Will James is sometimes known as the “Lone Cowboy”. He was a writer and illustrator who lived through the last days of the American “wild west”. The man wrote words and drew images that retain a sprit that is as gritty as a dusty cowboy boot.
He was a drifter in southwestern America, working ranches and even did work as a stuntman. A man as rugged as the landscape in which he worked. He lived the majority of his life on ranches and among horses, and cattle. He spent a year in jail for cattle rustling, and during that time he found his peace in sketching.
Reading his words, and viewing his images I get a sense of this rugged life. The detail of the horses and the deserts, in his sketches reveal his keen eye for detail. An eye that really knew his subject. His words reveal a vocabulary and style that can be savoured. There is so many ideas stored in these books, and a persona of a man who lived life hard and tough.
These are the books that grandfathers would have been inspired by. Take the time this winter to sit down and enjoy one of his books and drift back to a time of broncos, mustangs and sleeping in soogans under a star-filled sky. You may find a charm with the peculiar grammar and structure as I did. When people spoke a more simple and gentler kind of way.