Monday, September 29, 2014

201 Zany Zonies

September 29, 2014
   The director of the Tempe branch of The Arizona Historical Society, John Langallier, is producing a retrospective art show featuring 34 of my most demented cartoons. The name of the show will be "201 Zany Zonies: from Geronimo to Goldwater." For the G-Man we're using the original I did of him with his boom box. Here it is in context (as it ran in the book Low Blows):

The G-Man Breaks It Down

   And, although I was aiming for a PG rating on "The 66 Kid," and didn't use this in the book, here is a cartoon that sums up where me and all my Boomer brothers and sisters came from:

  Also in the show will be one of my favorite Jesus cartoons:

This cartoon took on the fact that the Hopi tribe complained about all the business using one of their sacred religious objects, The Kachina, in their businesses. I mentioned that the Yellow Pages listed over 50 Valley businesses with Kachina in the title. So I wondered how the dominant culture would react if the shoe was on the other foot? And, by the way, I was taking on the Yellow Pages here which is kind of amazing to realize it's gone, but not forgotten.

   I also get to feature some of my favorite models. Recognize the guy in the chair, below?

Ed Mell Learns How to Deal With His Wife's Hairdresser Issues

   And last but not least is Ghandi in Arizona:

   The show will go up in November.

"Artists are a tribe of borrowers."
—David Gessner "

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wallace Stegner, Ed Abbey & Bruce Babbitt

September 28, 2014
   I just finished reading a new book,"All the Wild That Remains" by David Gessner. It is a road trip and a quasi-dual biography of Wallace Stegner and Ed Abbey. I learned some pretty amazing things about both dudes, like this:

 ". . .as acting editor of  the University of New Mexico's literary magazine, THE THUNDERBIRD, [Ed Abbey] decides to print an issue with a cover emblazoned with the words, 'Man will not be free until the last King is strangled with the entrails of the last priest!' The quote is from Voltaire, but Abbey thinks it funnier to attribute the words to Louisa May Alcott."

   He, was right, of course. It is much funnier. Gessner adds, "And so he quickly loses his editorship while the FBI adds a few more pages to his file."

   The book talked about both their passings and I called The Top Secret Writer to find out exactly where Stegner died in Santa Fe (at the entrance to the Santa Fe Opera). Although the book covers Abbey's death, I knew he had a hard time dying and wanted to be buried in the desert. Got this off of the Ed Abbey website:

"He wanted his body transported in the bed of a pickup truck. He wanted to be buried as soon as possible. He wanted no undertakers. No embalming, for Godsake. No coffin. Just an old sleeping bag... Disregard all state laws concerning burial. 'I want my body to help fertilize the growth of a cactus or cliff rose or sagebrush or tree.] said the message.

 As for graveside ceremony: He wanted gunfire, and a little music. "No formal speeches desired, though the deceased will not interfere if someone feels the urge. But keep it all simple and brief." And then a big happy raucous wake. He wanted more music, gay and lively music. He wanted bagpipes. "And a flood of beer and booze! Lots of singing, dancing, talking, hollering, laughing, and lovemaking." said the message. And meat! Beans and chilis! And corn on the cob. Only a man deeply in love with life and hopelessly soft on humanity would specify, from beyond the grave, that his mourners receive corn on the cob.

   Dang, I love that. So Western. Love these quotes as well:

"Never make the New Yorker's mistake of taking New York for America."
—Wallace Stegner

"I may not know who I am but I know where I am from."

"In the West it is impossible to be unconscious of or indifferent to space."

"Lawlessness, like wildness, is attractive, and we conceive the last remaining home of both to be in the West."

   On Friday I drove down to the Tempe branch of the Arizona Historical Society. The director, John Langellier is proposing a retrospective of my cartoon work as a show in their gallery, to be called "201 Zany Zonies". Among the works he selected is this:

Daily Whipout: "Prince Babbitt," pen and ink

   In the eighties Governor Bruce Babbitt made a run for the presidency. I did this parody of the Sunday comic strip Prince Valiant where Bruce is the conquering hero who comes home to a sexy Hattie, his partner and wife. There is a cameo by the pulitzer prize winning columnist Tom  Fitzpatrick, upper right, as a gnarly, groveling scribe.

"What attracts us is what we then ruin."
—Wallace Stegner

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beheadings American Style

September 27, 2014
   Another day, another beheading in the news. While we all recoil in horror at the brutality of the ISIS mode of attention getting, I have to cringe a bit when I think about our own usage of this barbaric tactic.

   In the early 1860s, Apache chief Mangas Coloradas, who had come in under a flag of truce, was subsequently tortured and killed by U.S. troops. Then, he was beheaded, and his skull sent back east "for study."

Daily Whipout: "The Bloody Head of Mangas Coloradas" (30 X 8 inches), gouache

Impressive Mangas
   Mr. Coloradas supposedly stood six feet four, which means he towered over everyone in the Southwest (Geronimo and Billy the Kid were both 5' 7") with the possible exception of Sheriff Bob Paul and Pat Garret (both also stood 6' 4").

   Mangas' daughter married Cochise. An amazing guy and a formidable fighter. Here is the order given to the soldiers at the fort where Mangas went under a flag of truce:

"Men, that old murderer has got away from every soldier command and has left a trail of blood for 500 miles on the old stage line. I want him dead tomorrow morning. Do you understand? I want him dead."
—Brigadier General Joseph Rodman West

   In the early 1870s, soldiers under General Crook, battling Apaches who would not stay on the reservation, instituted a bounty on Apache heads. Paul Andrew Hutton, who is still working on his epic Apache book which should be out next year, will write a cover story for us on, what he calls, "The Severed Heads Campaign." The moral here is that ISIS still has a ways to go to catch up to our own brutality.

"Heads will roll."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, September 26, 2014

Is The New Photo Really Billy the Kid?

September 26, 2014
   Have you heard about the latest Billly the Kid photo surfacing? It has gotten some major media. Here is The Top Secret Writer commenting on KOB tv in Albuquerque about it:

Is It The Kid?

   I'm still monkeying with Mickey Free artwork that technically has been "finished" for at least three years. Got up this morning to tag and tabulate a pile of artwork, only to pull out the following scenes to tweak:

"Mickey Free, One Jump Ahead of The Rurales Redux"

   Late in the day, distant mountains get a reddish rim glow, and this scene of Mickey on his big Jack leaping an adobe wall near Fronteras, Mexico, was actually inspired by a similar scene at Point of Mountains near Marana, Arizona about ten years ago.

   The Ledge of Death sequence actually ran in True West several years ago in a graphic cinema spread, but when I saw these two scenes from the sequence, I couldn't help but enhance them and make them better:

"Mickey Rides Out On The Ridge of Death, Redux No. 1"

"Mickey Rides Out On The Ridge of Death, Redux No. 2"

   Both scenes were a tad loosey goosey, so I tightened them up. I also discovered a red felt tip pen makes for convincing striata across the ridges (in top panorama). Very effective.

"Mickey Rides Through The Cactus Choked river banks of the Batapilas River, Redux"

   When we went on the Copper Canyon Railway, we took a river trip to the east of El Forte and it was Chigger City. I had bug bites that irritated me for days. Really made an impression on me and I knew if the Mickster was traversing the Mexican high lands he would no doubt encounter the same obstacles.

   There's five more, but that's enough for today.

"History puts iron in biography."
—Walter Stegner

Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Wyoming Lands In Michigan

September 25, 2014
   I am always fascinated by how readers find True West and today I got an earful. I was in a Design Review meeting with Dan Harshberger, Rebecca Edwards and Robert Ray when Carole Glenn came back to tell me there was a new subscriber up front and he wanted to meet me.

Jim Swanson and BBB, in our war room, 10:10 a.m.

   Turns out his name is Ji, Swanson of Wyoming, Michigan (yes, the town he's from is Wyoming). He is 64 and he had never heard of True West magazine before. Two days ago he was on the Apache Trail and he and his wife stopped at Tortilla Flats and inside he saw two issues of True West magazine (June and July) and he bought both, reading them cover to cover. He told his wife he loved this magazine and he wanted to get more.

   This morning they were driving up through Cave Creek, "just exploring," he told me. As they drove by 6702 E. Cave Creek Rd., he did a double take and said, "That's the name of my new favorite magazine. I wonder if that's where they do it?" His wife told him no, it was just a similar name and why would they be out here in this small berg in the middle of the desert? Much to his wife's irritation, he turned around and came in. Upon hearing the Cliff Notes version of the above story, I brought him into the meeting so our staff could see what one of our newest readers looks like.

   Ron bought a three year subscription and he warned us as he went out the door, "Expect more subscriptions from Wyoming, Michigan!"

   We will.

Mas Redux

September 25, 2014
   Still trying to file my Mickey Free artwork and again today, I had to stop and tweak finished art! Crazy. Here's one that has seen a couple of different tweaks over the last five years:

"Mickey's Crazy Jack Mule—Tu Redux"

"Remington's First Sale Redux"

   In our story, fresh from Arizona, Remington comes back to New York and tries to sell Harper's Weekly one of his sketches of Powhatan Clarke, but instead, the editor chooses a sketch of Mickey Free dumping the head of Pedro on the desk of Captain Pierce (in real life Mickey dumped the head of Pedro at the feet of one Captain Randall). Our editor says, "Do you want the cover or not, Remington?" The "heads will roll" illustration runs in the August, 1888 issue of Harper's and because of the uproar it causes almost all of Frederic's friends at San Carlos lose their jobs over it.

"Mickey Rides Into Mexico Redux"

"The Deluge Redux"

   Everywhere Mickey went a storm seemed to follow him. When he got back from Mexico with a bag on his pommel, it was no exception.

"Bullis Unloads On Mickey Redux"

   Captain Bullis had no love for Mickey, telling the one-eyed scout (note the reflection of Mickey, on mule, in the window), "We don't want nor need your services I want you off the reservation." Mickey just smiled and rode off, but not before dumping the bloody sack he was carrying across his pommel of his Mexican saddle. Mickey also tossed the captain Sheriff Reynold's watch, which made the soldier blanch. The hunt for the Apache Kid was over.

"You may not be interested i war, but war is interested in you."
—Leon Trotsky

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Redo Mickey Free Redux Ad Infinitum

September 24, 2014
   Working hard this morning to label Mickey Free artwork for Curator Cal to file. Of course as I attacked the pile, adding titles, descriptions, medium and dates, I, of course, kept seeing areas of specific scenes that could use just a tweak or two. I only got through a couple dozen images and this happened nine times! So, I spent an hour repainting "finished" artwork. Ay-yi-yi! What an imbecile I can be. I won't post them all, but here are some familiar redos:

"Mickey Rides In Redux"

"The Race for The Pine cone Redux"

   In the Mickey Free story, the young men of San Carlos were tasked every morning with racing up to Mount Turnbull to retrieve a pine cone. Before they left they were commanded to take a mouthful of water. When they got back they had to spit out the water and hand over the pine cone. The task had two objectives: to get the boys to run over major distances, breathing through their mouths and by bringing back a pine cone they insured they had run far enough up the mountain to sustain and prove their physical endurance. The young captivo, Felix (later Mickey Free) was very slow, and in fact the older kids tripped him and mocked him as they sped past him on the trail. But Felix never gave up and even though he often showed up an hour after everyone else had returned, he always spit out the water and dropped a final pine cone on the pile.

"Mickey Rides Through The Burnt Landscape Redux"

"The Apache Kid's Incredible Run From The Border to San Carlos for Beauty Redux"

"Pursued Redux"

"Beyond The Burning Ridge Redux"

   In my humble opinion these are strong images (the strongest I can do) for a strong character. Unfortunately, the verdict, so far, is this: never have so many great scenes added up to nothing.

   What to do?

"You have to go to a place where you don't live now and it hurts. It's dark and painful, but you have to go there."
—Jimmy Iovine's advice to U2 in Rolling Stone magazine

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Train Robber's Christmas

September 23, 2014
   Finishing up a few things for this issue. I got roped (literally!) into doing an original painting for this year's gift guide. The problem has been that all of the online photos that are cowboy-Christmas related are too American Cowboy magazine (read that modern) and not historical. So I got nominated to do something our guys would like for the opening spread. Right off the bat I knew I wanted to do outlaws heading for their hideout, or perhaps a friendly ranch, in the style of Charlie Russell, who did a fair share of Christmas related paintings with a similar theme. So that led to these sketches:

Holiday Gift Guide Sketch No. 1, 2

Holiday Gift Guide Sketches No. 3, 4

Holiday Gift Guide Rough (not wide enough, so gave up)

Gift Guide Rough Pass No. 6 (not enough riders or the right gift)

Holiday Gift Guide First Layout by Rebecca

   Not exactly sure you can drag a "through" safe through the snow via a rope, but there you have it. Oh, and by the way, a through safe is the safe on a train that goes all the way through the route, as opposed to a one stop safe or payroll.

   And, yes, I questioned whether we should be combining train robbers with Christmas, but then I thought, well, outlaws in America are rather sainted, aren't they?

"Lawlessness, like wildness, is attractive, and we conceive the last remaining home of both to be in the West."
—Wallace Stegner

Monday, September 22, 2014

The PG Rated Version of An X-Rated Life

September 22, 2014
   Got a dose of the touristas on Sunday morning. Stayed close to the bedroom most of the morning. Did try and whip out the painting, but didn't get far.

   Meanwhile, did a phoner last week with an intern at Arizona Highways. That led to this:

The PG Version of an X-Rated Life

   You'll notice I say a "GP version" of an X-rated life in the interview, but that is only because I am a tib dyslexic.

   Got up this morning at six and got out on the road by 6:15, just in time to catch this:

Morning Glory On Ratcliff Ridge

   Actually, that is morning glory on the ridge and morning glories at the bottom, so, dueling morning glories?

   Came back and bailed into the finish on the gift guide doubletruck. Had to stop at 9:15 for a radio interview on Trucker Radio. Finished the painting at 9:50 and headed in to the office.

Daily Whipout: "Home Safe"

   What happens when Black Jack and his outlaw pards head home for Christmas dragging a through safe? Well, for one thing, expect unique gifts when your in-law outlaws show up.

   At least, I always did, growing up.

   If you'll remember, I had started those five skies last week and by yesterday afternoon I had five different version of the outlaws heading home, in various stages of development, like this one:

Daily Whipout: "Heading Home (in progress)"

   Of course, I had lots of reference spread out for these paintings:

Piles and piles of art reference for holiday gift guide painting

"Paradise is never really paradise, idylls never truly idylls."
—David Gessner

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chris Sicurella of Tri Star Boze Books

September 21, 2014
   Went to the memorial for Chris Sicurella yesterday out in west Phoenix.

Chris Sicurella, 1956-2014

Chris was one of the driving forces behind Tri Star Boze Books, the publishing arm of my Old West publications prior to my involvement with True West magazine. Chris could be abrasive and hard headed but in the end he was fair and he promoted my books like crazy, buying doubletrucks in Wild West magazine every issue for almost a year or so. So much so, I got a call from an author acquaintance who asked me accusatorially, "Did you come into money?" Ah, no, I met up with a master promoter. Chris created Time-Life style mailers and bought mailing lists from Wild West and other national publications, and when I questioned the expense, he just smiled and said, "The margins are there." We moved more than 80,000 books which is the punchline, if not the proof, of his point.

Chris also made an effort to buy the cover art for each of my books:

Original painting of Billy the Kid for the cover of "The Illustrated Life & Times of Billy the Kid" (1996) which still hangs in his den.

   He also owned the Doc Holliday image and the Wyatt Earp image that ended up on the cover. He was a stickler for that kind of stuff. I had forgotten about it, but at his house, Chris even had a proposed cover for Wild Bill Hickok which we never got around to doing because of True West magazine:

Wild Bill cover painting that also hangs in his den

   Remember those five skies I whipped out last week? Well, I've been noodling horseback riders all this weekend as I lean on finishing the Gift Guide doubletruck for tomorrow.

"I may not know who I am, but I know where I am from."
—Wallace Stegner

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bye Bye Grandpa

September 19, 2014
   Drove down into the Beast yesterday to hang out with this guy:

Bye Bye Grandpa

   Yes, Weston is walking and learning how to do a fake laugh (which is essential in this family), and learning new words as well. He couldn't be contained by the restaurant—El Conquistador—so while his mama chose a piece of Daily Whipout artwork for a friend's wedding, me and Weston were soon heading out into the parking lot as grandpa tried to keep up:

Check out that bus.

   From the Conky Donk, I drove to Scottsdale and Camelview 5, walked up the ticket window and asked what the next movie was and to give me a ticket. Turns out it was this movie.

Take Me to The River, about the Memphis Sound and Staxx Records

   I had no expectation for this film and hadn't read a thing about it. Only three other couples in the theater but, Man, we rocked out. Great grooves on the music and a heart warming story to boot. And the kicker to the film AND the biggest proponent of history as it relates to R&B is Snoop Dogg. I have a newfound respect for the dude.

   After the movie I wandered down to Oldtown Scottsdale and checked in with my friends on Main Street. Everyone crying the blues and waiting for the Scottsdale Museum of The West to open. Hope it floats the boat.

   Drove north three blocks and had a glass of wine with a certain documentary director about a proposed series idea at Fifth & Wine, then drove over to The Poisoned Pen to hear a talk by author Jeb Rosebrook.

Jeb Rosebrook at the Poisoned Pen where he was talking about his new book "Purgatory Road."

   Got home at nine. Long day. Got up this morning at 5:30 and got out on the road early. Wanted to catch the sunrise and did:

Sunrise over Cahava Ranch

   Came back and should have bailed into Holiday Gift Guide painting but got sidetracked on a quick study of a stormy sky:

Daily Whipout: "Ahead of The Storm"

   Got into the office in time to meet these two guys:

David Lawler and Bill Watters

   We're planning a Mexico trip in November to actually visit Batopilas in the Sierra Madres. And I also want to drag The Top Secret Writer down there to see Nacori Chico, which is Geronimo's last stronghold. Very few Norteo Americans have ever seen it, with the exception of Charles Gatewood and crew. Going to be wild.

"There are the type of people who are going to live up to what they said they were going to do yesterday and then there are people who are full of shit. And that’s all you really need to know."
—Anthony Bourdain

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Robin Williams Reverse Engineering?

September 18, 2014
   Big clouds yesterday but no rain to speak of at our house. We did get part of a rainbow:

Ratcliff Ridge Rainbow, 6 pm, September 17, 2014

   Heading out for lunch today with this little guy:

Weston Loves Wheels (Gee, I wonder where he got that?)

   His mama and daddy are in town for a wedding and we're meeting at The Conky Donk (slang for one of our fave Mexican food joints).

   Got up this morning and tried to whip out the splash page painting of outlaws heading home for the holidays, but ran out of steam and time:

Daily Failure: Outlaws Heading Home for The Holidays Crash & Burn

   Is it just me or do too many of the Robin Williams photos now look depressingly prophetic?

Calendar item for Robin Williams in the Arizona Republic, November 21, 2008

   Even when he looks happy there is a sadness in there:

Robin Williams holds up the Rolling Stone logo,

   Is this reverse engineering? Or was the underbelly of Robin's manic self apparent from the git go? Don't know, but it's too sad. He was gonzo manic, but nobody thought to put the rest of the phrase together—manic-depressive.

"Part of art is knowing when not to put paint on."
—Andre Benjamin

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Snow Riders & Motorcycle Dismounting No Nos

September 17, 2014
   Got up this morning and whipped out a little study of a snow rider heading back to the ranch:
Daily Whipout: "Snow Rider Study, No. 2"

   I also got crazy with the paint and whipped out this little noodler:

Daily Whipout: "Bloody Running Horse"

   Also found the originals for one of my first New Times cartoon spreads about the four ways to NOT get off a motorcycle:

Four Ways to NOT dismount from a motorcycle, including the Wheelie Dismount, the Endo, The High Side and the Sweeper. I've done all except one (The Endo).

"In the perennial battle between maintaining dignity and playing out the joke, the joke always wins."
—Megan Daum on Lena Dunham ("Girls")

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beehive Inspiration & Outlaw Christmas Gifts

September 16, 2014
   Here's  another photo of Jennie Torres, back in the day when giant beehives roamed the earth.

Beehives In The Wind Inspiration

   I actually dated half the people in this photo. I'll leave it to your imagination, which half.

    Meanwhile, went home for lunch and whipped out a couple more sketches, trying to figure out what exactly a gang of outlaws would drag home for Christmas.

Some people may object to the idea of outlaws dragging home a safe and carrying wanton women on their hips, but on this topic I agree with old Henry:

"The most fundamental problem of politics is not the control of wickedness, but the limitation of righteousness."
—Henry Kissinger