By Beau Smith

Last weekend I was out of town. I was in the lovely city of Missoula Montana. I was there to do a store signing for the grand reopening of Muse Comics, formerly Splash Page Comics.

Muse Comics is run and owned by the even more lovely Amanda Fisher and her partner in business Jeff McElroy. Better hosts I have never known.

I was not alone in my store signing. I had the pleasure of ridin’ shotgun with Larry Young of Astronauts In Trouble fame, Brian Wood known for Demo and The Dirt Bike Manifesto. Last but never the least, there was the very funny Ryan Yount known for that great and funny pirate book?Scurvy Dogs.

I met up with those boys in the Denver airport where we all flew into Missoula in manly style. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meetin’ those boys then ya know they’re a manly bunch and good to ride with. I don’t run with Nancy Boys.

We got in semi late into Missoula, but just in time for dinner at one of the local eateries. Now, for common information, I’ve got type 2 diabetes. No worries. I’ve got it under strict control with diet, exercise and medication. I’m still got better health than most all of ya readin’ this column. Now the reason I’m tellin’ ya about this is because it was that weekend my doctor decided to change my medication a bit. In doin’ that it made it so I could not indulge in beer. Nobody was more sorry than me, amigos.

Everybody at dinner was enjoyin’ a cold one. It was tough, but I held out and ordered one of those fake beers. Well, as luck would have the waitress brought me a real one and I didn’t notice until my good buddy Brian Wood mentioned that it was a real one. Now I don’t know what effects drinkin’ that beer would’ve had on my new medication, but I was glad ol’ Brian was there to save me any aches and pains that the mixin’ of alcohol and pills. No tellin’ what may have happened. Like a good amigo, Brian was watchin’ my back.

Dinner and conversation was excellent. Ryan had most of us in stitches. He is one funny feller. We were all pretty tired from a day of travel so we called it a night after that. After all, we had to be at our best for the signing the next day. My days of terrible hangovers are past me.

The next morning we all met for breakfast at yet another fine Missoula establishment of good grub. Once again, I ordered a meal of healthy fixins and once again someone in the kitchen tried to do me wrong by givin’ me the wrong stuff. ONCE AGAIN, Brian had my back and caught this food mistake before I could inhale it. I owe him twice now.

Amanda and Jeff took us around to a great bookstore after breakfast. It was there that I found a few books that I had been hunting forever. One was on the behind the scenes stuff of the rodeo business and another was on the history of the last hurrah of the cowboys at the turn of the century. I was stoked to find them right there in the middle of Montana cowboy country. We then went next door to a store that carried every kinda beer you could ever imagine. I was in heaven and hell. Heaven because they had everything. Hell because I couldn’t drink any of it.

Amanda then took us over to a great CD store that had all sorts of cool and hard to find CDs. I found the new CD by The North Mississippi All Stars. I had been lookin’ for that for weeks.

At this point it was time to head to the store for the signing. I was really lookin’ forward to this. We got to the store and I’ve gotta say I was truly impressed. It takes a lot to impress me. I’ve seen just about every comic shop in the country in the last 18 years. Muse Comics is a benchmark of how a comic book / pop culture shop should look. Great lighting, TVs, clean, well laid out. A true dream for anyone that is into pop culture.

I spent the first 20 minutes just lookin’ the place over and lovin’ it. If you wanted it, they had it!

The local radio station was there doin’ a live remote. Yours truly got to spread the manly word on the airwaves. I think that’s when we got more women to come into the store. Local TV crew showed up as well.

We had over 100 people show up just in the first hour of the signing. Me and the boys were busy markin’ up comic covers with our names and talkin’ to some of the nicest folks you’d ever wanna meet.

Our signing was from 1pm to 5 pm. It went so fast. There was a steady stream of folks and I was happy to see lots of little kids at the store. Not often ya get to see young readers in the stores now days. Amanda has a special section in the store just for young readers. I think that’s great.

After the signing we all packed up and headed to a great pizza place for dinner. I indulged in Italy’s best pie and loved it. Conversation was great and once again Ryan hade us all laughin’ with his tales of life.

After dinner we all packed up and headed to the mountains where Jeff’s family owns a “cabin”. Cabin is how they described it. Resort is a better description. On the way we saw all sorts of wildlife. Elk, deer and all sorts of other furry creatures. The hour trip was beautiful and not a stoplight to be seen. I cannot stress to ya just how beautiful Montana is.

We got to the cabin? the two story cabin and my eyes popped. The place was on the Big Sky Lake and amazing. It was like something out of a real man movie. I took photos, but don’t have ’em developed yet. I’ll post ’em up in a future Busted Knuckles and on my website as well real soon.

We all took a tour of the cabin and then marked our turf of what bed we’d be sleepin’ in. I grabbed the king size bed in the loft right away. It had the most pillows. I like a lot of pillows. Ryan accused me of naming them. I told ya he was a funny guy.

That evening was spent with great conversation about comics and most every topic under the sun. I spent a good time of mine eyeballin’ Amanda in her bathing suit as she simmered in the hot tub. Me and the boys played some ping-pong, and Larry soon showed us why he was the champ in Jr. High School. The guy is the King of Ping!

Much beer and chips were consumed and everybody was laughin’. A wonderful evening. As the night turned into the wee hours, everyone soon headed to his or her bed. There was me, Larry, Ryan and Brian upstairs. We all told manly stories and industry gossip as we waited to nod off.

I never slept so well in my life.

Jeff got up early the next morning and showed us that he is a wizard in the kitchen as he prepared a manly feast for us all. The food was grand and cooked just the way I like it. Eggs, Ham, Hash Browns, toast, and juice. Loved it!

I thought that Amanda would be the one cookin’, after all, she is a woman, but I was informed that she don’t cook. That’s ok. She’s real pretty so she is excused from other female chores.

We all went down to the lake and soaked up some sun and outdoors atmosphere for a while until a small rain / hail shower drove in. Didn’t last long, but was cool to watch.

I’ll tell ya, all the comic book news sites and magazines would have loved to have been a fly on the walls that weekend. The stories that were told?

With afternoon comin’ on it was time for Larry, Brian and Ryan to head out for their plane back to San Francisco. Everybody got packed up and Jeff hauled everyone to the airport. More tales of testosterone were shared on the ride back to town.

At the airport manly handshakes were exchanged and we saw the boys off to their plane. They’re a good bunch to ride with. I suggest ya buy all their books and support em’.

After the three amigos took off Jeff and Amanda took me back to my hotel. Everyone was gonna get a little rest. Later that evening I was gonna ride with Amanda to meet her sister and pick up her boys.

I caught some of the baseball game on TV and then cleaned up a little. Even kicked my boots up for a little bit.

Amanda and I took off north to pick up her boys Ethan and Trey. Her sister Nikki had them while all the store stuff was goin’ on. The ride north was great. We talked comics and business, families and such. Amanda is wise way beyond her years and a real pleasure to talk to. I even got to see some buffalo on the trip up. That was a thrill for an ol’ cowboy like me.

Montana is a great place to drive. Excellent scenery, wide open spaces, big sky and no stop lights. I loved it.

We met up with Nikki and the boys around dinnertime so we hit a little Mexican place. Ethan and Trey were great little boys. Cute and funny. Their cousin Elizabeth was also with us. I fine little girl. Eatin’ with the kids took me back to when my boys were small. I miss those times a lot.

We parted company with Nikki after dinner and got the boys all strapped in for the trip back. They were very entertaining with their talkin’ and bein’ little boys. It was also fun watchin’ Amanda be a mom. Being a mom is not an easy job. Amanda does it really well.

It was getting’ late so Amanda took me back to my hotel. We said our goodbyes and the boys were sawin’ logs by that time. I thanked Amanda again for the wonderful trip and all the fun I had in Missoula.

I went upstairs to my room and got stuff ready for my long ass trip back home in the morning. Ya see, when ya go from one small town to another there are loads of connections and layovers. I had to go from Missoula to Denver to Pittsburgh to home. Leave at 7am and get home at 9:30 pm. Not much fun, but I had good music and books. I was ok. Did some girl watchin’ in the airports. That’s always fun.

Here in public I’d like to thank Jeff And Amanda for the great time. I loved every minute of it. I can hardly wait to go back.

If y’all get a chance check out the Muse Comics website at http://www.musecomics.com Better yet, if ya every get to Missoula go to their store and spend money.

Like I said before, as soon as I get my photos back I’ll post em’ up here and on my website http://www.flyingfistranch.com

Well, that’s what it’s like to be me for a weekend. I hope ya enjoyed it. If ya can’t be me it’s always good to live through me.

By the way, here are the books I picked up while in cowboy country:

  • Rodeo: Back Of The Chutes by Gene Lamb
  • Cattle, Horses and Men By John H. Culley
  • The Last Cowboys: Closing the open range in southeastern New Mexico 1890s to 1920s

Now go support your local retailer!

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
http://www.flyingfistranch.com


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About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin