Friday, February 28, 2020

Kids at War, Artists at Peace

February 28, 2020
   Finding some great photos of Mexican Revolution art reference for my latest project. How about this stunner, posted by Samuel K. Dolan:

Kids at War: Mexican Revolution


   According to Sam, this came out of the scrapbook of John R. Peavey at The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. I've asked for a high res of this, for a feature we want to do on kids at war.

   Meanwhile in the campfire glow arena. . .


Daily Whip Out: "Pendejos In Firelight 2"


   Thanks to my good friend, Mort Mortensen, I was reminded of an earlier attempt at black blocks of design. Sometimes I forget how good I am and have to rediscover my strengths. That may sound cocky, but it's actually more of a dementia related confession.


Daily Whip Out: "Bandito Smirk"

   Like so many others, I am trying to find peace with myself in terms of my artistic efforts. Not easy to do because we are constantly fighting against our own deficiencies. 

"Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide."
—D.W. Winnicott
   


Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Best Part of Yoga And The Future King of The Campfire Light

February 27, 2020
 Working on the May issue of True West. Also had a phone conference with our editor, Stuart Rosebrook, our Production Manager Robert Ray and our Art Director Dan The Man Harshberger, about pushing out farther on cover ideas. Talked about a variety of cover concepts including images of the usual suspects: Custer, Carson, Curly, Captain Call and Lorena Wood Parker (Diane Lane). Oh, and Zapata, and Virgil Earp in Prescott.

   Went home for lunch and worked on another campfire scene.

Daily Whip Out: "On Guard Sequence"

   Still learning how to handle campfire light, but at this rate, by the time I'm eighty-five, I predict I'll be the King of The Campfire Light.

   Mark my words.

   Here for no other reason other than I dig this guy and his mule, is Lee Anderson on his favorite, long-eared mount.



   This was the lead up to our Mighty Mule issue, which is still one of my favorite issues we have ever done. And we have done hundreds of issues

"People keep telling me to do yoga. I tried it once at the place down the street. The only part I like was the part at the end when the teacher covered you with a blanket and you got to pretend you were dead for ten minutes."
—Jenny Offill, "Dept. of Speculation"

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tomas Urbina and The Armed Revolutionary Guards

February 26, 2020
   Tomas Urbina, is the model for a fictional character I am developing. Here is the splash page opening, which I have been working on for a couple days since I got back from Mexico.

Daily Whip Out: "On Guard"

I have to give a shout out to Samuel K. Dolan, who has been posting some spectacular photos of the Mexican Revolution, like this one:

Maderistas, 1911

   More drawings to follow. Love this stuff, especially the head gear. To me, it's the apex of frontier style.

"The Revolution, do not be mistaken, it is the fight of the poor against the rich. I was very poor before the Revolution and now I am very rich." 

—Tomas Urbina

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sketchbook Flashbacks

February 25, 2020
   Taking stock of my Mexico journey. Here are my sketchbook pages where you can see my thought process.

Daily Whip Outs: "Avoiding Writing"

Daily Whip Outs: "Campfire Tales"


Daily Whip Outs: "Dodging A Bullet"

Daily Whip Outs:
"Home Is Where I Hang My Hat"

   So, there you have it. A typical arc on a typical week on the road in Mexico.

"The old man was good enough to hook the big fish, but he wasn't strong enough to reel it in."
—Robert Towne, on the theme of "The Old Man & The Sea" by Ernest Hemingway




Monday, February 24, 2020

On Guard In Progress

February 24, 2020
   Back from Mexico. Went into the office this morning to fight fires, April issue is at the printers, then came home for lunch to work on a set piece.


Daily Whip Out: "On Guard, In Progress"

"I did what I could with what I had."
—Old Kingman Boy Epitaph

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Another Corner Another Dog

February 23, 2020
   Last day on the beach. Had fun, we're done.


Mexican Murals On The Road to Choya Bay



Another Intersection, Another Dog

   Kathy wanted to see and buy pots, so we went here.


"Pots Galore"

   Last breakfast on the beach.



Cowgirl In The Sand Redux

   I finished reading "The Big Goodbye" and Boy Howdy was it a downer. I admired all those boys—and they were boys—Nicholson, Evans, Towne and Polanski, and man did they ever go through the wringer to make "Chinatown" and, then, after their victory lap, things really got ugly. Somber beach reading, a warning tale to all of us who dreamed of being filmmakers. The author, Sam Wasson, has some choice quotes in the book and this is one of them:


"Longing on a large scale is what makes history."

—Don LeLillo



Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Grouper Girl And High Five Riders On Sandy Beach

February 22, 2020
   I'm doing a story that takes place in a Mexican border town in the 1970s. So I went out today looking for photo reference, of a dusty, old school neighborhood in Puerto Penasco with a stray Mexican dog crossing the street. I didn't have to look far:

Why did the Mexican dog cross the street?

   It's just good business.

   Not far from there I ran across this vaquero coming down the street. This is not faked or prompted in any way. He really stood up in the saddle and rode past us. I shot this right out the window as we drove by:

High Five Rider

   Rocky Point has great restaurants and yesterday we ate at one of our favorites, high up on the point with a spectacular view of the entire town and beaches.



Grouper Girl High On A Hill

   Heading home tomorrow. It's been fun but are done.

   Jim Cross sent me newsstand rack position for True West magazine at Albertson's at 19th Ave and Northern in Phoenix, Arizona. Face out and he didn't move it. Thanks Jim.

True West magazine, face out
at Albertsons (bottom row, right)

"To be original, write from the body…from how it experiences existence. The body
never lies. Sometimes the head is lazy."
—Red Shuttleworth

Friday, February 21, 2020

Home of The Exposed Rebar & The Razz Revue Redux Extravaganza

February 21, 2020
   One of the things I love about Mexico is this:


Mexico: Home of the Exposed Rebar

   So a dune buggy pulls up to the beach next to our condo and these horn players get out and start playing triplets while a guy sings into a phone. I swear, it sounded like the start of a noir movie. I had to go down and take their picture.


La Banda del Charko
on Sandy Beach, Mexico

   Speaking of snot-nosed musicians, Gary Billey has renovated this old 1977 video:

The Razz TV Special

   Check it out.

"The artist's job is to be witness to his time in history."
—Robert Rauschenberg

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Pendejos En La Penasco

February 19, 2020
   It's off season and nobody's here. Got the place to ourselves. Allows me to get some work done.

Daily Whip Out: "El Pendejo In Green"


Daily Whip Out: "Pendejos In Firelight"

   Of course when we are south of the border it isn't just sketching and working all day.


BBB at The Point in Puerto Penasco

   When I'm on vacation, I often look for inspiration. I found it here:

   "People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band."
—Charles Portis, who recently passed

"This paragraph is telling you exactly what this book is going to be: funny, harsh, comically dignified and based entirely on the internal struggle of a dry, haughty, extremely badass fourteen-year-old girl."
—Emily Temple, extolling the virtues of the first paragraph of "True Grit"

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On The Beach With El Pendenjo?

February 18, 2020
   Having fun in the sun with the beach all to ourselves.


Another Day, Another Empty Beach

   Lots of free time to sketch and enjoy the solitude.


On The Beach With El Pendenjo?

   Yes, misspelled Pendejo with an extra "n." A near miss, as it were. That is Steve Canyon inspired lettering. Could work.

   Meanwhile. . .



My Board of Inspiration

I'm reading a couple of beach books. "The Dept. of Speculation" by Jenny Offill, and "The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and The Last Years of Hollywood" by Sam Wasson. Both are inspiring and instructive. Jenny builds a narrative based on snippets (Kathy calls her "The Sentence Lady") and Wasson is pretty profound himself as he spins out the Roman Polanski-Sharon Tate tinged tragedy. This is a good example.


"They were golden, their friends were golden, and with so much gold to go around, all were happy at one another's shine."

   Wasson also has an ear for summing up eras like this:

"Dreaming you're in paradise and waking up in the dark—that's Chinatown. Thinking you've got it figured out and realizing you're dead—that's Chinatown."
—Sam Wasson paraphrasing Robert Towne

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Harrows of A Narrow River Landing

February 16, 2020
   So I'm flying this small airplane and I need to land it on a narrow river and I'm going pretty fast and I'm debating whether to put the landing gear down, or not. Will it slow the plane down enough to walk away, or will it catch on a sandbar and flip the plane over? And, did I mention I have never flown a small plane? Or, any plane, for that matter.

Daily Whip Out: "Narrow River Landing"

   And then I woke up.

   David Mamet maintains we dream about things we can't resolve with our rational mind. Perhaps the dream had something to do with this:

Diane Harris Moves True West
to front row at Books A Million

   Or some aspect of this:

Empty Beach Except for Babe In Lava Bed

"If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people."
—Virginia Wolf



Friday, February 14, 2020

Moon Over The Crow's Nest

February 14, 2020
   After a crazy, hectic couple of months, we have had a few nice, quiet days on the home front.


Moon Over The Crow's Nest

   One of my pet peeves in Westerns is that invariably everyone is wearing the same style hat, and often the same size hat (same brim, same curl, etc). This is usually because they come from one hatter, or wardrobe tends to stock the same kind of "cowboy" hat. Well, take a look at these gents in the wild.



Hayden Survey, 1871

   And look at the crown on the clown sitting down. Ha. Sorry, I'm being too harsh. He is not really a clown, but, you have to admit, a rodeo clown from 1956 would be very excited to find a hat with a crown like this.

   Meanwhile, we are doing an insightful piece on what war does to kids. Or, more specifically, how brutal 19-year-olds are. Case in point:

When Boys Go to War

Imagine the things this boy has seen.

Prairie Rose Rising

And now for something completely different:

Arizona Diamond Fields

   Which were a complete fraud by the way. But, welcome to Arizona, home of the big con job.



This is an update on the Ds updating their Christmas card and finding the same saguaro they posed under back in 1978. We made a special trip down to the Eastside Saguaro National Monument in December but we couldn't find this monster. Now Darlene found these pictures taken at the same time that point more towards the campsite, picnic area of the park. Hmmmm.


BBB at Janey's



"We still have dreams, but we know now that most of them will come to nothing. And we also most fortunately know that it really doesn't matter."
—Raymond Chandler, in a letter to Charles Morton, October 9, 1950               




Thursday, February 13, 2020

Standing On A Saguaro In A Desert Called Sonora

February 13, 2020
   Here's a photo that makes me happy:


Standing On A Saguaro



   Standing on a saguaro in a desert called Sonora, such a fine sight to see. It's two dudes on the arms who jumped up there from a flat bed Ford. I know, it needs work, but take it easy on me.

The Duke of Dust vs. Mr. Mud
   One of the aspects of my artistic journey is the wrestling match I constantly have between letting go and holding on, or as those .38 Special rockers put it, "hang on loosely." Two cases in point:





And then there's this:





   Overworked and overwrought, the Duke of Dust vs. Mr. Mud, that is the story of my life in that arena. I take some solace in the words of Miles Davis.
"Do not fear mistakes—there are none."

—Miles Davis

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Ruddy Campfire Light And Why Do We Remember Billy the Kid?

February 12, 2020
  Went home for lunch yesterday and worked on trying to capture the peculiar distribution of ruddy, campfire light.


Daily Whip Out:
"As The Flames Climbed High Into The Night, We Saw Satan Laughing With Delight"

   Not easy to do, controlling those smokey browns being swallowed up by the night. Meanwhile, got up this morning and took a whack at another lighting dilemma


Daily Whip Out: "Dusk Rider"

      Shapes start to face and meld. Also not easy.

   Here's a sneak peek at Dan The Man's layout for a double whammy we are producing for the April issue. Goes to press a week from tomorrow.

Blood Brothers: Jesse James and Billy the Kid

   The feature has some great minds deciphering our enduring attention on these two desperadoes. Love what Utley says about the Kid:

"By the time of his death, the public had already come to look on Billy the Kid as larger than life, a peerless outlaw in a land full of outlaws. Until the end of his life, he could thank the newspapers for this standing. His actual exploits did not support the reputation. Then a sensational capture, trial, and escape gave validity to the newspaper portrait, and a violent death, publicized to the entire nation, fixed it indelibly in the public memory for all time."
—Robert M. Utley, "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life," University of Nebraska Press

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

There's A New Kid In Town

February 11, 2020
   Here's a sneak peek at Dan The Man's latest cover for book number three on Billy the Kid.


Daily Whip Out:
"Dan The Man's Kid, III"

   As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, I have a whole bunch of new stuff to include. Of course, not everyone thinks new information is necessarily the best thing for us all.

"We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quality being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns."

—Tom Waits

Monday, February 10, 2020

Are You Ready for Billy Book Number Three?

February 10, 2020
   Couldn't resist taking another pass at yesterday's Whip Out:


Daily Whip Out: "Billy's Biggest Regret"


   In late September of 1992, I was flat out, beside myself. I had booked an art show at Suzanne Brown's Art Gallery in Scottsdale on October 22, 1992 to coincide with the publishing of my first history book and the annual Cowboy Artists of America Show at the Phoenix Art Museum. And, with several weeks to go, I was far from being done with my Billy the Kid illustrated opus. What to do?


   Kathy calmly told me to go to my typewriter upstairs in the studio. It was a Corolla. Yes, this was a long time ago, in a place far away.


   "Go to the title page and type these two words," she said, calmly—"Book One." And so I did, and it freed me, and the book was printed just in time for the art show. Here is how the title page looks in the first edition:




And, here is how the cover looked:



Billy Book No. 1

   This first Billy book eventually sold out and four years later I did book two:



Billy Book No. 2

   This book sold out last year and now I am considering a book three. Dan The Man Harshberger did me a great cover concept. Much has happened since the second book, like this:

Daily Flashback Whip Out:
"Digging Up Billy"

   And this:

"Are you going to Disneyland, Mr. Koch?"

      When this photo was taken in Denver, Bill had just paid $2.3 million for a little piece of tin. 

   Not to mention the newspaper find by our intrepid Australian historian, James Mills. To wit:

"If you got out, you could get up a show like Buffalo Bill; you have had advertising enough."
   "If—" was his only comment."
—Billy the Kid scoffing at the odds of him being able to rival Buffalo Bill