Readers will recognize C.F. Payne’s work even if they don’t know his name: His illustrations have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Time, and Mad. Though he’s an Ohio native—he lives in Cincinnati—he also has strong Texas credentials. “I lived in Dallas from 1980 to 1987, when I started my freelance career,” Payne says. “I worked for the Dallas Times Herald, D Magazine, and even texas monthly.” This month he returns to our pages by drawing the late lieutenant governor Bob Bullock (“The Devil and Bob Bullock,”. “I remember him from my days in Dallas,” he says. “There were a pile of characters like him— Jim Mattox, Jim Hightower—and they certainly kept Molly Ivins busy.” Spoken like a true Texan.
All writers dread deadlines, but it’s nothing short of a miracle that Cecilia Ballí found the time to write “Bridge Game,” an essay about crossing the Texas-Mexico border. The Houston resident and texas monthly writer-at-large is finishing a doctorate in cultural anthropology at Rice University, as well as applying for two postdoctoral fellowships. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also putting the final touches on a book project she has been working on for the past four years about the murders of young women in Ciudad Juárez. “I don’t have a lot of spare time right now,” Ballí says. Still, she manages to have some fun. “I love to read narrative nonfiction and books on spirituality, and I love to dance salsa.”
As an original member of the texas monthly staff—and as the magazine’s editor from 1981 to 2000—writer-at-large Gregory Curtis covered topics from Farrah Fawcett and cheerleaders to Lee Harvey Oswald and female ax murderers. His interests today are no less eclectic. He teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Texas at Austin, has written two books (one on the Venus de Milo, the other on cave painters), and has finished a couple of articles for M-U-M, a magic magazine. In this issue, he questions the authenticity of a letter by Davy Crockett (“What a Crockett!”). “I’m very interested in historical documents,” Curtis says. “The origins of this one just didn’t seem right.”