Guns—pistols and revolvers, rifles and shotguns—have appeared on a total of 23 previous Texas Monthly covers (not including our October 2013 cover, which Jake Silverstein writes about here.) Here are ten of our favorites, dating back all the way to December 1973, our eleventh issue.
1. “Ted or Alive” by John Spong, July 2009
John Spong comes face-to-face with the Nuge, aka Ted Nugent, whose “eyes still blaze with that lunatic glow familiar from album covers of his late-seventies heyday.” Kneeling with a big, black rifle on the cover, Nugent loves a good hunt, a good groupie and a good, uh, sound bite.
2. “The Last Posse” by Gary Cartwright, March 1998
A group of hard lawmen—shown on the cover with rifles in hand and badges on hip—set out to track down some horse rustlers on the dusty stretches of Texas … in 1996. Members of this ad hoc posse—a ragtag bunch of Texas Rangers, U.S. marshals, Secret Service agents, and even an assistant U.S. Attorney—represent “the spiritual descendants of an unforgiving school of frontier lawmen who recognized the fundamental, unbreakable bond between man and horse.”
3. “Hallie and Farewell” by Helen Thorpe, October 1997
A little old lady graces this cover—but not just any old lady. In her 99 years, Big Bend rancher Hallie Stillwell grew to be a living symbol of “West Texas in its wild and woolly days,” hence the cowboy hat and rifle.
4. “Sadder but Wiser” by Paul Burka, April 1994
Back to back, shotguns at the ready, two Anns smile on the cover as the 1994 election draws near. That smile, however, belies a “sadder, but wiser” Ann Richards, who, despite enjoying “the most successful tenure of any Texas governor since John Connally,” found herself “haunted by her failures rather than invigorated by her accomplishments.”
5. “The Twilight of the Texas Rangers” by Robert Draper, February 1994
On the cover, a Ranger stands resolutely in black and white, a throwback to an earlier time in Texas history. But, with him and his kind struggling to fit into a modern world, is he too big for his chaps? “The Rangers have seen through their own myths and are confronting their worst fear: that they may become uncontroversial and in fact irrelevant,” Draper writes.
6. “The Italian Connection” by John Bloom, September 1980
Ski mask? Check. Leather gloves? Check. Pistol? No doubt. Now you’re ready to dive into the European black market for priceless art with John Bloom and his shady friend Barry, just like the art thief on the cover.
7. “The Texan and His Gun” by Jan Reid, March 1979
A handgun, front and center, is jammed down a man’s pants on this cover. What would bring him to use it? Jan Reid offers three perspectives on the “ongoing debate” on Texas’s “frontier attitudes toward firearms.”
8. “Candy” by Gary Cartwright, December 1976
Armed with two six-shooters and a sexiness that liberated a “generation of milquetoasts,” Candy Barr packs some heat on this cover. As Gary Cartwright would discover, even a couple decades removed from her ‘50s heyday, she was still a “hurricane in a Dixie Cup.”
9. “Who Was Jack Ruby?” by Gary Cartwright, November 1975
Red seems an appropriate color to circle Jack Ruby in this iconic photo of him firing his revolver at Lee Harvey Oswald’s chest. “If there is a tear left, shed it for Jack Ruby. He didn’t make history; he only stepped in front of it,” Cartwright wrote. This strange man’s strange end marked a period of “violence, shock, treachery, and paranoia” for both Dallas and the nation.
10. “Hit Man!” by Al Reinart, December 1973
This is the last thing Dr. John Hill saw, a grimace and a bright spark of yellow, shown on the cover. This is your conversation with a hit man, a man in the business—and it is only a business, mind you—of “professional murder.”