Saturday, April 01, 2023

Mickey Free And Me

 April 1, 2023

   It's fitting that a whole bunch of realizations came home to roost on this day that honors our patron saint. You know, the April Dude who has his own day!

   It was on this date, way back in 2002, over a history dinner at the Tinnie Silver Dollar, in Hondo, New Mexico, that one of my table mates, the esteemed professor of history, Doctor Paul Andrew Hutton, mentioned to me and several others that the next story that needs to be told—in a graphic novel format—is the dark and brutal story of Mickey Free. I was, of course, aware of the kidnapped boy who was trapped between three cultures and started the longest war in the history of the United States, but after that dinner I became obsessed with the one-eyed scout who some believe tracked down his best friend, the Apache Kid. Hutton and I wrote a version of the story that was cute—it was a love story!—but it went nowhere. I have since worked up a different story with Vince Murray and we are planning on doing a graphic novel of it later this year.

One of my many homages to Mickey Free

   It must be said, that in my new version of the story, Tom Horn joins Mickey in his search because, any good quest needs a smart aleck cowboy to lighten things up. And, hey, the real Tom Horn was actually in the neighborhood so it's not that much of a stretch.

Daily Whip Out:

"The Smart Aleck Cowboy Scout Tom Horn"

Meanwhile, On The Search for Younger Readers

   Well, Dan The Man and I gave it the old Kingman college try, but the reaction to our promo efforts to reach a younger audience have been met with a wall of apathy and negativity.  Got a call yesterday morning from our publisher, Ken, who said he feels the whole thing is too political, and the wrong message to send in these super conflicted times. I still believe the basic concept could work but it is true anything even slightly political in this current climate is anathema to most people. So what is the lesson to be learned? Here is an observation I got this morning from The Top Secret Writer on this very subject.

Mickey Free And Triple B

   "BBB: My boy, you are the Mickey Free of western history caught between the two modern American worlds of national self-loathing and your own 12-year-old boy love of the romance of the Old West. Your own political sensibilities are at odds with the role of True West and the audience that loves it. The American frontier story was always a celebration of progress and triumph—albeit tinged with necessary tragedy. But today it is usually cast as a dark tale of betrayal, oppression and even genocide. The only western story to tell in many circles is one of dark tragedy and horror. Guns and violence are a problem—something never to be celebrated. American exceptionalism or even basic patriotism is suspect and labeled as fascist by people who have no idea what fascism is. We need positive stories of the West—and of all the widely diverse people who lived there—now more than ever. And there is an audience for that more positive—even fun—story. Somehow you (and your True West crew) must thread that needle." 

—Paul Andrew Hutton

   Wise words and yes I am quite confident we can thread the needle on the celebration of the West we all love. I am positive about this because, well, I'll let Oscar tell you.

"Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."
—Oscar Wilde

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