Sunday, October 31, 2021

Operation Big Blocks of Black Silhouettes

 October 31, 2021

   I have long admired the power of silhouettes in comic strips, illustrations, book covers and especially, graphic novels. 

"Terry and the Pirates" by Milton Caniff

"Buzz Sawyer" by Roy Crane

"Dick Tracy" by Chester Gould

   And some artists have taken this concept to new heights by going between silhouettes and straight up illustration.
"Sharaz-De Tales From The Arabian Nights"
by Sergio Toppi

   Let's face it, Big Bad Blocks of Black really establishes a punch. It's quite impactful, and something I would like to emulate, even in my sepia drenched drawings, like this.

Daily Whip Out:

"Mickey Free In Sepia Silhouette"

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Black Is Black (I want my baby back)"

"Go to the net, or stay behind the baseline. Don't get caught in the middle."

—Old Tennis Saying

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Free At Last, Part II

 October 30, 2021

   A very good Arizona histrorian, Vince Murray, is taking a graphic novel course from Yavapai Community College and he asked me if I would be interested in revisiting the Mickey Free character that Paul Andrew Hutton and myself created, for his class project. You know. This guy.

Daily Whip Out:
"Mickey Free and His
Big, Bad Mammoth Jack"

   Sure. Why not? So, we're revisiting our epic struggle to get Mickey Free to stand on his own. We've had good intentions and made a couple runs at it but we haven't been able to bring his story to fruition, i.e. find an audience. Perhaps the discipline to recreate the foundation via this formal course will give him the opportunity to breath. 

   Went back and looked at our August, 2016 issue of True West where we gave the effort both barrels.

Daily Whip Out: 

"Virtually All Our Characters

Are Based On Real People"

Daily Whip Out: "Enter Mickey Free"

   Meanwhile, still scratching away.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Native Women Trio"

   Still getting readers responding to receiving their 140th anniversary Bozecards. Here's one that landed in Kansas today.

Kevin Snider, Ottawa, Kansas

   Gives me a little faith in the U.S. Postal Service.

"Maybe stories are just data with a soul."

—Brene Brown

Friday, October 29, 2021

Sam Elliott Revisited And Visiting With Tombstone City Marshal Jim Adams

 October  29, 2021

   Took another pass at Sam Eliott, this one a little wider and less in shadow.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Sam Elliott #3"

   Couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to add some color.

Daily Scratchboard Colorized Whip Out:

"Sam Elliott #3.5"

   Probably wrecked the whole deal, but that is the gamble you take when you are seeking perfection.

   Met the real marshal of Tombstone on Tuesday. Such a kind and generous man.

Tombstone City Marshal Jim Adams

and me outside the O.K. Corral

   The guy is so positive and generous and I don't mean that in a wimpy way, like he is weak or not manly. The guy was a Marine, then served on the police force in Sierra Vist for 21 years. So he has the street cred. And from what I've heard from the locals he is a breath of fresh air.

"When perfectionism is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun."

—Brene Brown

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Special O.K. Corral Postcards Are Landing

 October 28, 2021

     The idea was pretty straight ahead, but it turned out to be very complicated. First off, as you already know, I printed up 250 postcards with this on the front.

   Then I put out the call to my friends and their friends to send me their mailing address and I would put the address labels on them and take the cards with me to Tombstone and mail them out on the actual anniversary so it would have the Tombstone timestamp of the actual day on it. Seemed simple enough, but things got complicated immediately. I went to the Cave Creek post office and asked for two rolls of postcard stamps (I forgot the postcard was printed extra large which needs an extra 10 cents postage on each card). Ouch! That was mistake number one. The printer we use to print labels went south and when I ordered another one, it arrived at five o'clock on October 25, the day before I had to drive to Tombstone. The app wouldn't load and at about 7 P.M. even my phone techs gave up and we called it a day. That was mistake number two. In combining all the different mailing addresses that came in, I am afraid there was some overlap and drop offs. The problem is that the addresses came in via email, on Facebook, on Facebook Messinger, on Messages, etc. and that was mistake number three. I sent the first batch down with Steve Todd and he took care of the extra postage in Tombstone. And when I brought down the second batch (which I addressed by hand on the drive down, while Bill Watters drove the Flex) I had to stand at the counter in the Tombstone Post Office and put the extra postage on (see below).

   And, without further ado, here is the first report of the special postcards landing at their destination today.

Tombstone Timestamp: October 26, 2021

Let me know when you get yours. Whew!

"Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say 'This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.'"

—Studs Terkel

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Three Big Takeaways from The O.K. Corral Fight

 October 27, 2021

   I have stood on that very spot many, many times, and it never gets old. In fact, the earliest I can remember being in the O.K. Corral and standing where they stood, is 1974, but my family came through Tombstone with me in 1950, so I have a long history of being there in that town and on that spot. I was there in 1981 at the centennial of the fight when Ben Traywick portrayed Wyatt Earp and I met so many people who changed my life: people like Bob McCubbin and Richard Ignarski and Howard Love, the owner of the corral, and Phil Spangenberger who put on a very funny parody of a gunfight. I remember they did the reenactment twice, the first one right at 2:30, and for the second reenactiment, I joined a group of TV cameramen on the roof of Fly's Boarding House and shot 8 mm video for art reference in a graphic novel I planned on producing.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Sam Elliott Made A Damn Fine Virgil Earp"

   Yesterday afternoon at the O.K. Corral two other guys showed up who were there with me at the centennial in 1981. Here we are looking a little worse for wear, but still standing and still smiling.

The Three O.K. Amigos

Left to right Gary Lowe, BBB

and Richard Ignarski

Here's a shot of Jim as Doc Holliday at the actual centennial, second from right.

If you missed my talk here are are the main points:

Takeaway Number 1: nothing changes more than the past.

• Takeaway Number 2: Friends matter and the friends I have made on this history journey are worth more than all the wealth in the world.

• Takeaway Number 3: Courage never goes out of style.

   In the last 140 years what has changed? The short answer is: everything. We must know ten times more about Tombstone, the cowboys, all the Earps and Doc Holliday, thanks to scholars like Dr. Gary Roberts, Casey Tefertiller and John Boessenecker to name just a few. But, in spite of all the new finds, one thing remains clear.

"Wyatt Earp matters because of what he means, not for who he really was."

—Thom Ross

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

On The Spot

 October 26, 2021

   Going to Tombstone this morning. It's a long run, four hours each way, but it's important enough to me to make the trip. I'm also printing out labels for the 250 140th Anniversary of the O.K. Corral Gunfight special Bozecards that are hopefully going to have a Tombstone postmark with the actual date of the gunfight on them. Had to buy a special Dymo Label Writer 550 Turbo Printer to get the job done, but it is a problem loading the software app, and we couldn't get the software to recognize my computer, so I emailed all the names and addresses and plan on writing them by hand on the trip down. I have hired a local videographer, Bill Watters, to shoot today's historic talk and he will drive while I do the cards.

Unocito Morning

   We're taking along a drone so that should be fun

Great shot of Texas Jack
but is it our Texas Jack Omohundro?

Special thanks to Garrett Roberts for the image. And speaking of images that are too good to be true. Thanks to Gold Lady (real name Lauren K.) this photo which I posted the other day, is fake.

   As Gold Lady aptly pointed out, she is wearing lipstick AND false eye lashes, both inventions of the Twentieth Century. So, someone married a modern woman to an old photo. File this under Too Good to be True!

   My talk in the corral today will be basically this: in the last 140 years what has changed and what have we learned? The short answer is, at least for me: everything. 

"Wyatt Earp matters because of what he means, not for who he really was."

—Thom Ross

"They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days."

—Garrison Keillor

Sunday, October 24, 2021

How to Lose Newsstand Sales

 October 24, 2021

   Got the new Atlantic yesterday and I thought the cover was pretty damn clever, not to mention, clean and mean.

   But then, I got their online newsletter with a behind-the-scenes-look at how they tracked down the "perfect vulture" and, to illustrate their search, they showed this rejected photo:

A rejected photo for the vulture cover?

So, I had to send them this critique:

   Loved the inside story on how you tracked down the right vulture, but dammit, you used the wrong image on the cover! The one with the spread wings that appears in this newsletter, above, is clearly the better cover image. Why the hell did you use the slumped over shot? I believe you will lose at least 12,000 newsstand sales because of it. Trust me, I know how to lose newsstand sales!

—Bob Boze Bell, executive editor, True West magazine

How to Lose Newsstand Sales

   I have pulled the trigger on hundreds of magazine covers over the past 22 years and you'd think I would have a clue about what sells, and more importantly, what does NOT sell, but dammit, I keep learning new ways to sell less copies on the newsstand all the dang time. Here, for your viewing and gloating pleasure, are just a few of the turkeys I have signed off on.

How to Upset Bass Reeves fans And Lone Ranger Fans at the Same Time

   Our art director, Dan The Man Harshberger, did a great job of marrying a photo of Bass Reeves to the body of the Lone Ranger, but, Boy Howdy, did this cover tank. My hunch is Lone Ranger fans were offended and everyone else thought it was a comic book.

   Meanwhile, someone on staff found an authentic photo of Sitting Bull wearing snow goggles. It was a mind blower and we thought it would kill on the newsstand, if anything, just by shock value.

Well, if by kill, you mean died on the vine, this cover did just that. Apparently, most of our readers thought it was a joke cover and that we had Photoshopped the goggles on him. Just to rub salt in my wounds we later ran the same old photo of Sitting Bull, sans goggles, and it sold very well. The moral: sometimes you can be too cute for the room, or, when in doubt, go with the bland one that everyone knows.

   Speaking of knucklehead moves, we fought over this next cover for several weeks and I finally made a decison to run it, with a bet of $100 because I was convinced it would sell like crazy.

   Turns out, I was the crazy one and the cover sold poorly with conventional wisdom being the figures on the cover were too small.

  Perhaps the biggest shock to me is that in the history world, sex apparently doesn't sell. At least on the cover of True West. I thought this cover would do major box office, but it did not.

   I couldn't figure out why and one day, a couple from Wyoming came in the store and, just looking at them, I knew they were ranch folk, so I pointed out the Jane Russell cover, above, and asked them why they thought it sold poorly. The cowboy didn't even take his hands out of his jeans, he merely pointed at the cover with his chin and smirked: "Might as well put a RED Light on it." Which I took to mean, she was too wanton, too loose and he wanted nothing to do with her? Still not sure that is legit, but there you go.

   And, finally, here's one I am actually proud of but it didn't do well on the newsstand.

All told, I think you can rest assured I know a little bit about what sells and a whole lot of nothing about what will not. Still, I soldier on, knowing that in the end, I really don't know what I'm talking about, but I sure do love talking about it.

"You can't judge a book by the cover but you damn sure can sell magazines that way."

—Bob Brink

"Nobody knows anything. . .not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one."

—William Goldman

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Top Secret Writer & Sam The Man

 October 23, 2021

   A big shout out to the Top Secret Writer who has a big, fat birthday today. Love the guy. We don't agree on much, but that's half the fun.

Paul Hutton and BBB at Festival of The West

pre-pandemic, post Civil War

Paul Hutton, Fess Parker
and David Zucker, post Davy Crockett

We're working on a long overdue feature on this guy.

Daily Whip Out: "Sam The Man"

"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

Friday, October 22, 2021

My Tombstone Touchstone—Once Is Definitely Not Enough

 October 22, 2021

   It was a cold and blustery day when my eight-and-a-half month pregnant wife broke down in tears at the O.K. Corral. Well, technically, she was not in the corral, but she had waddled over from the side yard next to Fly's Boarding House when she couldn't take it any longer. When I saw she was upset, I said, "What's wrong, Honey?" And she said—in a rather accusatory tone—I might add: "How many times have you been here?" I thought for a moment and replied, "About six times."

   "Wouldn't once have been enough?" was all she could muster between sobs.

   Well, it was a legit inquiry but I think you already know the honest answer to that question.

   Apparently not.

The resulting baby and her parents
a year later at the O.K. Corral Riding Stables
in Mesa, Arizona.

   I went back again for the centennial of the gunfight in October of 1981, and then again almost every year for the next several decades, up to and including the 125th anniversary. From then on it has been an on again-off again ritual but the place remains a touchstone to me. I feel, ahem, grounded there. It's where it happened, man. It's where they walked. It's not necessarily hallowed ground but it is sacred enough for me and my kin. And, by kin, I mean, anyone who loves the movie "Tombstone" and thinks Doc Holliday is the patron saint of wise acres (thanks more to Walter Noble Burns and Kevin Jarre than to the real dentist, but still.)

   Meanwhile, my lovely wife of 42 years has never been back to the O.K. Corral. Once was certainly enough.

"I'm not quite sure how you pulled that off."

—The Rock & Roll Judge who married us in 1979

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Old West Beauty And A Day That Will Live In Epiphany

 October 21, 2021

    Sometimes people try to tell me that women in the past were not as beautiful as those of today. I simply show them this photo and tell them to get a clue.

Old West era Beauty

   Believe it or not, sometimes I find new stuff about my early life that I have never seen before:

Al Bell's Flying A Station On Legendary Route 66

Wow! Cool feature. The web address for this was actually in a proposal for a BBB statue in Kingman. Here's the front of the proposal:

The sculptor Larry Gay's proposal

A Day That Will Live In Epiphany 

  Well, I was at the centennial, in October of 1981, and I was at the 125th anniversary, so I suppose I'd better get my behind down to Tombstone for the 140th. I'll see you there.

   I'll be there at 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon, to walk where they walked, and talk where they talked.

"Well, you could have phoned that one in."

—Kathy Radina

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Edward Curtis Show & Tombstone Special Bozecard

 October 20, 2021

   Kathy and I attended the big opening night festivities at The Scottsdale Museum of the West last Saturday night. This was for the spectacular Edward Curtis photography show they have mounted. Met Curtis's grandson, John Greybill and his wife Coleen. Great people. They are tracking down many of the descendants of the Native Americans Curtis photographed and then photographing them. They call it the Descendants Project.

I also taped some new True West Moments down at the Scottsdale Museum of the West yesterday. Did multiple bits on the massive Abe Hays history collection, including stories on Annie Oakley, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Pearl Hart, Pat Garrett, Frank Hamer and the popularity of faro. The director was the talented Steve Enyeart. Here's his view from behind the camera and in front of the faro display case.

Knocked them out in an hour and drove home (another hour!). I am a pro and have been doing this for a long time.

While I was in the Beast, I picked up 250 commemorative postcards printed by JC Printing and I intend to send them to all my passionate friends who love Tombstone history as much as I do. My plan is to have them mailed from Tombstone on October 26 to give it the time stamp which will make it that much more special. Do you think you qualify for one?

  If you think you do qualify, send me your mailing address to in the next 24 hours. Going to go fast, and my friend Steve Todd is coming by to pick them up on his way to Tombstone tomorrow night.

"Everything you say should be true, but not everything true should be said."


Monday, October 18, 2021

Once And For All, Did The Mountain Men Wear ZZ Top Beards?

 October 18, 2021

   It has become somewhat of a tradition at True West magazine to do a mountain man on the December cover. In the past two decades we have run at least a half dozen and they are always quite popular and invariably a best seller. That's not to say we don't receive a little criticism. Last year's cover (below) got some blow-back because more than a few of our readers considered the cover boy to be too "clean" and not "authentically rough enough," which begs the question: did the mountain men all wear scruffy ZZ Top beards?

  In our upcoming December issue (it goes to press this Thursday) we answer that question and more. Hint: In-din women did not like "dog-faced" men and the mountain men wanted to be attractive to the only females available in the far West in the 1820s.

A sneak peek at the December 2021 cover


The Seekers
   If there's one thing we pride ourselves on at this magazine it's getting to the historical truth, warts and all. And for our cover artist we went to one of the very best in the historial accuracy business. Here's what he has to say about the process:

"I feel it's an historical artist's obligation to present and future generations to paint the subject with as much historical accuracy as possible.

—David Wright

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Uno The Lounger

 October 17, 2021

   Very nice out on a Sunday afternoon. Look who I spied taking it easy on the breezeway between the house and the studio?

The Lounger 

  Got in a new batch of small scratchboards (5"X 5") and I am making hay with them. They're small enough so it's harder to get bogged down in the detail and it forces me to be quick and decisive. Something I need.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Black Hats at Blackhawk"

   Like Uno, I too love lounging, but of course, I feel as guilty about it as the founding fathers.

"We are here lounging our time away, doing nothing, and having nothing to do. It gives me great regret to be passing my time so uselessly when it could have been so impportantly employed at home."

—Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Mojave Memories

 October 16, 2021

   Back from Death Valley. Always inspired by the harshness and the dramatic nature of the bluffs and spires along the way. But most of all, I love the weather.

Daily Whip Out:

"Dust Storm On The Mojave"

   Full disclosure: we actually didn't encounter any dust storms on this trip, but, of course, I grew up on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert in Kingman, so the incessant dust storms and wind have seeped deep into my DNA.

   In fact, much of our route to Death Valley was an extension of my home stomping grounds. As we pulled into the next town after Las Vegas, Kathy asked me what I thought of Pahrump, Nevada and I said, "To me, it's just Kingman North."

Kingman 1886

My 12th birthday party in progress

Okay, back to the artwork.

Daily Whip Out: "Pahrump Side Road"

   This whip out was inspired by the lonely road from Pahrump to Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House, which is a cool story all by itself. All along the way you see these random sideroads going off at an angle and as far as you can see there is not a ranch house, or a dwelling of any kind. However, occassionally, one jarring exception is to see a lone, pristine, RV parked in the middle of a rugged wash, with nothing around it. No camp chairs or signs of a fire ring or anything. Perhaps it's some creepy, suicidal campers secretly waiting for a gully washer? I don't know and I don't wanna know. And, so, like Kurtz, I kept going on into the heart of the desert darkness.

Daily Whip Out: "Furnace Creek Crossing"

   And, I have a dozen other roughs in the works and you might say nothing inspires me more than the Mojave.

“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”

—Antoine de Saint

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Harsh Turns And A ZZ Top Stop

 October 14, 2021

   On the road to a magical place.

The Artist's Palette

   There is a show off dad in the picture, middle, left. See him? We're standing in the turn-out parking lot taking pictures and he had to run up to the nearest bluff to show off to his kids and wife. She took a picture of him. So did I.

   We're staying just north of there in this old, stone bungalow.

The Sweethearts of Bungalow #199

   Built in 1929, this Oasis Inn pool is spring fed and is heated naturally at 87 degrees from hot springs. Here's a better shot of the entire stone bungalow.

The Pool House at Oasis Inn

   Lots of critters around the pool area.

Furnace Creek Pool Badger

   Death Valley landscape is so harsh and dramatic. Check out this strata-form-cross-current phenom which I love and have rarely seen in movies. 

Harsh Turn

  Seems like a natural backdrop for the Fast & Furious films, but almost on one has filmed here. The only exception I can think of is "Zabriski Point" in 1970. Has anyone else utlized this spectacular scenery, except for, maybe, "Death Valley Days"?

   This is back on the Artist Ride which is a canyon byway south of Furnace Creek.

ZZ Top Stop

   The S-Curve sign reminded me of an early ZZ Top album cover.

"There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be "

—Edward Abbey