Hey, I hate to brag about my new newspaper home, but…

OK, I lied already. In fact, I’d love to brag about us.

Today, the Orange County Register published a fun three-way collaboration on a story about a longtime resident, John Wayne. The actor. Yeah, he lived in Newport Beach — the same city featured on Arrested Development. Wayne died more than 30 years ago, but he sort of lives on in name and in deed in this area.

Today’s John Wayne triple-feature begins on page one of today’s Register with a fun, fun cartoon illustration of the Duke riding a jet airplane.

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That was created by former OCR staffer Kurt Snibbe. Kurt left the Register a while back to work as the cartoonist and all-around visuals guy for ESPN’s Page Two. However, that gig ended recently when ESPN laid off a bunch of folks.

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Kurt’s doing freelance work out of his home in Dana Point, just south of Newport Beach. It’s great to find his stuff on page one today. Find his ESPN work here and his Twitter feed here.

The second component of today’s feature is the guy responsible for this whole thing: Superstar reporter, writer and fun guy Ron Sylvester.

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Ron, who came to us a few weeks ago from the Las Vegas Sun, has barely taken a 15-minute break since he arrived. The guy is truly all over the place, especially in our wonderful community sections. Unfortunately, all his stories are behind the OCR‘s paywall — hence, no links to the John Wayne story or any of his others.

UPDATE: Wrong again, Pilgrim. Find the story here with no paywall.

As an incentive to click and read further, here’s a taste of Ron’s lede:

As a young girl, Marisa Wayne remembered wondering why her father would support President Jimmy Carter, when the two had such opposing political views.

John Wayne, after all, was almost as famous a Republican as he was a movie star. He’d campaigned for Barry Goldwater and supported his friend Ronald Reagan from the California governor’s mansion to his bid for president in 1976. Yet when Carter was elected to the White House that same year, John Wayne went to his inauguration.

“I would say, ‘But he’s a Democrat,’ ” said Marisa, of Newport Beach, who was 13 when her father died 24 years ago. “I was very young and I thought you were either all or nothing.”

She remembered her father’s answer in that slow, determined drawl:

“He’s my president now. I’m an American and I support him. Maybe I disagree with his politics but the people elected him, and I respect him for that.”

Man, you don’t see that kind of attitude any more. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was practically disemboweled by the GOP for not ragging on the current president after superstorm Sandy last fall.

You can find Ron’s Twitter feed here.

One time Ron did take a 15-minute break was at lunch one day last week. He plopped down at my table and told me about the John Wayne story. I told him it sounded like a great Focus page. “Glad you said that,” he said.

Turned out, Ron had quite a bit of material that seemed more like infographic material than narrative. He knew he’d have only so much room for graphics with his story. So how can a reporter get a full page of additional space to run in conjunction with his story?

If he works at the Orange County Register, he can enlist the new Focus page editor to build a page to run the same day as his story. Which brings us to the third component of today’s package. Click this for a much larger, readable view:

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Ron wrote the material for that page and I designed it on Monday. The photos were all in the Register‘s archives — with the exception of the beef jerky (there’s such a thing as John Wayne brand beef jerky!) and the picture of the John Wayne Cancer Institute building at upper left. Google Street View to the rescue.

So that was today’s project. Three talented folks (well, two talented folks, plus me). Three moving pieces. One fun story.

Average daily circulation for the Orange County Register is 280,812.

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