Alternating Crimes has been a voice for original thinkers from North Carolina and nationally since the mid 1980’s where it began as a literary arts magazine that featured comics. Since those Reagan era horror infested days, it’s been a comic book that drove Hell Car and now it’s moved online exposing new alternating currents.

Contact us: info@alternatingcrimes.com

The Art of Boone’s Native Seed Company

Written by Daniel Gallant • Artwork is by DAVID LARSON (except where noted)

It wasn’t many years after Russell Boone closed the chapter on publishing Scream Magazine, a literary arts magazine that featured illustration and comics, that a return to publishing was somehow inevitable. And when he began a new business venture selling Native Seeds through an annual catalog, he saw it as an opportunity to work with a few previous contributors of Scream Magazine that he felt might be a strong fit for making the catalog unique and memorable.

Russ and I had become friends during my time doing art and comics for Scream, and he had seen me cut my teeth in the design world as I helped design it’s last few issues. I was now running my own design and illustration studio, so he enlisted my help to get started on producing Boone’s Native Seed Catalog. Along with engaging and well written entries and thoughtful categories, he had an aesthetic in mind for the look and brand of the catalog and company. The design would be reminiscent of the tightly grided look of a nature catalog closer to the beginning of the previous century but with a modern slant. Fortunately I had also been doing a pencil illustration style that was not at all distant from that direction, and so would serve nicely to create interior illustrations. Since there was a tiny budget, the key to pulling of the look was to print the interiors in a single color on a nice natural recycled French paper. And except for the first annual catalog, we printed the covers in 1 or 2 spot colors.

David Larson

I’d like to say I was the first person Russell called in on the project, but that honor went to David Larson to create covers. Considering his contributions to Scream Magazine right from the start, I always assumed David was Russ’ “go to” guy. And what a talent. His diverse and highly emotive style has made him one of my favorite artists from the first day I saw his work. I will always happily step aside for this great talent and genuinely nice person.

Often in a gentle pastel or charcoal style, very unlike his Scream work, David would bring a pleasant feelto each new cover. Every piece of art typically portraying a female in nature or in a home setting in the act of planting or just enjoying the fruits of their planting labor. David would often supply a few different options based on Russell’s initial direction. It was a delight to come over and view the latest covers. While I would often give my preferences, Russ gratefully made the final decisions. I have always have a terrible time choosing between often equally beautiful covers. I regretted using duotone or monotone versions of the art for the final cover, but I always worked to retain some of the tonal pleasures of each piece. Each year I would challenge myself through overprinting screens to get as much out of the color as I could and make it unique from all previous annuals.

Cowboy Ant Illustration by Daniel Gallant

Fresh Directions

After 4 or 5 years Russell began to expand on how to keep the Catalog fresh. I always imagined the long hours in nature collecting Native Seeds afforded him great periods of free thinking. And somewhere during that time he conceived a return to storytelling in the form of “Cowboy Ant.” A four page comic insert that embraced the Native Seed concept at its root, but with action and even a little political intrigue drawn into the continuing saga. He would bring me the project in the form of a completely scripted first chapter, ready for me to create characters, design their world as well as well as a telling a powerful and engaging story. I was hot from completely a number of comics in recently and felt it was very opportune to start into a fresh direction.

Around this same time, David started doing some pen and ink work for a newsletter Russ was creating, and it led to his first pen and ink cover. Continuing to mix things up, I was allowed to stretch my legs by doing a few covers. I was excited to really plan the two spot color development from the ground up. I also brought in my own aesthetics and subjects as I drew my (soon to be) wife on the 2004 cover.

All Good Things End

Which leads to what would be the last year getting to do the catalog. Unfortunately Russell had a stroke and recovery was very slow. Still determined to continue, we met often as he struggled to complete his work before an accident involving traumatic brain injury made him incapable of continuing. Our final effort to complete the catalog, Cowboy Ant and create the soon to be shelved website would show me the strength of Russell’s will power and commitment to something he truly loved.

It was an unfortunate end to a unique and fun project and a painful experience watching a friend and mentor unable to continue his dreams. Looking back, I can see through his guidance and fine work, yet again, Russell Judd Boone created a pleasing and aesthetic legacy worth remembering.

Want to Know More About Cowboy Ant?

Though dramatically different from the calm aesthetics of the covers and illustrations found in Boone’s Native See Catalog, no vision is complete without experiencing THE ANGUISHED ADVENTURES OF COWBOY ANT. Not only can this article be found in the digital edition (see links below), but there’s more art to enjoy. But we have a few pages of Cowboy Ant to enjoy and sample:

An In Depth Article About the Life and Times of Its Creation

An In Depth Article About the Life and Times of Its Creation

Purchase a Digital Edition with More Great Art Right Here

The digital edition can be found in this great publication: THE ANGUISHED ADVENTURES OF COWBOY ANT !

Who is Cowboy Ant?

Russell Boone’s celebrated Native Seed catalog began publishing “The Anguished Adventures of Cowboy Ant” in his annual catalog as a response to the corporate takeover of the seed industry and the world food source. Written and designed as an action adventure, this comic sought to inform and entertain alike.