March 30, 2021
Back in my Honkytonk Days (and Nights!), I played drums in a Country Western band at the Hayloft Bar on Ruthrauff Road in Tucson. Wild place. During breaks I would sit at the bar and sketch the patrons. My experiences there led almost directly to my cartoon creation, Honkytonk Sue, which premiered in National Lampoon in the summer of 1977.
When I moved back up to Phoenix in 1978, I started doing Honkytonk Sue as a comic strip in New Times Weekly and in 1979 I self-published the first of four comic books on the Queen of Country Swing.
In 1983, Columbia Pictures bought the movie rights to my girl Sue and they hired Larry McMurtry to write a script for a proposed movie starring Goldie Hawn.
Diana Ossana was living in a camper shell off of Fourth Avenue in Tucson when she went to an all-you-can eat catfish restaurant and met Larry McMurtry who just happened to be dining there as well. They soon moved in together and started collaborating on stories with Larry writing everything on a typewriter, and Diana converting it to a computer and editing, and rearranging.
She told Texas Monthly, “When I first met Larry, he was involved with about five or six different women,” Ms. Ossana remembered, “He was quite the ladies’ man. I was always really puzzled. One day I said to him, ‘So all of these women are your girlfriends?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Well, do they know about one another?’ He said, ‘Nooo.’”
In 2013 we presented Larry and Diana the first True Westerner Award. Here's how that looked.
March 9, 6:47 P.M.: Cottonwood Room, La Paloma Resort, Tucson. Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry receive the first True Westerner Award.
Two days later, I got this report from the author Tom VanDyke who had attended the Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana author's presentation at the Tucson Festival of Books the day after our presentation.
"Larry's opening remarks after thanking the Tucson Festival of Books for inviting him and Diana, was to go on for the next five minutes about how good it was to have the opportunity to meet his old friend Bob Boze Bell and how proud he was to receive the True West magazine 2013 True Westerner Award. He went on to talk about meeting Bob when he was a cartoonist. He just kept going on about this and that, talking about the screenplays he wrote for a story Bob had written. He was most animated and enthusiastic in his recollections and in receiving the award. Thought you would like to know."
One Final Note
After he accepted the award from me at La Paloma I had a chance to talk to him, so I asked him about the all-you-can-eat catfish place where he met Diana, and Larry said, "It's on Ruthrauff Road and it used to be the Hayloft Bar."
From my sketchbook:
"At The Hayloft Bar, April 1, 1978"
Full circle. Horseman, pass by. Again.
"Beers raised up, tears raining down for the realist of the real ones. Arguably the greatest American novelist of the 20th Century."
—Andy Greenwald, in a tribute to Larry McMurtry
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