Thursday, October 31, 2019

Al Napolitano's Mailed Masterpieces

October 31, 2019
   Charlie Russell is famous for his illustrated letters, and rightfully so. Speaking of which, this morning we were digging around in the True West archives and Carole Glenn pulled out a box full of mailed masterpieces addressed, mostly, to her. Check these out:

   Yes, that is the outside envelope at bottom, and another painting inside atop a letter! Wow! It must have taken him half a day to do these.

   Al Napoletano illustrated many, many articles for True West magazine over the years. Starting this coming January, we are going back through those 66 years of archives and rerunning some of them in the magazine. In fact, one of the very first Classic True West features has an opening illustration by Al:

   One of the illustrated letters says that "there will be an exhibition of the drawings on June 2 through July 15, 2006 at Benton County Historical Museum in Philomath, Oregon."

   Thanks to the intrepid, Gay Mathis, here is the obit for Al:

Albany Democrat-Herald Newspaper--Albany, Oregon--Al Fuzzy Napoletano --February 4, 2012

Al 'Fuzzy' Napoletano, 91, formerly of Lebanon, passed away Wednesday at Wiley Creek Community in Sweet Home. At his request, no services will be held. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation, Samaritan Evergreen Hospice, or the Wiley Creek Community Activity Fund sent in care of Huston-Jost Funeral Home, 86 W. Grant St., Lebanon, OR 97355.

"My mother used to say that I would crawl out of my buggy if I saw a horse anywhere near."
—Al Martin "Fuzzy" Napoletano

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Uno, Dos, One, Two, Tres Genius!

October 30, 2019
   I love those old comic book covers with the raw color. I am considering doing something like this on an upcoming cover we're working on.

   Meanwhile, Garrett Roberts posted this sweet bibbed shirt that appears to be similar to the shirt worn by you-know-who:

A bibbed-fireman shirt

   Working on a big Wyatt Earp feature for 2020. There is a new book out, "A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told," edited by Roy B. Young, Gary L Roberts, and Casey Tefertiller, with a foreword by John Boessenecker. 

   As Casey Teferteller puts it in the Prologue, "Perhaps no figure in American history has endured such an odd ride through fame. He has been portrayed as a magnificent hero and a lowly villain; a glory seeking braggart and humble introvert avoiding the spotlight."

   They even included my cover story from 2015, "The Untold Story of How Wyatt Earp Got Ripped off by Outlaws in the Last Outlaw Town."

   I still think that's a movie, but, unfortunately "Sunset" has ruined that premise, at least for now.

   Okay, music lovers. Here is a crazy, stupid song that was a novelty at best when I was in high school, but for some reason I clicked on this link, below, and watched the video (sorry about the ads) and could not believe how zany it is, and downright genius. Is Sam The Sham Middle Eastern? I always thought he was Mexican, but dang dude, check out his band mates. And, more importantly, why is the Go Go Girl just standing there like a. . .oh, I get it: A Sphinx!

Uno, Dos, One, Two, Tres, Quatro!

"Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way."
—Betty White

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

More Campfire Confessions & The Return of The Mexicali Stud?

October 29, 2019
   Last weekend I got on a campfire kick and did a variety of studies playing with the dramatic lighting produced by sitting around a campfire. 

Daily Whip Out:
"That Creepy Kid Confessed to Everything"

Yes, it's akin to monster lighting for obvious reasons. But desert campfires create a wider range of emotions, including melancholy, moody madness and flat out zane sessions.

Daily Whip Out: "Campfire Confessions, II"

The BSer?

Daily Whip Out:
"Campfire Lighting Study #7"

And of course, it's rare, but campfires can bring out the worst in some:

Daily Whip Out:
"Campfire Lighting Study #8"

"Did you just call me a wussy?"


"You went and kicked the coals out there, now go pick them up!"

Daily Whip Out: "Old Vaquero Faces"

   Got a call from a fellow Hat Nut before lunch, and he wanted to know if I have finally gotten Geronimo out of my system so I can get back on the project he would like to see me finish.

"I just love your concept of 'The Mexicali Stud' because I love high-back saddles, wide-brimmed hats and low, raunchy sex."
—Rusty York

Monday, October 28, 2019

Jesse James Bearded Out

October 28, 2019
   After six months of Apaches and Geronimo, it's kind of fun to go in the opposite direction. 

Daily Whip Out: "Jesse James Bearded Out"

   This is based on, or, rather is inspired by, his death photo, where he is shown propped up against a wall.

   Jesse James Bearded Out, is kind of evocative to me in a Hiding-In-Plain-Sight disguise kind of way. And, by the way, this photo is barely one step removed from him being a freshly shot deer strapped across the running fender of a car as a trophy specimen.

   Expect other anomalies as the days go on.

Daily Whip Out: "Diagonal Dust Storm"

"Art is a never-ending dance of illusions."
—Bob Dylan


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Scenes From Our 20th Anniversary And An Extra Bit On Estrogen

October 27, 2019
   Okay, several of my friends and family have expressed concern about my well being, as it relates to the last couple of blog posts. One of them remarked that I seem "depressed." Another mentioned "a troubling sadness" and a third is very concerned about his "paycheck."

   To all of you I have this to say: "Buck up, Buckaroos, Buck up!"

   And, of course, I need to say this to myself, as well. I'll deal with my inevitable and impending demise, but first a celebratory comment, or two:

   Our party at the Desert Foothills Library yesterday was a roaring success with free Bryan's BBQ and free wine and beer and free mags and books. And a free history talk from two very talented speakers and a third who didn't know when to shut up:

The Three History Amigos

   We had a ton of fun, but there is one problem, which relates to the first paragraph, above.

Buck Up Boze, Buck Up!
   The real problem is I have too much damn estrogen coursing through my veins. I remember, as a kid, every summer when we visited the family farm in Iowa, and we would get ready to leave, my grandfather would start weeping. It was so embarrassing to me and I remember thinking, "I'll never be that way when I'm old."

My grandfather, Carl M. Bell, and me 

   I recently wept through the play "Hamilton," tears running down my face for the entire goddamn play. I was just so touched and stunned that people of color were saying lines from the Founding Fathers that were never intended for them and here they were saying those very same words, with conviction and ownership, and they were loud and they were proud. And there I was, an old white guy, weeping just like my grandfather before me, only in the dark and without overalls on.

   Like I said, like most men my age, I've got a tad too much estrogen. But even the extra estrogen did not put a damper on our party. After the talk and the BBQ we congregated on the patio for a group photo.

The True West Class of 2019

   That's Carole Glenn, second from right.

Buck Up Boze, Buck Up, Part II
   Yesterday at our wonderful 20th year anniversary party for True West magazine, I said to a woman my age, as she was leaving, "See you at the forty." She looked at me with some concern and said very seriously, "I don't think I'll be here for the forty." It was a joke, I told her, laughing. I wanted to say, "Get a grip lady. None of us will be here for the forty!" Well, except for, perhaps, these three:

The Future Face of True West magazine
(or, four counting the baby girl in the belly):

   Let's get one thing clear: I am quite happy with what we've accomplished with True West magazine. But, let's face it, I'm still closer to the finish line than to the starting line and I simply need, and want, to act like it.

   Oh, and Mark Boardman, your next paycheck should clear.

"The biggest fib we tell ourselves is: 'I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it.'"


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Declare Victory and Leave The Field of Battle

October 26, 2019
   It was twenty years ago today, someone I know taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile. So, let me introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years. . .

Joe "Hosstail" Small's True West magazine. 

   Yes, Joe was the founder of the feast back in 1953, and I've had some serious fun in the last twenty years carrying on his legacy. For one thing, I had time to do this:

   Go to Lincoln, New Mexico and write it off! 

  Yes, it was this magazine that inspired me (it's been around for 66 years, but we bought it 20 years ago this month), and, more importantly, it gave me something to do for the past twenty years. Hard to believe, but I have been married to Kathy for forty years and I've been running True West magazine for half that time. That does not compute in my brain. But, then, lots of things don't compute. For example, I never thought this guy would be gone so soon.

Bugs & Boze, 1959

    Our True West anniversary party is today up at the Desert Foothills Library and I'll post a photo or two when I get a chance.

    Yes, it's been fun, but it must be said, at the end of the day, there's more to life than publishing a history magazine. There's simply other things to ponder.

Grandpa Ha Ha and his first grandson, Weston

I still have stories I want to tell.

Daily Whip Out: "The Pendejo"

"Outside in the distance,
A wild cat did growl.
Two riders were approaching,
The wind began to howl."

—Bob Dylan, "All Along The Watchtower"

   A friend of mine gave me some good advice the other night:

"There comes a time in the life of every general where he must plant his flag, declare victory and leave the field of battle!"
—Larry Winget 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Bury My Heart at Barnes & Noble Plus Four Geronimos

October 25, 2019
   Had a bad day at Barnes & Noble yesterday. More on that in a minute.

   So I asked one of my key designers what she wanted as a bonus for working on the Geronimo book, and Rebecca Edwards said: "I want art prints of these 'Four Geronimos'". I agree. Since four is such a powerful number to the Apaches it seems fitting to print them in fours. 

Daily Whip Outs: "Four Geronimos"

 Bury My Heart at Barnes & Noble
   We work really hard to put the right imagery and the right type on that imagery on the cover of every issue. Kathy and I met at Desert Ridge for dinner last night and before we ate I walked over to the Desert Ridge Barnes & Noble to see how we are faring on the newsstand.

Can you spot True West?

   It took me five minutes to find us. There is an upper rack and a lower rack. This is the lower rack. For a minute I thought perhaps we sold out? Wouldn't that be great? Okay, look carefully at the second row, far left.

Just the corner showing

   So when the reports come back to us that show Geronimo did not sell well, how do we make an accurate appraisal of how well the cover worked? If even a quarter of the newsstand rack positions look like this, we cannot make any accurate conclusion. This is quite discouraging to say the least.

The G-Man looking as sad as I feel.

   Well, of course, I didn't leave that store without fixing the situation. Here's how that rack looks now:

True West front and center, where it should be.

"You can't win. You can't break even. You can't leave the game, but if you're devious enough you can move the cheese."
—Some German Guy

Thursday, October 24, 2019

When History And Philosophy Meet

October 24, 2019
   Got up yesterday morning and took a swing at a character type I love:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"The Grinning Hacendado"

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
—Old Vaquero Saying

   Garrett Roberts posts some amazing, Old West, photo gems, like this one:


   Went home for lunch last Tuesday and finished a little El Paso inspired scene. 

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Midnight On The Rio Grande"

   And this morning I cranked this up:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Screamin' In-din"

   Noodling a story idea about a Mexican paisano who aspires to be a vaquero. It doesn't go well, at first.

Daily Flashback Whip Out:
"The Pendejo Rides In"

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist."
—Friedrich Nietzche

"Nobody gets it how they want it to be."

—Jackson Browne

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Open Road Is A Western Road

October 23, 2019
   It's Paul Andrew Hutton's B-Day today. Happy Birthday Top Secret Writer! We have been down many a dirt road together.

   Speaking of dirt roads, or, more specifically— Western roads—there's a new book out called "What Is A Western?" by Josh Garrett-Davis and in it he talks about desert highways and the uniqueness of the long ribbons of pavement slicing across so many a desert floor.

A Long Ribbon of Road south of Shoshone

   In October of 2018, when Kathy and I were on our way to Death Valley we traversed this long stretch of highway north of Baker, California and as we climbed the foothills towards Shoshone, I turned around to see this long ribbon, and I had to stop to take a photo of it. It is, by far, the longest I have ever seen.

   Quoting Garrett-Davis again, "The open road is a Western road. And an Indian road." He goes on to point the many cars with In-din names: "Pontiac (after the eighteenth-century Odawa military leader, 1926-2010); Ford Thunderbird (after a multi spiritual symbol, 1955-97, 2002-5); Chevy Malibu (from a Chumash place-name 1964-83, 1997-); Chevy Cheyenne (1975-79); Jeep Cherokee (1974-); Dodge Dakota (1987-2011, including a short-lived edition, the Dakota Warrior); Chevy Tahoe (from a Washoe place name, 1992-); GMC Yukon (from the Dene name for the eponymous river, 1992-); Toyota Tacoma (from the Coast Salish name for Mount Rainier, 1995-); GMC Denali (from the Koyukon name for North America's highest mountain, 1999-); Pontiac Aztec (200105); Toyota Sequoia (from a tree that may be named for the Cherokee literary giant, 2001-); and Hyundia Tucson (from a Tohono O'odham place-name 2005-)."

   He goes on to list many of the Western themed car names, like the Ford Bronco, the Jeep Wagoneer, Chevy Blazer, Ford Maverick, Ford Pinto, Ford Mustang, GMC Sierra, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Nissan Frontier, Chevy Silverado, Hyundai Santa Fe, GMC Canyon and the Chevy Colorado.

   It makes you wonder if any of the car names are from back east? Oh, yes, there is the Metropolitan and the New Yorker, but I don't remember if there is a Dubuque? Or even a Nashville?

"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas rising up through the air. . ."
—The Eagles, "Hotel California"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Old Vaqueros Ride Again

October 22, 2019
   I must admit I have deep respect for the Old Vaqueros. I think they had a grand style that has been unfairly castigated and mocked by uninformed idiots and range goobers.

Daily Whip Out: "Say A Prayer for Lefty Too"

"What you don't know doesn't hurt you but it amuses a lot of people."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Daily Scratchboard Whip Outs:
"A Gaggle of Old Vaqueros"

   Yes, that's Efego Baca at center, left.

Daily Whip Out: "Old Anglo Vaquero"

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Daily Whip Out: "Visibility Zero"

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, October 21, 2019

Special BBB Billy the Kid Package

October 21, 2019
   If you're like me, there are burning questions about the Kid you want answered. For example:

Daily Whip Out: "Billy Advances"

• Was Billy The Kid the leader of a gang or just in it for himself?

How Lincoln actually looked in Billy's time

• Was Pat Garrett ever really Billy's friend?

• Did Billy die young or live on to become an old man?

• How many new pictures of the Kid are authentic, and what the hell is going on with all the new "finds"?

• How many men did Billy really kill?

• How did he really escape from the "House" (the makeshift jail in Lincoln), New Mexico?

Includes the best coverage of Billy
walking the deadliest street in America

   For the answers to these questions and many more, check out this set of Billy issues I personally put together for your reading pleasure. Click on the special offer, below:

Special BBB Billy packet: Buy Now!

Wow! It's all right here.

   We have a limited supply of only 24 of these full Billy The Kid sets available. Order yours today.

"Advise persons never to engage in killing"
—Billy the Kid