Herewith, a sheaf of images from my books and articles, a broadband miscellany of subjects – low-tech physics, historical tales, storytelling, and explanations of how things work.
WHAT IF YOU MET A COWBOY? is the last of a tryptich, insisting that the real deal, the actual historical figures of cowboy, pirate and knight, are far more interesting and shockingly different from the movie version. Jake Peavy, the worn and wiry cow-herding exemplar reveals a life of tedium and danger in the open, though the details and chuck wagon menus are piquant.
WHAT IF YOU MET A PIRATE? reveals the unexpectedly busy and polite life of pirates, usually smugglers and scofflaws, seldom if ever bloodthirsty. They spun up their reputation as villains to frighten merchants and to aggrandize their own largely moderate lives.
WHAT IF YOU MET A KNIGHT? is an introduction to the Middle Ages, and to the complex interaction of the feudal ladder, which obligated everyone in that distant society, up and down. I hope this book debunks all the fair ladies and chivalrous gentlefolk nonsense to replace it with actual people dealing with an uncertain, post-Roman world. It turns out that jousting was never done in battle; it was more like professional bowling, but for the upper classes.
BRIDGES: FROM MY SIDE TO YOURS is one of my favorites, a history of engineering from prehistory to modern composite materials. I hope it demonstrates the historical certainty that folks in the past were just as intelligent as we are and often a great deal more practical. I also hope it points up my central dictum: All the good stories are real. Bridges don’t sound romantic and exciting. But they can be if you find their stories.
Architecture is a topic I mean to mine much more. Some of these drawings were done for an unpublished book about the evolution of the American home. I’d like to see that book in print soon. As for the other architectural drawings, I love architecture and building. I meant to be an architect until I found that the Old Guys who produced those marvelous Romanesque stone schools and depots were all dead. Had been for years.
Things: I’m accused of being a Thing Maven. True. I love to explore the workings of cleverly designed tools and inventions. So did my father.
BERTHA TAKES A DRIVE is a new book that will appear late this year, published by Charlesbridge Publishers in Massachusetts. It’s one of my favorite historical stories about an indomitably tough little woman, Bertha Benz, wife and partner of Karl Benz. Brilliant engineer Karl invented the first real automobile (and so many automobile necessities we still employ). Kaiser Wilhelm and the church feared the anarchic notion of citizens driving where and when they wanted; the first Benz auto was forbidden to travel abroad. But Bertha ignored this inconvenience and marketing setback. She ducked the police stationed outside the workshop and took her two sons on a 100 kilometer jaunt through the Black Forest to visit her mother, defying law and opinion and likelihood. I wish I’d known her.
Museum Exhibits: Part of my work is writing for and imaging museum exhibits. I work with old friends, Eisterhold Associates, out of Kansas City, Missouri. This is a smattering of what-if drawings for some of our proposals.
WoodenBoat Magazine is one of my literary and artistic homes. I love those folks. I have a regular 8 pp feature for each issue under the title “Getting Started In Boats,” which encourages new boaters to explore the water world. It’s hard technical research for an unsparing audience but a joy to strive.
The Log of Matthew Roving is a curious series of time travel adventures Naval history Magazine ran some years back. We were delighted to receive some kind awards for its high-flown tales written by Don Wallace.
People: I love to draw historic figures, even when I must make them up. I admit, in this instance, that I have no direct research images of Noah or St. Elmo but it hasn’t stopped me. The whimsical images of Julia Child, Ox Knox, and Nathaniel Hawthorne are from a series of cooking pieces that ran in Maine Boats Homes & Harbors, another favorite home.
NOTE: I have a backlog of stock explanations and images. One image of the Zheng He Treasure Ship has been reprinted dozens of times. You may need a handy explanation or explication – basic physics, aircraft, boats, knots & cordage, history, WW I and WW II, &c. I’m considering a stock catalogue on-line.