Nate Cosby spent years as an editor for Marvel Comics, and has worked on a number of books, most of them of the All-Ages variety. As is the nature of Marvel Comics, much of Cosby’s projects were superhero themed, featuring men in tights punching each other in the face. Since going freelance in early 2011, it seems as if Cosby has been looking to break the superhero streak, having written titles such as PIGS for Image Comics. His newest creator-owned project, Cow Boy, is further proof of his desire to move on to new genres.
Cosby teams with Chris Eliopoulos, whose work for Marvel is countless in numerous aspects, from writer, to artist, to letterer. Set in the Old West, Cow Boy is the story of Boyd, a tough talking bounty hunter who don’t take no guff from anyone. Oh, yeah. Boyd’s also ten years old.
Like a prepubescent John Wayne, Boyd sets out into the small town of Hickory in search of a bounty. With the air of a loner, he makes his presence known with an abundance of spitting a few words. The dialogue of the book is spot-on, capturing the ambiance of a 60’s pulp western book. Boyd oozes tough guy charm as he spots one of my favorite lines: “Wouldn’t worry too much ‘bout my gun, sir, but I might fret about its bullets.” Pure genius from a true wordsmith.
The plot of Cow Boy is much more intense than what I originally expected, dealing with extremely serious themes. Though Boyd is a young boy, we see that he has been forced to age much quicker than most children, having to fend for himself. However, Boyd meets one character who reminds him that, despite all of the grownup things that he does, Boyd may not be as grown up as he likes to think he is. The lighthearted images belay a heavy-handed storytelling, making Cow Boy the kind of story that the comic book industry desperately needs, proving that the medium can be used to tell more than just superhero stories.
Chris Eliopoulos, who has won numerous awards throughout his career, really shines in Cow Boy. Anyone familiar with Eliopoulos’ work knows that he has a distinctive style, as evidenced in Franklin Richards: Son Of A Genius and his webcomic Misery Loves Sherman. While it may seem out of place in a heavy-handed western drama, the art really works. Eliopoulos manages to squeeze great examples of emotion from his characters, despite their playful design. His color palette, too, also sets the mood for the story; the book just feels like a dusty old western due to the use of muted colors and earthtones on every page. At every step of the way, readers can see that much care was placed into the crafting of the art, which is what I would expect from Eliopoulos.
Published by Archaia Entertainment, Cow Boy will consist of five chapters and be released digitally in January, each new chapter available weekly. The release will also feature four separate short stories, written and illustrated by different creators, such as Colleen Coover, Mike Maihack, and Roger Landridge. Each of the short stories is done in a similar vein as Cow Boy, but varying in tone from serious to absurd. While the short stories aren’t part of the over-arcing tale, they help to break up the weightiness of Boyd’s adventure. A final, hardcover collection will be available at the end of March, just in time for C2E2, which takes place April 13-15.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a story that took me by surprise the way that Cow Boy has. I’ve been a fan of superheroes since the age of ten, but it took this one little story of a tiny cowboy to really open my eyes to what comic books can truly accomplish when you pair the right writer with the write artist. I was only able to get an early glimpse of the first three chapters of Cow Boy, so I am eagerly awaiting the book’s release so I can see how the story turns out. Kudos to Nate Cosby, Chris Eliopoulos and the rest of the crew that put so much effort into making a great book; while it may be cliché to say but their hard work really paid off.
Oh, and special thanks to Chris Eliopoulos and his YouTube channel for this Cow Boy trailer.