Prairie tub

HERE’S THE bathub at a buffalo wallow at the Tallgrass Prairie I mentioned in the previous post. This spot is about four miles into the reserve, and you can only get to it by hiking. What’s it for? I’d like to think it was put there by the park rangers as a sort of Easter egg for hikers, but it probably has a more mundane use. Hay for the bison when the preserve is socked in by snow, is my guess (can’t be water, because there’s a hole in the bottom of the tub).┬áThe horizon is curved because I shot this with my GoPro Hero 3 camera, a palm-sized still/video camera that has a near-fisheye lens.

Sudden winter

WENT HIKING at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve on Sunday, and a couple of a miles down the trail I came to this buffalo wallow. I’d been to the wallow before (and another, miles further on, where’s there’s an enigmatic bathtub), but those previous hikes were on beautiful fall days when the temp was 65 degrees F. On Sunday, it was 28 or 30 degrees, and although there was little wind, it was still cold, at least when you weren’t walking. The landscape was surreal, and the light was good, so I made this photo. Wasn’t really out on a photo expedition (the goal was to fully break in a new pair of hiking boots), but the images truly matched the mood of the hike, sudden winter in the flint hills. Can snow be far behind? Already I’m longing for spring.

Ophelia in the Ozarks

FOUND MYSELF in the Ozarks over the recent holiday and discovered OF GRAVE CONCERN on the shelf at Lebanon Books, 727 S. Jefferson St., in Lebanon, Mo. Naturally I signed it for them — and did a quick cartoon on the title page. I attempt to do some kind of cartoon with every Ophelia Wylde book I sign; each cartoon is a little different, but most will feature Boot Hill, a skull, or Ophelia’s raven, Eddy. Some are more elaborate than others, depending on the situation. The ones I signed at the Boot Hill Museum Complex at Dodge City during the book launch back in July were quite detailed, as the occasion demanded. I’m a terrible artist, but fans seem to enjoy the cartoons anyway.

Later, I found copies of the Ophelia book in the small book display at the Price Cutter grocery, 550 N. Jefferson. I refrained from defacing these with a cartoon, as I was afraid the store manager wouldn’t be as understanding as the bookstore down the street. But, I wanted to.

Last month, just before Halloween, I spoke about the Old West and the paranormal at the FUEL coffee house at Llano, Texas, before heading to New Orleans for a conference. I was invited to Llano by my good and brilliant friend W.C. ┬áJameson, and we had a fine discussion in front of a nearly packed house about everything from the UFO wave of the 1890s to Spiritualism to Thunderbirds. I sold a few books, and drew a few cartoons, and enjoyed chatting with the people who came out to hear me speak. I’ve often wanted to leave something special for people who take the time to attend my events, and the cartoons are indeed special; each cartoon takes a few minutes, enough time for a real chat with the people who are buying my books. I’ll only do this for the Ophelia books, and not the others. I couldn’t imagine attempting to do an Indiana Jones book (that would be stepping into the ring with cover Drew Struzan) or one of the Jacob Gamble books, because it would just be too grim. But with Ophelia, it just works.