Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Badass Roadrunners, 1,2 and 3

February 29, 2012

Woke up this morning and it was a tad nippy for Arizona (low fifties) so started a fire in my Big Bug Creek studio stove and hunkered down to noodle some sketches for Paul Hutton's centennial piece wherein he makes a case for the roadrunner being a perfect mascot and metaphor for New Mexico. Actually, he contrasts and compares, what he calls, "The Badass Roadrunner" and Chuck Jone's famous roadrunner (Beep! Beep!). Here's a quick sketch and layout I did last night before I went home:

This was utilizing a famous photo of a new Mexico church with three young girls standing in front and in the sky would be a Roadrunner grasping a rattlesnake. From here I married an old post card of one of the pueblos with our big, bad friend:

This was inspired by Godzilla and idea that a big, mean roadrunner would loom over a pueblo village. Woke up this morning and got inspired by Mexico's flag showing an eagle gripping a rattler in its talons and I thought well, what if the roadrunner had on a biker jacket? That could be fun.

Unfortunately, that long tail comes off more as a spray than a tuft of long feathers, but that can be fixed.

"Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go."
—Bernard Malamud

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wyatt Earp and Juni Fisher Dine Out

February 28, 2012

Big weather, lots of wind and dust yesterday, sprinkles overnight. On my way into work this morning, I got a call from Juni Fisher who woke up to four inches of snow in Prescott. We were supposed to have breakfast here in Cave Creek, but she's running late because of snow conditions.

Over the weekend I scored a postcard of an early Hollywood eatery where Wyatt Earp had lunch with several Western stars in the 1920s.

This is for a feature we are working on to be called "Wyatt On The Set." Most people don't realize just how connected Earp was to the Hollywood scene in that era.

Meanwhile, the April issue is landing in subscriber's mailboxes. Got this from Big Bend, Texas this morning:

"Howdy from Big Bend! We just got April...I think that this is the best run
you have ever done. We're walking like the Duke!"

—Ranger Rob

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bob Paul Studies Number 19, 20 and 21

February 27, 2012

Worked most of the weekend on Bob Paul images. Here is number 19:

And here's Bob Paul number 20:

And here's Bob Paul number 21:

Somewhere in here is the cover for John Boessenecker's next book.

"It's not enough to be industrious; so are ants. What are you industrious about?"
—Henry David Thoreau

Friday, February 24, 2012

Billy the Kid's Kids?

February 24, 2012

About a decade ago, right after we first bought the magazine, I motored down to Tubac for a historical weekend and encountered Mary Hartless, who had an authentic 1880s camera. Inspired, and utilizing the people on hand, she helped me art direct a faux tin type of Billy the Kid with his wife Paulita and their two kids.

This was predicated on the idea that what if Billy survived his wanted status and lived out his life in Fort Sumner? Found this while organizing my studio last weekend.

I had intended to run this on the cover of True West with the headline: "What If Billy the Kid Had Received His Pardon?" And I thought it illustrated quite well the what-if he and Paulita had married and had kids and then, later in life, Billy had tried to sell his life story. Well, for one thing, we probably wouldn't still be talking about him today, would we?

Also, as a side note, when I floated this idea with my staff and brain trust at the time, I got a boatload of criticism that this was not what True West was about: the crux of it being, "Why would you run a fake photo on the cover of True West?" Because it illustrates a valid point? I wish I had been braver at the time because I think it was a very legit question and angle into the story.

"History is an argument without end."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Signs Of The Times

February 23, 2012

Western lovers take note: NBC has cast a new pilot The Frontier being billed as a "Western drama."

Meanwhile, Here's an update on the filming of The Lone Ranger near Silver City, New Mexico. According to our source, the production was postponed because Johnny Depp had personal issues, so that set things back by about ten days. Our good friend Jim "The Trainman" Clark is doing all the train sequences and according to our source, there are several spectacular train sequences with massive CGI effects in the $200 mil film. The Hollywood Reporter has an item in the current issue reporting that Armie Hammer (who will play the Lone Ranger) was spotted reading his Long Ranger script while eating a veggie burger at O! Burger in West Hollywood. Meanwhile, news sources in New York are reporting that Disney has tapped William Fichtner to replace Dwight Yoakam in The Lone Ranger. He will play the bad guy that Yoakam was set to take on before the actor-singer dropped out because of a scheduling conflict.

We have a new sign out front of the True West building and here is the complete Metamorphosis. In early 2002 I contacted Old World Class sign painter Alan Scott to come up from Bisbee to paint the sign on our new building. Here is Alan when he had finished that task:

We loved this sign, but unfortunately, it attracted too many tourists who were looking for turquoise jewelry, and we finally had the Trading Post part of the sign painted out. I then commissioned Alan to come up with an alternative, but that stalled out when the economy went south and for the past five years just the top of the sign, the True West part is what graced the building.

Three weeks ago, I ran into Alan and asked him if he still had the sketches for the redesign. Incredibly, he found them in the bottom of his van (see, above) and so we told him to complete the sign. Here he is two weeks ago, beginning that work:

After Alan added "Magazine" at the bottom he scrolled out the big idea and started in on it:

And, here is our sign painter, this morning, with a very happy executive editor and his staff:

L to R: Ken Amorosano, Allison Carlton, Dan The Man Harshberger, Abby Goodrich, Shannon "I'm-so-tired" Schwind, Alan Scott, BBB, Meghan Saar, Robert Ray and Carole Compton Glenn.

"Signs, signs, everywhere signs, signs, blockin' up the scenery and blowing my mind. . .Do this, don't do that, can't you read my mind?"
—Signs, ridiculous 70s Hippie song

True West World Headquarters Sign Complete

February 23, 2012

Here is our proud staff in front of the True West World Headquarters in Cave Creek, Arizona. We're just east of the Dairy Queen and a wee bit west of the Horny Toad. Please come see us and I'll give you the official tour.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hotter Than The Fourth of July

February 22, 2012

Still noodling Sheriff Bob Paul images. Here's a scratchboard image I whipped out this morning before I came into work:

Had lunch with the actor Peter Brown, along with with two friends of his at Tonto Bar & Grill. The friends are appearing in a new Western that begins filming in Santa Fe in March. It's called "Palominos" starring Sam Elliott, Daryl Hannah and Buck Taylor, among others. This is a Thadd Turner movie. According to my lunchmates, Thadd also has a pirate movie and a baseball movie in the works. Amazing.

Meanwhile, we talked about our summer issues today and settled on doing the history of the Fourth of July. Robert Ray whipped out this sales piece:

"I think work is the world's greatest fun."

—Thomas Edison

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Tall Paul Sketches

February 21, 2012

Still fretting over my cover assignment for John Boessenecker. So far, I haven't captured the massive frame of my sitter, but I'm getting there.

Last weekend in Wickenburg I met a guy at the parade who is almost exactly the proportions of lanky Sheriff Bob Paul. That is—six foot four and 270 pounds. I wanted to see how that massive of a guy would stand up to next to a Winchester. While the guy was not too thrilled about me taking his photograph, he allowed me a couple shots off my phone, with the assurance I would black out his eyes (he is a big dog in the corporate world):

Now, while he looks massive enough, the problem is when you extrapolate this pose directly (in other words, trace it) the massive size is diluted.

This perhaps has to do with camera angle, concave perspective, bad tracing, whatever. At any rate, it's not massive enough. So, from here I noodled the idea but pushed the anatomy a bit:

This resulted in the same problem: too massive on top, too short on the bottom. Here's another angle:

This face is probably the most accurate to the mug shot of Paul in the 1880s. Now to marry the two ends, keep the perspective but exaggerate the mass. Sketches to follow.

"Sometimes the only way to figure out how much is enough is by experiencing too much."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, February 20, 2012

Zapurder Still of Wickenburg Parade

February 20, 2012

The True West motorcade made it's way through Wickenburg last Saturday past record crowds at the Gold Rush Parade. Here you can see the official True West extended-Checker Cab limo with my not-so-secret service escorts. I'm at the back of the car, in the green shirt, waving, in this very Zapruder-style photo.

That's Lee Anderson on Concho, back left, dressed out perfectly as a 1912 style cowboy.

"Other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how was the parade."
—bad joke, poached from the Lincoln assassination and canibalized by later barbarian humorists

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Doper Roper Rides Again!

February 17, 2012

Still perusing the 16 issues of the Razz I received yesterday. My cartoon character, the Doper Roper, loped through each and ever issue, and it was interesting to look at all these years later. For one thing the writing is very weak (I thought it was so hip at the time), but there are a couple of action sequence that actually track in a decent way. Like this sequence where the Doper Roper encounters a hippy who can turn himself into a rattler:

This action is followed by a very clean and interesting page.

I was playing in a Country band at the time and on Sunday's we would have these sad little affairs billed as Sunday Jam Sessions at the bar. This sequence, in the rain, actually evokes the setting I was attempting to capture.

And, of course, the Wipeout reference is ironic and chilling to me, since I had a heart attack while playing that song 34 years later.

Speaking of going off a cliff, this is a nice scene of the D-R cliff diving on his fave steed Shamrock:

I'm tempted to get all nostalgic and emotional about this old stuff, but the words of one my heroes echoes off the canyon walls.

"It's just lines on paper folks."
—R. Crumb

Sassing A SASS-Head

February 17, 2012

Working on an idea I've had for some time. What if the real Wyatt Earp ran into an Old West re-enactor in Vegas at Cowboy Christmas? What would the Sass-head say to the infamous lawman and legendary Westerner? I think I know:

Meanwhile, the posting of the front page of the parody paper The Cilbuper yesterday brought back memories for a former employee of the Arizona Republic who was there when the issue hit the streets in March of 1974:

"That edition of the The Arizona Cilbuper featured ndavid’s off-color parody of Kearny’s weekly highschool/college football predictions that got ndavid fired from the Republic. Kearny loved it, but it really PO’d the art dept director!"

—Gus "The Mapinator" Walker

Here, for your viewing pleasure is ndavid's (this kid's name was ndavid, no really, pronounced n-david) spot on parody of Kearny Egerton's weekly sports predictions cartoons:

I had forgotten that the poor kid got fired over this. I wonder where he is today?

"Can't recall."

—Wyatt Earp's typical answer to direct questions about the O.K. corral, according to Iron Eyes Cody

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Complete Set of Razz Revues Goes For Record Price

February 16, 2012

Thanks to Kathy, I bagged a complete set of Razz Revues off ebay. Only set me back $275. In the first editorial, called "Regurgitation" I wrote, "On June 28th, 1972, we decided to produce something that would be a collector's item and worth a lot of money someday. We haven't decided what yet. In the meantime we created and published the first issue of Razz Revue."

It's a bit ironic—not to mention pathetic—that almost 40 years later, the only person who would consider these a collector's item is the guy who wrote those lines.

I did receive a bonus though. Underneath the 16 pristine issues was an issue of the Arizona Cilbuper (spell it backwards), which was a joint project between the underground New Times staff and the underdog staff of the Razz (essentially Dan the Man and me). The end result is this front page:

In the above photo is Doug MacEachern, far right (who is now an editorial writer at the paper we are parodying!); Mike Lacey next to Doug, and Jim Larkin, far left, both owners of the current Village Voice Media conglomerate. Love the subtle headline, "Spics span border for Yankee grave" which was a not-so-subtle rendering of the racial bias hippies saw in the Republic (and still do).

The Razz collection has a few sweet memories. The first appearance of the Heatwave Cafe:

Just discovered a letter on Razz Revue stationary, dated October 6, 1973, assuring Mr. Barlow asking about the availability of back issues, 1 and 2. The letter is signed by Terry Bell. Mr. Barlow evidently bought the back issues because he had the entire set. Amazing.

As I believe I have mentioned in my bio, the Razz lasted four years and 16 issues and made zero money. However, all of the experience that went into the process of putting out a monthly magazine gave both Dan and I excellent experience for putting out a monthly history magazine.

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else."
—Yogi Berra

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Contrats On Bitch Slapping Sacred Cows", Says Mundo

February 15, 2012

Timon Harper was at the Arizona Centennial party at the state capital yesterday and he took this image of me holding court from the stage.

I think I was in the process of describing the size of my ego. What's funny is I never even noticed there were trees up there. Kind of weird looking. Looks more like I'm giving a lecture on Arizona foliage. Ha.

Meanwhile, the favortie comment I have received, so far, on my page of centennial cartoons in the Arizona Republic yesterday is this one:

Bitch Slapping Sacred Cows

"Congratulations Bob, in one page you managed to bitch slap 100 years of Arizona sacred cows. You are the best."

—Mundo con Queso (which I believe, translates from the Spanish to "Mundo With Cheese". Ha.)

Now that the centennial is over I got back to work on my cover assignment. Went home for lunch today and finished Sheriff Bob Paul study no. 13

Needs a little work on holster and pistol (doesn't line up quite right), but I think I can fix that in the final.

"A historian is someone who hears the name Monroe and thinks of the doctrine."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Crazy AZ Grilfriend

February 14, 2012

Went into the Beast early today for an appearance at the big birthday bash at the state capital. Big stage right in front of the capitol building. Met Karl Eller (the guy in charge of raising money for this year's event), Dave Pratt, Rex Allen, Jr. was there, as was Marshall Trimble and Dolan Ellis (the three musicians are flying to Prescott Valley for two shows tonight at six, then back to the Civic Plaza for the big Fandango tonight), Sandra Day O'Connor, Ed Mell and Governor Jan Brewer (who looked at me and said, "Hey!" which is what I do when I see someone I should probably know but haven't a clue who they are).

Gave my comments at 10:45 about how in state years, Arizona is really a precocious, young teenager, prone to acting out, acting immature and throwing temper tantrums. So Happy Birthday Crazy AZ Girlfriend!

Afterwards went to the Matador for huevos rancheros ($12), then around the corner to visit my buds at the Arizona Republic (that would be Phil Boas, Ken Western, E.J. Montini and Doug MacEachern) then up to the Heard Museum to the see the new Geronimo show ($15, or $13.50 with the senior discount). Then over to La Posoleria to meet Thomas Charles, Pattarapan and Kathy for lunch, then out to Scottsdale to meet a big dog in the comic biz and then out to Paradise Valley and the art store for art supplies ($78 biz account). Got back to the office at four.

Of course, the Arizona Republic published their big Arizona Centennial Issue with mucho coverage. Here is the smei-final on my full page:

One of the jokes, above, was changed at the last minute (the HOA one) and this version doesn't have the disclaimer at the bottom, which throws a bouquet to the Phoenix New Times.

"One hundred years from now, on Arizona's bicentennial, it could be that our great-grandchildren will look back on 2012 and say that reaching the 100-year milstone was the moment Arizona recognized that maturity requires responisibility, and that we approached our second hundred years with a more settled, more cautious, more judicious approach to deportment and decision making.


—E.J. Montini

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Sneak Peek at tomorrow's BBB Centennial Cartoons

February 13, 2012

One of my best friends and certainly a charter member of the Zane Brothers, is having a birthday on Wednesday. Took him to lunch today at the Keg Steakhouse in Desert Ridge. Laughed and laughed, like a couple of immature kids, which is redundant when you really think about it.

Okay, here's one of the pieces of art that will definitely be in the BBB Arizona Centennial package of tomorrow's Arizona Republic. Hint: if you've ever thought that your HOA (Home Owner's Association) was humorless, you will enjoy this bit.

Just got a late call from my editor Phil Boaz, who suggested a humor tweak to my line about "HOA Nazis." Much improved. Part of the trick to achieving top-shelf-humor is to spot better humor from anonymous sources, accept it and then take credit for it when it kills.

"It's not who's first, it's who's best."
—Steve Jobs

This isn't funny, it's sick!"

—HOA board member, Dick Nibbler (with apologies to birthday boy Wonderful Russ, who loves this name and uses it incessantly)

Sheriff Bob Paul Stands Tall, No. 12

February 13, 2012

Working out the final details on tomorrow's big Arizona Centennial BBB page of cartoons in the Arizona Republic. Have several tweaks I am requesting. Part of a huge 32-page-behemoth section. Proud to be part of it. Here's a scene that didn't make the cut, I'm sorry to say.

Loved the image but just couldn't come up with a decent joke about it. In these situations I trust Dan The Man Harshberger's zane radar implicitly. He balked at my line for this, something about in the last century we have gotten much more in touch with our feminine side—as long as the dude makes the kick, or something like that. Of course, Dan and I did the Razz for four years and if he doesn't think something is funny, then I don't run with it.

Meanwhile, getting back on the Bob Paul assignment for John Boessenecker. Here is a sketch showing the good sheriff with a background of the Old Pueblo, which is where he lived out his life.

"Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."
—Henri Bergson

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sign of the (True West) Times

February 12, 2012

Had a speech last night at the Cave Creek Library. It was an Arizona Centennial fund raiser for the library. Sold out crowd. Had fun.

Over the weekend, one of the last remaining old school sign painters (meaning he does it by hand) started work on our building. Here is he is on the roof on Friday.

On Saturday he zeroed in on the new part of the sign.

I'll give you the view of the finished product on Monday.

"A well painted sign is better than the crap you see today."
—Old Time Voice In My Head, BBB

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dora of Pepe's Taco Villa

February 11, 2012

Found this very large board in my flat files yesterday. It's 20 inches wide by 42 inches high.
These were ambitious scenes for an episode of Honkytonk Sue at the Heatwave Cafe. The Heatwave Cafe building was inspired by an isolated, legendary place out in the middle of nowhere (actually near Buckeye) called Froggy Bottom. It had an Alamo front with wagon wheel windows. Very old school. I ate lunch there one week back in my surveyor days in the early seventies. The people who ran it were African American. Of course, in my version, the owner of the Heatwave is Chata, modeled loosely on the women at El Torero in South Tucson. I used as my model the lovely Dora at Pepe's Taco Villa on west Camelback Road in Phoenix. Taco Villa is still one of our fave spots. Our family has celebrated many birthdays there, including my fortieth (25 years ago!). Great homemade pintos, both refried and whole.

That's a lot of disparate connections for a strip that never ran. Ha.

"Hot plate, sweetie."

—Chata's daily warning

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dead Birds And Whirlybirds

February 10, 2012

Just got the news Paul Bond died last night. Going to be a memorial service for the iconic, Nogales bootmaker next Tuesday.

Got a sneak peek at the script for the new Quentin Tarrantino Spaghetti Western: Django Unchained last night. Read half of it this morning and it is outrageous and very funny. Think Inglorious Bastards meets Jonah Hex.

One of the most life changing films I have ever seen was a documentary from the sixties called "Dead Birds." It was about two primitive tribes that worshiped and fought over dead birds. The exaggerated importance the tribes placed on this seemingly ridiculous superstition came home to roost in my own belief system. Up to that point (1966) I had never really questioned my own religious upbringing.

Yesterday I found these sketches of "dead birds" in my flat files in the garage:

Spent all day in The Beast yesterday feverishly working on a full page of centennial cartoons for a full page feature in the Arizona Republic which will run Tuesday, February 14, the birthday of Arizona statehood. Here is a sneak peek at the art:

Just had a surprise visit from Susan Sorg of Topsham, Maine. Susan used to work with legendary helicopter pilot Jerry Foster at Channel 12. Here's the crew, cameraman Bryan Nuemeister, Jerry and Susan in August of 1988, on the roof of the Channel 12 building:

"Share what you have to share."

—Captain Kangaroo

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Beatles at The Crossroads

February 8, 2012

Still culling and filing old illustrations out of my flat files in the garage. Fresh out of college I launched into a comic strip called The Doper-Roper which ran in the Razz Revue and although it was inconsistent, in both art and writing, I sometimes hit the mark, like this rooster tail of dust thrown up by the entire Cattletrack Police Department:

I was racing a Triumph Tiger 500 at the local TT Track in Tucson at the time, and had a thing for sideways-sweeper bust-outs.

Here's an illustration that ran in the Phoenix New Times, about how every generation rejects the previous generation's music. This barcalounger dad is obviously modeled on my father, Allen P. Bell, although it's unfair to give him the line. He always loved it when our band practiced and he was very open to new music.

Found a couple year's worth of Honkytonk Sue strips. Here's the first strip, circa 1979, when I used the term "Woosie" for the very first time:

And here's a very ambitious Sue strip featuring the Beatles having an encounter with Sue at the Crossroads Drive-in in Tucson:

Yes, Ringo is wearing a Razz T-shirt, and the sign is dead on. The real Crossroads Drive-in on South Fourth Ave. in the Old Pueblo had a remodel not long after this and the drive-up awnings are long gone. I think the sign is still there though, and the Gizmos are still fantastic.

"As long as the day lasts, let's give it all we've got."

—David O. McKay

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Daltons Meet Groucho?

February 7, 2012

Still culling cartoons out of my flat files in the garage. Found this image of the dead Daltons, only someone has put a Groucho nose and glasses on Dick Broadwell.

Not sure why, although I suspect this had something to do with my BBB doubletrucks that ran in the Phoenix New Times back in the eighties. Here's another image that depicts Ronald Reagan as a Navajo President, holding two live rattlesnakes. Don't remember why on this one either, but it does have a certain vitality.

Going back even further, when I was doing the adventures of the DopeRoper in the mid-1970s I hat a set piece in a cliff dwelling and I whipped out this little ink wash:

And here's a nice, little pen and ink of a desert mouse about to get zapped by a great-horned owl. This was for a sequence of Honkytonk Sue that was to appear in a graphic novel, "The Man Canyon."

Monday, February 06, 2012

In Defense of Savagery

February 6, 2012

Finally, saw Drive. Thomas Bell brought it out yesterday and we all watched it. Really enjoyed it. Minimalist story, told well. Albert Brooks is fantastic as a stand-up mobster. Also recently saw Hugo and The Adventures of Tin Tin (weak stories, outrageous cinema techniques, which is the problem, it's all technique and no humanity), and before that I saw The Descendants, which has a sweet arc and has great humanity.

Speaking of the Ryan Gosling movie Drive can you believe some woman has sued the producers of Drive, claiming false advertising. Based on the trailer she thought she was going to see a movie like Fast And Furious. Just funny. For my money, Drive spins brodies around Fast & Spurious, I mean Furious. It would be like suing Kristen Wiig and the producers of Bridesmaids because you thought were going to see Brideshead Revisited.

I continue working on the Bob Paul commission. John Boessenecker wants to lean on the fact that Paul is massive at six four and 240, so I expanded the sketches to give him a bit more of a barrel chest.

Moved his pistol to the other side. Did a color study of this pose to try out the tonal values:

Went through my flat files in the garage over the weekend and found a couple keepers (did throw away quite a bit of weak crap). This one still stands:

In Defense of Savagery

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
—Elmore Leonard