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When director of digital development Charlie Llewellin first moved to Texas, in 1991, he wanted to see as much of the state as possible. “At first the western deserts were scary places,” he says. “But in 1994 I rented a baby-blue Ford Tempo and drove out to this place I had heard about called Big Bend and fell in love with West Texas.” Llewellin has since become TEXAS MONTHLY’S resident outdoorsman, exploring the state’s myriad swimming holes, mountains, rivers, and, this month, parks (“Into the Wild”). “I had never even been to Brazos Bend or Purtis Creek before,” Llewellin says. “They are both beautiful.”
The first and only time that Roberto Parada has been to Texas was in 2006. “I had a bone marrow transplant in 2004, for severe aplastic anemia,” he says. “I met my donor in El Paso, two years afterward. It’s a special place.” The transplant worked, but at no point did Parada let his illness stop him from painting. This month he illustrates characters from famous Texas movies (“No Country for Bad Movies”), such as Leatherface, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. “For such an iconic figure,” Parada says, “you’ve got to put him on a mechanical bull.”
Denton-born cartoonist Matt Diffee may be best known for his witty single-panel satires in the New Yorker, but this month for TEXAS MONTHLY he tackles a feature-length cartoon about the trials and tribulations of competing in a rattlesnake-racing contest (“Rattled!”). Far from an expert serpent charmer, Diffee survives a swipe from his snake, witnesses some bad fashion accessories, and learns a fact or two about the reptiles. For example, Diffee told us, “you call a group of rattlesnakes a rhumba.” But how does he find inspiration for his quirky drawings? “It’s focused daydreaming,” he says. “Often it involves naps.”