If you've ever wondered what it's like to run a magazine or how crazy my personal life is, be sure to read the behind-the-scenes peek at the daily trials and tribulations of running True West. Culled straight from my Franklin Daytimer, it contains actual journal entries, laid out raw and uncensored. Some of it is enlightening. Much of it is embarrassing, but all of it is painfully true. Are you a True West Maniac? Get True West for LIFE...Click here!
Monday, April 30, 2012
Funky Chickens, Mexican Pacificos, Sons of The Pioneers & Lucinda Williams
April 30, 2012
Got back into the chicken business this weekend. My neighbor, Tom Augherton, joined me on a chicken run to repopulate my empty chicken coop. Went over to Grandma Betty's on Saturday morning and retrieved Little Sheba, the squawking last survivor of my previous brood. From there we drove over to Betsy's chicken farm off Lone Mountain in Cave Creek and bought eight more chicks at $7 each and put them in the coop.
That's Little Sheba in the way back, kind of freaked out at the instant family. Once we got the chickens in the corral, I went in and got us two Pacificos, not U.S. Pacificos, but Mexican Pacificos, which are much, much smoother. Don't know why, but I'm guessing preservatives? Anyway, got the beers at Rocky Point on T. Charle's honeymoon trip:
That evening, Ken and Lucinda Amorosano and Ken's sis Rosita (visiting from NY), joined me at the annual Desert Land Trust dinner and show at Rancho Manana. Here we are posing with a gaggle of cowgirls who were on hand to meet and greet.
Dinner was catered by Tonto Bar & Grill and it was excellent. After an auction we got a sweet treat with The Sons of the Pioneers doing a set of Western classics.
From there we motored up to Harold's Cave Creek Corral to catch Lucinda Williams. Ken almost got his head handed to him, but his sis saved his bacon. Took this photo about a minute later. By the way, remember in the 70s-80s and 90s when you weren't allowed to take any photos at a concert? Well, now with everyone armed with cell phone cameras, virtually EVERYONE is taking photos, myself included.
All in all a great night of food, fun and music. Found a couple sky studies in the garage on Sunday and pulled them out for another run. Added three riders and a saguaro for this one I call "Rain Riders."
And here's another one, I call it "Prairie Rider":
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald
Friday, April 27, 2012
Festival of the West is Coming Back
April 27, 2012
Someone on here challenged me to illustrate Wyatt Earp's favorite horse in Tombstone and, well, here you go:
Several years ago I ran into Tate Wilford at Festival of the West and he had a very authentic cowboy look a la 1880s. Took a photo of him and recently did this scratchboard of his pose.
And speaking of Festival of the West, I heard it from the horse's mouth that the longtime festival will be revived next year. Mary is back in the saddle. More details to come.
What will the last Baby Boomer look like? Well, if you get past the odds of it being a woman, I think I know. This is Kid Burns: He's a cranky ol' bastard.
Can't stand the youth of today (that would be 2062).
"Kids today don't know jack about nothin'. They don't even know how to bogart a joint! It's just crazy, I tell ya. What happened to our world?"
Wyatt Earp's Long Shadow
April 27, 2012
Got up at 4:30 this morning. Really nice and cool out. Had some rain yesterday so the air was wet, which is always so sweet in Arizona because it's so rare.
Bailed right into a cover concept: Wyatt Earp's Long Shadow. Here is sketch number one:
Of course, the scene on the matte painting would show the Hollywoodland sign on it:
Here's another take on it, without the sign:
Perhaps there needs to be a movie scene in the foreground, of, say William S. Hart in "Hell's Hinges" (1916):
So, then you would end up with something like this:
May be trying to do too much, but the possibilities are there, just need to pluck it out.
"Live your life so that your children can tell their children that you not only stand for something wonderful—you acted on it."
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Long Face of The Law
April 26, 2012
Went home for lunch and whipped out a character inspired by a scene I shot off the TV of Lawman. Here's the screen capture:
Great lighting effects. And here's my interpretation of it as applied to an old West marshal:
Not quite Wyatt Earp, but I call this "The Long Face of The Law" Ha. Not done with this yet. Have some more ideas on what to do with it.
Meanwhile, we're noodling ideas on our next book "Wyatt Earp In Hollywood: The Untold Story." Want to have Earp from the 1920s standing in Hollywood with the famous sign behind him. As you may know, the sign originally did not say Hollywood. Here is a photo from 1923.
Anybody know the story of why it was originally Hollywoodland? Gee, I wonder what ol' Diane has to say about this?
"The person who knows 'how' will always have a job. The person who knows 'why' will always be his boss."
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Town Tamer vs. Not-So-Gentle Tamer
April 25, 2012
Ed Riley from Bronzesmith in Prescott Valley dropped by last night to show me the precast of the ten-foot version of Not-So-Gentle Tamer. Here's a sneak peek at this big sucker:
Ain't she a beaut? That's Ken Amorosano at left, and Ed at right, holding on her arms. Ed had the lovely lady in pieces in his pickup and on a trailer. Did a sketch this morning of the original town tamer and frontier marshal channeling Sam Elliott.
Sam would make a great Wyatt Earp. His craggy visage is pretty strong.
"In Arizona you can be a nut but at least people will leave you alone."
—Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Charlie Meadows and Sheriff George Ruffner
April 24, 2012
Crazy busy. Working quite a bit on tracing paper. Allows me to work freely without pencil and if I screw it up I can put another piece of tracing paper over it and not lose the design. Here are a couple recent illustrations done in this manner. First up, the legendary Charlie Meadows:
Done from a photograph. Next up Prescott Sheriff George Ruffner (who won a mortuary in a poker game and thus could offer taxpayers the luxury of being able to shoot 'em, groom 'em and entomb 'em.
These are for upcoming True West Moments that will run in the Arizona Republic. Next up a set piece for the next Graphic Cinema:
Very clean style, eh?
"Inspiration comes from working every day."
—Charles Pierre Baudelaire
Friday, April 20, 2012
April 20, 2012
Yesterday I whipped out a sketch for a new True West Moment on The Hashknife Outfit, a legendary ranch in northern Arizona.
The Aztec Land & Cattle Company was formed in 1884 by a group of Eastcoast investors and Western ranchers who paid a million bucks at 50 cents an acre. The "ranch" was 90 miles long and 40 miles wide with headquarters near present-day Saint Joseph, Arizona (later moving to Holbrook). Unfortunately, they bought it from the railroad which meant that the land was checker-boarded (the railroads got free land along their routes, but this free land included every other section). The cowboys who worked for the Hashknife were notorious for their fistfightin', shootin' exploits, but unfortunately, no great name came out of the period and so, the outfit is perhaps a little more famous than it really was. Still, a very cool name (named for the kind of knife that chuckwagon cooks used to cut veggies. ha. True.).
Anyway, got to looking at the sketch yesterday afternoon and thought I could improve on the horse and rider at left. Decided to do some due diligence and this morning I pulled down a book on Ed Borein and Remington and redid the sketch before I came into work:
Included the actual brand on a crossbar. The poaching reference is pretty obvious: that's Ed Borein on the right, Remington on the left and the two middle guys are from a Desert Caballeros Museum photo of hispanic cowboys. Of course they are all changed 20% to avoid any copyright entanglements, but still, I like to admit my inspirations.
Was the extra effort worth it? I think so. Gee, I wonder what ol' Faulkner has to say about this?
"Try to be better than yourself."
Thursday, April 19, 2012
A Baseball Betrayal With Buns, Burf, Boze and Bugs
April 19, 2012This past Monday, Ken Amorosano and I had a meeting downtown at Channel 8 and he wanted to see some of the old downtown. I worked for a couple decades in downtown Phoenix and so I led the tour. Oh, my, how it's changed since the old days. Many new buildings an tons of urban renewal, which is a nice way of saying, Tear that old crap down and let's put something else there.
One of the historic sites we looked at was the Orpheum Theater, an ornate, rococo style movie theater that has been refurbished for plays and as a music venue. Ken asked me if I had ever been in the theater before. Yes, but it's been a while.
It was in the spring of 1965 and Mohave County Union High School's baseball team was in the Valley to play a double header. We played Buckeye on Friday and Tolleson on Saturday. We were staying at a motel on Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix. On Friday evening I decided I wanted to see the new Natalie Wood movie "Sex And The Single Girl," because, well, I was a senior in high school and the movie had the word sex in the title.
I talked three other teammates into going with me and we called a cab to take us to the Orpheum Theater, about a ten or 15 block run. As we pulled up, everyone bailed out of the car and I got stuck with the tab (it wrecked a $5 bill as I recall). I was so steamed, but it got worse. Halfway into the movie, one of the guys leans over and says, "Hey, Boze, we have a nine o'clock curfew and we need to go." And I said, "No way, I paid to see the movie and I'm going to see the movie."
They left and I watched the rest of the very anti-climactic (pun intended) movie. I got outside and there were no cabs. Phoenix was deserted. So I started walking and ended up walking, in the dark, the 15 blocks back to the motel.
But the best was yet to come. Someone in that group ratted me out to the coaches and for this infringment I got kicked off the team. Here are the suspects in the Orpheum Theater Betrayal:
Front row, left to right: Ray "Buns" Bonham, Wayne Rutschman, Rick "The Dick" Ridenour. Second row: BBB, Stephen Craig "Burf" Burford and Charlie "Bugs" Waters.
Asked to defend himself, Wayne said, "Okay, I see that my propensity for being a tightwad and a rat and a person who doesn’t appreciate Hollywood allegedly all came together at once on a certain Friday night in the spring of ’65. So what!? I don’t remember the detail of any of this and while I’m not saying some version of these events did not happen, Boze, why do you presume that this is the only thing that led to your being booted? Ya think your .081 batting average or running the bases backwards might have had something to do with it??...and this was simply the last straw?"
Speaking of being crushed by a close friend who once gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation, I just got word from Jeff Morey regarding the Packard Wyatt Earp is standing in front of —according to Anthony Martin, it's a 1926 Packard Model 326 Opera Coupe. According to Jeff Wheat who has a list of all of William S. Hart's cars, the auto in the photo of Wyatt is not on that list. So, the car does not seem to have been Hart's.
"There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out."
—Old Vaquero Saying
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Original Photo of Lotta Crabtree
April 18, 2012Some residents of San Francisco meet today at a fountain located at the intersection of Market St. and Kearny to mark the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake. The fountain was donated by the legenary actress and comedienne Lotta Crabtree. Known as "Miss Lotta the San Francisco Favorite" the young Ms. Crabtree performed in the mining camps of northern California and went on to major acclaim on the stage earning up to $5,000 a week. Her mother wisely invested her earnings (demanding payment in gold) and when Lotta died in 1924 she left $4 million in a charitable trust that is still going today.
About fifteen years ago I bought an original photo of Lotta Crabtree at the Argonaut Booksstore on Sutter. I have posted the photo over on our True West Facebook page. You can access it right here.
Also working on several new characters. Here's one—Jennie Burns—who will be featured in an upcoming Graphic Cinema on Wyatt Earp.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Bob McCubbin weighs in on new Wyatt Earp photo
April 17, 2012The excitement and controversy over the new Wyatt Earp photo, continues. If you just joined us, Nicholas Narog shared with me a photo he has recently purchased that is allegedly of Wyatt Earp. According to Nick, the original owner of the photo supposedly lived in Bisbee at the time Earp was in Cochise County and the previous owner claimed the photo came out of the short-lived Wyatt Earp Museum in Tombstone which was owned and curated by John Gilchriese in the early 1970s. The photo allegedly came out of the John Flood collection. John Flood being the mining engineer and friend of Earp who tried to write a successful book on Wyatt's life in the 1920s.
Here is long time photo collector and publisher emeritus of True West magazine, Robert G. McCubbin:
Bob McCubbin Weighs In
It is hard for me to accept the Gilchriese Museum story. I was there at its grand opening and I visited Gilchriese many times in Tucson and never saw this photo. I know that does not prove he did not have it, but it is an important fact to me. The story that it came from the Gilchriese collection (or from John Flood) is often used as provenance, but with nothing to back that up.
When I first saw the photo, I thought "the head is too big for the body to be Wyatt". Then I clicked on your site and your drawing is even that way. Then I looked at what should be a very comparable photo, the full standing profile of Wyatt near the Colorado River (p. 116 in your book on Wyatt, 4th edition), and it becomes even more evident. Again, the photo you sent does not have enough clarity to see his face, which can only be seen in profile, to make a judgement.
Now that I have seen a clearer copy of the photo, I find that his face is all in shadow! The entire identification is based on his ear! We have many photos of Wyatt's ear, and it doesn't even look right to me. His head is forward and down so much, I don't see how one can see his jaw line.
As I have said before in no way do I object to new photos being found. I love it when they are. But I want them to be authentic, not wishful thinking.
"A bad review hurts more than any good review feels good."
—Michael Ian Black, who's appearing at Changing Hands Bookstore tonight at 7 p.m.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Finally! The New Wyatt Earp Photo!
April 16, 2012Busy weekend working on the O.K. Project. Spent half of it on a sexy nurse who will administer to our protagonist who is in an assisted living facility. He's being touted as the last Baby Boomer. More to follow.
Meanwhile, here it is, the photo that has lit up boards all across the globe. It appears to be Wyatt Earp in about 1926:
Thanks to Nicholas Narog for sharing this photo with me. To my eye this is Wyatt Earp; the pronounced ear against white hair, the jawline, and the white mustache really matches my idea of the man. The most amazing thing, though, is what appears to be cowboy boots. Notice the underslung heels and you can see, what appears to be, the outline of the boot tops showing against his pants legs.
It apparently came out of the John Flood collection and was kept for years in the Bisbee area. Nick is quite upfront about the details of the purchase saying that he thinks it was in John Gilchriese's short-lived Wyatt Earp Museum in Tombstone in the early 1970s.
That said, the background is problematic. it doesn't look like California or Arizona. Has a Midwestern look and feel. And, what the hell is he looking at? A buried dog dish? A hubcap off a 1926 Packard?
Here are Bob McCubbin's concerns:
"I know a lot of people who follow the auctions and have not heard about this photo appearing, which I would not have if everyone thought it was phony.
"I really do not think the photo was ever in Gilchriese's Tombstone Museum or ever in his collection. I do think that I saw every photo that he owned.
"Anyway, a collector would wonder why Nick seems to be evasive of facts that he should know. The decision has to be made entirely on a visual comparison. From what I can see, and for what it is worth, I don't think it is Wyatt."
Well, what do you think?
"The eye of the buyer is in the beholder."
—Old Vaquero Saying
Friday, April 13, 2012
New Wyatt Earp photo discovered!
April 13, 2012Well, just when I thought I have seen it all, in comes a new photograph of Wyatt Earp that I have never seen before. Nicholas Narog contacted me and asked me if I wanted to see a photo of Earp from the John Flood collection. I thought, yeh, sure, whatever (I get so many requests like this I have become rather jaded). Anyway, it's definitely hm. No mistake about that. Here is a sneak peek at a sketch I did of it this afternoon. I noticed something rather amazing about the photo:
I'll post the real photo on Monday. Stay tuned!
"Why you little p----k tease!"
Big Ears & O.K.B.S
April 13, 2012Woke up at four this morning and got right to work on sketches for the main character in my O.K. Project:
This led to a tighter pen and ink of Kid Burns:
Man, do I know this guy! Totally from New Jersey. Ha.
He's an old guy (one of the last standing Baby Boomers: the year is 2046), which got me to thinking that there aren't really a lot of old guys in comic strips. Found a few, did some sketches:
Also working on an opening scene for this story that is rather ambitious. I'm trying to break it down to the essential parts:
Speaking of being sensitive, a close friend of mine has a big schnozz. He jokes about it, but I think he's taken some major grief over it. Me, I was traumatized by a professional photographer for our high school yearbook, who took one look at me and said, "Big ears, turn your face to the side."He was just being gruff and impatient because he had a couple hundred class pictures to take and he didn't want to mess around, but I was really impacted by it. Carried that around for years and years. In fact, some of my attempts at drawing are probably as a reaction to that comment. Gee, I wonder what ol' Gopnik has to say about this?
"Clever people are usually compensating for something, even if the wound that makes them draw the bow of art is no worse than an overlarge schnozz and sticking-out ears."—Adam Gopnik, in The New Yorker
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Al Sieber's Hat and Buckskin Clad Denial
April 12, 2012A friend of mine, Wayne Jorgenson, is doing a self-published book on Al Sieber and the Men of the First Minnesota (Sieber fought in this unit in the Civil War and was seriously wounded at Gettysburg). Wayne sent me a couple photos asking where the originals might be and who to credit. One of them I had not seen before. This is Al Sieber with his Apache Scouts at Camp Verde in 1880:
Here is a close up of Al and his great hat:
Love the hat and I think this is probably the style of hat Wyatt Earp wore on the so-called Vendetta Ride. Now what's interesting to me, is he seems to be wearing the same exact shirt as in this 1877 photograph:
And, the hat is pretty close as well. I also think it's interesting that Al is wearing full blown buckskin pants and jacket, yet years later, when he was defending Tom Horn as a character witness, Sieber claimed:
"In regard to my picture, I have none here, and have no show at present to have one taken, and as for my scouting costume, it was ever the same as that of any roving man; for, during my twenty-one years of fighting and hunting Indians, I never wore long hair or buckskin clothes."
—Al Sieber, Roosevelt, A.T., April 7, 1904
Really, Al? What the hell were you smokin'?
Anyway, here are a couple sketches I made this morning trying to ferret out his style:
And here is a tighter one:
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Extremely O.K. Schieffelin Hall
April 11, 2012Did a tight tracing of Schieffelin Hall this morning to send to my color guy in Cal. Want to see what the color palette is going to be for the O.K. Project. I want it to be Extremely O.K. but I'll settle for Just O.K. Examples to follow.
Speaking of Tombstone, here's a sneak peek at the next issue, which is at the printer even as you read this:
Power went out last night right in the middle of watching the Lawman. I was shooting art reference off the TV when it went down. Man, that John Russell has a great face. So rugged. Little bit of Burt Lancaster with a pinch of Clark Gable thrown in.
Turns out a transformer blew up across the creek, over by Cal and John's casita. Went over there and sat in the dark in their kitchen and had a glass of wine. Came home around nine. Power came back on at ten.
"I never knew a lawman who got old."
—John Russell, as "Lawman"
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Turn Me On Dead Man
April 10, 2012So I'm feverishly working on the Wyatt Earp time travel project (this is day 85 of the effort) which I'd like to premiere in the next issue of True West (July). The story opens at Schieffelin Hall in Tombstone where a group of history buffs are arguing the merits of Wyatt Earp's claim that he killed Curly Bill at Mescal Springs. I have good reference on the historic building from the notorious meeting there in November of 2000 when Allen Barra and Glenn Boyer went at it in the so-called OK Shoutout. Found a photo I took of the building as I was cleaning the studio for my son's wedding last month.
The photo shows the building at a nice angle, but the street is empty save Dan Coleman's big pickup truck. I want to have a smattering of people walking to the building and in the door, with cars going by. Googled "families walking across the street" and got some decent coverage. And, of course, in addition to families walking across the street, there was the famous photo of the Fab Four walking across the crosswalk at Abbey Road. Noticed, for the umpteenth time that Paul McCartney is barefoot, which in turn inspired me to make a notation in my sketchbook, because one of the characters in the story is always quoting the Beatles, via SNL style humor (Gee, I wonder who that is referencing?). Scribbled it down in the dark (which is why it's almost ineligible).
See, I try to tell straight narrative, but my mind always goes for the cheap laugh. Gee, I wonder what ol' Gabrielle has to say about this?
"Be careful what you get good at doin', 'cause you'll be doin' it the rest of your life."
Monday, April 09, 2012
What Did Wyatt Earp Look Like on March 23, 1882?
April 9, 2012Worked over the weekend on a variety of Wyatt Earp imagery, including this sketch of Wyatt Earp on March 23, 1882.
This is against type. We expect to see him in a black hat, coat and tie. See, here's the thing. Everybody thinks Wyatt Earp walked around in a black suit ALL THE TIME. He is typecast with this because of the photographs of him. Earp always viewed himself as a Sporting Man, not as a cowboy or a gunfighter (and by the way, did you know Stuart Lake's original title for his seminal book was "Frontier Gunfighter" before Josie Earp had a hissy fit and forced him to change it to "Frontier Marshal"?), so Earp dressed up for the saloons and the photographer. Granted on the beach in Alaska he's dressed in a suit but I think he had a different outfit for the trail and on March 23, 1882, Wyatt and Doc and several others were riding into the Babocomari foothills looking for Curly Bill Brocius and others. The proof of Wyatt's head gear is George Parsons, a friend of Earps and a banker by trade in Tombstone. He has photographs taken in formal wear, but he also has a couple photographs of himself taken in the style of clothing he wore outside of town. Big difference.
Meanwhile, here are a couple sketches of Earp extrapolating from the screen captures I took of "The Lawman."
And here is another page of sketches emulating Charles Dana Gibson (he immortalized The Gibson Girl and was a monster illustrator and I'm a huge fan).
My New Ford Flex
April 9, 2012Thanks to Carl Schwind and Kathy Radina, I bought a new Ford Flex last Friday. I wanted a ride I could haul my family on road trips and up to trailheads, like the Spur Cross Reserve—Jewel of Cave Creek, north of our house. The many trails wind up and around the mountains we look at every day, so it was interesting to see them from a different perspective.
Here is a photo I took last week from the end of our street, looking north towards Elephant Butte and Sugarloaf Mountain. Yes, that is sunlight on windows making that glow and I took this for reference for my painting, "Last Light On Morningstar" (the name of the street the house sits on in the photo in Morningstar).
That's Sugarloaf on the right. Now, here is the view from the Spur Cross Reserve trail of being right up underneath Sugarloaf.
Of course, when you get down into Cave Creek itself (the water tributary, not the town) it gets quite lush. This is called the Jewel of Cave Creek and for good reason.
All in all, a good excuse to drive my new limo-toaster (see quote below).
"I don't like the Ford Flex. It looks like a toaster."
—Shannon Schwind's mother-in-law