Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Night Stalker Out On The Mojave

December 12, 2018
   Still scratchin' up a storm.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Night Stalker"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Out On The Mojave"

   These are little suckers, 5" X 7" and they are just flat out fun to do. Soothing to the soul, really. All part of a semi-secret little project called "The Mojave." But you already knew that.

"Work is only work if you'd rather be someplace else."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mula, Mula! And Quicker Than Lightning!

December 11, 2018
   Grabbed a couple boards this morning and gave them another go.


Daily Whip Out: "Quicker Than Lightning"

    Love those mules.


Daily Revisited Whip Out:
"Mula, Mula!"

   The prolific author Chris Enss came in today and we had a good talk about her next book, "According to Kate," which is about the girlfriend of Doc Holiday: Big Nose Kate. Chris bought a box full of her letters and correspondence and virtually all the quotes in the book are from Doc's girl. Teaser: Kate had a thing for John Ringo that I have never heard before. The book drops on October 26, 2019, in Tombstone, of course. Chris has written over 50 books, and another book of hers, "Pinks," about female Pinkertons, is in development as a possible series.

    John Langellier drove up from Tucson and showed up for our Design Review this morning as we hashed out our Alamo approach. It was great to have a new set of eyeballs on our coverage of the Texas shrine.

   John also brought along a couple dozen extremely rare scans for his new book on a certain Apache Wars Lieutenant:

John's stash of rare Powhattan Clark imagery

"I love how small I am in the scheme of things."
—Bernardo Bertolucci (1941-2018)



Monday, December 10, 2018

A Hot Time at Castle Hot Springs

December 10, 2018
   Went out to Castle Hot Springs last weekend for a big party. The resort, which dates back to 1896, is reopening after the first of the year. On the walls of the dining room they have all these great old photos of guests having a blast on the grounds.


Castle Hot Springs Riders

I especially loved a photo of some old guy singing opera with his honey in the hottest, hot springs.


Some Old Geezer being held up
by his much younger wife

Looks like a turn of the century photo, or, perhaps a late 2018 era photo. Says at the bottom it was taken by Patrick Rapps Photography, so you know it has to be authentic and old.


patrickrappsphotography.com


"A lot of conflict in the Wild West could have been avoided if cowboy architects had just made their towns big enough for everyone."
—Old Gunfighter Saying

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Wyatt Earp's Mining Shack

December 9, 2018
   It was twenty years ago this week, I started painting a new cover portrait.



The first through the third edition of
Wyatt Earp, at left, and the fourth.

December 10, 1998

   Started a new cover painting of Wyatt Earp for the fourth edition, going on press soon. Also finishing the timeline for my next book, "Bad Men."

   When I was in junior high, we played Parker and on the bus trip from Kingman down there (this is in 1961, prior to Lake Havasu and we had to come in via Needles and Vidal Junction), as we approached the Colorado River from the west I looked out the bus window and saw this giant cutout of Wyatt Earp and this shack was there and I thought to myself, "What was Wyatt Earp doing way out here?"





   Well, it turns out Wyatt Earp wintered along the Colorado River and the Vidal area for 22 years, while he only spent 22 months in Tombstone!


This was in the small community of Drennan, which later changed its name to Earp, California.


"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?"

—Henry David Thoreau


Friday, December 07, 2018

In-din Sugarloaf and Midnight on the Mojave

December 7, 2018
   One of the peculiarities of dwellings on the Mojave Desert is how isolated most of them are, from each other. If you've ever driven from Vidal Junction to Twenty Nine Palms, California, you know exactly what I mean.

Daily Whip Out:
"Midnight On The Mojave"


   Of course, it's changing now with subdivisions and developments, but for the longest time you could spot a locale on the Mojave almost by the distance between the dwellings.

   As you may already know, I am enamored of the Mexican sugarloaf sombrero. There is some scholarship that implies Billy the Kid wore one (Pat Garrett claimed he wore a Chihuahua sombrero) and I am fascinated with exactly when this style, ahem, peaked. Here is a cool photo of an Apache sporting one in the 1890s. 


Chief Garfield, Jicarilla Apache, in 1893.
Santa Fe, NM. Photo by Jesse H. Bratley.
Source - Denver Museum of Nature and Science.


   As I continue my research through my old daytimers, I have found some amusing and sometimes jarring notes from twenty years ago. Case in point:

A handwritten note in my August 20, 1998 Franklin Daytimer


"Alice broke her shoulder, aunt Doris is in a wheel chair, Fern's hands are swollen, Milton doesn't know where he is. My dad can't see. Everyone else is gone."


   Except for my uncle Glenn Marvin Bell, my father's younger brother, who turns—I believe, 85—today. Happy Birthday Uncle Glenn!


"Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious. We have only to imagine how differently we would be described—and will be, after our deaths—by each of the family members who believe thy know us."

—Gloria Steinem

Thursday, December 06, 2018

How Not to Get Your Kids Hooked On History

December 6, 2018
   Here is a scene I can totally relate to:

Larry David loves history and one summer he dragged his kids to every single Civil War battlefield.

   My father would never stop, except for oil, gas, food, or maybe open wounds. Other than that, as he put it, "We have to make time, Kid."

   Every summer we would go back to Iowa to the family farm and we were on Route 66 and the roadside attractions were fantastic, but we blasted by them all, until I finally got him to agree to give me one place to stop on the way back from Norskyland. Even then, he tried to weasel out of it, but I kept poking him in the neck as he tried to pass a gaggle of trucks west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. He finally pulled into the Longhorn Museum near Moriarity and I was thrilled and, more importantly,  I was hooked on stopping and I swore when I had my own family, we would stop nonstop, to their heart's content.

   So, when I had my kids we stopped at every hysterical marker (as we called historical markers) and every museum, no matter how small, or ridiculous (the Ball of Twine Museum, anyone?). Consequently, my kids quickly grew to hate it: both the crappy curiosities and history itself. 

   Oh, the irony!

"Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."
—Abigail Adams (I want to go on a road trip with her!)



Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Outlaw Smirker & Coyote Pass Inspection Station

December 5, 2018
   I keep scratchin' my way into the future.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"The Outlaw Smirk"

   He has a bit of Doroteo Arrango in his face. Or, at least more than I intended. Doroteo was better known as Pancho Villa.

   I grabbed a little sketchbook this morning and gave that a go.

Daily Whip Out: "Big Box Store Clouds"

   Andy Sansom posted a photo this morning and wanted to know where it was taken. I immediately recognized it as a familiar landmark outside of Kingman, on the way to the lake (Mohave).


Coyote Pass Inspection Station, circa 1949

   It was at this inspection station in October of 1963 that Sheriff Bob Tarr was shot and killed in a stolen car incident.

   My good friend, John Langellier, came by for lunch today and brought along rocker Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees fame. Great guy. He loves and collects Spanish American War materials and is an expert on Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. We went next door to Janie's and , over lunch, talked about all things Western.

Jack Blades Digs Saguaros

"You have to remember one thing about the will of the American people: it wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena."
—Jon Stewart


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

What The Hell Is Going On In That Last Segment of "Buster Scruggs"?

December 4, 2018
   It was wonderfully playful, the first time I saw it, but I wondered exactly what the Coen brothers were trying to say in the last installment of "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs." Here is an excellent take on it, by Matt Goldberg:





Through the six shorts in Buster Scruggs, we can see the randomness of death and the unfairness of life, but in the final installment, The Mortal Remains”, the Coens pull the camera way back to see a trip to the afterlife as if it were a western.




“Mortal Remains” is incredibly playful as it begins looking like a normal stagecoach ride that slowly reveals itself to be a trip to the afterlife for the Frenchman (Saul Rubinek), Lady (Tyne Daly), and Trapper (Chelcie Ross), whose souls are being harvested by the Englishman (Jonjo O’Neill) and the Irishman (Brendan Gleeson). It’s a parable that wants you to know it’s a parable, and while people die in all the other Buster Scruggs shorts, “Mortal Remains” is the only one where the characters are already dead.
It’s pretty clear that this is what the Coens are going for. They start out with a normal Western set up—a stagecoach ride—and then slowly reveal what’s actually happening. The Stagecoach driver, clad in black, is Death (“He won’t stop,” says the Englishman), the Englishman and the Irishman admit to being “Harvesters of Souls”, and the Englishman becomes offended when they’re called “Bounty Hunters” as the Trapper tries to put them back into a context he can understand. Additionally, as the segment goes on, the lighting goes from a warm glow (life) to cold and blue (death) as the souls of the Frenchmen, Lady, and Trapper cross over. Mr. Thorpe, the body on top of the stagecoach, is also crossing over, but he’s not afforded the gentleness of the journey. Finally, when they arrive at the hotel, the Frenchman, Lady, and Trapper are nervous to enter (since it’s the waypoint in the afterlife and not a normal hotel as they originally assumed) and on the inside there’s a stairway going up to a bright, unseen light.

Here is a link to the article on Collider

Monday, December 03, 2018

Out of A Corner Into A Groove

December 3, 2018
   Painted—or, rather, scratched—my way into a corner, then forced myself to start, always the hardest thing for me, with the possible exception of forcing myself to stop.

Cornered: "The Infestation"

Cornered: "Long Black Veil"



Cornered: "The Rack"



Cornered: "PG"



Cornered: "Crow"



Cornered: "Black Days"


"The sun will not rise or set without my notice, and thanks."

—Winslow Homer

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Getting Out of A Corner

December 2, 2018
   I once did a band gig out on the Old Benson Highway, in the mid-seventies. I played in this Country Western band, Roy Brown & Country Gold, and we had a sit-in guitarist who was in the original Stone Ponies, a very famous Tucson folk group that included Linda Ronstadt. In fact, the guitarist later told me Linda was his girlfriend when they moved to LA to take a shot at the big time. Short version: she made it, he came home. Anyway, the guitar player had a really eccentric style of picking and during a break I asked him how he created such a counter-intuitive-style and he shrugged, and said, "It's simple: I play myself into a corner and try to get out."

   I have never forgotten this sage advice.

   With that in mind, this weekend I took six scratchboards and created six different border treatments, without any preconceived idea of where it was going. Here they are:














   So, here we have six border treatments. You might say I drew myself into a corner. This weekend I did my best to draw myself out of said corner. 

   Results tomorrow.

   Next year will mark twenty years at the helm of True West magazine. I wanted to go back and see if I could find the turning points in that long journey.


From My Franklin Daytimer

Sunday, May 23, 1998
   In Tombstone for a book signing at Territorial Books. Bob McCubbin drove over from El Paso to hang with me. During breakfast at the O.K. Cafe, Bob tells me he has some extra money from his stock options at El Paso Natural Gas and he wants to help me publish books. I recommend we buy True West magazine but he is more interested in buying the Birdcage Theater and suggests putting out a newspaper called "The Birdcage Gazette."

   This is the first mention in my Daytimer of what will become, a year-and-a-half later, a major turning point in my life. More entries to follow, as I find them.

"Pioneers are seldom from the nobility. There were no dukes on the Mayflower."
—Mack Sennett


Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Genesis of the Honkytonk Sue Look

December 1, 2018,
   I am often asked where I got the inspiration for the look of my original cowgirl character, Honkytonk Sue. 

Honkytonk Sue Gets Real

   Back in 1977 one of the editors at The National Lampoon asked me to submit a few cartoon ideas. I had just run across some images of early rodeo cowgirls who were then being rediscovered and showcased in magazines like Persimmon Hill:


Early Rodeo Cowgirls With Big Hats

   And there was a certain 1920s style that appealed to me:




Vilma Banky & Twenties Style

So, I thought, what if you took those styles and added just a pinch of macho cross breeding:


High Plains Drifter

  And what if you gave her a, ahem, hefty sidekick, like Gene and Roy had.

Sue and Donna Jean Discuss
the Sad State of Available Mates

   Having spent many an evening in honkytonks moonlighting as a Country Western drummer I had witnessed more than a few cocktail waitresses who did not put up with any guff from anybody:



"Pinche tu Mama Nada"

   And from my humble drummer's perch I witnessed many a tawdry spectacle.

A Typical Honkytonk Entanglement

  And I realized what if you put all those elements together you'd get a new style of cowgirl for the Ages:

Gas Shortage, My Foot!

   I tell you, it was a funny and fun run (note that the gas shortage is when gas was flirting with a dollar a gallon!). Sue eventually got the Beatles back together and she battled illegal aliens (the space kind) and truckoads of redneck Woosies.

   So I woke up this morning and realized that dream was a long time ago and the Queen of Country Swing would be in her mid-to-late sixties by now. And, as I sat up in bed, I wondered, what would that look like?

Coming Next: "The Last Fandango at The Heatwave Cafe"