Artist of the Month
Bob Boze Bell
Bob Boze Bell is a man of many cowboy hats: executive editor of Cave Creek-based True West magazine, host of True West Moments on Encore’s Western channel, Arizona historian, author and artist. It might surprise some people to learn that Bell was actually an artist first – although he may prefer the term “cartoonist.”
“I’ve always been a budding cartoonist. In fact, I consider that my first love,” Bell says. “And I think S. Clay Wilson put it best when he said, ‘If you can’t be a cartoonist, perhaps you might be an artist.’”
Bell studied commercial art for five years at the University of Arizona in the late 1960s (dropping out three credits shy of a degree), took classes at Scottsdale Artists’ School and worked in an art studio for six years with legendary Arizona painter Ed Mell. In 1978, Bell produced a comic strip for Phoenix New Times called “Honky-Tonk Sue,” which Bell says was bought by Columbia Pictures in the 1980s to be adapted into a movie starring Goldie Hawn that never materialized. For the next six years, Bell did a two-page weekly comic spread in Phoenix New Times, poking fun at Arizona figures both historical and contemporary. “I skewered everything from ‘the Apaches invented moonwalking’ [“Moonwalking with Geronimo”] to all the politicos of that time – Barry Goldwater, Margaret Hance, Terry Goddard – just whatever crossed my mind, they’d let me do. I did a thing on Scottsdale being the ‘West’s Most Midwestern Town,’” Boze recalls.
Almost all the pieces in the exhibition 201 Zany Zonies: The Irreverent Cartoons of Bob Boze Bell, on display through March 1 at the Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park, are from Bell’s New Times comics. Some of Bell’s comics also appear alongside his illustrations for True West Moments at Scottsdale Museum of the West, where they reside in the permanent collection. Visit bobbozebell.net for more information.
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