Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bad Man Billy Hayes In A Haze

October 31, 2012

Had a couple changes to make on this issue's Classic Gunfight which features, for the first time to my knowledge, the gunfight between Tap Duncan and William Hayes in Bruneau, Idaho. Although I was able to locate Mr. Hayes' kin, they have no surviving photo of the bad man. So, that's what I specialize in. Went home for lunch and channeled Bill Hayes and came up with this:

Daily Whipouts #31, "Bad Man Bill Hayes"

What's interesting is my source in Bruneau—Mary Hall-Baker— is related to Bill Hayes, and when I talk to her, she invariably has the flip side to all of our contentions. For example, the Duncans claim the deceased Hayes had a young son who was being groomed to kill Tap and this is why Duncan decamped for Arizona. Mary's kin point out that the boy was only eight-years-old at the time of the shooting and was not being groomed for killing anyone. Meanwhile the Duncans declare that when Tap Duncan left Bruneau he bought a new wagon and brought with him his best string of horses. The Hayes side claims Duncan stole those horses from a local woman! Interesting how family folklore gets appropriated and bent to suite the uses of the descendants. I would include myself in that broadside.

Meanwhile, here's another little dust up that always gets the juices flowing on this site:

Daily Whipouts #32, "O.K. Billy Goes Down"

And finally, here's another Old West icon who almost got into a gunfight just south of the border down Mexico way. When U.S. troops were escorting Geronimo back to the States in 1886 they were intercepted by Mexican troops. The commander of the Sonoran group recognized G-Man, and threatened him. Goyathla, put his hand on his pistol and the two were about to go at it when a north of the border officer intervened.

Daily Whipouts #33, "Geronimo Draws Leather"

"Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A Sneak Preview of Daniel Day-Lewis As Lincoln

October 31, 2012

   Just got this from the Top Secret Writer:

Saw Lincoln at a sneak preview last night. Day-Lewis is amazing and will be nominated for an Oscar for certain. Fields is wonderful as well (the best scene in the film is a confrontation between her and Lewis) and Tommy Lee Jones is also great. It is all a grand history lesson and a bad movie--long and dreary. Lots of talking in rooms. The movie looked fabulous as do all Spielberg films but the director and the writer were too in love with their subject to step back and display more of his human failings (when they do the film sparkles). Its tough to treat Lincoln as less than a diety, since in reality he was as close to one as a human can be. I loved the film--but then I loved John Wayne's The Alamo.

—Paul Andrew Hutton

"I feel like at this point Apple is releasing products just to see if there's anything we won't buy."

—Jimmy Kimmel

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Curly Bill'sd Number 2 Man Plus Angry Naco Puta

October 30, 2012

   Went home for lunch to meet the pool man. Our pool pump has blown out again. The company that made it would not honor warranty because they said we had it under water. It rains, pump is on dirt, overflow, yadda, yadda. . . Too long to relate here but I have a hunch it's going to wreck $500.

   Took the opportunity to whip out a study featuring firemen shirts, which were all the go in the 1880s. Yes, cowboys actually wore the numbers on their chest. Probably the best comparison is kids today wearing their favorite pro player's jersey. This Old West version looks kind of goofy to our eyes, but I have a hunch sports jerseys are going to look pretty goofy in the next century ("Oh, that is so two-thousand-ish.")

Whipped Out #25, "Curly Bill's Number 2 Man"

Getting down to the bottom of Whipped Out Paintings which will go on sale very soon.

Whipped Out #26, "The Hacendado"

Here's a little set piece from the forthcoming graphic novel Mickey Free:

Whipped Out #27, "Mickey's Road Kill"

 If you've ever had experience with border putas like me, you know they can sometimes be very angry people. This was done to illustrate the prostitute that Arizona Ranger Jeff Kidder ran into in Naco. The encounter cost him his life. Even her hair looks angry.

Whipped Out #28, "Angry Naco Puta"

Did several takes on Kid Curry for the last issue. Here's him as a Montana cowboy, just prior to his outlaw days when he was known as Harvey Logan.

Whipped Out #29, "Kid Curry No. 2"

And, finally, the one-eyed captivo who has captured my entire being for long stretches of time, The Mickster:

Whipped Out #30, "The Mickster Rides In"

"When I was a young girl well, I had me a cowboy

He weren't much to look at, just free rambling man

But that was a long time and no matter how I try

The years just flow by like a broken down dam."

—John Prine, Angel From Montgomery

Whipped This One Out In 13 Years!

October 30, 2012

   As you may have noticed, I usually work quickly and often say things like, "Went home for lunch today and whipped out an illustration before coming back to work." Well, here's an example of the opposite. Got up this morning and finished an illustration I started in 1999:

This was a failed illustration that I kept in my studio for the past 13 years because Essdee scratcboard is quite expensive ($22 a sheet) and I thought I would salvage the board by cutting it up into pieces. This morning I took a look at it and realized it had some merit. So, I sat down and quickly finished it and brought it into the office to use in an upcoming True West Moment on the myth of shooting the gun out of an outlaw's hand.

i really hated it as a kid when Hoppy, Gene or Roy (especially Roy!) would not kill the bad guy, but instead shot the gun out his hand. I felt cheated. I loved it when the bad guy got his. This hand deal, of course, came about because little boys like me really enjoyed when bad guys got plugged and this upset our mothers to no end. They had a receptive ear in Hollywood through the Hays Code and with the rise in juvenile crime in the 1950s (Blackboard Jungle anyone?) certain rules came down: you couldn't show a gun being fired and a person reacting to the bullet in the same shot. I'm not kidding. Oh, and no blood. Couldn't show it. Too unseemly.

I believe this is where the Western cliche "You got me!" came from. They had to insert a line to make sure the audience understood a baddie had actually been hit by a bullet!

Anyway, when Sergio Leone was filming A Fistful of Dollars with Clint Eastwood, not only was Leone showing bad guys being shot in the same frame (sometimes three or four at a time!) but he amped up the carnage by using  the audio of rifle fire for pistols and cannons (yes cannons!) for rifle shots. No wonder Baby Boomers like me went ape over Spaghetti Westerns. They weren't lame like American TV Westerns. Of course with the success of the Italian Westerns, the Hays Code got crushed in the stampede to emulate the success of the Italians.

But I digress.

I got a plum assignment to do six special collection Coors beer cans in 1999. The theme was Old West Legends and the Integer Group out of Denver created the copy emulating Dime Novels of the 1800s. I bailed in and executed very ambitious scratchboards for each one. In fact, they were too ambitious and the Integer Group had trouble reducing my fine line scratchboards down to fit on a beer can. I think the art director wanted to throttle me. In fact, it almost kaboshed the entire project. Anyway, here is the illustration they ended up using on the can for Buck Taylor:

The copy on the side of the can says, "Buck spun around and with brutal precision, shot through Tiger Tom's firing hand."

I actually like the version I finished today over this one but the honchos at Coors wanted a more cliche version of shooting the gun out the bad guy's hand. I tried to argue this was an invention of the 1940s and 1950s and didn't exist in the 1880s but guess who won that argument?

"I am an old woman, named after my mother, my old man is another child that's grown old. . ."

—John Prine, Angel From Montgomery

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Passing of A Legendary Cowboy

October 29, 2012

Marshall Trimble and Jana Bommersbach are driving up for our True West staff 60th anniversary photo today. True West turns 60 in 2013 and we're working on the January issue, which goes to press this Thursday. The office is teeming with activity. Dan The Man Harshberger just came in. Jana is here and helped rewrite a lead for our True Westerner of the Year.

Got up this morning and finished a Doc Holliday study:

Whipped Out #24, "One Dead-eyed S.O.B."

Had a very fun weekend. Kathy and I went down to Scottsdale, on Saturday, to pet dogs, drink wine (Scottsdale Art & Wine Festival), see a movie ("The Paper Boy") and try a new restaurant (Barrio Queen, featured in Esquire magazine as one of the best new restaurants in the country).

My uncle Choc Hamilton, 98, passed away last week. According to his granddaughter, Brenda Hamilton, he may have been the last cowboy who knew the legendary Tap Duncan. I am doing Tap Duncan's 1894 Classic Gunfight with William Hayes in Bruneau, Idaho in the next issue of True West. I heard Tap's version of the fight from Choc's son Billy, and had every intention of going to Kingman to video tape Choc telling the story, but now I'll be driving home for his funeral later this week.

Here's a family photo from 1955.

This photo was taken on our visit from Iowa to see if there was something for my father in Kingman. We came through Vegas and my mother bought me a Western outfit right on Fremont Street downtown. I can still smell the leather in that store. After our three day visit we went out into the side yard for a photo. I sure was a skinny little twit. That's my dad back row, left and my mother in the skirt far right, my grandmother Guessie and her new husband Ernie Swafford behind me (my grandfather died in 1945) and Choc Hamilton, his wife Mary (my mother's sister) and their son Billy Hamilton, well on his way to becoming a world champion steer roper. That's Choc, back row, far right, with Billy in front.

Only Billy and I remain standing.

"Well begun, is half done."

—Old Vaquero saying

Friday, October 26, 2012

Billy On The Hunt for Green Chile

October 26, 2012

   Went home for lunch and finished a study I call "Texas Ranger Border Rider". This is a possible cover for an excerpt from Bob Alexander's next book, which I believe has the working title "The Lucifer Line: Border Riders of the Texas Rangers."

Whipped Out #21, "Texas Ranger Border Rider"

Got on a snow kick a couple years ago. This was for a Graphic Cinema on Billy the Kid visiting a married seniorita because of a certain food staple.

Whipped Out #22, "Billy On The Hunt for Green Chile"

And I've been doing a few campfire studies this past year:

Whipped Out #23, "Campfire Singers"

Ran out of time. Need to get home for a dinner party. More this weekend.

"Yippy Tie Die Yay."

—Old Hippie Campfire Song

The Arps at the O.K. Corral?

October 26, 2012

This is one of those dates that most of my friends remember even more than they remember their mother-in-law's birthday. In some cases even more than their wife's birthday. Most certainly their anniversary. Well, you get the drift.

This is the day three men were hurled into eternity in the duration of a moment.

I've spent decades now examining what led up to the Gunfight Behind The O.K. Corral and I've spent much of that time studying what led up to the fight, but it has only been recently that I've become fascinated with what happened AFTER the Vendetta Ride and before the publication of Frontier Marshal.

Like many Old West enthusiasts I always assumed the gunfight was always a big deal in certain circles and only became a bigger deal after Frontier Marshal and the movies. But as we began digging into the 1920s for our cover story on "Wyatt On The Set" earlier this year I saw the evolution of the Wyatt Earp legend with new eyes. Most know that Earp had a checkered association with Hollywood and was in fact admired by Hollywood royalty, but the obscurity of Earp by the turn of the century and up to the time of his death is pretty breathtaking.

Two days ago I received an excerpt of a book published in 1932 from Paul Hutton who recently discovered it while looking for materials for his Apache book. The author L. Vernon Briggs visited Tombstone in 1882 and then published these travelogues in a book featuring trips to Arizona, New Mexico, California and Mexico. There are several rich insights. He comes in on the train from California and eats at the Palace Hotel in Tucson (he saved the menu, and tells of the wine list!). Here is the Tombstone part that I wanted to share (keep in mind he is visiting mere months after the O.K. Corral fight):

"But until recently there has been much lawlessness and disorder in Cochise County, which has arisen from the misconduct and criminal deeds of deputy U.S. Marshals, according to the opinion prevalent in Tombstone.

"These men are now all occupying felon's cells on charge of murder—men who, under the cover of legal authority and supported by representatives of the general Government, interfered with the duties of the Sheriff, physically attacked supervisors, and shot down unarmed men in cold blood. . .It was during this time when the rule of these official desperadoes was at its height, when they were backed by a district judge, a postmaster, and a newspaper, that the candidate for Governor visited Tombstone with a petition; afterwards came the Tombstone city election, at which the law-abiding citizens, by an overwhelming vote, rebuked the Deputy Marshals, and the result has been the arrest of those Deputy Marshals for murder.

"One hears the story of the celebrated Arp family who, until recently, with the authority of the law to back them up, contaminated civil and criminal jurisprudence in the Territory. . .Only a few months ago these men, officers of the law, slaughtered in cold blood unarmed and innocent citizens in the streets. The Arps are said 'to have carried the commission of legally constituted authority in their pockets, refined knavery in their heads and hearts, blood in their eyes, shot guns and revolvers in their hands, and raped the law which they had sworn to execute.'"

This last quote, within a quote, is unattributed (the book is self-published) but must be from the Nugget or a pro-cowboy newspaper.

Several years ago there was an article in the Arizona Republic about an aged woman from southern Arizona who claimed the name Earp was pronounced to rhyme with Harp. This seems preposterous to modern ears, but perhaps there was a faction in Cochise County who derisively referred to their enemies with a twist on the pronunciation? If true, it obviously was already flourishing in 1882.

"Would Earp by any other name sound so brave?"

—old Vaquero Question

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Edge of Darkness Revisited

October 25, 2012

Here's more of my daily whip out paintings, that I intend to unload in about ten days (shooting for Halloween). The method will be rather daring and different. First up is a recent study that is quite dramatic and yes, controversial:

Whipped Out #16, "The Cowboy Controversy"

This, of course, deals with the environmentalists vs. cowboys and ranchers being stewards of the land.

Went home for lunch and finished a study featuring a big sky. Been working on my blends and atmospheric effects.

Whipped Out #17, "The Edge of Darkness"

Here's a theme and a character I have been working on for at least ten years:

Whipped Out #18, "Mickey and his ass ride through the ash"

And here's a centennial flag painting I did while noodling ideas for our TV show Outrageous Arizona:

Whipped Out #19, "Arizona Centennial Flag"

And finally, a landscape:

Whipped Out #20, "Morning Buttes"

This was inspired by a trip back from Durango a year ago. I was driving west of Kayenta on the Navajo res as the sun was coming up and this distant set of buttes turned a pinkish purple. Dang close to the effect, if I do say so myself.

"To be a success in business, be daring, be first, be different."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Meet Our Favorite Readers

October 25, 2012

   Had a very nice crowd last night at Cartwright's next to the True West World Headquarters. This was the last history dinner of the season and we had 49 diners to hear the Ugly Truth About The O.K. Corral Fight. The turkey mole was excellent and several of my neighbors were in attendance including Lonnie and Dita Couch. Lonnie was a subscriber, then let it drop because as he put it, "I got tired of all the damn lists." Ha. We did go through a list crazy period that was driven by sales. But, after I brought Lonnie and Dita in to meet the staff and ask them questions, one of our sales people asked Lonnie, who is an avid trailer rider, what trails he particularly liked and why. Lonnie replied:

"It's not the trail, it's what happened on the trail."

   This was a turning point in the direction of the magazine. We often quote his line, especially when planning travel issues. I even framed a photo of them and included the quote which is in our conference room:

When we have arguments about content I often point at the picture and ask, "What do they want?" Of course, the short answer is they want history.

   Last night, Lonnie complemented us on our last couple of issues, adding that he used to read the magazine in one sitting, but now it takes him several days to finish one because there is SO MUCH HISTORY. And, he raved about the photographs—"Where do you find all of those gems?!" This, of course, made my night.

   Larry Winget was also in attendance and it was great to see him, as were my neighbors Bob and Lynn Hoss. All are subscribers and supporters of our efforts to keep history alive.

   This morning, another one of our readers came into the offices to buy books and get the official tour. Meet Milt:

Milt lives in Ahwatukee, Arizona which is about an hour south of Cave Creek. Milt was an Army Ranger (1963-83) in Vietnam and loves the Old West. He was in Old West Mercantile in Mesa about a year ago and saw our magazine for the first time. He bought it and then subscribed. He bought four of my books and I gave him the tour of ground zero where history comes alive.

"It's not the trail it's what happened on the trail."

—Lonnie Couch

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And The Whipped This Out Paintings Keep On Comin'

October 24, 2012

   Got a big pile of studies done in the past year that I want to find good homes for. Details to come later. Here's a little study I did noodling early morning light:

Whipped Out #11, "Morning Light"

Whipped Out #12, "An Apache Named Fun"

   Went home for lunch today and whipped out a little study I call "He Came Down The Street Like A Steam-Powered S.O.B.".

Whipped Out #13, "Steam-Powered S.O.B."

And found this little gem from a month ago:

Whipped Out #14, "Red-Eyed Killer Kid Curry"

Whipped Out #15, "Battle Butte"

"It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him."

—John Steinbeck

The Child Is Father To The Man

October 24, 2012

   We are doing a Renegade Roads for the next issue (Jan.) on Trailing Billy the Kid. Robert Ray went into our archives and found the very first Renegade Roads we did in 2000 and found, among other things, this photo of me and my kids at the Owl Bar & Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico in 1994:

I was on my way to Lincoln on a Billy the Kid research trip. We made it a ritual to stop at the Owl and have a green chile cheeseburger on most every trip. Anyway, here's a photo of my son Thomas Charles in Baltimore today:

I know what you are thinking:

"How did he get a Modelo in Baltimore?"

—Old Vaquero Question

An Odd View of Billy the Kid from Spain

October 24, 2012

   I went through my notes on my recent request to have my fellow Kid Krazy friends tell me what drove them around the bend on the boy outlaw. Here are my tabulations:

Went Kid Krazy due to:

6 blamed it on The Saga of Billy the Kid by Walter Noble Burns

5 blamed it on the two Young Guns movies

4 blamed it on Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

4 blamed it on growing up in Billy the Kid Country

3 blamed it on me and my Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid

2 blamed it on The Left-Handed Gun with Paul Newman

And the following all received one vote: The comic Lucky Luke, The West of Billy the Kid by Fred Nolan, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett, Joe Grandee cover of True West, One-Eyed Jacks with Marlon Brando, Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid, the History Channel, The Tall Man, and finally a claim of being related to one of Billy the Kid's victims (Robert Olinger).

Pretty crazy, eh?

Meanwhile, Mark Gardner, the author of To Hell On A Fast Horse sent me a link to a Spanish website and an article on 10 books to understand America. Of course it's in Spanish, so Mark sent me to a Google translation page where a humorous mash-up of English and Spanish results in copy like this:

Understanding the U.S. through Billy the Kid

Here's a garbled example:

The land of opportunity is the self-made man, too, the financial gangsters who kidnap democracy. From the gold rush to the feverish stock market bubble. The capitalist crime news now written Madoff & Co. (Errata Naturae, 2012), the "brothers Malasombra» Lehman, founded in 1850 (more or less, when Billy the Kid was born). Has broken the social contract between elites and classes medium that supported meritocracy? Ten books to make sure every American dream becomes a myth or just bursting into countless fragments.

"I'll make you famous."

—Emilio Estevev, as Billy the Kid in Young Guns I and II

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Ugly Truth Behind The O.K. Corral Fight

October 23, 2012

   Well, we're three days away from a very important date and I'm giving a history dinner talk tomorrow night at Cartwright's in Cave Creek. I'll be giving a blow by blow take on the The Ugly Truth Behind the O.K. Corral Fight:


Going to be a fun one. Here's what's on the menu:


 Autumn Greens with Dried Cranberries, Grilled Apples, Toasted Pumpkin Seed

s & Candied Ginger Dressing


 Braised Turkey Mole with Cornbread Stuffing, Green Beans & Butternut Squash


 Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake with Brandied Eggnog Anglaise

Reservations 480-488-8031

Yes, the turkey mole is in my honor. Can't wait. Chef Montez is one of my favorites. Only a few seats left. Come join the fun, with good food, a good history lesson and good quotes:

"You Sons of Bitches have been looking for a fight and now you can have it."

—Wyatt Earp

The Daily Whipouts Continue

October 23, 2012

   I'm looking forward to tomorrow nights' history dinner at Cartwrights next door. Going to be talking on "The Ugly Truth Behind The O.K. Corral Fight." Call for your reservations: (480) 488-8031

Cleaning in my studio and compiling all of the Daily Whipouts I have done in the past year. These are the little studies I usually do before I go into work, or when I come home for lunch. I was surprised at how many I have done.

Daily Whipouts #6 Kid In The Clouds

Daily Whipouts # 7, Not-So-Gentle Tamer

Daily Whipout # 8, Apache Prisoner

Daily Whipouts #9, Frank and Jesse James Slamming Through The Slews

Daily Whipouts #10, The Proud Peon

I actually whipped this one out this morning before I came into work. Going to be putting all of these up for sale soon, so stay tuned.

"Everything comes to him that hustles while he waits."

—Thomas Edison

Monday, October 22, 2012

Five Went-Home-and-Whipped-This-Out Paintings

October 22, 2012

   Very nice weekend. Went out to Buck Montgomery's Wild West Show in Glendale on Saturday. Picked up Kathy at her mother's and went to the movies. Saw Argo. My daughter did a number on me. Earlier in the day she had told Kathy that the movie was "Okay," and to be sure and call her about it. All through the movie I kept thinking, "What the hell is she smokin'? Just 'Okay?!'" When we got her on the phone after the movie, she laughed and said she loved the movie but didn't want to spoil it for us. I hate it when my kids are more mature than I am. Here I am ruining it for you if you haven't seen it yet (too much praise can spoil even the best film because it can't live up to the hype). This was the gift she gave me, that I'm not giving to you. So sorry. Ha.

Here's a study I did last year on the Apache Kid:

Sure he looks bummed. Someone told him how Breaking Bad turns out. Worked on several paintings over the weekend. Whipped this out before I went out to Glendale for Buck's show. I call this "The Eagle Has (Almost) Landed."

This is a unique saguaro I see on my daily walks up Old Stage Road. Meanwhile, Kathy made a suggestion that I take some of these daily studies and find a home for them (Clutter: hint, hint). So, in order of importance, here are three more right off the top of the pile:

This was a study for Kid Curry I did several weeks ago for a Classic Gunfight on the Kid. Next up, I went home for lunch today and whipped out this little study I call "Mickey turned in the roadway and rode back to face them head on."

And this is another study done at lunchtime I call "Summer Sweeper."

Stay tuned for a Christmas offer on these originals.

"The future is history."

—Seen on a wall in the film 12 Monkeys

Friday, October 19, 2012

How Did All My Friends Get Hooked On Billy the Kid?

October 19, 2012

   When I was in Ruidoso last weekend I was pleasantly surprised when Fred Nolan told me he got hooked on the Kid by “The Saga of Billy the Kid,” by Walter Noble Burns. That is the same book that tripped my trigger. So, I asked all my friends how they got to be Kid Krazy.  Here are some of their comments. See if you can spot a trend?

Like you and Frederick Nolan, I was bitten by THE book. I still have my $1.49 Grosset and Dunlap reprint of SAGA OF BILLY THE KID. It led me to Burns' TOMBSTONE, followed by Lake's WYATT EARP, Horan's DESPERATE MEN, Homer Croy's JESSE JAMES WAS MY NEIGHBOR, and Hendrick's THE BADMAN OF THE WEST, pretty much in that order as I recall.  That would have been in the early 1950's.  I wrote letters to Stuart Lake, James D. Horan and Homer Croy and I still have the letters they sent me. Burns was dead of course, and I could not get Hendrick's address.   So I was hooked on ALL of the Old West outlaws and lawmen from the beginning, not just the Kid.  But how can anyone not be drawn to the Kid?

In addition to those above, in the 1950's I wrote letters to Maurice Garland Fulton, William Macleod Raine, Walter Prescott Webb, Earle R. Forrest, Carl W. Breihan, Wayne Gard, Helena Huntington Smith, Angie Debo, John Myers Myers, Burton Rascoe, Ed Bartholomew, F. Stanley, Phillip Rash, Doc Sonnichsen, Stanley Vestal (W. S. Campbell), William A. Keleher, and of course J. Evetts Haley, Robert Mullin, and Ramon Adams.  Stamps were only 3 cents. I am sure there were more I cannot recall.  These were all in the 1950's, the earliest in1952 when I was fifteen.  Every one of them responded. I even wrote to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and they responded giving me a book.  And I  visited Zoe Tilghman twice in Oklahoma City after I turned 16  and could drive.  Of course, Glen Shirley lived in Stillwater and I knew him well.

—Robert G. McCubbin

Well I'm certainly not as crazy as some of you. Billy was always of interest in the generic way I was interested in all of western history from a young age. I remember a particularly striking Joe Grandee TW cover when I was a kid. When I was in high school I cared enough to take a bus downtown to the historical society to look at the Billy letters in the Wallace Papers (which in those innocent days they just handed over to a high school kid to paw through). I loved Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid when it came out of course. But it was really only when I moved to New Mexico in 1985 that the affliction came (sort of like the hantavirus). I wrote that piece for NM Magazine (Dreamscape Desperado) to purge myself, but als. Next stop Hollywood and many misadventures with Billy leading to Davy, and so on. Soon I met Bob Boze Bell and was pulled into an ever-increasing web of Billy mania. The rest, as they say, is history (yes, a bizarre mix of hysteria and history).

—Paul Andrew Hutton, a distinguished professor at the University of New Mexico

Don't know that I'm as crazy/sick as the rest of you, but maybe.  I came to it from the opposite direction, though.  It was my fascination with Pat Garrett that got me hooked on the Kid. By the way, I've got a good friend who has recently become infected.  He's the top scholar on Sam Peckinpah.  You may recognize his book: Peckinpah: The Western Films, A Reconsideration.  His name is Paul Seydor.  Anyway, he just finished a book on the different versions of Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, which is excellent.  Apparently Peckinpah was Kid crazy as well.

—Mark Gardner, author of “To Hell On A Fast Horse”

I had a French exchange student living with my family & me and she was going back to Paris the day Young Guns II was coming out here in the States. She was sooo sad she was going to miss the premiere release...she talked about the first movie cuz she loved all the actors. So my family and I decided to c YG2 in her honor after we took her to the airport. I watched it & felt like a 2x4 hit me in the back of the head. I was living in Oregon then. I made my first trip to NM several months later to check out Lincoln, Blazers Mill, Ft Sumner, Santa Fe, etc. I had to walk the land, touch the soil, etc. I felt like I was returning home. That's how it all started!!!!

—Linda S. Pardo

I don't remember ever hearing of a 'Billy The Kid' growing up in Michigan. I spent several summers in Cody, Wyoming when I was a teenager and then moved there when I was 21 yrs. (Yes, ironic, eh?) In the next several years I started to feel a yearning to go to New Mexico. I did not know why. When I discussed it with friends, they said, "Oh it's just because there are a lot of Native people there and you're into that." Thinking/feeling deep inside myself I said, "No. I need to go to Lincoln County. I think there was a lot of conflict there." I then thought.....and Billy The Kid was around there. I did not see a movie,I did not read a book, I don't even remember hearing anyone else speak of him. As I had no money at the time I thought if I made it down there somehow, I would not have money to come back so I basically would just have to move there. (which was okay with me) However, at the time, I REALLY was liking Cody and I just thought.....okay, soon I will go. After some years, I got married to the first guy, lived in Texas, Tennessee, Michigan........had my beautiful little girl.......and decided that was long enough to have a misspent youth and I needed to get serious about a career. Went back to school in Bozeman, Montana, got a business degree, got divorced, and moved on with my life. After several more years (that's another story) the desire started hitting me again. I somehow HAD to go to Lincoln County. Read Billy The Kid books, saw the "Young Guns" movie and I was right back YEARNING to go to New Mexico. Married guy #2 in 2000 and a couple months later (because I then had more money) took off, by myself, to Lincoln. That was the beginning of my annual trips to New Mexico. In the beginning, I would just go to Fort Sumner, Lincoln, and surrounding areas and just think and feel. It was amazing!!!! Then........weird things started happening to me. the next story.

—Shelly Buffalo Calf

I was born in NM and have been to many of BTK's haunts including ground zero in Lincoln. Once you educate yourself about his life and not the Hollywood versions, you can't help but become engrossed and intrigued by his personality and of course the mystery. There is a reason why so many old west historians continue to try and chip away at that enigma that is the Kid. We still know so little about him and perhaps that's why he will always have us coming back for more.

—Gordon Fikes

I wanted to know the truth...then come to find there's always so many versions to every story in the Old West! That's what makes reading True West so much fun! You guys go back and look at each version with any new evidence you keep updating history.

—John Beckett

Marlon Brando's loosely based “One-Eyed Jacks,” then kristofferson/peckinpaw's “Pat Garret & Billy the Kid” and then " Gore Vidal's Billy the Kid.”

—Ken Crane

I came through a backdoor: My interest in the American crime landscape. Billy the Kid is a marvelous enigma -- like Charles Manson, John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, Butch Cassidy or Lee Harvey Oswald, among others -- who became mythic as he tumbled along in the cultural undertow. They are not exactly celebrated as good guys, of course, but neither are they cast aside as purely bad guys either. They are often portrayed as being more complex than they probably were. Something about them fascinates us, and I am fascinated with the fascination. Doing my CRIME BUFF'S GUIDE books, I've been amazed at how many of these aforementioned pop up in so many places in so many legendary forms.

—Ron Franscell

As a kid growing up in Tucson, Arizona, the cowboy image was more than popular, it was a way of life for most Arizonans. My siblings and I grew up with adventure stories of the old west. Billy the kid was considered a bad boy and fought against the law (the good guys). A few years ago I saw a documentary on the history channel about Billy the Kid and the story they told made Billy out to be a real hero, an American good guy fighting a corrupt law enforcement system. I now love Billy for his courage and sorry so many years were wasted in thinking badly of him. The west still holds so many mysteries and opportunities.

—Carol Bennette

My dad took me to see the first Young Guns movie when I was a kid. We watched lots of Westerns together so I assumed this was another made-up Hollywood tale. When my dad told me Billy the Kid was REAL, I wanted to learn more. I first read Pat Garrett's (Ashmun Upson's) book, then Walter Noble Burns. A few years later, Elizabeth Fackler's (someone needs to tell HBO to make that into a miniseries!). I was hooked. Partially because its a fascinating story with how tragic the whole thing is, mostly because Billy is such a phantom figure. We know he was real, but he's just on the edge of reality. All we have of him is one faded picture and a few short notes. We hardly know, apart from descriptions, what he looked like. We don't even know where he REALLY came from. There's that hope that, somewhere, there's more to the story because so much seems to be missing. Absolutely fascinating...

—Josh Horton

Hard to say, I think for me it was Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager and their Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid TV show back then.

—Alan Rockman

I met Clu Gulager when i was about 10 years old.He shot a fly off the wall inside a new store called Best Buy Market in Visalia,Ca. That blank gun was loud,my eyes were big,i was hooked ,the fly was dead~Well he said there was a fly up there

—Rick Son

When I discovered that I was related to Bob Olinger.

—John Olinger

The movie with Val Kilmer playing 'Billy the Kid'. [Gore Vidal’s Billy the Kid]

—Jerry Rushing

You did, Boze. I remember you talking about your "The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid" on a certain radio station (oh, that stretched to 3 different stations, didn't it?). I couldn't wait to get my hands on that great book of yours when you finally finished it! Not as crazy as you & Fred Nolan though. I still have to read "Saga of Billy the Kid".

—Harold Roberts

Bob, it was actually two items that started my enjoyment of the " Billy The Kid Saga " earlier in my life. First was the wonderful recording made by the late and great Marty Robbins, " Billy The Kid ", released on his album, " GUNFIGHTER BALLADS AND TRAIL SONGS ", released in the early 60's...But, if any one thing sold me on the life of Billy, it was the great portrail of Billy by actor Geoffrey Deuel in the movie, " CHISUM " made by Warner Brothers and Batjac Productions, owned by the late and great John Wayne, who also starred in the picture, released in August, 1970.

—John Wayne Anderson

Walter Noble Burns' Saga when I was twelve.

—Elizabeth Sinkovitz

The kid holds my interest more then any other outlaw. I've read everything I could get my hands on about Billy. I can't think of any movie or t.v. show that inspired my interest.

—Joe Wilson

It was Young Guns with me Bob.

—Rick Rosales II


—John A. Aragon

It was when I decided to tell I was the great grandson of Billy and wrote my book telling the story 1999 after hearing all the fuss at the Outlaw Gang outings. Now everyone knows but some find it hard to believe my story. I keep asking myself, "why do the Billy things keep coming to me"?. Unfortunately, my story debunks many of the prior findings by those you mention.

—Elbert Garcia

My history teacher telling me about how he died - not the usual topic of discussion for a kid growing up in the north of England.

—Michael Bell favorite western historian totally brought me on board.....Thanks for sharing your artistic renditions and animated tales.

—Julia Flannigan

Lived in the Southwest for 15 years and the Kid has been a hobby/fascinating of mine, along with visiting historical places of Kid significance, but as a longtime Peckinpah fan, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" is my favorite and without doubt, put my Kid fandom over the edge

—Sam Aselstine

Actually, mine was a record my dad had. It was a little skit with the kid and another cowboy. I listened to it over & over (this was in the 60s) and even performed it in front of the 3rd grade class i was in at the time. LOL I cant remember the name of the album. Wish i could!

—Brigitte Simmons Cherubini

I'm a BTK fanatic. I first became interested in Billy around 1954-55. My maternal grandmother brought me a Billy the Kid plate (wall hanger) from the BTK museum at Ft Sumner. I didn't start reading books on Billy until the 70's. My BTK plate today hangs on my home office wall between a BTK reward poster and a photo of Billy. So, the plate is what started me on my craze for Billy.

—Jimmy Avance

I am 55 and I grew up in the Bonanza/Gunsmoke era. Matt Dillon convinced me the Cowboy Way was the only way (with a little help from the Duke.) BTW, just subscribed to your magazine. Decided it wasn't the Cowboy Way to read it free on the newsstand.

—Mike Dickerson

The Left Handed Gun got me interested in BTK, then Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid hooked me for good.

—Hal Smith

BTK got into my blood as a kid! I always wanted to be Pat Garrett until I found out they where friends! He killed his friend and that was the last time I liked Pat. Weather you believe he really killed the kid or not he still had to live the rest of his life with people thinking he killed his friend. Is there anyone out there that believed the old man that claimed to be BTK was really him?

—Ronnie Butler

I'm 36 years old and Young Guns got me into westerns, the west and history. They were my gateway, Walter Noble Burns took it to another level. I have loved reading and sifting through the stories both real and imagined and finding out what happened.

—Rob Sullinger

I grew up watching Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, and Gunsmoke and fell in love with the Old West. When I got a little older I became fascinated with the rough and tough characters that lived during that period. That is when I became a Kid fanatic. I cannot learn enough about the Kid and cannot help but love the little devil!

—Carole Nease

I'm 74 years old. My sister and I grew up hearing stories from our grandfather about Billy. My great-grandparents knew Billy and he would visit them when he was in Mesilla, NM. My grandpa was a young boy at the time. We love Billy the Kid! El Chivato!

—Gloria Ojo Beltran

I'm from Belgium,and here we have the comic called Lucky Luke. Billy has played a part in several episodes,and even has one issue specially dedicated to him. It's here I read about him before I could even read! Since then I found him my most favourite character in the comic. Imagane my reaction,when later in life I found out he really was a true icon of the old west! Check it out, Lucky Luke comics by Morris !!!

—Peter Van Echelnoel

I first got interested in Billy in my early teens. I first really started to get interested in him after reading "The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid..." by Pat Garrett. Then, as a reward for finishing up a round of chemotherapy, my father took me on a road trip to New Mexico where we visited many Billy the Kid sites. Along the way I read Fred Nolan's book, "The West of Billy the Kid." Ever since I have been hooked.

—Nicholas Nargo

I grew up watching Westerns on Saturday mornings, but I think after my first visit to Lincoln I was hooked on the kid.

—Keitha Harper Shandley

fI first discovered the kid when the comic shop next door got all these western comics and yep the first was billy the kid, being a kid myself and left-handed you couldn't ask for better upbringing, also the fact the kid is still a mystery today as he was when alive.

—Michel Cribb

I have just gobbled up all the knowledge I could get on the kid over the years, think I've seen every movie about him, except I know I didn't see King Vidor's Johnny Mack Brown version. separating fact from fiction is the fun of it.

—Jack Schill

First, I saw Young Guns. Then I read Robert M. Utely's book "Billy The Kid: A Short and Violent Life." I picked apart Young Guns after that, but I still love that movie for the scenes that ARE accurate.

—Brent Henshaw

You know what, for me it was The Left Handed Gun with Paul Newman that got me interested in Billy. Being from Oklahoma, I was always more interested in "our" bad men, from Kansas, Missouri, Texas & Nebraska era. I know it's factually silly as "history" but Paul Newman did bring a character to life for me that I had ignored. Still not a "fanatic", but I've read all the books, particularly Mr. Utley's collected works.

—Jim Holden

I just always like western history and especially the bad boys, like my cousins...the James boys.

—Diane Sprouse Hutchens

I had to do a report on tall tales fact and fiction when I was in high school. While doing research on the kid, I discovered there was a lot more to his story. I became a kid nut and have read everything I can get my hands on about him.

—Dan Cowart

Well all it took for me was a copy of Walter Noble Burns' Saga... That little book really primed the pump. Fred Nolan, Robert utley and Michael Wallis book are awesome. Went to Lincoln this past July. I have a photo of the 2d story window where Billy greeted Bob Ollinger....."hello Bob"

—David Spooner

I'm from McAlister,NM which is 50 miles from Ft. Sumner and 20 miles from Stinking Springs, I am a Kid fanatic!!!!

—Wendy Green Swaim

I'm 44 years old an when I was a kid my dad ordered a book off of T.V. it was a brown padded leather looking book with all the famous outlaws stories and pic.. Maybe by Time Life, not sure. From this I fell in love with the old west.

—Shannon Ardoin

He was just a kid when he died, a troubled kid. His story makes me sad.

—Ann Phelps

"The cinema is an invention without a future."

—Louis Lumiere

When Biebers Attack and Yaqui Scout

October 19, 2012

   Got hit by the Biebers again last night. Heard a big pig chewing on something out in the back yard at about 9 p.m. Both Kathy and I went out in the dark and finally found the javalina chewing on our pool equipment! Tried to yell at him, but he was having too much fun. Finally turned on the water hose and sprayed him good. He ran off about fifteen feet and stood there waiting for us to give up and go back inside.

I'm not sure it was this same Bieber, but I would guess they are at least cousins.

Meanwhile, whipped out a little study this morning I call "Yaqui Scout."

Also worked on my Wyatt Earp time travel project. Watched the making of "12 Monkeys" last night. This is the Terry Gilliam film from 1996 that stars Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. I'm always amazed at seeing scenes being rehearsed and how back-yard-play-improv it is. "Then you go like this and Bruce comes in here and pow! Pow! And then you fall over there." Anyway, this movie was inspired by "La Jettee" the French classic from 1963 that is not even a movie but basically a slide show. Amazing. Going to watch the movie tonight—"12 Monkeys" that is.

Get ready for a slew of testimonials on how many of my friends got hooked on Billy the Kid. Some very interesting connections and also some very odd connections that have very little to do with books or movies.

I often quote the perfect recipe for a good life: "Something to do, someone to love, something to hope for." But  the older I get I have begun to realize the Slaid Cleves song lyric "Everything you love will be taken away." And, more and more it looks like this is the final destination:

"Hope dies last."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Not-So-Gentle Tamer Monument One Step Closer

October 18, 2012

   Last night Kathy and I motored up the hill to Prescott Valley to attend the Prescott Area Art Trust and Bronzesmith Fine Art & Foundry reception celebrating the Arizona Centennial Monument, "Not-So-Gentle Tamer."


Here we are underneath the big clay mama (it's 10-foot-high) with Ed and Cathy Reilly of Bronzesmith, our neighbors Mike and Fran Douglas (who are long time friends with Ed and Cathy).

It was a beautiful evening and the reception was to honor the progress of the project. Bronzesmith and the Arts Trust have raised about half the money towards casting the 10-foot-tall monument which will stand at the center of the Prescott Valley Court House campus. Really exciting and it honors not only my grandmothers but all of our tough grandmothers. Small versions of the sculpture are still available from Bronzesmith for a very reasonable price.

Afterwards Mike Douglas and I agreed it was time to try a funky steakhouse we have been driving by for years (there's always a ton of cars in the parking lot). It has kind of a cheesy name, Leff-T's Steakhouse and Grill and it's on the end of a very bland strip mall in Dewey, a small town on the way to Prescott Valley. For years I have been driving by there and thinking, "I need to go in there and see what the hub-bub is about." Turns out Mike and Fran have been saying the same thing. So, instead of Thai, which was recommended to us by Ed, we went down the hill and had dinner at Leff-T's. It was quite good. I had the mesquite chicken, Kathy had the chipolte chicken while Fran had the turkey relleno sando (basically a monte christo with turkey) and Mike had the charred filet, which was amazing. We split a bottle of Kendell Jackson cabernet wine and we split the bill and got out of there for $30 (full disclosure, Mike paid for the wine). We will definitely be going back to Leff-T's. I love finding these little hole in the walls like this.

Had a design review this morning and Dan The Man Harshberger came out to help us shoe horn in the massive Best of the West issue we are working on. Going to be very tight, but it's going to be good. Lots of history. In my editorial I am writing about "Lessons Learned". Here's number 7: Dance with the one who brung you. We spent too many years chasing a lifestyle audience that didn't give a hoot about us. We finally went back to history and we haven't looked back.


"Legends are born out of the need to decipher the undecipherable."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Made You Kid Krazy?

October 17, 2012

   Last Saturday I had a talk in a cowboy tent out on the paddock of the Ruidoso Downs. This was for the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium and it was standing room only. I had an ace up my sleeve as I teased the audience about a certain gentleman scholar from England who gave us so much when he found the Tunstall family in London back in the 1950s and unearthed John Henry Tunstall's diary among other treasures. This was a major breakthrough in Lincoln County War scholarship and when I started on my journey to discover the truth about Billy the Kid, back in 1991, Mr. Nolan was one of the icons on the mountaintop I just had to meet.

   "If only he were here today," I teased the audience, "we could ask him the questions we all are dying to ask someone of his stature." About half way in to my talk I stopped, turned to the right side of the audience and said, "Well, what do you know, Mr. Nolan is sitting right there in the third row." The audience gasped as I invited him up on the stage. To say we killed is an understatement. In addition to being the foremost expert on the Lincoln County War AND Billy the Kid, Fred is quite a performer. We had a great time.

Here we all are at a dinner in Fred's honor. Left to right, moving around the table at The Cattle Baron's Restaurant in Ruidoso: Patty VanDerGang of the Westerns Channel, Doreen Daiss, Heidi Nolan, Dave Daiss, BBB, The Man, Morgan Nelson (93), Sue Lambert and Jeff Hildebrandt of Encore Westerns Channel.

We had a lot to talk about, but even I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Fred originally got hooked on the Kid from reading Walter Noble Burns' "The Saga of Billy the Kid." That is the book that tripped my trigger as well. So I started asking my friends and Billy authors the same question: What book or movie made you Kid Krazy? I will post some of the comments as they come in. In the meantime, I got this off of Facebook and I think it's quite astute (especially the ground zero comment):

"I was born in NM and have been to many of BTK's haunts including ground zero in Lincoln. Once you educate yourself about his life and not the Hollywood versions, you can't help but become engrossed and intrigued by his personality and of course the mystery. There is a reason why so many old west historians continue to try and chip away at that enigma that is the Kid. We still know so little about him and perhaps that's why he will always have us coming back for more."

—Gordon Fikes