By Beau Smith
Beau Smith-Alpha Male:
Did I ever tell ya that The Flying Fist Ranch, my headquarters, is located in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle? Well, geographically it’s not, but sometimes I feel like it is. Winter is a strange time here in West Virginia. Just a few days ago we broke an old weather record when it hit 72 degrees here for two days in a row. That is really odd for the middle of winter in West Virginia. Now here it is a couple of days later and it’s 16 degrees and snowin’. I was thinkin’ about that tonight while I was out on patrol. For those of you that don’t know I go on patrol every evening here in the area where I live. Famous Montana retailer Amanda Fisher, owner of Muse Comics, gets on me and calls me a fanatic about this patrol of mine. Says I’m crazy. I try and explain to her that doin’ all that walkin’ keeps me in great shape. She should appreciate that as much as she throws the lustful eyeball at me.
Amanda Fisher Of Muse Comics and Beau
Now, getting’ back to my patrol. I’ve got two dogs. Blue, a male Australian Shepherd and Chubb, a female Cattle Dog/Beagle mix. Every evening I hook em’ up and we go on a 2 mile walk of the area. Gotta make sure that things are safe and that none of my enemies are lurkin’ around. You know how those British writers are? sneaky. It’s my time to think. I usually have my CD player with me while on patrol. Music of my choice helps me to think as well. Manly music of course. Tonight it was a mix of my own making with the likes of Delbert McClinton, The Subdudes, Albert Cummings, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, Dean Martin, Chris Rea, Eddie Money, Todd Snider and Johnny Cash.
Blue-Bodyguard To The Star- Beau Smith
I do this every night no matter what the weather or how many beers I have downed. The only time I miss is when I am bed ridden sick. Lucky for me that doesn’t happen very often. I take care of myself. Everybody in comics should do the same.
Goin’ on patrol is the highlight of day for Blue and Chubb. It’s they’re chance to leave little packages of yard fudge for surrounding neighbors in their neatly trimmed yards. They enjoy smellin’ anything that has the stench of death or anything else that really stinks. Chubb finds this practice a bit more entertaining than Blue. I guess if she were human one would find her to be a voracious reader.
The Mighty Chubb
Blue is more interested in protecting me from? well? just about anything. Nothin’ would please him more than for a pack of psycho cats to try and attack me. He looks at children on bikes as “Meals On Wheels.” Now and then he finds cars with loud motors to be a general nuisance. Ones that must be lunged at with teeth showing. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Australian Shepherd breed, they are a very smart dog that enjoys havin’ a job. If they are not given a job they will invent one for themselves. Blue figures his job is to make sure as pack leader, my life is never in danger, or any perceived danger, in his opinion. From time to time he herds family members around when he feels that they aren’t in their proper place. If I’m layin’ in bed and my wife decides she would like to join me there, Blue will stand guard and let her know with a low guttural growl that she is not welcome. It’s then that I tell him it’s okay and he then lets her in. He doesn’t allow anyone in my office without my okay. He has one blue eye and one amber colored eye, hence the name Blue. I know? as a writer you thought I’d be a bit more creative than that. We all have our dull moments.
Now most of ya might be sayin’ “Beau, that dog sounds a tad dangerous.” Well, I guess to some he might seem that way. But, he minds every word I say, so I let the possible maiming of others slide. When I’m not around he minds my wife and the boys when they show up here at the ranch. Chubb has a free pass with Blue. They are best friends and she is allowed to come and go as she pleases. When I’m out of town he sleeps by the front door and waits for me not to be lost anymore. When people feel they must come over to visit me I usually put Blue out back. I call it the back yard. My wife calls it the holding tank. After the guests are settled, I let Blue in. I tell the guests not to pet him or look him in the eyes. It’s best if they ignore him at first. He smells them, determines that they are no immediate threat to me and then he lets em’ be. But, he keeps that blue eye on em’ at all times. When my mom comes to visit she always sits on the side of the amber eye. She says she doesn’t like to sit on the side of what she calls “The Devil’s Eye.”
While all this goes on Chubb is usually doin’ her best to lick ya to death. Some how she feels that you may not be clean enough to be in my house and she has to wipe all the dirt off ya with her tongue. Given the chance, when you least expect it, Chubb will lunge herself on to your lap. It’s like havin’ a 35 lbs bowling ball with legs gettin dumped on ya. Chubb pretty much loves everybody. She don’t really care much for rabbits, squirrels, and other female dogs. She loves bein’ Queen Bitch. She finds small children entertainin’. They usually have food on their mouths or hands. Chubb loves to topple them and liberate any food from those hands and lips.
Chubb has also invented a language of her own. When contented she has a deep grunt. She also does this when she wants a treat or you are rubbin’ her belly. If ya rub her belly just right, she gets this funny look on her face. Like you just gave her a handful of Quaaludes. Now don’t get me wrong. Chubb is a very sweet natured dog, but there have been times when she has had to protect herself or Blue has gotten a little too rough with play and when that happens she becomes like a badger in a hole. You don’t wanna mess with her.
Folks around these parts are pretty familiar with me and my dogs. They can set their clocks with our nightly patrol. They know that the big one with the blue eye is a calculating assassin in a fur suit and that the shorter, stocky dog is more than happy to shit in their yard under the cloak of night. And me? I’m the big asshole on the other end of the leash.
I don’t think they’ll ever vote me mayor in this town.
A Question Of Character:
The other day I was online admiring the wonderful art of Frank Cho. It was part of a news article on his Shanna The She-Devil from Marvel Comics. I love Frank’s work and I just know it’ll bring in high sales for this book. High sales on a lower tier Marvel character is a good thing. As recent Marvel history has always shown, any character that isn’t X-Men or Spider-Man related has sales that are also lower tier. Look at Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the list goes on.
That got me thinkin’. I remember back in the 80s Marvel did a series called Ka-Zar The Savage. It was a wonderfully written book by Bruce Jones and art was by Ron Frenz and Armando Gil. In my opinion it was the very best artwork of Ron’s career. If you ever get the chance, dig through the quarter box and buy this run. You will not be sorry. Bruce Jones really did a great job with the characters and made you wanna come back month after month. Well? it worked on me. Because Ka-Zar and Shanna weren’t super powered heroes it didn’t work on the bulk of the then Marvel Zombies of the day. The series eventually got cancelled.
In the 90s Marvel once again tried their luck with Ka-Zar and Shanna. This time they pulled out some of the big guns as far as hot creators. They had Mark Waid writing it and Adam Kubert drawing it. Once again the book was amazing. Once again it faded off into the jungle sunset. That told me a couple of things. Unlike DC Comics, Marvel couldn’t break the tape on makin’ second string (others wording, not mine) characters a hit. Not even with “hot” creators. Remember, this was the 80s and 90s. The second thing it told me was that hardcore Marvel readers didn’t want anything that wasn’t X-Men or Spider-Man related.
Throw in the fact that Marvel has never been one that has properly promoted any books that weren’t X-Men or Spider-Man related. It was always a case of only promoting what was already selling. Since the turn of the new century they have gotten better at this.
What I would love to know from you-the real readers out there, have times changed enough to where folks will support a non-high profile character for Marvel Comics? Does it all still have to be X-Men or Spider-Man related to sell really well? Will a new book like Black Panther rise above and show that it can be done? Marvel has promoted this book and we’ve all seen previews of it online and in magazines. Will we ever see any other character/book beat X-Men and Spider-Man in sales? If not, is it because we still have the same readers that we’ve had for the last 15-20 years and no new readers to push a new book over the top? When I say beat them I mean like The X-Men did back in the 70s when they all of a sudden went from being a low sellin’ Marvel book to bein’ the best. Or is it like Spawn, are folks just buyin’ X-Men books outta habit?
I got questions. Do you have answers?
I’m not sayin’ I have the answers. Nope. I’m interested in what you, the real readers have to say. In a perfect Beau World where all would be under the rule of Beau Nation all comics would sell and there would be a huge variety of em’. But it ain’t Beau Nation yet, so we gotta live with what we’ve got.
Ya know? with enough of ya backin’ me it could end up bein’ Beau Nation. I kinda like the sound of that. I can just picture myself on a big grandstand addresses the masses. Everybody hangin’ on my every word, babes throwin’ motel keys at me? well? I’m getting’ off subject here?
In this case, Beau don’t know. Let me know. Give us all your thoughts on this.
Well, it’s time to put the pillow over the face of this one and smother it. Before I walk manly off into the night I wanna remind y’all to keep sendin’ in those emails and postings on who you would like to see answer my Five Manly Questions. I’ve got a great list goin’ here and I love seein’ who you’d want to be the next test pilot of testosterone.
I got a HUGE amount of email from last week’s column. Seems that y’all really enjoyed the photos of the lovely ladies that were featured. Can’t say I blame ya. That also started a rush of female fans that sent their photos in for my Manly Fans Of Beau Smith section at my website http://www.flyingfistranch.com. I have to say that the latest additions are very easy on the eyes. So all you ladies keep sendin’ in those jpegs. Guys, if ya feel you need to send yours in then that’s okay too. I’ve got some of my manly man fans up there as well. Hell, I even have some folks manly pets in there.
As always I am still sendin’ out free signed Beau prints to those that send a self addressed stamped envelope to me here at the ranch. Just make sure the envelope can handle an 8 1/2 X 11 inch print and that ya have three .37 cent stamps on the envelope. I’ve also been known to throw in extra surprises in there as well. Send your requests to the address listed below.
I look forward to hearin’ from ya as always. I answer all mail and take your words to heart. I also never turn down a free beer.
I ain’t hard to find.
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!