Saturday, April 30, 2016

Outlaws Plot & Structure

April 30, 2016
   I have studied outlaws for a very long time (as you may know, I'm related to a few). Recently, I decided I needed to study story telling, plot and structure. Here is my view this morning at the breakfast table a little after 6 a.m.:

Outlaws Plot & Structure

   If we are truly what we think about then I have a problem. And it's driving me crazy. It's definitely driving me to drink. It may even kill me. Okay, it will most certainly kill me, assuming stress and lack of exercise and bad food can kill you, eventually. Or sooner. The bottom line is, I really don't know how to tell a compelling story. Of course, sometimes I do, or can, but it's usually an accident, or the byproduct of my childish penchant for showing off. The fact is I don't know the underpinnings of storytelling and I want to know the answers before it kills me.

   In the meantime, there is a clue in this picture, written in the lower-right-hand corner, that I absolutely do not want to share with anyone. It involves a plot twist, a reveal (as they say in the business) and Mitt Romney's great-grandmother.

   Intrigued? Do you want to know the answer?

   If you do, this is a small part of successful storytelling. And, to be honest, this has all been an exercise in plotting and structure, directly from the book at the top of the photo. On page 33 it says:

"A plot is about a Lead character who has an objective, something crucial to his well-being. The major portion of plot is the confrontation with the opposition, a series of battles over the objective. This is resolved in a knockout ending, an outcome that satisfies the story questions and the readers."
—James Scott Bell (no relation) "Plot & Structure"

   I'll reveal the answer to the Mitt Romney's great-grandmother question in the next exciting chapter of "Bob Boze Bell Finally Learns How to Tell A Compelling Story"

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Apache Pine Cone Endurance Race

April 29, 2016
   I have been meaning to draw a pine cone for the past ten years. On a trip to New Mexico a decade ago, I brought one back from up on the Mogollon Rim, near Payson, if I remember correctly. I wanted it for art reference and it languished in my studio for the longest time, with me moving it from desk to table top and back to my art desk. I finally got tired of moving it and took it outside and put it on the adobe wall near our gate (couldn't bring myself to throw it away). 

   This morning I realized it would make a nifty little plot device ding bat illustration in a story we're doing and I wondered if it was still on the wall. Believe it or not, I actually found it half buried under a mesquite tree next to the wall. It was still there! Grabbed it, cleaned it off and did a sketch of it:

Daily Whip Out: "The Apache Pine Cone"

   This particular pine cone is in reference to an Apache training device I remember reading about when I was a kid.

Daily Whip Out: "The Apache Pine Cone Endurance Race"

   So I have that going for me. Also, it's been two days and I haven't been rammed from behind by any old guys. I'm SO thankful. It's the small things.

"Mickey Free & The Hunt for The Apache Kid: to think it all started with a pine cone."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Rear Ending Encounters With Old Men

April 28, 2016
   I got rear ended by an old fart at School House Road and Cave Creek Road yesterday. Earlier that morning, I had just finished reading "When Breath Becomes Air," a book about a Kingman kid who died too young. I first heard about this New York Times best seller at my art opening at Cattle Track back in early March. A woman took a look at my book "The 66 Kid" and said, "You must know the author from Kingman who wrote 'When Breath Becomes Air,'" and I admitted I had never heard of it, or the author.

   In the Seattle Airport last Sunday I bought a copy of the book at Hudson News and read most of it on the plane ride home. Of course, I had to fight back tears at least five times in the first 100 pages. It is a very sad and sobering read—Paul Kalanithi describes as only a doctor can, what it's like to die of cancer, at the tender age 36. So, needless to say, having just finished the book, Wednesday morning, I was in a funky mood on my way into work. Speeding up Cave Creek Road. I was late for a meeting at the office, so I careened by an old fart in the left lane, passing him on the right. As I glanced over at him, I thought to myself, "Pay attention. This could be your last morning on earth and this is the guy who just might do you in."

   As I shot by him, I noticed a woman up ahead, walking a small dog, crossing at the stop sign at School House Road. There is not a crosswalk there, but I realized she was going to impede my Texas Leaguer hop through the intersection, so I quickly turned into the left lane so her slow walking wouldn't impede me. And that's when the old fart ran right into the back of me.

The Geezer And The Damage Done

   I got out to inspect the damage: he had buckled my Boze customized license plate and bruised the plastic bumper in a couple spots. The old geezer (he was probably at least six months older than me), was slow getting out, and I said, "What happened?" He said, "I didn't know you were going to stop," and I said, "Well, there is a stop sign here." He sheepishly said, "I'm sorry, I didn't see it." Which took a lot of the sting out of my anger, so I said, "I'm going to live with it," and, rather than wait for his insurance card and the police I got into my car and sped on to the office.

   So, that was the good encounter with a ramming old Man.

   Two hours later, I'm circling Terminal Four at Sky Harbor Airport and I get a text from Paul Andrew Hutton saying, "just landed." Well, he was supposed to be on the northside of the terminal at 11:30 and it was 11:28, so I fought my way around the terminal, and down to the cell phone lot, which is two terminals away and perhaps five minutes—in heavy traffic—from Terminal Four.

   Some seven or eight minutes later, I get another text: "I'm on the north side, door #4." So I took off, fighting my way back into traffic, slugging it out to make it past Terminal Three and back to Terminal Four (100,000 people fly in and out of here daily!). I pull up to Terminal Four Arrivals, door number 4 and there is no Hutton. I look frantically around and decide to get out and open up the back so I can stall with the airport security folk. As you may know, "Keep moving! Keep moving!" is their constant refrain. I kept looking for Hutton as I opened the rear door on the Flex and all of a sudden I hear this loud blast of a horn right behind me. I jump and look back over my shoulder and see Old Man #2, who has blasted his horn to warn me he is going to squeeze by me on the right, between me and the curb. Without even thinking, I took two steps to my right, and as he slid by me, I slammed the heel of my hand against the driver's side window and yelled, "Don't you honk at me you intelligent and sweet old man!" Full disclosure: I might have added something about his IQ and his mother, I don't remember. I was too mad.

   Well, the old man didn't like this and he opened his car door and got out, but instead of getting in my face, he started yelling, "Help! Police! This man is attacking me!"

   I tried to calm him down, but he wouldn't stop. "I want the police! He almost broke my window. " Finally, turning to me he said, "You'll be sorry you messed with me." To which I said, "Well, you've already got your wish there."

I went back to my car and got inside. A black woman security officer came around to me and said, "Are you Bob Boze Bell?" And I said yes, and she smiled and said the irate codger has insisted on the police showing up. "So," she said with some warmth (she was very sweet actually), "you need to come over here and wait." So I did. About this time Hutton calls on his cell, "Where are you?" "I'm at door #4," I say, before adding, "But now it looks like I'm going to jail." Turns out the number 4 is over every single door and represents Terminal 4 and that both of us were at the wrong door (Hutton was at door # 6).

By this time I had calmed down and apologized and reached out my hand to shake. "I'm not shaking your hand," he said, his lower lip quivering, "you are a fool." I don't know why, but I said, "How old are you?" He wouldn't tell me, but insisted he was older than me. Two police officers showed up and took a statement from him: "He attacked me. He could have broken my window. It was very loud." The policeman said calmly, like he was talking to a child, or an old man; "Is your window broken?" "No, but it could have been." The cop looked at me, "And your version?"

  "He honked at me, I overreacted and slammed my hand into his window and I'm sorry." I reached my hand out again to shake, but he wouldn't take it.

   Two hours later, I posed for this photo with Juni Fisher and Paul Hutton at the Scottsdale Museum of the West:

BBB, Juni Fisher and Paul Andrew Hutton

"Even if you are perfect, the world isn't."
—Paul Kalanithi, Kingman boy

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Continuing Education 101: Outrage Is The Engine

April 26, 2016
   Kind of depressing how much I didn't know about telling good stories. All the knowledge is out there for anyone to gather if they would just take the time to find the answers. For me, it took 45 years to decide to look, but as they say, better late than never. For one thing, I didn't know how mean you need to be in order to make good, believable characters.

Daily Whip Out: "He Crossed The Threshold Into a Dark World"

   Another thing I learned is you need constant conflict, and it helps if someone is very angry:

Daily Whip Out: "Listen to me, you flat-faced son-of-a-bitch!"

Outrage Is The Engine
   Mickey wants to win, at least once, but sometimes when you lose, you win.

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey With The Head of Pedro"

Mickey: "Now do I belong?"

   Ah, no, actually, you don't belong. Sorry. Another proven winner is withholding key information:

  Daily Whip Out: "What He Saw From The Ridge Stunned Him"

Mickey Is Maligned
   You can't diss your main character enough. If we want to read about someone they have to be complex. Give them good flaws:

Horn: "Even his name is a joke. His real name is Felix Ward. His mom is Meskin' and his old man is Irish."

   But your main character needs some skills to overcome all the obstacles thrown at him:

Daily Whip Out: "Mickey Just Laughed at The False Trails The Kid Had Created"

   People want to be manipulated, but they want it to be good. Make a twist on the usual Western cliche:

Free: "I like horse."

Young: "What's your favorite?"

Free: "Mustangs are a little tough."

Young: "I agree."

Free: "Quarter-horses taste best."

Young [stunned]: "Excuse me?"

Horn: "Yep, he's Irish, all right."

"There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 25, 2016

Petting A Caterpillar & Drawing Sagauros From Cactusland

April 25, 2016
   Flew back from Seattle this morning and landed in sunshine. The rain in Seattle was more like a vacation to us because we love rain, and Boy, do they get the rain. Here we are out for a walk when we came across a caterpillar crossing the road. "Why don't you pet him?" his mother mused. So, of course Weston did just that:

Weston Petting A Caterpillar

   Of course, when he "petted" the caterpillar, it fuzzed up and scared him, but that was cool as well.

   We also got in some drawing time on his play room easel. So, in tandem, we drew a pretty good saguaro. The arm flailing out to the right is Weston's and I must say it gives the drawing a much needed balance.

Weston and BBB Daily Whip Out: "Saguaro In Cactusland"

  We were in Seattle for three days and had some wet fun. Here we are at the breakfast nook this morning having our last breakfast together before going to the airport.

Mike and Deena, Weston and Grandma Ha ha

"Don't get it right, just get it written."
—James Thurber

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mohawk Biker Helmet Off Roading Grandchild Shreds Tall Grass

April 23, 2016
   He's a bad boy off-roader, shredding through the tall grass and taking no prisoners on his Strider bike:

Weston Allen Catching Air In The Tall Grass in Seattle

   He's not even three but nobody gets in his way, unless it's a bug, or something else that stops his forward movement.

"That's all right grandpa," the mohawk helmeted rider said with some gravitas.

"It's a wise man that knows his grandfather."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Wild Hunch Bunch

April 23, 2016
   Yesterday, Kathy and I flew to Seattle to meet up with a certain, hard-ridin' cowboy:

The "Fast" Ridin' Weston Allen

   The boy loves his horse. A generous gift from our friend Linda Stewart. Fortunately this horse stays in the house and doesn't roam too far out of the neighborhood.

   Meanwhile, I've been busy studying narration and storytelling.

Conflict and Cliffhangers
   Just finished an excellent book, "Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish," by James Scott Bell (no relation). And one of the takeaways is that conflict is the oxygen to a good story. And, one of the exercises is to take a movie you love and re-watch it, examining the underlining themes to see what makes it tick. So I took a fresh look at this classic:

The Wild Bunch pays off a wild hunch

   Wow! Talk about conflict. Two gangs (the Wild Bunch and a gang of thieves paid by a corrupt railroad tycoon) and a corrupt Mexican army officer, Mapache (and, according to Chris Casey, he  is played by the director of "Malquerida." Emilio Fernandez, who was allegedly also the model for the Oscar statuette when he was a young stud) collide in the waning days of the Wild West. Not only is there conflict between the gangs, but there is barely restrained contempt within each gang, as each gang member seethes anger at each other. The basic plot is classic conflict: a former Wild Bunch gang member, Deke Thorton (Robert Ryan) has been hired, or, rather, given a temporary reprieve from the Yuma hell hole prison (where he is whipped), by the corrupt railroad tycoon, who gives him a couple weeks to kill his best friend ( William Holden). Deke hates his scallawag crew: two of the worst are Ben Coffer (Strother Martin) and T.C. (L.Q. Jones) and they fight each other in almost every scene. In Pike's gang, even saddling up is a conflict. It's wall to wall conflict on top of conflict. And, in the end, the twisted plot and the themes and, even the moral, can be boiled down to two words:

"Let's go."
—Pike Bishop (William Holden) to his crew at the end of "The Wild Bunch"

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Hardnosed Reality of Stagecoach Travel In Arizona in 1873

April 22, 2016
   Had a visit yesterday from a gentleman who has photos, letters and correspondence from his kin, Mr. Commadore Perry Crawford who travelled from San Diego to Silver City, New Mexico in 1873.

   Mr. Crawford started by steamer, on the "Prince Alfred," in Victoria, British Columbia on December 27 of 1872 and arrived in San Francisco on New Years morning. He "tarried nine days" then took off again by steamer to San Diego, 450 miles south. He "stopped for a few hours at San Diego, then "took the stage for Fort Yuma on the Colorado River." He tells us he is on a four-horse stagecoach and they stop "every 12 or 15 miles" at a stage station where "we changed horses." This is how we picture stage travel throughout the west, but wait. From Arizona City (later to be called Yuma) he takes a "2 horse concern" that is "not so comfortable." However, from Tucson to Rios Mimbres, the "U.S. Mail and Stage line had degenerated. . .into a 2 wheeled one horse springless cart drawn by a miserable mule—said mule having to travel 60 miles without rest or change—save one hour to feed." He goes on to say this conveyance went on for "three days and nights—making in that time 230 miles, without sleep."

   Totally changes your ideas about travel in Arizona, doesn't it?

Daily Whip Out: "An Arizona Stagecoach Bristling With Armed Guards"

"And now I am done with Arizona I will give you my opinion of it—formed by what I saw. It is the most barren, desolate and uninviting part of the west that I have visited."
—Commadore Perry Crawford

Thursday, April 21, 2016


April 21, 2016
   B-B-B-Badges? Yes, I have many steenking name tag badges. In fact, over a 40-plus-year-career I have saved them all. And thanks to Curator Cal, they are "saved" in not one, but two, air sealed boxes.

Forty Plus Years of BBB-Badges

   Not sure exactly what it means (besides convincing proof that I'm a borderline hoarder), but I do plead guilty to having a tendency, as my partner Ken likes to say, of showing up for "the opening of an envelope."

   The two green "Hot" badges at top are from 9•11•07 at Phoenix International Raceway when I was a guest of Jeff Gordon's NASCAR racing team. Turns out the couple who drove Jeff's RV from racetrack to racetrack were big fans of Tombstone and my books and they invited Kathy and I out to see the races from Jeff's picnic table. That was a glorious day when I got to view Mrs. Jeff Gordon, who was breathtaking in her own right. One side note, she seemed rather bored with the race after a while, so we had that in common.

Our Frank Hamer issue went to the printer on Monday after Dan The Man Harshberger did 17 different takes on the cover. Take a gander:

15 of the 17 covers Dan The Man Designed (the final layout isn't in this batch,
 but the final image we went with is in the first row, second from right).

   Shocking to hear that Prince has passed. However, closer to home another local Tucson legend also has left the building:

Rusty Terry, at left, a Tucson drumming legend has passed. He was 68.

   I used to see Rusty at the Hi-Ho Club, the Dunes, the Cedars, The Embers and the Doll House, all niteclubs along Speedway Blvd. in Tucson. Here is the band I was in during that same period:

The Generation rockin' it at The Doll House in Tucson, circa 1967. On lead guitar, the late Charlie Christie at left, and Cliff Feldman on lead vocals (third from left). I've forgotten the other dude's names. Yes, those are tiger-striped Ludwigs I am playing (just like Ringo Starr's).

   Got up at 4:30 this morning, wrestling with narration and story and plot for our Mickey Free and The Hunt for The Apache Kid story. Here's one clever—and convoluted—answer to the question, what is plot?

"It's the gradual perturbation of an unstable homeostatic system and its catastrophic restoration to a new and complexified equilibrium."
—Jack Barth

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In The Land of Pronunciation, Idiots Rule

April 21, 2016
   One of my pet peeves is the mangling of proper names by locals, as in the goobers who live in Thoreau, New Mexico, who insist on pronouncing it as "Threw." I kid you not. 

Daily Whip Out: "Henry David Thoreau Is Not Amused"

  Of course the residents of Thoreau are not alone. In Los Angeles, locals pronounce the suburb of Los Feliz as Los Fee-lez. And in the French named town of Dubois, Idaho (pronounced Du-b'wah) the locals have mangled that to Doo-boyce. In Texas there are dozens of mangled town names with the most prominent being San Jacinto (which they give the Anglo-bend of San Jah-ceento) not to mention Amarillo which the locals give a rendering that rhymes with brillo, as in, they used a brillo pad to scrub off the Spanish. The moral to all of this is pretty simple:

"In the land of pronunciation, idiots rule."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Continuing Education 101

April 20, 2016
   Believe it or not, sometimes my own ignorance just stuns me. I've known for a long time I wasn't the smartest kid who ever came out of Kingman and I'm daily reminded of all the things I can't do (I just got back from hauling a mattress for Kathy and we borrowed those damn fancy bungee cords with the adjustable straps and the mechanism just defied and all but defeated me and only a half-assed, half-hitch saved me. Thank you Boy Scouts of America.).

But, like an idiot, I digress.

   It dawned on me a couple months ago that perhaps I need to take a class on how to tell a story. I know. I know. I tell stories all the time and in every issue of True West and in every blog post I post, but do I know what I'm doing? As it turns out, barely. Or, more accurately, not really.

   I saw a Facebook post from best selling author James Patterson that said, "Focus on the story, not the sentence." Whoa! That is exactly what I wasn't doing. So I clicked on the link and bought the $90 video. Here's what I learned:

• Pick out the things you can handle.

• You may have to write a million words to get to word one of your story.

The age (33) and year (1983) when I should have decided
I needed more education .  Yes, that's Thomas Charles.

• It's a gift to have passion.

• Story is about revealing character.

• Write an outline of your story, and then do three or four drafts, fleshing it out.

• Villains need to surprise us: "I didn't see that coming."

Daily Whip Out: "Classes? Yes, you need some classes, cavrone!"

• Suspense is questions that must, must, must be answered.

• It's not writing, it's re-writing.

• Do not polish until the story is done. Eliminate everything that doesn't get to the core of the story.

• When you get to the ending, write ten possible endings, just the dumbest and craziest things you can imagine. Narrow that down to four, massage, and then pick the one that makes the most sense.

Daily Whip Out: "So The Little Bastard Still Thinks He Can Learn to Write?"

"I will go to my grave changing a word, and there is always the right word."
—Edna O'Brien

Monday, April 18, 2016

In The Shade of The Sombrero Forrest

April 18, 2016
   Thanks to my friend Chris Casey, I have been enjoying a couple of 1940s Mexican Westerns he sent me. This is a whip out inspired by one of the scenes in "Malquerida," from 1949: 

Daily Whip Out: "In The Shade of The Sombrero Forrest."

   In Yuma, for the Arizona History Convention, our room in the Hilton Gardens overlooked the historic Yuma Quartermaster Depot Museum. Tried to go over there during a break on Saturday but the gate was locked and I didn't have time to walk all the way around to the other side. My loss, I'm sure.

The Yuma Quartermaster Depot Museum

   Did get a chance to visit the Jack Mellon house. Found out The King of The Colorado retired to Coronado Island in San Diego and took with him the flag pole off the Mojave steamer. And every day for the rest of his life, he got up, ran up Old Glory and saluted, before starting his day. Now that's who I want to be when I grow up!

Captain Jack Mellon mural on the side of his house in Yuma, Arizona.

   Great conference, left Yuma on Sunday morning and went the back way to Quartzite up through the Castle Dome Mountains:

Castle Dome Mountains north of Yuma

Really striking mountains in this area, like these spires in the Kofa range. Not far from here, Wyatt Earp was elected constable at a short-lived mining town called Cibola.

Harsh Spires of The Kofa Range 

"Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.
—Lord Byron

Friday, April 15, 2016

310 In Yuma

April 15, 2016
   Staying at the Hilton Gardens in Yuma which is at 310 Madison (get it? 3:10 to Yuma?). We are here for the Arizona History Convention. Of course, this is the home to several of my heroes.

A steamboat (the Cocopah or the Mohave) on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona Territory.

   Walked around the neighborhood in oldtown Yuma after lunch today and saw the homes of my steamboat heroes Jack Mellon and Isaac Polhamus (who had one of the oldest houses in Yuma, dating to 1869.) I was asking a historian if I could see the steamboat world of that earlier era along the river and she said, the Colorado River runs so much lower today because of all the dams, consequently that world—the docks and supporting equipment—is too high, and long gone. Makes sense. Here's a scene we see right out our widow, although it's an earlier view of the hell hole described in every Western about Arizona prisons ever filmed:

The Yuma Territorial Prison on the point where
 the Gila River drains into the Colorado River.

   Stuart Rosebrook and I introduced the original "3:10 to Yuma" film last night in the main auditorium, talking about the various Arizona locations where it was filmed. They used Elgin (down by Sonoita, AZ) for all the train stuff, then cut to Old Tucson for a scene of the outlaws riding into Contention, then they cut this together with the same guys arriving at the hotel, which was shot on the Warner Brothers back lot in Burbank. It is seamless in the cutting and they go back and forth throughout the movie. The only false note is a Western town outside of Sedona, which stood in for Bisbee. The movie was shot in 1957 and was a joy to see again after all these years. I first saw it on a student council trip from Kingman Junior High School when I was representing my school at a convention in Phoenix and our principal Blaine Benson and our sponsor, Mrs. Plumber, accompanied me, Jeri Penrod and Rick Ridenour to see a movie at the Fox Theater in downtown Phoenix and they were playing "3:10 to Yuma" and I remember being mortified when Glenn Ford, being held a prison in the hotel, wiggled around on the bed and said, when the bed squeaked, "Must be the bridal suite." Seeing that with them freaked me out. Too crazy with that sex talk and your junior high teachers in tow.

   Attended several sessions today, on the Apache Wars. Also bought some books

Gordon Dudley at the Guidon Book Store booth at the Arizona History Convention

One of the booths at the convention specialized in Wyatt Earp books and he had this on his table:

Wyatt Earp collectibles including a rare True West issue

   This Wyatt Earp issue, January-February 2001 of True West sells for $300. When I walked by the booth and said hi, someone said, after I had passed, "He's the guy who called Wyatt Earp a pimp" It wasn't for my ears to hear, but a historian friend of mine told me later, with a laugh.

"Hey Ho, who you callin' Whoa?"
—Old Vaquero Rap

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A "Villain" Redeemed?

April 14, 2016
   In our collective memory—especially among Baby Boomers—Frank Hamer is the villainous and dastardly lawmen who mowed down Bonnie and Cyde in the 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunnaway as the love struck outlaws. In the movie version, Hamer (portrayed by Denver Pyle) is captured by the gang and humiliated, and he kills Bonnie and Clyde in revenge. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. Frank's widow, Gladys (Hamer died in 1955) sued Warner Brothers for defamation, invasion of privacy, and unauthorized use of Hamer's name. It's kind of incredible that Beatty and crew didn't bother to simply change his name, opting, instead, on a revisionist —and definitely defaming—take on an honorable and exemplary peace officer. The studio fought the lawsuit, but when Gladys' lawyer, Joe Jamail, insisted on taking Warren Beatty's deposition, the studio folded and paid $20,000 for a settlement.

Daily Whip Out: "Frank Hamer Villain?"

   Chump change, really, and, unfortunately, this ridiculous caricature of Hamer has persisted until the present day. All this may finally change, because my good friend, and author, John Boessenecker, is coming out with a new book "The Epic Life of Frank Hamer" (all of the above detail about the lawsuit and movie is from the book) and we are featuring the incredible lawman on the cover. As a matter of fact, we are debating over the right cover. Here are the two finalists:

The latest contenders (Dan has done 17, so far)

   I'm leaving for Yuma at noon. This evening, our book editor, Stuart Rosebrook, and I are introducing the film "3:10 To Yuma" at the Arizona History Convention. When I asked Stuart about getting together as soon as I get there, I asked, "If I leave Cave Creek at noon, what time will I get there?" Without missing a beat, Stuart said, "At 3:10." Perfect.

"In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness."
—Samuel Beckett

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It's Hamer Time!

April 13, 2016
   Legendary lawman, Frank Hamer, is about to get his due, thanks to author John Boessenecker and his new book on the incredible lawman. Hamer will also grace the cover of True West next month. 

Daily Whip Out: "It's Hamer Time!"

   Did another version, but it came out a little too Dick West-50s-tv-Western:

Daily Whip Out: "It's Hamer Time No. 2"

   Not to be too obsessive, or anything, but here is another rough:

Daily Whip Out: "Tug McGraw Hamer"

Dueling Headlines
   We argue quite a bit about headlines here at True West. Are they important? Absolutely. Weak headlines kill reader interest. Here's an example, from USA Today. Which article would you read: "Riley Keogh Takes A Steamy Star Turn"? Or, "Elvis' Granddaughter Slips Into World of Escorts"?

"A good story is life with all the dull parts taken out."
—Alfred Hitchcock

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hamer Head

April 12, 2016
   Working on a couple deals. Had a cover blow up on us. Nobody likes it. Went home for lunch to try and capture Frank Hamer's head. Over worked it, but here's the basic idea:

Daily Whip Out: "Hamer Head"

   I've taken a couple runs at the guy. He's rather baby faced, especially for a guy who claims he was in 52 gunfights.

Daily Whip Out: "Frank Hamer Texas Ranger"

Daily Whip Out: "Rangers With Hamer, On The Hunt"

Daily Whip Out: "On The Border With Hamer"

   Also working on the second draft of our Mickey Free story. My goal is to do six drafts. Learning a ton about plotting. Mainly this:

"Let's not destroy a good story with the truth."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, April 11, 2016

She Stood In The Clearing, Daring Him to Come Get Her

April 11, 2016
   Here's an unfinished board that I've been monkeying with for some time. This morning it finally came together in my mind as I was re-attacking the foreground: 

Daily Whip Out: "She Stood In The Clearing, Daring Him to Come Get Her"

      Of course, when he saw her there he knew immediately it was a trap.  

      When it comes to portraying emotion, it's sometimes hard to tell if someone is happy or in grief. Did this portrait of expression from a still I captured from the Mexican Western "La Malquerida." 
Is it the pathos of living on the border so close to gringos? Is it the delicious pain of habanero chiles? Or, is it the determined expression of a cantina singer belting out a corrido?

Daily Whip Out: "Mexican Pain"

I'ts actually a dude in a cantina singing a Mexican corrido, no doubt about somebody in deep pain. Meanwhile, there is a story in border dust as well:

Daily Whip Out: "Dust Clouds Announce The Advance"

   Looking over the low horizon, who, or what, is making those three-towered dust clouds? And do you flee from them or do you ride on to meet them? And, finally, does the accumulation of images, done here, add up to anything? That is the question that haunts me.

"Every two minutes Americans take more photographs than were made in the entire 19th century."
—Nicholas Mirzoef, "How to See The World"

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Storm Blossoms

April 9, 2016
   Got up to stormy skies today. Didn't seem to stop the prickly pairs from blossoming though.

Storm blossoms

   Went for a walk up Old Stage Road and saw some dramatic skies overhead.

Cactus Clouds

   Also, witnessed these "mare tails" streaking the sky. Too big for jet contrails, but dramatic none the less.

Stratus Nimbus Or Cirrus Stratus No. 1

   A friend, Paul Allen, claims they are Cirrus and Cirrus Stratus. 

Stratus Nimbus of Cirrus Stratus No. 2

   Still working on "the story." Have some good reference and guidance, including this little gem:

"What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it."
—Alexander Graham Bell