I tweaked it to show Mickey Free riding into Los Muertos in a dust storm and blasting three rats in the shadows, while letting another two-legged rat (middle, right) get away so he can lead Free to the rat hole and take out the entire nest:

I am getting quite good at spotting my homeland in movies. The previews for Piranha 3 show quick scenes of a desert river and the first time I saw it I thought, "Man, that is either Bullhead or Lake Havasu." Turns out it's Lake Havasu. Love this quote from a local who worked on the film which opens today I believe:

"From what I saw everybody loses their tops and loses their toes, and not necessarily in that order."
—Todd Taylor, Jokers Wild Productions
August 20, 2010
We need you to fill out our 2010 Best of the West Survey so we can award the right people. Here's where you go to vote. If you fill it out you will automatically be in a drawing to win a BBB original (please make sure to vote for more than one category to qualify).

This is a black and white ink illustration (pre-scratchboard) from my Doc Holliday book on the O.K. Corral fight:

This portrays the moment when Virgil is hit in the calf of his left leg, drops the cane as he crumples to the ground. That's his brother, Wyatt, in the background taking aim at Frank McLaury. I want this image to go to a deserving home, so fill out the survey today.

I hope you win it, and remember: I always stand behind my work.

"I absolutely guarantee that someday this artwork will be worth the price you paid for it."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19, 2010
Here's another scratchboard that has excellent potential:

August 19, 2010
Dan The Man sent up his latest ideas and concepts on the Graphic Cinema typefaces and design. Very strong stuff. The darker scratchboards seem to work the best in the format. Went through my archives and pulled a couple scenes that work in that capacity, like this one:

Has a blend to it that enhances the surrounding darkness (of the overall layout). Sometimes the scratchboard gods laugh at me and sometimes they smile on me.

But, once again the blackness gives it a richness that is dynamic. A couple tweaks and then we're off to design the next four layouts. We want the best three to pitch to cable.

The first man in, last man to get paid syndrome is alive and well. For example, I just read that the Gutenberg press never made much money for its founder and he died bankrupt and disappointed. It seems like a law of nature that the first guy in is too early, the second guy goes broke trying to make it pay and the third guy buys it all for a song and makes a fortune off of the previous two "loser's" vision and effort.

"In marriage, if you don't have a sense of humor, you don't have a marriage."
—Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18, 2010
Got a a news flash from the year 2035:

A spokesman for Shady Saguaro Assisted Living, just south of Cave Creek, said Harshberger and Bell died just minutes apart. He described them as in their late 80s, and said they had been buddies since their Kingman childhoods and had worked together for years at True West magazine. Initial reports from paramedics at the scene said both apparently died from natural causes.

Other Shady Saguaro residents said the two had been arguing since lunch about what one close friend later said was their 617th attempt to put the final touches on word balloons and typefaces for a graphic western novel Bell had promised True West readers as far back as 2005.

Harshberger was writhing on the floor when he just stopped moving, said Sally Jones, 90, a resident. "I could have sworn that he was trying to do the Gator," she said, referring to a vulgar dance that was popular on college campuses in the 1960s.

Bell, napping in a wheelchair, awoke to see Harshberger dead, tried to get up and then hollered the words "Mickey Free" before collapsing himself. Jones said she believed that Mickey Free was the name of the graphic novel in question.

University of New Mexico professor emeritus Paul Hutton, the writer on the project, abandoned his role in 2030, telling confidants that "there are obsessions, and then their are obsessions."

—Charlie Waters, Henderson, Nevada
August 18, 2010
Got some rain last night. Not much but it cooled things down this morning. Still supposed to get up to 107 today.

One guy who really messed things up in the Southwest was a West Point grad who thought he could show the Apaches a thing or two about toughness. His tactics were poor (he tried to arrest Cochise for the kidnapping of a child that ended up to be Mickey Free) and he compounded it by hanging several relatives of Cochise. Thousands died in the ensuing Apache Wars, including this soldier who is swearing at 2nd Lt. Bascom, the officer who botched it all:

Working this into a sequence for our new feature Graphic Cinema.

"For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."
—Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August 17, 2010
Like most people, sometimes I like to complain about my work. Ask Kathy.

On second thought, don't ask her.

This morning started out rough. Had a phone conversation with Dan The Man Harshberger about the status of the first Graphic Cinema and he told me he hadn't done anything because what we sent him didn't work and he didn't know what to do about it.

"Doesn't seem like a movie on paper to me," he said in that non-judgemental-judgemental Kingman way. "It's clumsy and there are way too many type faces."

Ouch! This was exactly the knocks we got on the first go round two years ago. "Well," I said, "what do you propose we do about it?"

To make a long story one paragraph shorter, an hour later, Dan sent me up a new design with this cocky, cryptic one-line message, "Now, this is more like it!" And, he wasn't fooling. It is an inspired leap of imagination and cleans up the "mess" and makes it track as clean as a Whistler portrait.

I'd love to share it but you're going to have to wait for the issue. But I will say this: the inspired part is, the opening looks like a real movie with the right graphics, title cards and layout. Plus, and this is key, you feel like you are watching, I mean reading it, in a darkened theater. Truly inspired.

High on life I went home for lunch and whipped out a couple more set scenes, including this one:

And this one:

Did two more. Came back to the office and worked with Robert Ray on integrating the new design with the narrative. Not easy work, but it's fun.

Can't ask for more than this.

"Action is hope. There is no hope without action."
—Ray Bradbury
August 17, 2010
I heard through the grapevine this was coming:

Billy the Kid Pardon in NYTimes.

"In an age when we don't think people are passionate about history, this is refreshing. Everyone is talking about this."
—Mark Lee Gardner, author of "To Hell On A Fast Horse"

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010
It's been almost two years since we published our cover story on Mickey Free in a 20-page-excerpt. Although praised by more than a few of our readers, it was deemed "a mess" by the audience we especially wanted to score with (movie directors and studios).

Still believing we have a good story, The Top Secret Writer and I went back to the drawing board. Literally:

The first question we asked is: Why didn't it work? And: Why was it considered a "mess"?

I cleared out a room in my studio and set up a storyboard wall. Any kind of storyboard I see that catches my eye, goes up on the wall.

Every morning at seven I go out to the studio and sit here for 15 minutes (I learned this at the ADD seminar Kathy made me go to), and just soak it in. Why do I like the tracking narrative so much? Why does this one work so well? More importantly, what doesn't work?

The short answer: while not impossible, it's very tough to pull off multiple narrators in one story. David Mitchell does it well (Cloud Atlas) and Tarantino does it sometimes (Pulp Fiction) but, more often than not, it falls apart because it's confusing and tiring—two things a story teller doesn't want to hear, because the easiest thing for a reader to do is—stop reading.

And, as a visual guy first and foremost, I want the words to the story to be just the basics. So, that was the main thing I learned sitting in front of this wall.

Utilizing tracing paper, I chose one, small action sequence and began to sketch loosely and without hope, without despair. Within a couple days I had a sequence going and started to hone in the action. I have been posting most of the individuall scenes here for you to see for the past month, or two.

This morning I finished the last three scenes of the first sequence (hopefully, they'll go quicker as I move along). Here's one of them:

And here's the last two:

This morning, Robert Ray and I tweaked these last three panels into the layout and wrestled with the dilemma of how to do word balloons (I know, I know, it's been six years and we are still debating how to do them, either by my hand, or in Illustrator). We are having other design issues as well, so we called up our art director, Dan The Man Harshberger and he is taking a shot at streamlining the design and the process

All of this is in preparation for a two-page shot in the magazine, which will be leveraged into a three minute serial on cable TV.

I have three more sequences in the works and we're looking to run this mule one third, or even fourth in the sequence. I have tried to design them as stand alones.

So, there you have it: an update on a work in progress.

If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I am always looking for inspiration on how to tell a good story. Here's a good example:

"Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them. When I wrote 'Fahrenheit 451' I hated book burners and I loved libraries. So there you are."
—Ray Bradbury
August 16, 2010
Geronimo was not a fan of Mickey Free. G-Man was upset with Free because the one-eyed captivo acted as an interpreter at a conference with General Crook. When it was over and Crook laid into Geronimo for not being very responsible, G thought Mickey mangled his words and misrepresented He-Who-Yawns. Mick was probably guilty of adding some editorial emphasis to certain answers, reading between the lines as to what Geronimo intended to say and what he really meant.

Anyway, Geronimo called Mickey Free, "The snake-eye with the forked tongue." Here he is saying that:

"Be careful cousins, we are living in a time when even right is wrong."
—Mickey Free

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15, 2010
As forecast, today is a scorcher, 111 degrees in The Beast, and, at 4:05 p.m. it's 99.5 on our back porch. Took Gold Lady's advice and froze a water bottle overnight, then put it in the chicken house for the hot hens to roost on and cool off. Remember Woody Allen in that scene in Sleeper where he hogs the orgasmatron? Yeh, the chickens looked like that. Also sprayed their living room several times with water to simulate a mister. This, they didn't like and I'd say they were madder than wet hens but that's so old.

Kathy is in LA with Deena finding a place to live for our daughter's job transfer at the end of the month. They're excited, they love this kind of thing. Meanwhile, Tomas and his girlfriend Patara came out last night and we went to Bryan's Bar-b-que in Cave Creek for dinner (dad bought). Fun laughing and comparing notes with them. Came back to the house and watched Mulholland Drive on cable. I had seen it, but wanted to see if David Lynch made more sense the second time around. At about the hour mark I went to bed. Talked to Tomas this morning and asked him what he thought and he said, "Didn't make a whole lot of sense but Naomi Watts sure has nice breasts." Really? I forgot that part. How many times did you see 'em? "Twice," T. Charles replied, adding as he shook his head slowly, "Nice. Really nice."

This passes for intellectual discussion among the males in our house.

The secret to writing for TV, according to Peter Martin (Two And A Half Men): "You have to keep a ukulele on your desk when you write sitcoms. It's important so people respect you."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010
Had dinner last night with a well-known Hollywood director, his son and the Top Secret Writer and his son. Went to El Encanto, and believe it or not, sat outside by the lagoon (good misters didn't hurt). The father-and-son quartet are on their way to Tombstone for a historical-bonding weekend and stopped in Cave Creek to see the True West World Headquarters. The Top Secret Writer paid.

Speaking of Paul Hutton, here is a photo of the two of us, when we met for the first time, in Santa Fe. I believe this is 1995, when, believe it or not, Ed Mell and his son Carson, joined me and my son Tomas, on a father-son trip to the Land of Enchantment:

Five years later we came up with the idea of joining forces on a graphic novel. I have returned to a theme I worked on extensively over a year ago. With all of the angst over the Mexican border, I thought it was time to revisit a theme:

Mercy Me, Have Mercy On Mickey Free

The movie style scene will depict the mongrel Mickey Free straddling a giant abyss with his Sharps rifle on his hip and staring out at us with a cocky, one-eyed stare.

The movie poster copy will be something like:

"He straddles the border between three warring cultures. Defiant, he faces a world that apparently hates his guts."

No Mercy.

That title (or, theme, actually) was inspired by the talk last night with the director who walked us through the character arc in a good story. The longtime Hollywood vet had little nice to say about our previous excerpt on Mickey Free in the magazine, bluntly calling it a mess. He wasn't rude, just very honest with us. His advice, or, challenge? What's going on in Mickey's head?

I woke up this morning and thought to myself, "Well, that would be 'no mercy.'" No one showed him any mercy and he has no intention of showing anyone else any.

Now, we're getting somewhere. I had to laugh. I realized it has taken me five years just to figure out who Mickey WASN'T. Ha.

"Most short stories are too long."
—Ray Bradbury

Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010
Quiet day in the office. Just a skeleton crew here at True West. Joe Freedman, Sheri Riley, Carole Glenn, Abby Goodrich and myself. Tweaking a couple things.

Meanwhile, I tried to install a new misting system for my chickens this morning but it is a bust. No spray, all gushing streams, everywhere. We got three new baby chicks, but one of them drowned in the water bowl and the other two are suffering from the heat. I considered bringing them into our house but Kathy said, "You know the rule. No chicks in the house while I'm gone." (she's flying to LA today to help Deena find an apartment).

Regarding the Graphic Cinema I'm working on, I'm going to go with long johns instead of skivvies, Union suit, unmentionables, unders or drawers (actually, according to Jim Hatzell, drawers is the most accurate in terms of 1880s military lingo). They just don't have the comic meter.

Here's how the final sequence will begin:

I'm kicking the rest of Tom Horn's commentary to the next frame. I'd tell you more, but I'm humbled by a quote from Mr. King:

"I never learned anything while I was talking."
—Larry King

Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12, 2010
Who needs interns when I have you! This morning I posted a question as to the origins of the term "skivvies," as in "Dammit, my skivvies are on that pack mule!" It sounded vaguely modern to my ears and I wondered if there were any traces of its usage dating back to, oh, say, May 15, 1883.

Well, not quite, but close. Here are some of the results I received from this site and my Facebook account:

"Me Washie Skivvie?" attributed to Marines & Sailors serving in China post Boxer Rebellion..trade mark of said "boxer style" undergarment of military issue. i.e.: Laundry Coolie...Skivvie in pidgin English. period 1895 to 1927....Semper Fi."

"Appeared in December 1918 in the Evening State Journal of Lincoln, Nebraska, as part of a humorous piece under the headline “Boys Will Be Boys — Even in the Marine Corps”: “‘Well, boys, I believe I’ll play a little golf today and not go to the office at all. I’m all run down and need a little hard physical labor,’ declares an athlete in the act of putting on his ‘skivvies.’”
—Jim Pipkin

"No historian real knows for sure. There was a underwear company called Scovill manufacturing that had a new under wear for men that had a grippe fastener. Then there a those who think the word origin is from a Japanese word "Sukebei" used as a greeting to American sailors as lecherous. Or its a Scottish word for underwear worn under a kilt. No one really knows.The date slang use would be around 1902 that word started to be used by the navy and marines. It could also be a Nordic word."
—Tom Boring

Stuart Rosebrook even gave this word smith website.

A journalist from Las Vegas recommended "longjohns" and "Union suit," and "drawers" got a couple nominations, as did "yunders."

So the earliest possible date of usage would be 1890s, just out of range for my usage. Not sure yet which term I will use. Skivvies is so descriptive and sounds like it's already rank, if you know what I mean. Here's a rough of the context, using long johns instead of skivvies:

Long johns is good, but not as much fun as skivvies, in my opinion. Hmmmmm.

By the way, "skinny", meaning low down, or the truth, definitely dates from WWII.

"An error which has to be corrected is a heavier burden than the truth."
—Dag Hammarskjold
August 12, 2010
Like most of you, we love language here at True West magazine. We are always arguing over words, celebrating words and relishing anachronisms that tickle our fancy. Case in point, the biggest hit at a recent talk I gave was the line Buckshot Roberts said at Blazer's Mill, when he was surrounded by Regulators who stuck pistols in his face and demanded his surrender:

"Not much, Mary Ann," was his terse reply, as he jerked his Winchester up to his hip and let loose like Chuck Connors at the beginning of "Rifleman." All true, not made up.

In the next issue, in our new feature "Graphic Cinema," I want Al Sieber to say, as he watches a pack mule slide off a cliff: "My skivvies are in that pack."

The date is May 15, 1883. My slang dictionary says skivvies is Navy slang for underwear, but there's no date given for its usage, and my suspicions are that it's of WWII vintage.

I realize it would be more accurate to say, "My unmentionables are in that pack," but that seems cumbersome and besides, skivvies is a funnier word. Of course, "unmentionables" is Victorian for underwear.

"Choosing the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."
—Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11, 2010
Went home for lunch and worked on a scratchboard of Mickey Free and his scars. This is based on an actual photo of Felix Telles Ward, the boy who started the Apache Wars and who actually chose to stay with the Apaches his entire life.

The Train Track Scars of Mickey Free

I read somewhere that a nefarious character in the Old West had "train track scars," and I loved that descriptive imagery, so I'm leaning a bit on the real Mick's visage, but there is no doubt that the boy was scarred, both inside his head and out.

It was the U.S. soldiers who nicknamed him Mickey Free. Yes, his left eye is blinded, in our version because of a scar inflicted by the one-eyed captivo who captured him. No, we're not making this up. Beto, was captured by the Apaches as a Mexican boy, grew up to be a mean s.o.b. and he led a band of renegades who captured Mickey near Patagonia, Arizona. Beto really abused the boy. Why? because as the Vaqueros are fond of saying:

"A convert to any cause is always overdone."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Or, if you want to end on a more positive note, as my mother was fond of saying,

"It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy."
—Bobbi Bell Cady

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010
Rock Holliday came in this morning to talk about teaming up with True West. He helped us at the Wickenburg Gold Rush Days Parade two years ago and has a good sense of promotion.

Yesterday, I finished a color version of the Clifffhanger sequence regarding How Mickey Got His mule On. After sliding off the trail, the pack mule flattened out and came to rest with his hind legs dangling off the precipice, then endured a rock slide:

Recently I read a great insight from historian Dan Boorstin, "The hero created himself. The celebrity is created by the media. The hero was a big man. The celebrity is a big name."

Also working on couple commissions. More on that later. Meanwhile, here's one of my heroes on what you and I should be doing in the near future:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, and catch the trade winds in your sales. Explore. Dream. Discover."
—Mark Twain

Monday, August 09, 2010

August 9, 2010
Worked most of the weekend on the new department in True West to be called Graphic Cinema. Doing the incident in the Sierra Madres that led to Mickey Free riding a mule.

Did this scene on Saturday:

A Cliff Hanger, literally. Ha.

Saw a couple movies: "Winter's Bone," which I really liked, "The Other Guys" which was fun but very spotty (several times, the buddy-cop-farce with Will Ferrell and Mark Walhberg literally stops dead), and last but certainly not least, Akira Kurosawa's "High And Low," made in 1963, a police procedure noire. It's long, two and a half hours, but I watched it twice, once with subtitles and once with the commentary track. Trying to learn something.

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude."
—William James
August 9, 2010
One of the joys of doing True West is having friends who share cool stuff on the West. Bob McCubbin, Paul Hutton and Fred Nolan are always quick to share new information and recent finds.

Another guy who shares, is my good friend Kevin Mulkins, who saw my post on Tucson getting an ice plant in 1879 and he sent me this item:

If I'm reading the date correct, it looks like this is a New Year's Eve ice delivery. Wouldn't you love to know the rest of the story?

"Every man is the son of his own works."
—Miguel de Cervantes

Friday, August 06, 2010

August 6, 2010
Worked on a scratchboard of Mickey Free this morning. His hat is tattered from riding his mule through a cliff-side blaze. It caught on fire as he plunged through the flames:

(a comedian I know quips that men rarely talk to each other, unless it's really, really urgent: "Hey, Darrell, your cap is on fire.")

But this Mickey is very scarred and a bad boy, as you can see.

"When the legend becomes fact, film the version that sells the most tickets."

Who said that?

"Every movie producer who ever lived."
August 6, 2010
I love telling Old West enthusiasts how modern Tombstone was in 1881. Telephones, wine rooms, ice cream parlors and coffee shops to name some of the more mind blowing conveniences they enjoyed. I also talk about ice cold beer and the fact that The Town Too Tough to Die had an ice plant. However, I wasn't sure exactly when ice came to Arizona. Well, here is the answer!

131 years ago today, the ice age arrived in a grateful Old Pueblo

Kimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Friday, August 6, 2010 12:00 am

"An unprecedented luxury!"

"A blessing!"

"A frozen commodity" to quench "the thirsty masses."

Such effusive language in the local media meant just one thing in 1879 - ice in the desert.

On this date 131 years ago the first ice-making machine began operation in Tucson.

Gossiped about for months in the pages of The Daily Arizona Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star, it was a race to see which Tucson entrepreneur could get his machine running first. The winner was Paul Moroney, Esq., who had his machine freighted in from San Francisco. Within two months, though, Tucson was a two-ice-company town when a machine owned by J.S. Clark began production. It was to last six years.

"There can't be too much ice for our growing population," wrote the Star.

"We are sure there will be no want of patronage for this new enterprise," wrote the Citizen.

But the patronage had to wait a few days for its domestic ice.

The Citizen reported on Aug. 4, 1879, that "a test of the works will be made this evening. If all works well, a batch of ice will be made for sale tomorrow."

Two days later, parched Tucsonans still were waiting when the paper printed this announcement: "We are promised ice in the morning."

Local media pinned their hopes for economic growth on the humble blocks of frozen water.

"This enterprise is worthy of the greatest encouragement from all of our people. It not only supplies a want, but assists in establishing Tucson as a manufacturing center. Now let us have a foundry, planing mill, tannery, and a woolen mill," according to the Star.

Tucson's hometown pride in its ice lasted less than six years. A headline in the Feb. 20, 1886 edition of the Star read: "CRUSHED! A Local Industry Forced to Join the California Monopoly." A California ice company threatened to drop its prices so far below market value that local manufacturers couldn't compete. Some consolidated with the California company, other ice makers went out of business, and Tucsonans were back to getting their ice from the Golden State. Adding insult to injury, the California company tacked on a tax of 2 cents per pound.

Tucson's first ice-making venture by the numbers:


Entrepreneurs raced to get their ice-machines shipped to Tucson - one from Paris, one from Philadelphia, one from San Francisco.

4 p.m.

Precise time the machine began making ice on Aug. 6, 1879.

14 hours

Time it took to freeze an ice block

4 tons

Amount of ice the new machine could produce each day

10 cents

Price per pound of ice

25 to 100 lbs.

Size of ice blocks

6 years

Time it took a California ice conglomerate to crush its Tucson competition.

Did you know?

"This enterprise is worthy of the greatest encouragement from all of our people. It not only supplies a want, but assists in establishing Tucson as a manufacturing center."

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
—Nelson Mandela

Thursday, August 05, 2010

August 5, 2010
In our ongoing efforts to get movies on paper into the magazine, we will be adding a new department in the next issue, to be called "Graphic Cinema." Our art director Dan The Man Harshberger came up with that title. First up will be our old stand by, Mickey Free, in a two-page episode I am calling "How Mickey Got His Mule On":

Yes, the Mickster (seen here reaching for his Sharps rifle) rode a mammoth Jack, 16-hands-high. He is a handful, to say the least. Mick calls him Tu, which is Spanish for "you."

Sometimes I feel foolish, spending so much time trying to accurately capture these two stubborn, gnarly Western characters, but I take heart in something one of my art heroes said:

"I have struggled with every angle of the composition and while I have some beautiful passages, the painting as a whole does not possess a moving quality. Some days of the last month I worked on after dark, in the studio, with electric light always on this same picture of the Rio Grande Canon then I would eat my supper at 10:30 at night. And one day I was so interested, or struggling so hard, that I did not eat any lunch, but continued to paint until dark.—These are all intimate details of how foolish a painter can be, even at sixty years of age. If I get a good picture as the result of my efforts, I am happy. But sometimes even after several months' work I have to give it up, and burn the canvas or destroy it."
—Ernest Blummenschein

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

August 4, 2010
At 1:10 this afternoon I did a phoner (interview) in Adelaide, Australia on the Billy the Kid pardon. Sounded like it was early morning over there. The two gents seemed quite conversant on all things Billy the Kid, although, as they admitted, Ned Kelly, is their big outlaw bad boy.

We've got a poll up here and on Facebook regarding the Billy the Kid pardon. Here are some of the better answers from the Facebook poll:

"No pardon. . .yet. The arguments are too much fun."
—Jerrie Paschal

"I thought they decided Billy was a woman."
—Al Collier

"No pardon. Billy was a non-repentant murderer."
—Larry Banks

"Oh hell yes. I say pardon him. After all, there was that deal. I always have kinda liked him especially after reading Sister Blandina Segale's 1948 book, AT THE END of the SANTA FE TRAIL. When I was a kid I had a pair of black Billy the Kid jeans if memory serves. My Mom couldn't get them off of me for the laundry."
—Gerri Gosney

How Did In-dins Scalp Bald People?
"My husband and I watch Encore Western channel all the time. We were wondering if, and how, bald people were scalped by the Indians?"
—Thyra Lewis

The answer is: very carefully.

Actually, this is a great question. Scalping is a very contentious issue in our history. Some Indian tribes, like the Apaches, claim they never scalped, or did so only in retaliation to the Mexican government who offered bounties on Apache scalps. I imagine if warriors did bag a bald-headed fontiersman, they were disappointed by the lack of a trophy.

"Hair today, gone tomorrow."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

August 3, 2010
The idea of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson giving a pardon to Billy the Kid before he leaves office, is really hitting a nerve world wide.

My inbox is flooded with inquiries and requests for information. Here is our good friend Mark Gardner's take on it from ABC News.

Let's take a straw vote right here. Do you think Billy the Kid deserves a pardon? (you can email your vote to me at bozebell@twmag.com)

"I think Richardson is hoping for a pardon of his own when the next Governor takes over."
—Seth Wilson

Monday, August 02, 2010

August 2, 2010
Worked over the weekend on a couple Mickey Free scratchboard pieces. For one, I'm trying to simplify his scarred face:

And his one-eyed look (so I combined the scar with the damaged eye). Also worked on Mickey and his flying mule:

Okay, while he doesn't actually fly, he does soar. And, in both directions:

I don't know about you, but I'd love to see this on a T-shirt with the title: How Mickey Got His Mule On. But then, that's just me.

"There are two kinds of light—the light that illuminates, and the gare that obscures."
—James Thurber
August 2, 2010
Just got off the phone with a TV producer in Australia who wants to do a phone interview on Wednesday about the proposed pardon for Billy the Kid. Meanwhile, a publisher friend of mine is in London and sent me a link to a prominent London newspaper story on the pardon, and when I called Paul Hutton at lunch today he informs me he is waiting for an ABC crew to come interview him about the story.

Many are accusing Governor Bill Richardson of doing this as a publicity stunt and on that count I would have to say—Duh!:

"The larger the island of knowwledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."

—Ralph Sockman
August 2, 2010
Nice to be home on the desert. Sunday was overcast and quite cool out most of the day. Went down to Tom A.'s house and thanked him for his chicken duty while I was gone. Worked on a couple Mickey Free images, including this ominous sucker:

"Style is truth."
—Ray Bradbury

Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 1, 2010
Spent some time with the distinguished professor in Albuquerque last week. He recently acquired the original script of Moby-Dick by Ray Bradbury. I recommended to him to get the new paperback book "Listen to the Echoes," interviews with Ray Bradbury. I told Paul, Bradbury answers two different questions on the experience of writing Moby-Dick. And that this part is good adivice for Mickey-Donkey D***, the graphic novel:

"The problem of the novel is to stay truthful. The short story, if you really are intense and you have an exciting idea writes itself in a few hours. I try to encourage my student friends and my writer friends to write a short story in one day so it has a skin around it and has its own intensity and its own life, its own reason for being. There's a reason why the idea occurred to you at that hour anyway, so go with that and investigate it, get it down. Two or three thousand words in a few hours is not that hard to do. Don't let people interfere with you; boot em out, shut down the phone, hide away, get it done. So then you have one truth. But if you carry a short story over to the next day you may overnight intellectualize something about it and try to make it too fancy, try to please someone.

"But a novel has all kinds of pitfalls because it takes longer and you are around people, and if you're not careful you will talk about it. The novel is also hard to write, just in terms of keeping your love intense. It's hard to stay erect for two hundred days. [Laughs]"

—Ray Bradbury

And, since we're talking about new narrative architecture, here's what a reviewer in the New Yorker has to say about David Mitchell's revolutionary writing ("Cloud Atlas" and "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet":

"[Mitchell's books] seem to issue from some high-energy literary laboratory where exotic narrative configurations are tested and optimized for maximum expressive power.

"His novel 'Cloud Atlas', consists of six stories in different genres, arranged concentrically in an exquisite mirrored labyrinth that isn't quite worth the effort of solving it (I realize this opinion puts me at odds with its legions of admirers.)

"How do you tell the story of how things fall apart in the form of a story that does not fall apart? There's no answer, and a thousand answers. It's the inexhaustibly fecund paradox behind all of Mitchell's novels: he is a writer who uses order to depict chaos."
—Lev Grossman

He's worth checking out because he is striving to create a narrative structure that I think Paul and I actually talk when we are telling stories, but we kind of discard when we try to do a traditional script.

"You should never drink while you're writing, but it's O.K. to write while you're drinking."
—Keith Waterhorse
August 1, 2010
Got this email from esteemed Western author, Robert Utley:

I got a lot out of the recent True West. I don’t care for Mark Boardman’s writing style, but he drew the whole story together in one place for the first time I’ve seen. Now, when queried, as I often am,
I have a chronological reference. As you know, I stand with Fred Nolan in his estimate of the nonsensical furor stirred by Sederwall and Sullivan.

The really valuable item in the issue was the one you put in, with the drawings, which I had never seen. Perhaps too rigidly, I cling to the version I wrote many years ago, your first narrative. The Dobbs interview to me does not stand up, and there is no new scenario. Nor do I subscribe to the BBB

I do think that Bill Richardson is again toying with a pardon. It’s OK if he wants. The outcome would be the same as Billy expected from Wallace. EXCEPT, this word pardon is too loosely used and always has been. RMU take: Wallace never promised Billy a pardon. He promised that he would do all
he could to persuade DA Rynerson not to prosecute. He must have been aware of Rynerson’s hatred of Billy and known that he would never drop the prosecution. By 1879, though, when Billy was in the pokey in Santa Fe, Wallace should have done the right thing and pardoned him. But he was anxious
to be away and off to the Ottoman Court.

Thanks for an excellent issue, even if our “takes” don’t coincide.
—The Old Bison

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."

—Mother Theresa
August 1, 2010
There are some pretty exciting things going on in narrative architecture and here's a great example from a new book, "A Visit from the Goon Squad," by Jennifer Egan:

A punk rock music producer, on his third wife, takes his family to Africa on safari. His precocious 13-year-old daughter, Charlie, is flirting with a group of four Samburu warriors who have come to their encampment to entertain them on drums and singing.

"The warrior smiles at Charlie. He's nineteen, only five years older than she is, and has lived away from his village since he was ten. But he's sung for enough American tourist to recognize that in her world, Charlie is a child. Thirty-five years from now, in 2008, this warrior will be caught in the tribal violence between the Kikuyu and the Luo and will die in a fire. He'll have had four wives and sixty-three grand children by then, one of whom, a boy named Joe, will inherit his lalema: the iron hunting dagger in a leather scabbard now hanging at his side. Joe will go to college at Columbia and study engineering, becoming an expert in visual robotic technology that detects the slightest hint of irregular movement (the legacy of a childhood spent scanning the grass for lions). He'll marry an American named Lulu and remain in new York, where he'll invent a scanning device that becomes standard issue for crowd security. He and Lulu will buy a loft in Tribeca, where his grandfathers' hunting dagger will be displayed inside a cube of Plexiglas, directly under a skylight."

Back to story. This is the kind of Fast Forward Narrative that is invigorating story telling. Another guy who is expanding the genre is David Mitchell. More on him later.

"Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board."
—Ray Bradbury