ADVANCE REVIEW: Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse

Note: This review was originally published on December 6, 2011.

Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse

Written by Nate Cosby
Art, Color, and Letters by Chris Eliopoulos

90 pages / Color

Archaia Entertainment

When you pick up Cow Boy, you think you know what you’re getting; one of Archaia’s great all-ages comics drawn in Chris Eliopoulos’ signature cartoon style, the little cowboy on the cover even has a toy stick horse. You think it’s going to be a bright, adorable tale full of whimsy.

It ain’t.

Boyd Linney, with his round face and over-sized cowboy hat, completely disarms you with his adorableness. The cover lulls you into a warm sense of security, only to have the comic punch you in the gut with a lonely, grizzled lead character. You’re thinking Woody the Cowboy, but you’re given Jonah Hex. Boyd will break your heart with his cold determination and righteousness. Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos have created a comic that brilliantly goes against your all expectations to deliver a rich and heartbreaking story.

Boyd Linney is a straight shootin’ bounty hunter. He may only be 10 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from getting the job done. Like Mattie Ross of True Grit, Boyd is a very serious child who is very serious about his mission. His whole family has done wrong, and he intends to make sure each one of them pays for their crimes.

Nate Cosby does a fantastic job establishing Boyd’s character. He’s a fiercely independent boy with a steadfast moral code. He can be a bit too fond of tusslin’ which makes for some fun action scenes and snappy one-liners. But he’s also a terribly lonely child with very little real family. And as such, Cow Boy is rife with strained relationships and heartache, culminating in a final chapter that had me reaching for the tissue box.

Cow Boy is an all-ages comic in the truest sense of the word. Cosby doesn’t talk down to the younger members of his audience. He doesn’t get cutesy or use juvenile humor to keep their attention. Instead he tells his story straight and exceptionally well. Yes, there are some well-timed humor and sight gags, but the comic feels more like a classic John Wayne Western than a Disney kids adventure.

BoydThere are a lot of things to love about Cow Boy. And a lot of them are because of Chris Eliopoulos’ expert craftsmanship. He penciled, inked, colored and lettered the book. And he’s done a magnificent job with all of it. The colors give this comic the warmth and texture of a worn, stained book, no small feat for something being read digitally. They pull you in to the dusty, rough-and-tumble world Boyd lives in. It should come as no surprise to those familiar with Eliopoulos’ work that he also hand-lettered all five chapters of the comic.

The artwork is understated and subtle. With something as simple as a furrowed brow, a pointed glance, or an exasperated sigh, Eliopolous can break your heart. There are a lot of silent panels in this book. A lot of pent-up aggression and strong emotions brimming under the surface of things. And Eliopoulos just nails it every time. He also creates some fantastic action sequences and well-timed bits of visual humor. Like Bill Watterson, Eliopoulos’ masterful cartooning brings the exact emotion necessary for each scene.

In addition to Boyd’s story, Cow Boy includes short Western-themed “back-ups” by Roger Langridge, Mike Maihack, Colleen Coover, Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener and Mitch Gerads, between each chapter of the main narrative. All of them will put a smile on your face (although I think Maihack’s is my favorite).

Cow Boy is a book full of heart and soul. Both Cosby and Eliopoulos have put their all into this labor of love. And it shines through on every single page. The comic is a joy to read, even when it makes you sad. Cow Boy is so wonderfully different from all the comics I’ve read, and I can’t wait to share it with people.

The first seven pages are available on the Cow Boy blog. Chapters 1 through 5 will be officially released as a webcomic starting in January. And a hardcover collected edition will be published by Archaia in April 2012.

 

Story: 4 / Art: 5 / Overall: 4.5

(Out of 5 Stars)

Comments

  1. Those are some killer eyebrows on Boyd.

    Eliopoulos really is the ideal artist for an all-ages book. The look that he gives his art is bar none.

  2. Blargo Blargo says:

    Oh man this looks awesome. Dat scene with the bartender.

  3. wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

    I was all excited to look for this soon and then got to the bottom. This is a really advance review lol

    still, will be keeping an eye on the Cow Boy blog

  4. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    Whenever I see the cover for this I think it’s a “Tiny Titans” take on the Walking Dead, and thats Carl.

  5. player1 player1 says:

    They had me at 90 pages of Chris Eliopoulos.

    Price?

  6. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    I loved it since I read the preview in Archaia’s fab FCBD book, but I have to admit I find it pretty disturbing. A must buy for me. I hope for a redeeming final.

  7. pyynk pyynk says:

    It’s gonna be a little while before I can pick this up, but I’ll definitely be getting it.

  8. daccampo daccampo says:

    I picked this up at C2E2 based on Ali’s recommendation, and I was blown away. I wasn’t sure I’d like it based on the high concept, but it hits the mark so well, I was very happy I made the purchase. It’s got that childlike innocence and wonder brushing up against all the classic Western tropes, and somehow it becomes better for it. Heartbreaking where you don’t expect it to be. Highly recommended.