Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Secret to Failing More & Are We Witnssing The Return of Print?

 June 20, 2024

   It's another hot one.

Uno at The Top

    Meanwhile, down at the bottom of the hill, around noon, it's gets a little nuclear.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Saguaros Ripple In The Heatwaves"

Failing to Succeed

It's easier than you think.

   I have failed at so many things it's not even funny. Well, actually, it's a little bit funny, if you think financial ruin is a belly buster. For your amusement, here are a few of my more spectacular fails.

   Dan Harshberger and I started a monthly Arizona humor magazine in 1972, not realizing the state already had a daily humor publication called the Arizona Republic.  Our publication—excuse me, our magazomicThe Razz Revue, lasted four years and made zero money. The last time I looked, The Arizona Republic is still publishing.

Volume I Number 1 is worth $55 today
(I own three of these, so there's one
day's worth of retirement meals right there)

   I had a checkered radio career in the eighties and nineties. I went on KSLX in Scottsdale, as a guest on the morning show to plug my book "Low Blows." When I got off the air I was offered a job, which turned into the Jones & Boze Show. That lasted eight years but then we ran out of gas and we were fired and I went back to cartooning for a couple years and then we were rehired by our old manager, Reid Reiker, who told us to work our magic on a new radio station he named Young Buck (which was a jab at Buck Owens who owned KNIX). We worked hard at rekindling our original chemistry—this time billed as Jones, Boze & Jeanne—but at about the ninety day mark, the Seattle owners fired Reid and brought in a new management team, led by general manager Bob Chase, who took us out to lunch and said, "Your show bums me out. It's not funny."  A short time later, I said "Besa me culo," on the air and we were all fired.

   In 1999, two crazy friends of mine and I decided to buy a failing magazine. After paying way too much for it, we proceeded to lose $30k a month, until both of my partners bailed and two women saved the magazine, Kathy Radina and Carole Compton Glenn. It has been a very bumpy ride, but in two months I will celebrate my 25th year behind the wheel of this careening vehicle called True West. In the last six months, our competitor, Wild West, went out of business, along with a dozen-or-so other titles in the history field. Everyone has warned me to bail, but today I read a very thought provoking piece in the New York Times about small, niched magazines making a comeback. Why?

"We’re all exhausted from our screens. We want something to savor.”

—Stephen Casiniro

   I call it the vinyl effect. As one of the new, small publishers puts it, "In the scheme of things, we have a small audience who we want to serve really well, with the best scholarship and the best imagery. Our magazine is designed to be collectable, not disposable."

"Every time history is retold, it moves a little."

—Old Vaquero Saying

   In the end, I failed so many times, I actually succeeded because the one thing I learned is, get knocked down five times, get up six. True, I'm on my 18th knockdown, but you get the picture. My only regret is that I didn't fail more.

   Is it possible to fail your way to success? I think so. In fact, I know so.

   We associate Babe Ruth with record-setting home runs, but did you know he struck out 1,330 times in his career and that he held the record for most strikeouts for 30 years?
   So what have we learned?
   If you want to be a successful you need to strike out more. Put another way, you need to jump off more cliffs and figure it out on the way down. Everything you want is on the other side of fear. If you want new ideas, read an old book.

"Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little."
—Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Saguaros: The Reigning Royalty of the Sonoran Desert

 June 19, 2024

   I've been infatuated with saguaros most of my life, and my earliest attempts to capture them on paper stretch back beyond the half-century mark.

Early Saguaro Whip Outs:

"Heatwave Highway" 1972

   This was an opening spread in the Razz Revue for my cartoon character, The Doper Roper.

   Meanwhile, I have also been a sucker for photos with saguaros in them, you know, like this.

Babes, Buicks & A Saguaro With Uplifted Arms Seemingly Exclaiming 'Have Mercy!'"

   What's interesting about this photo is those mountains in the background look like California mountains and if so, that saguaro is probably a tad out of their home range (saguaros only grow in Arizona and a small part of northern Mexico). I've heard reports of saguaros on the California side of Lake Havasu, but that is usually considered a fluke and a semi-reasonable stretch. We even had one saguaro at a motel in Kingman (probably transplanted) out on Highway 93, but since we are on the Mojave Desert and not the Sonoran Desert where the vast majority of saguaros dwell, this is another exception to the exception.

Speaking of Exceptions. . .

"A keen observer of Carnegiea gigagantia would find plenty of fake saguaros in western movies. My Darling Clementine, filmed in Monument Valley scattered a few very fake saguaros in a place that really didn’t look like Tombstone. They also appear in Spaghetti Westerns filmed in Almera, Spain. In actuality you live in Saguaro Central. They only grow in Arizona and Sonora (as far south as Navajoa on the road to Alamos) the ones around here an all in bloom and setting fruit."
—Greg Scott

Saguaro Central

   Yes, I do live in "Saguaro Central" and it's hard to look in any direction from my house and not see a forest of magnificent saguaros.

Sunrise On Ratcliff Ridge

   And, I have illustrated said ridge more than a few times. . .

Daily Whip Out:
"Ratcliff Ridge Back In The Day"

(circa 1988 when Ed Ratcliff lived in a trailer)

Daily Whip Out:
"El Pendejo Lands at Opodepe"

   Then, there's also all the cousins and shirttrail relatives to the saguaro.

  A mighty transplanted saguaro, at left, and his bony hillbilly cousin near the wall in our backyard.
   Frankly, I am thinking there is a book in here.

"A winner is just a loser who tried one more time."
—George M. Moore Jr.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ex-Surfer Girl Sheri Riley Jensen Rides Last TW Wave

 June 18, 2024

   She is going to be missed.

Sheri Riley Jensen

   Back in the day, she was a bonafide surfer girl so obviously she has some major status in my world. But her biggest claim to fame is she is one of the very best sales people True West has ever had, bar none. She is retiring after a 16 year run and we are going to miss Sheri Riley Jensen. Here's how she puts it: "The moment I walked into the True West office in June 2008, I knew something special was about to happen to me.

"My 16 years at True West have been an adventure, an experience, and an opportunity to work with a group of people who are passionate about the history and preservation of the Old West. Our editors, writers and the entire True West team under the helm of our own BBB, are an incredible talented team that I have had the privilege to be a part of.

"My Dad was a big lover of the old Westerns and I was always hearing stories about the colorful characters of that time, which helped me fit right in at True West. Whenever someone tried to pull one over on my Dad he would say "Jesse James rode a horse and had a gun when we was holding up people!"

"I will never forget the friendships I have made and though I will miss working daily with the team, I know I will continue to see greatness in future issues with exciting stories and tales of the Old West.

"Thank you BBB, the entire TW team and our advertisers for all of your support throughout the years and making my time truly special.

"See you all on down the trail!"
—Sheri Riley Jensen 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Welcome to Cactusland: In Praise of the Mighty Saguaro!

 June 17, 2024

   As a bonafide Desert Rat I can totally relate to cactus tenacity and their stubborn work ethic. And, I agree with Hope:

"A cactus doesn't live in the desert because it likes the desert; it lives there because the desert hasn't killed it yet."

—Hope Jahren

Saguaro Century Sentries

   The grand daddies of them all are the saguaros, considering it takes at least 35 years for them to grow one arm! So, when you see a big boy sentry, he—or she—has been standing there almost as long as our country has been standing. Also, I have been admiring them and sketching them for a very long time, like this bad boy down the hill from our house towards the creek.


Daily Whip Out: "Crazy Arms"


 Here's another sketch from 37 years ago.

Daily Whip Out:
"Big Daddy Saguaro Off Scottsdale Road"


   One of the things that shocked me when we first moved out to Cave Creek is how many artists fail to capture the basic structure of the saguaro. For one thing most artists emulate a tree especially as the arms take off from the main stalk. But the saguaros in my back yard have gnarly joints with a decisive rib departure, like this.

Daily Whip Out: "Saguaro Joint-ure"

"I'm not a cactus expert, but I know a prick when I see one."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Ratcliff Trailer House"

circa 1992

(yes, there is a jackalope hidden in the foreground)

Daily Contact Sheet, circa 1978:

"Saguaros Galore"

"A cactus is merely a very aggressive cucumber."

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Saguaros In Moonlight"

And, they proliferate in my border work.

Daily Whip Out: "Saguaro Ridge Rider"

   You might say, I have a thing about them and you'd be right.

"The desert works overtime to deny the cactus life, but still it blooms."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Warning: Dad Jokes Ahead!

 June 16, 2024

   Get ready for some groaners and some boners. It's my day and I intend to abuse it!

Father: I'm going to change my password to 'penis.'

Mother: I don't think it's long enough.

The Billy the Kid Bar, Mesilla, New Mexico


  I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts one of those cowboys is yelling, "You sure know a lot for being so damn dumb!" 

  Three conspiracy theorists walk into a bar. You can't tell me that's just a coincidence?

   Sign at The Buffalo Chip Saloon: Now hiring people who show up.

Aunt Vivien's Crazy Predictions

"Some day my old man is going to wear his trousers so high he will have to unzip his pants to drive. Mark my words!"

—Crazy Aunt Vivien

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Billy the Kid Gets Framed For Good

 June 15, 2024

   Some people think Billy got framed, and now they can say with some certainty that he, in fact, has been framed.

   And, how.

Amy Gauthier's labor of love is about to reopen

   Thanks to Amy Gauthier, the current owner—and savior—of the historic Ellis Store in Lincoln, New Mexico, two of my paintings, portraying the Kid at the back door of said store, have been framed with the floorboard wood that Billy actually walked on.

   While Amy and her crew were rehabbing the room in the Ellis store that the previous owners claimed was the room where the Kid stayed, they found termites and had to rip up a portion of the floor to salvage the room. Here is a photo of the Kid room showing the original wood before it was replaced.

   At my request, Amy shipped me a few of the better pieces of wood and here are the raw boards, next to three new paintings of the Kid.

Ellis Store Floorboards and BBB paintings

   And here are the two finished pieces, framed with the actual floorboards that Billy the Kid walked on.

Billy at The Rear Door of The Ellis Store
I & II

(both framed with the floorboards he walked on)

   Both pieces will be on proud display at the BBB Billy Art Show at the Ellis Store on Saturday, July 13.

   There will be a dozen other original paintings of the Kid from the BBB collection, including this one.

"Coffee With The Kid"

("His Face Went to Everyone's Heart")


"Advise persons not to engage in painting."

—Kid from Kingman

Friday, June 14, 2024

Goin' Through My Old Photos: Jim's Ful-Serve And Charlie Sheen at The Wagon Wheel

June 14, 2024

   I got assigned this article to write about Cave Creek when we first got here. I'm supposed to write about the politics, but what I am really interested in is the local bars and eateries. The first time I set eyes on this crazy place was in 1970.

Here's An Early Shot of My Hometown

Cave Creek Rodeo Parade, 1970, dirt road!

(Yes, that Jim's Ful-Serve, middle background)

 And, here's Jim's Ful-Serve in 1986.

Jim's Ful-Serve on Cave Creek Road

   And, here's Jim himself. . .

   Today it's a cafe called Big Earl's.

   And, speaking of old time Cave Creek cafes. . .

Charlie Sheen and Rip Torn pretend to have breakfast at the Wagon Wheel Cafe,

"Beyond The Law," 1993

   And, here is Harold himself, of Harold's Cave Creek Corral fame in his office, also, circa 1986.

Harold The Tiger Master

   And, one of my favorite hangouts was The Mineshaft, because it still had a little Wild West going on.

   I used to stop in often just to snap photo reference for Honkytonk Sue and The Doper Roper, and I was never disappointed, from the trucks outside to the good old boys having lunch inside.

"What the hell happened to the work ethic
in this country?"

   That's what they are sayin' and you know it. And here's a Mineshaft cowboy who ended up in one of my comic strips.

Ol' DR gets fresh

"The epidemic failure in history appreciation is that we keep repeating the same damn facts and dates. The real way to get young people into history is to tell better stories."

—Grantham P. Hooker, aka The Doper Roper

Thursday, June 13, 2024

AC Out, DH (Damn Hot!) Inside!

 June 13, 2024

   Our AC went out yesterday afternoon and it started blowing hot air: 110 degrees outside, 96 inside. The air-conditioning repair dude and dudette didn't make it by until 5:30, but they got it fixed before dark (loose wire in thermostat) but, man, did the experience make us appreciate air conditioning!

   Not much makes a hat guy prouder or happier than seeing his offspring in a hat!

Frances Stylin' A Lid!

"Southern houses and buildings once had space and windows and deep porches. This was perhaps the most beautiful and comfortable ordinary architecture in the United States, but it is no longer built, because of air-conditioning."

—Joan Didion, "South And West" 1970

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Wild Bill Sees The Light

 June 12, 2024

   Some things only become clear on the fourth or fifth pass and one of those truths is that fame has a dark side. Yes, it bring beauties by the score, but it also brings the crazies even more. Don't believe me, go ask James Butler Hickok.

Daily Whip Out:

"Wild Bill Finally Sees the Light"

Or: "Fame Ripped Him to Shreds" 

Also, see John Lennon.

"Hell is truth seen too late."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Resurrection & Reopening of The Historic Ellis Store And The Return of Mickey Free's Big, Bad Jack

 June 11, 2024

   Here's the final poster for the Resurrection & Reopening of The Historic Ellis Store Art Show and party on July 13, 2024. 

   If you love the Kid as much as my Kid compadres, Thom Ross, Buckeye Blake and Paul Andrew Hutton, you should be there for the fun. Yes, it's going to be an art show but it is mainly going to be a celebration of Amy Gauthier's tireless efforts to save a historic site.

   Meanwhile, here's a cat we haven't heard from in a while:

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out Revisited:

"Mickey Free On His Big, Bad Jack"

   He rode a mammoth Jack and in that peculiar country south of Bacanora, Sonora, where they remember that one-eyed captivo and his crazy Jack, to this day.

Daily Whip Out Flashback: "Campfire Liars"

"Towards evening, when the sun  went down with the flare of a blast furnace, patrols of cavalry rode sharply across the skyline to the night outposts. And after dark, mysterious fires burned in the town."

—John Reed, "Insurgent Mexico" 1914

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Three Main Activities When Living With Uno

 June 10, 2024

So I am reading the morning paper and I look over and see this. I realized living with Uno is 90% following each other around, watching each other go to the bathroom and wondering what the other has in his mouth. This look clearly says, Can I have what you have in your mouth? Sorry, dude, it's toast!

No, really, if I'm really good, can I have
what you have in your mouth?

  Repeat on a daily basis.

Meanwhile on another subject near and dear to my heart:

Daily Whip Out: "Big Hats In Cowtown"

A variation on the Old Vaquero Saying: "If everybody's wearin' a big hat, ain't nobody wearin' a big hat."

  Here is a sneak peek at the Ellis Store Resurrection and Reopening next month.

And, here's another stab at weird cactus arms.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out: "Poolside Cacti"

  Another hot one. Actually went in the pool for the first time, which is where I spied the cactus, above.

"Art is not a pastime but a priesthood."

—Jean Cochteau

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Billy the Kid Keeps Knock-Knock-Knockin-On BBB's Studio Door

 June 9, 2024

   File this one under Billy the Kid Keeps Knock-Knock-Knockin' On My Studio Door. 

A Long Lost New Report On The Death of Billy the Kid Revisited

   Yes, sometimes I forget just how groovy some of our earlier efforts have been in True West magazine, and this fine piece, by Mark Lee Gardner, just totally rocks.

   Meanwhile, the Kid Kid's are reuniting in Lincoln, New Mexico on July 12 at the Resurrected Ellis Store Celebration. Stay tuned for the invite, but keep the date open because we are going to have some fun.

The Kid Kids:

Thom Ross, BBB and Buckeye Blake

at the Due West Art Gallery in Santa Fe

many moons ago.

"Billy at The Back Door of The Ellis Store"

(Is this a bonafied tintype of the Kid?)

   Dream on, sucker! But this tintype artwork will be on display at the Ellis Store, along with this one:

"Billy at Midnight On The Deadliest Street In America"

Mexican Mourners

   The local Fort Sumner women who loved the Kid turned out at the carpenter shop to grieve on the morning of July 15, 1881.

   That is, of course, Celsa, on the left. At least it will be when I transform this photo reference, shot in the Middle East, to Old Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Yes, I have been collecting grieving women for the assignment to illlustrate the entrance to the new Buckeye Blake Kid Shrine to be installed at the cemetery in Old Fort Sumner. If we do it right there will be something to offend everyone. See pocket protector, above.

"Relevance, on the whole, has a very short shelf life."

—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, June 08, 2024

Spines to the left of me, spines to the right. Here I am . . .stuck on cacti with you!

 June 8, 2024

Still studying cacti. Went out in the sideyard of my studio and drew a couple from real life, until the board heated up and I had to come in. Hot? Oh, yes,

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Prickly Pear Spines In Twilight"

The Big Hat Conundrum

"If everybody's wearing a big hat, ain't nobody wearing a big hat."

—Old Vaquero Saying

I am sometimes asked, "Where did you get your sense of Yuma?" I mean, "humor."

Well, I grew up reading this newspaper, The Mohave County Miner.

This is from the 1890s.

Love the editor joke. Speaking of trying to make art and make people laugh. . .

"In sports there's a winner, there's a loser. What I love about art is, it's not like that. It's about self-perfection. I love trying to make the best film you can. Get everyone together and just do your absolute best. If you can actualize that, that's the magic!"
—Richard Linklater, "The Hit Man" which premieres today on Netflix