Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Original Creator of "Deadwood"

February 28, 2019
   Recently, I started reading Pete Dexter's magnificent "Deadwood" and I must say—the book predates the TV series of the same name by a decade—it is without a doubt the source material for the HBO TV series.

   Here for your reading pleasure is a random sampling of just a few of Dexter's poignant and "dead on" Deadwood comments from the first fifty pages of the book:

"And Bill laid his eyes on him again, calm and cold, until he went away. That was the way Bill handled annoyances when he could. He never threatened a soul unless he meant it."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Advances"

   "Whatever kind of blood disease Bill had, it had gotten worse since March."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Going Blind"

   "It wasn't the newspaper that got Bill and [Charley] Utter out of Kansas, though. It was a petition. It was left with the clerk at the hotel where they stayed, three hundred and sixteen signatures asking Bill to leave, not a word of gratitude for what he'd done. He sat down in the lobby with the petition in his lap, running his fingers through his hair. He read every name—there were six sheets of them—and when he finished a sheet, he'd hand it to Charley and he'd read it too.
   "It was the worst back-shooting Charley had ever seen; they even let the women sign. Bill shrugged and smiled, but some of the names hurt him. He thought he had friends in Kansas, and looking at the names he saw they were all afraid of him."

Daily Whip Out:
"The Pistoleer"

   "Charley had been to Cheyenne in March, when Bill had married the famous circus performer Agnes Lake, and even getting married, Bill had been in a brighter mood than he was now."

"Wild Bill's Wedding"

    "There was a respect between Bill and Agnes that did not invite inspection of the parties."

"It was the history of things that Bill would wear out his welcome."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Blank Shooter"

   "They came into Deadwood downhill, from the south. The gulch fell out of the mountains, long and narrow, following the Whitewood Creek, and where things widened enough for a town sign, that was Deadwood. It was noon, July 17. The place looked miles long and yards wide, half of it tents. . .the mud was a foot deep, and every kind of waste in creation was thrown into the street to mix with it."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill In Smoke"

   "Some of the buildings had been thrown together in a day, and the ceilings would shift in a wind or a fight."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Lamp Damnation"

   "There was a way clothes hung when you left them on a year that looked like old people's skin."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Mule Man"

    "There was no question God had given him uncommon gifts, and he went where they took him."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Smirk"

   "Boone May slapped himself awake. He could have slept all morning, even with the snoring, but Jane Cannary had rolled in her sleep and come to rest with her mouth next to his ear. As she snored, she blew, and the breath in his ear felt like insects to Boone, who reached out in his sleep and slapped himself across the side of the head. the hand was cupped and caught his ear, and there was an empty, numb feeling inside there, along with a sort of ricochet noise that he associated with the sound of going deaf."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Smirk Number II"

"'I heard that [Hickok] come to Deadwood to the same purposed he went to Abilene and Cheyenne,' Al Swearingen said."

Daily Whip Out:
"Wild Bill Takes Aim"

   "After that, everything [Wild Bill] did got immortalized. If he ate pork, he shot the pig at high noon in the street."
—Pete Dexter, in "Deadwood"

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

El Alisal And The Famous Tramp Who Took A Shotgun Blast In The Face

February 27, 2019
   Slammin' and jammin' on a variety of scenes for the graphic novel. Want to finish all the coverage before I convert it to storyboard sequence and the balloon treatment.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: "El Alisal"

Daily Sketchbook Whip Out: "El Alisal"

   When he was a mere lad of 26, Charles Fletcher Lummis took off from Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 12, 1884 and started walking to Los Angeles! He came up with the clever idea of a "tramp" across the continent to his new job as a staff member at the Los Angeles Times, and he talked the editor, Col. Harrison Gray Otis, into paying Lummis $5 a letter, that the Times would run in the newspaper once a week. The Chillicothe Leader and several other newspapers also started running the letters and Lummis soon enough found himself somewhat of a celebrity. As one editor put it, "Somehow, the articles have a strange, indescribable interest and people have got to talking about Lum all over the country. He is the most noted man in the West just now and carries his in his shoes a pretty fair-sized circus."

   Indeed, Lummis could turn a phrase and tell a tale. My favorite episode in, what eventually became a book, "A Tramp Across the Continent," is this encounter Lum had in New Mexico: "Upon a lonely looking table was only a cup of coffee, a dry tortilla and a smoking platter of apparent stewed tomatoes. . .I swallowed the first big spoonful at a gulp. . .my mouth and throat were consumed with living fire and my stomach was a pit of boiling torture. . .I rushed from the house and plunged into a snowbank, biting the snow to quench that horrible inner fire. Poor Arrera followed me in astonishment but smothering his laughter. What was the matter with the Senor? I came very near answering with my six shooter but his sincerity was plain and I listened to him. Poison? No indeed, Senor. That was only chile colorado, chile con carne, which [is] liked to the Mexicans mucho—and to many Americanos tambien."

   Tambien, indeed.

   The tramp was not without mishaps, like when Lummis broke his arm chasing a deer in New Mexico. He couldn't get his bone back into place, so he "wrapped one end of his canteen strap around his wrist, buckled the other around a cedar, threw himself backwards as hard as he could, and yanked."

   He walked the next 52 miles to Winslow, Arizona with a broken arm. As he put it, "It is not pleasant to walk with a broken arm but neither is it pleasant to be in bed with one." By that time, he was following the Santa Fe rail lines and he had about 700 miles to go.

   At Yucca, Arizona Territory, a boarding house mistress refused him a room, or, even to rent him a blanket. As his son put it in a book on his adventures, "Charles F. Lummis: The Man and This West," 1975, "It was tough going but it made good copy."

   Lummis walked into the San Bernadino Valley on January 31, 1885 and his new job at the Los Angeles Times. He had spent 143 days walking and traveled three-thousand miles, on foot. After a meal with his new editor, he spent the night at the New Hollenbeck Hotel, where he says he spent the time, "delousing, cleaning up, extricating my arm from its home-made splints and getting acquainted again with my wife. At ten the next morning, I was on duty as first city editor of the Los Angeles Times."

   After a colorful career detour to New Mexico, where Lummis was shot in the face and chest with a shotgun for photographing the camera-shy Penitents, in 1888, Lummis returned to LA, and set out to save all of the crumbling Spanish Missions and starting a museum or two. Then, he started building his dream house "way out in the country" about six miles from the small town of Pasadena, California. This was in 1896 and the area was quite rural. He built it using river rocks, around a giant sycamore, which the locals styled as "Alisal" which is a corruption of the Castillian "aliso," meaning alder, and then further corrupted into sycamore. The rambling structure, which Charles Fletcher built himself with local stones, survives to this day as a museum and stands next to the Arroyo Seco Freeway, which winds up the canyon towards Pasadena from Los Angeles.

Daily Whip Out Study:
"Charles Lummis In The Lion's Den"

   If you want more information about this amazing Western guy, my good neighbor, Tom Augherton, wrote an excellent cover story on all of this which appears in our October 2016 issue.

"See America first."
—Charles Fletcher Lummis actually coined this phrase

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

What Are The Odds of Becoming a Successful Artist? Let's Do The Math

February 26, 2019
   Warming up after all that snow. Creek is ripping from all the snow melting up north.

   Did I ever mention I married a math teacher to help me balance my checkbook? Yes, it's true, when I met Kathy, she was employed as a math teacher at Moon Mountain Elementary School in North Phoenix. Many of the teachers she taught with are still friends and they get together a couple times a year to hike, break bread and talk about their lives. Last Sunday they all met at our house for a hike and breakfast. I made the green chile and eggs.

The Moon Mountain Elementary Crew

    I actually enjoy these old teachers, because they are so selfless and honest. They're not like my friends. When we get together we lie to each other constantly and some of us even insist we balance our own checkbooks.

"There are three types of people who major in art: those so full of passion they find inspiration in a falling leaf; those who yearn to feel anything at the sight of a falling leaf; and those who cannot do math."
—Jessica C. Bakule

Monday, February 25, 2019

An Overworked Sketchbook Is The Elixer of The Clods

February 25, 2019
   Another day, sketching away.

Daily Whip Out: "Sweet Sharlot"

Daily Whip Out: "El Alisal"

A BBB Sketchbook Page In Progress

The Same Sketchbook Page Overworked

  The Jed Mercurio note, above, refers to the writer and producer of a TV show Kathy and I are hooked on called "Line of Duty." This Mercurio dude can do conflicted characters and extreme potboiler plot twists like nobody I have ever seen before. 

"Originality is nothing more than connecting familiar elements in unfamiliar ways."
—James Scott Bell (no relation)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Federale Memories

February 24, 2019
   Sunny today. Wonderful day at home with Kathy and her teacher friends from back in the day at Moon Mountain Elementary. It made me think back fondly on those long ago days.

   When I was in college, I had a misguided adventure south of the border. Long story short, I ended up in the Nogales, Sonora jail because of sketchy things I did on this street.

Canal Street, Nogales, Sonora

   If I remember correctly, it was in the B-29 Club where things got out of hand and the owner, or, the bartender, called the Federales. Or, was it the Tecalotes? It doesn't matter. I ended up in a paddy wagon with three extremely obnoxious and drunk misfits (my roommates at the U of A) and we all spent the night in a drunk tank with three inches of urine on the floor.

   I learned my lesson though. I never went back to Canal Street with those pendejos.

"All The Federales say, they could have had him any day, they just let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose. . ."
—Townes Vans Zandt, "Pancho And Lefty"

Friday, February 22, 2019

"He finished what he started and he paid for what he broke."

February 22, 2019
   Snowed overnight and we woke up to a winter wonderland:

Snow in Cactusland!

   Stayed home in the morning, made a big ol' fire in the studio stove and worked on some opening sequence coverage for my big project.

Daily Whip Out:
"Charles Lummis Up Close"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Lummis in Profile"

   And speaking of Lummis, here are two dynamos who figure prominently in my graphic novel.

Classmates Charles Lummis
and Teddy Roosevelt

   Sharlot Hall would have pitched her Olive Oatman story in the "Lion's Den," which was his home office at El Alisal in Pasadena, California.

The Lion's Den

   I can relate to Lummis because he had a vision for a magazine, Out West, with the motto: "The Nation Back of us, the World in Front."

   The first issue, in 1902, had a poem by Sharlot Hall and the frontice piece was an allegory of the Genius of the West, by Maynard Dixon.

Daily Whip Out:
"Sketched this at Maynard's cabin in Utah"

   Besides all that, Lummis shared another aspect of the biz which I can relate to: "We were poor all the time and sometimes had pretty serious tangles with the printers before they would trust us for another issue." His salary was $50 a month and there were never enough hours in the day. He found himself working until midnight almost every night. When he awoke in the morning he found that his "brains for the day had not arrived yet." All things I can really, really relate to.

   Our story will corral all of the Westerners on the scene at that time, from Frederick Remington to Owen Wister to Thomas Moran, Will Rogers and Charlie Russell, plus local favorites like Charles Poston, Charles Goodnight and a certain outlaw who uses the alias Berry Stapp.

"I have not the art to say things softly."

—Charles Lummis

"He finished what he started and he paid for what he broke."

—Eugene Manlove Rhodes, in his eulogy to Lummis

"The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights."

—J. Paul Getty

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Finally, Tom Mix In A Tom Mix Hat!

February 21, 2019
   I made a taunting claim about ten years ago that stood unchallenged until today.

The Back Story
   Way back in the 1970s, the big-brimmed cowboy hat started to make a comeback after being out of style (some would say dormant) since about the start of WWII. 

   When I first saw the return of the big hat with the tall crown and pencil curl brim, it was at a Prescott Rodeo Parade in 1978. A horseback rider in a posse group came riding by and he was wearing one and he stood out like a peacock in a chick brooder and it just flipped me out. I immediately drove back to Phoenix and went into a Saba's Western Wear Store and asked if they had a retro-styled big hat and the woman clerk said, "Oh, you mean a Tom Mix." So I bought the first of many, many big old-school hats and when people asked me what style it was I told them—it's a Tom Mix. 

   I just took it for granted that the so-called pinch-and-grab crease was, in fact, the signature style hat first worn by the 1920s-era movie star cowboy Tom Mix. 

   Well, about five years later someone asked me to show them a photo of Tom Mix in this style hat and a weird thing happened. I couldn't find one! 

   I could find plenty of photos of him in a hat like this:

Tom Mix with an open crown

   And this:

And this:

And this:

  But, I could not find one picture of Tom Mix in the style known as the Tom Mix so I made this challenge: I dare anyone to find me a photograph of Tom Mix in a Tom Mix crease.

   This ridiculous taunt went unchallenged, until today, when my good friend Jim Hatzell sent me this old postcard photo:

   This is really early, but it is definitely a Tom Mix crease on Tom Mix.

   Congrats to Jim Hatzell! He wins a free weekend in Rapid City, South Dakota, which is where he lives. I will also buy him breakfast when I return on June 14 for a book signing in Deadwood.

"If I sign your book, I absolutely guarantee that someday it will be worth the cover price."
—A standing BBB claim

90-Year-Old Wordsmith Not Amused But He Does Have Impressive Breasts

February 21, 2019
   Oh, boy.

   "Boze, was NOT pleased or amused by your running in your Blog  such an out-of-date publicity pic of me as the sex kitten of yesteryear.  No. 1.  I am not, never was, a Frog.  Actually, I fervently hate Frogs, ever since my second tour in 'Nam,  when a surviving Colonial Frog waiter in a jungle slop chute over-charged me 400 pees for a warm can of Biere 33, and kept the change.  Also, No. 2, my breasts today at age Big Niner Oh are twice the size of those depicted.  By actual tape measurement my current vital statistics, from top to bottom, are 42-42-42."
—Don Dedera

   Okay, here is an actual photograph of my favorite 90-year-old wordsmith:

Don Dedera On His Way to Bashas'

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Frank Hamer Issue Is About to Drop Right On Top of New Film

February 20, 2019
   Our big Frank Hamer issue is at the printer even as you read this. Here's a sneak peek at our coverage:

Excellent coverage by John Boessenecker, Robert M. Utley and John Fusco. Should be hitting your mailbox in about 10 days. Meanwhile, here's the poster for the film:

And here's the trailer:

"One hundred years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today, everyone has cars and only the rich own horses. The stables have turned."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Dammit Don lobbies hard for Clod-hopping Yahoos

February 19, 2019
   Got this from the legendary Don Dedera:

BB, I mean DD, as I remember him

   "Boze, I woke with an INNNNN-sane dream as a result of scanning your funny little journal, a copy of which I actually paid full cover price + tax at my local Bashas' news stand.  Allow me to share my idea, or refund my $." 

—Don Dedera

   I emailed Don back and told him I would love to hear his idea. Big mistake:

   "Boze, okay, but let the record show that you begged me to tell you, knowing  full well how stupid the idea would be.  Here goes.  My current issue of TW gives mention (in stories and ads) to 1,447 COWBOY museums, scattered from Osaka Japan to New London, CT.  Not one SODBUSTER museum.  That led me to WWW research identifying but TWO museums devoted to sodbusting and named as such, one in a factory-clogged suburb of LA, and the other so deeply lost in Alberta, the local McDonald's features wolverine burgers.  Of course, at Ponca City, OK there exists the famous Pioneer Woman statue, and FULL DISCLOSURE there prosper some museums celebrating the Homestead Act, but none honoring the activity itself, sodbusting.  But I digress.
  "I think there should be a historical shrine celebrating the clod-hopping heroes who plowed the turf, and planted corn, and cooked the mash, and produced the 'shine, so that when Robert DuVal and Kevin Costner swaggered into the saloon and bellied up and demanded whiskey, there was some.
  "I imagine a fabulously popular Sodbuster Museum on heavy-traffic 260 as the main tourist attraction of the little ex-farm town of Star Valley just east of Payson.  TW could play a role in this worthy cause.
  "Another thing.  If it weren't for TOTTERING,  I'd have to stay in bed all day. "
—Don Dedera

"You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from."

—Cormac McCarthy

Monday, February 18, 2019

Knuckleheads cover going out on a ledge

February 18, 2019
   We are going to feature a great story in the May issue and Dan The Man Harshberger came up with this strong cover rough:

Knuckleheads of The Grand Canyon!
based on an excerpt from Roger Naylor's book on the Kolb brothers.

      Some of us wonder if it's too close to this cover?

   This cover did not do well on the newsstand. Some have postulated that the guy with the camera is too small to capture newsstand eyeballs, but it is a cliff and it makes me nervous.

"Sometimes you have to jump off a cliff and figure it out on the way down."
—Old Vaquero saying

The Bibbed Shirt Controversy

February 18, 2019
   Here's a controversy that needs a serious discussion. It started with a response to an answer in Ask The Marshall:

Dear Marshall,

   A reader named Barbara Young asked "Did Old West Cowboys really wear bib shirts"?

   You responded that [the bib shirt] "never really caught on with cowboys".

   I think you might have gotten a "bum steer" from someone at True West.   I've seen tons of pictures on the pages of TW with cowboys wearing bib shirts and I think I remember even BBB saying that Billy the Kid wore a bib shirt with an anchor on it in the one photo that we have of him.  A quick google search of old cowboy photos show that it was a popular wear, especially among the cow punchers. What gives?

Your loyal fan
Yodel'n Al

Studio Prop?

   Marshall is standing by his original statement:

Hi Allen, 
   Sorry old friend but I have to disagree with you on bib shirts. I've looked at hundreds of photos of working cowboys taken by some of my favorites Erwin Smith, Charles Beldon and L. A. Huffman and I've yet to see one wearing a bib shirt. Nearly all did wear vests and if not a vest, a jacket. The bib is more closely identified with movie cowboys, firemen and soldiers. It was also a studio prop when cowboys came to town and wanted to get "duded up." It was showy but not practical for cowboy work.
—Marshall Trimble

   So this brings up a point that has gotten more and more play in recent years: when someone is studying old photos and they don't like what the sitters are wearing or toting (weapon wise) they often chalk it up to being a "photo prop," as in, no cowboy actually wore, or used that weapon, or wore that shirt, it's just a studio prop.

   Is that always true, though? Did the cowboy in this photo change his shirt, out on the range to please the photographer?

A Fly photo of a cowboy in a bib shirt

"A picture is worth a thousand arguments."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Contradictions We All Live With

February 16, 2019
   So, I have been working on a graphic novel for some time now, but I find myself battling with a familiar demon: word balloons.

Grumpy Gus:
"Tell me again why I have a balloon
hovering over my head?"

   Is it a necessary evil? Is there another way to tell a story, narrative wise and NOT use word balloons? Is there a law that says it can't be a graphic novel unless it has word balloons? Here's what my graphic novel muse says about it:

   Word balloons arose from convenience: using captions makes it hard to know who's speaking in a panel with multiple figures, unless you go with "George said" and "Sally said." Word balloons are a convention that everyone who reads comics understands, and used wisely, they not only convey dialogue but carry the reader's eye through the panel and even through the page--look at some well-placed balloons, and you'll see how they direct you, sometimes breaking panel borders to guide you to a panel that might not seem like the next natural one to move to.

   That said, there are all kinds of word balloons. Sometimes they don't have to be more than a line coming from the speaker's mouth and a line under the dialog to distinguish it from the rest of the art. They don't all have to be white, outlined bubbles, although that is the standard.

   Another thing to consider is that almost nobody does them by hand anymore. They're usually added in Illustrator, after the art is done, and the lettering's done on the computer. Many of the best letterers create their own fonts, using their own lettering styles, so their own art form shows through (and it is an art). They know how to minimize the impact on the art, making sure that what needs to be seen, is seen, and like I said, guiding the reader's eye.

   If you are using balloons, it's important to remember that as you're laying out the page, so you leave space. That's one of the reasons a script is to important--because the artist has to know which panels he needs to leave a lot of room in, and which ones he can fill up with pretty pictures.

   I've never done lettering on Illustrator, but I know plenty of people who do. And I'm very good at balloon placement.
—Jeff Mariotte

   Good advice from a good man.

"The desire to belong and the need to stand apart are the two contradicting impulses driving fashion."

—Thessaly La Force

"Just so you know, elephants really like 'Funk 49'."

—Joe Walsh relating to Conan a sound check at the Portland Zoo when an elephant started dancing to "Funk 49"

Friday, February 15, 2019

Sunrise on Juan The Sonorian

February 15, 2019
  Looks like another beautiful day. "Leave us all enjoy it," as a one-eyed, former governor of Arizona used to put it.

Good Morning, Cave Creek!

   Got up this morning and did a quick study of a key guy in the graphic novel I'm working on.

Daily Whip Out: "Juan The Sonorian"

Juan The Sonorian
   Juan is the Mexican guide who accompanied Dr. LeConte on his beetle search up the Gila in 1851. In my story, he is still alive, in 1900, and living near Yuma. Sharlot makes a point to track him down and find out what he knows about what actually happened to the Oatmans.

The Strange Case of Dr. Bugs
   Dr. LeConte (his father styled it as Le Conte, but the son preferred it mooshed together) had traveled by sea to San Francisco in 1849, where he explored the rich areas around San Francisco, collecting specimens of beetles everywhere (at some point he sent home to his father, 10,000 beetles preserved in alcohol). Then, from the Bay area, the good doctor traveled down to San Diego, by stagecoach, where he explored a dry lake bed east of San Diego, then, along with another physician, the two explored the Colorado River between the Yuma Crossing and the Gulf of California.

The serpentine Colorado River area below Camp Yuma Dr. LeConte explored.
It wasn't the safest place to be looking for bugs either.

And now, here he was, in February of 1851 with Juan The Sonorian, traversing the Gila River, looking for more bugs.

   You can't make this stuff up. 

   Studying his movements and his antics is mind boggling. I imagine he was exhausting simply to witness. He reminds me of a Roadrunner cartoon, shooting here and there, darting in and out, always on the lookout for his precious specimens, and, all of this, right in the middle of one of the most tragic episodes of the Westering experience.

   On the sixth day out from Maricopa Wells, the Oatmans were overtaken by Dr. LeConte and Juan the Sonorian, riding on horseback. In less than a week, the two had visited Tucson—close to a 100 mile run—collected specimens, returned to the Pima and Maricopa villages, then set out for the Colorado River where they ran right up on the rear tail gate of the Oatman wagon.

Beep! Beep!

   The Doctor and Juan discovered a depressing scene. The Oatmans were bogged down and their animals were almost collapsing and their food supplies were low. So, at Royce's suggestion, LeConte agreed to take a note to Major Heintzelman at Camp Yuma, beseeching the commander to come to the Oatman's assistance. Grabbing the note, LeConte and Juan blasted on down the trail.

   The day after they left the Oatmans, February 16, the two encountered four Indians on the trail armed with bows and arrows. Juan took them to be "Yumas" (Quechans) and, not friendly. Rebuffing their entreaties to parlay, the two tried to move on, but the Indians followed, then disappeared. The Doc and Juan made camp in a secluded canyon, and when they woke up their two horses were gone.

   LeConte sent Juan on to Camp Yuma on foot with the note from Royce Oatman while the doctor posted a card on a tree, warning the Oatmans of "the nearness of Apaches." A note they probably didn't live to see.

   When LeConte finally arrived at Yuma at the end of February (the Oatman massacre took place on Feb. 18) he demanded that Heintzelman send immediate help, but the commander pleaded he had no animals fit for the journey. When the commander finally relented and sent two soldiers out to reconnoiter—on two borrowed mules—they came back with the news that the Oatmans had all been killed. Heintzelman then angrily turned on LeConte saying he should have stayed with the Oatmans. In his diary, the commander contemptuously called LeConte "Dr. Bugs."

"Some people like charity at other people's expense."
—Brevet Major Heintzelman, referring to Dr. Bugs

  LeConte never stopped moving. From Arizona he traveled to Europe, Egypt and Algiers and he was in Honduras for the building of the Honduras Interoceanic Railway. He moved to Philadelphia in 1852 and became known as the father of the American beetle study.

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make."
—The Beatles