Friday, December 13, 2019

Archived True West Cartoons: Deep Within The Cringe Worthy Zone

December 13, 2019
   I have to confess that as much as I loved True West magazine growing up, I never really thought the cartoons were all that funny. Today, looking back at our vast archives, which we now have online, quite a few of them are even less than funny. And a few are deep in the Cringe Worthy Zone.

True West Archives, 1953 (first issue!)

True West Archives, August 1955

   A few are prescient. Check it out:

True West Archives, date missing

   And one or two hit close to home:

True West Archives, April 1964

Some are just plain dumb:

True West Archives, July August, 1959

Now back to the cringers:

True West Archives, Jan-Feb, 1960

And then, there are a few that need new punchlines, like this one:

True West Archives, July-August, 1959

   "Is that the new Mustang?"

And a few just seem perverse by today's standards:

"Hey, Dude, are you staring at my middle pistol?"

   And here's another one that needs a caption:

True West Archives, Winter 1953

   If you have a caption for these, I'd sure like to see 'em. Email your best cartoon captions to me at:

   One or two just might make it into the magazine!

"Hey, folks. It's just lines on paper."

—R. Crumb

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Last Man Standing On Reno Hill

December 12, 2019
   Got up this morning and took another crack at another crack of dawn painting:

Daily Whip Out:
"We Were In The Saddle at The Crack of Dawn"

   I am attracted to the early riser theme because my father was such a stickler for hitting the road before the crack of dawn. My son inherited this trait as well and we often laugh at how much the rest of the family (i.e. our wives) hate it. We both love the peacefulness of that time before the violence of the day.

"Leaving Kingman Before Dawn"

   Speaking of violence, yesterday I had the privilege and honor to interview this guy:

Robert M. Utley, 90 years young

   My partner, Ken Amorosano, filmed Bob telling me the story about how he interviewed the last trooper alive who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Charlie Windolph. This was in 1947 when the old soldier was 97 years old. Utley graciously lent me his copy of Windolph's book, "I Fought With Custer," and last night, I started reading his first person account of being trapped on Reno Hill during the battle. Here's a little taste:

"I suppose it was early in the afternoon when the firing seemed to quiet down. Now and again bullets would come tearing in, but gradually they became fewer and fewer. Then below across the Little Horn heavy smoke began drifting southward. Pretty soon it became clear that the Indians were firing the grass. That seemed odd, unless they were getting ready to leave.

"The gunfire had almost ceased and some of us left our trenches and stood in little groups on the brow of the hill. Then something happened that I'll never forget, if I live to be a hundred [he almost did!]. The heavy smoke seemed to lift for a few moments, and there in the valley below we caught glimpses of thousands of Indians on foot and horseback, with their pony herds and travois, dogs and pack animals, and all the trappings of a great camp, slowly moving southward. It was like some Biblical exodus; the Israelites moving into Egypt; a mighty tribe on the march.

"We thought at first that it must be some trick: that the Indians were only removing their families from danger and that the warriors would soon return and try to overwhelm us. Patiently we waited in our little trenches. The long June afternoon dragged on. The firing had all but ceased. The smoke in the valley had blown away, and the last Indian had gone.

"While guards kept their posts, the rest of the men led such horses as were not killed down the steep draw to the river. It was the first drink they had had since early afternoon the day before. Gently we buried our dead in the shallow trenches we had dug for the living.

"Then Reno ordered the whole camp to move as close to the river as possible. We would get as far away as we could from the terrible stench.

"There was plenty of water now for the wounded. And towards evening the company cooks made us the best meal they could. At least we had hot coffee and plenty of bacon and soaked hardtack. It was our first meal in thirty-six hours.

"Then night came down. We were weary, but while those on guard were awake and alert, the rest of the command slept. But it was an uneasy sleep.

"We still had no word from Custer. We began to suspicion that some terrible fate might have overtaken him. What it was we could only guess."

   I am developing this as a Classic Gunfight to run adjacent to the Utley article and I'm planning on a couple scenes I want to illustrate. Charlie was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.

"The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Where Is Sheri? Robert M. Utley Scores And A Legendary Dishwasher

December 11, 2019
   Here is a little guessing game I'd like to play with you.

Where Is Sheri?

   Our True West Roving Ambassador, Sheri Jensen, at left, is at a famous gunfighter's grave. That's Bernie Sargent, at right, of Six Guns & Shady Ladies re-enactors. The cemetery is tucked under the I-10 Freeway near the border (hint: not Canada). Whose grave are they standing in front of?

Fun fact: Billy the Kid washed dishes at the Hotel de Luna near Bonita, Arizona as a lad.

"Billy In Bonita"

   So, if you want to figure out who might be a legend from our time, you might start by checking out the kitchen of your fave restaurant. 

   We just filmed an interview with this legendary dude:

Bob and Bob

   I had the honor and privilege of interviewing the 90-year-old historian, Robert M. Utley, above, about his interview with the 97-year-old Charlie Windolph, who, in 1947, was the last survivor of the troopers who fought at the Battle of The Little Bighorn in 1876. That is one long stretch—143 years!—between Mr. Utley talking to Mr. Windolph and me talking to Bob. Amazing.

   Two degrees of Custer & Crazy Horse!

   The interview will be featured on our website and the article about the Utley interview will be featured in the next issue (February-March) of True West magazine.

"What has 15 actors, four settings, two writers and one plot line?"

"The last 632 Hallmark Christmas movies."
—Old Hollywood Saying

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The True West Travel Crew

December 10, 2019
    Went over to Z's for lunch today to talk about True West feature historical travel assignments for 2020.

 L to R: Publisher Ken Amorosano, BBB,
Editor Stuart Rosebrook,
Regional Sales Rep Sheri Jensen

   Lots of great ideas on how to get better coverage for history sites around the West. Sheri, above, travels in an RV with her husband Randy, and she personally drives through all her territories and meets directly with her clients and spends time in their area seeking out the best places for our readers to visit and experience. Stuart suggested we start a feature on "Where's Sheri," with her posed in front of iconic Western locations. So, Sheri is now on assignment and expect to see her pretty face down the road, a piece.

   And speaking of oldtimer history:

Marshall Trimble in 1942 ready
to go to war in his daddy's boots

  Final Tweak On A Daily Whip Out:

"Red Lake Rider #4"

   And, here's a new one.

Daily Whip Out: "The Deluge"

   Working on a cover idea:

Daily Whip Out: "Back Into The Fray"

   Here's Samantha Crowley doing an impromptu photo shoot to feature our archives finally being online. This was shot in our conference room.

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grand-children are once more slaves."
—D. H. Lawrence

Monday, December 09, 2019

Fernando Blasted Up The Trail And Geronimo Art Show Poster

December 9, 2019 
   The rain lifted this morning.

   Then another storm blew in from the east and drenched us in the afternoon.

"A Gully Washer"

   Took some time to tweak a couple "finished" paintings, including this one:

"Fernando Blasted Up The Trail
On A Borrowed Horse"

   Meanwhile, Rebecca Edwards designed a postcard invitation-Art Poster this afternoon for a certain upcoming party and it's pretty damn groovy:

"When you can start thinking in images, without words, you're well on the way."
—William S. Burroughs

Sunday, December 08, 2019

An Unlikely Tale Well Told

December 8, 2019
   Nice rainy day at home. Reworked a couple border scenes, like this one:

"Red Lake Rider"

  We drove in the rain, for an hour, down to Tempe last night to see the live version of the John Leguizamo show, "Latin History for Morons."

   Even though we paid $300 for tickets, apparently I am one of the morons. I was reminded of the old adage that if someone riled up is in for a long talk, you're in for a long listen.

"Those Rurales Came Out of A Side Canyon
On The Jump"

   Here's the deal: I have a problem with identity politics and revenge narratives, both of which Mr. Leguizamo leans on—heavily—in his humorous but strident, taken on revisionist Latin history. I was ready to laugh at our foibles, but it was more hectoring than standup, occasionally hilarious, but mostly bitter comeuppance. That gets old real fast. Towards the end of the two-hour show he asked a rhetorical question and in the pause, a woman behind us yelled out "Treason!" and two others yelled out "Bullshit!" I took that to mean not everyone in Grady Gammage was buying his repackaging of American history.

"Sometimes A Gully Washer
Has Your Name On It"

   Still, I'm glad I went and I admire his passion, just not some of his wounded assertions. The biggest falsehood, to me, which Leguizamo adamantly claims, is the notion that everyone was happy in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Now to me, that is moronic. Good luck telling that to the Comanches and the Apaches.

"The Border Crossers"

  So I have been trying to read "News of The World" by Paulette Jiles for some time now and I've had a tough time getting past the premise: "These small towns in North Texas were always hungry for news and a presenter to read it. It was so much more entertaining than sitting at home read the papers, having only yourself, or your spouse to whom you could make noises of outrage or astonishment. Then, of course, there were those who could not read at all, or only haltingly."

   This strikes me as totally absurd as a premise for a book, but Tom Hanks is set to star as the news reader in a movie that is filming even as you read this. I have never read or come across any historical evidence about the need for this service out on the American frontier—the story takes place after the Civil War—or more absurdly, that people would pay money to hear some guy read "the news of the world" in a frontier town. However, if we are talking about a metaphor about the evening news, or CNN or Fox, well, perhaps If I look at this way, it has some currency.

   Anyway, I was trudging along, trying to get interested and then I came to this little set piece, where our hero, Captain Kidd (groan) is taking a 10-year-old girl back to her relatives after she has been living with Kiowa In-dins, who killed her parents, etc. While the Captain is reading to a rapt audience, the guy who he paid to watch the Kiowa captive, comes in to report her missing. They run, in the rain, following her bare feet to the Red River where the girl is standing at the river's edge yelling at a group of Kiowa on the other side and imploring them to come save her. They can't hear her, or perhaps don't believe her (she's dressed like a white girl) and then we get this:

"One of the warriors on the far side unsheathed a long weapon and lifted it. A lengthy barrel shone blue-white in a lightning flash. He aimed and fired. A muzzle flash as long as a chimney brush and then the heavy bullet struck the stone near them and sent piece of red sandstone flying."

   The girl does not move but calls out again for them to save her. So the Sharps wielding Kiowa fires again: "Another giant five-hundred-and-twenty-grain bullet tore through the air overhead. Even above the noise of the rain they heard the nyow-ow-ow sound and it hit a bur oak and tore off a limb big as a drainpipe."

   Big as a drainpipe. Not a "thick limb" or a big ol' chunk of wood" but a branch as "big as a drainpipe."

   As I mentioned, this is an unlikely tale, well told. So, now I'm all in. It's kind of a cross between "True Grit" and "Empire of The Summer Moon." Not a bad hybrid.

   I'm now looking forward to the movie.

"One useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three is a congress."
—John Adams

Saturday, December 07, 2019

El Viejo Pendejo In The Campfire Light

December 7, 2019
   Still studying campfire light for a short story idea I have:

     Driving out to Tempe this evening to see this one man show:

   More viejo pendejo:

"El Viejo Pendejo In The Campfire Light"

   As he tells his story we flash back to here:

"The Pendejo Rides In"

   And then, to here:

   More tales from on the border with Boze. Meanwhile, I am listening to my new favorite song:

"Over and over we try and we fail, to figure out this game we're all in. . .May not have gotten all that I dreamed of. . .pretty sure I got what I deserved."
—Slaid Cleves, "Already Gone" on the CD "Ghost On The Car Radio"

Friday, December 06, 2019

A Texas Ranger Meets The Cover Boys

December 6, 2019
   This image of a Texas Ranger has always intrigued me, especially the placement of his knife worn next to the reversed pistol.

A Texas Ranger Frontier Battalion 

   I know. I know. Some of you believe he slid it around because the photographer told him to do it, but I don't buy it. I've seen too many Ranger photos with this arrangement to think otherwise.

   Meanwhile, here are three other guys who agree with me:

The Cover Boys

L to R: Dan The Man Harshberger, Robert Ray, Stuart Rosebrook and BBB at Los Dos Molinos on Camelback Road in Phoenix, going over future covers for True West magazine.

Got up to (yawn) another stunning sunrise this morning.

Another yawner over Ratcliff Ridge

   Lots of talk around here about "The Irishman." I almost gave up on it after the first hour (it's three-and-a-half hours long!), but, ultimately, I was glad I stayed with it. I agree with these wise guys:

"Joe Pesci is a revelation. He's lost the strut and the shtick that use to define his performances, and does everything with his sad, watchful eyes and his lovely, walnut-shell face. When he and Robert De Niro are onscreen together, you believe in the power of art."
The New York Times

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Vaquero Busts Loose, Geronimo's Smirk And A Line In The Sand

December 5, 2019
   Went home for lunch and finished a vaquero piece I have been noodling for a week or so.

"Vaquero Busts Loose"

  My Uncle Glenn Marvin (my father's little brother) asked me to do a "quick sketch" of he and his pretty wife, Claudia, for their Christmas card. I really didn't want to do it, but, well, I knew what my dad would want, so against my better judgement I gave it a go.

"Two of My Favorite Norwegians
In The Clouds"

On another front, I couldn't leave yesterday's Whip Out alone and this morning I just had to put another layer of detail on the foreground, like this:

"On They Rode, Part II"

      When I gave my talk on Geronimo last Tuesday to the WWII vets, I got this question: "Did any of Geronimo's children survive and where are they today?"

   Back in the early nineties, when I first started the Geronimo project, I drove over to the Mescalero Apache Reservation near Ruidoso, New Mexico and met Harlan Geronimo who claims to be a great grandson. My quest was to see how he smiled, because I had a hunch it would perhaps be like his great grandfather's grin, and I wasn't disappointed:

Harlan Geronimo, 1994

      If you look at photos of Geronimo you can see that he probably had a similar grin when he laughed. At least that's how I played it on paper.

The Famous Geronimo Smirk

   And speaking of lines on paper, I am concerned about declining skills which is inevitable with age.

   The Inevitable Decline

 “I can’t even draw a line now. I can’t even draw a line. I look at this stuff and I say, ‘How the hell did that guy do it?’”
—Mac Conner, 105, a master illustrator hero of mine, who died on September 26, in Manhattan

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

From Dust to Dust, And The Devil In The Dust

December 4, 2019
   Back on the dust wagon.

Apaches & Dust Devils

   All the tribes have a healthy respect and dread of dust devils. The Sinagua In-dins called them "sivulogi," and the word was uttered in a hushed whisper, out of respect, because they believed dust devils are evil spirits emerging from the ground.

A Retweak of A Retweak Daily Whip Out:
"Caught In A Dust Devil: The Last Place An Apache Ever Wants to Be"

Daily Whip Out: "On They Rode"

Daily Whip Out:
"Geronimo Approaches Juh's Stronghold"

Daily Sketchbook Whip Out: "Ridin' High"

Daily Whip Out: "Dust Devil Gigantus"

Daily Whip Out:
"Dust Storm In The Peloncillos"

Daily Whip Out: "Dust Storm at Black Hawk"

"Dust Storm In Z's Bathroom"

(full disclosure: I gifted this painting to Ms. Z at Z's Thai Food Restaurant next door to the True West World Headquarters and she put it in her bathroom.)

   And then, who can ever forget Dusty.

Daily Whip Out: "Dusty In Dust"

The Dust Deal
   See, here's the deal on me and dust. I actually hate it. I grew up in it, tasted it daily, and couldn't get it out of my clothes, or, out of my life, until I moved to Cave Creek where the wind rarely blows.

   So now I fondly remember it, at least in pictures. Such is life.

"My dad always said dust devils came up because the devil was moving around underground, causing a commotion."
—Carmen Villa Prezelski