Book Of The Month – May 2012
Written by Nate Cosby
Illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos
When one thinks of a classic Western movie, gun slingin’, cattle rustlin’, and spittoon spittin’ may come to mind. The notorious man with no name, or a lone ranger of sorts out on an epic journey through the plains, riding off into the sunset. Have I clichéd enough yet? Wonderful. The point I’m trying to make is this; the Western genre is one that embodies several recognizable traits which became implanted into our memories since childhood. The Stetsons (Stetsons are cool), the cactus, the bleached cattle skull; Whether you fondly remember playing Cowboys & Indians with your friends, or Cowboys & Aliens with your LARPing buddies, chances are you’ve felt like the living spirit of the Wild Wild West at one point or another in your life.
Upon reading Cow Boy by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos, I was hooked from title page alone. If it’s one thing that gives a Western that authentic feel, it’s the language. The vocabulary morphs that voice in your head as being read by Sam Elliot, and you’re mentally chewing on cud in between word balloons. However, with the protagonist Boyd Linney being ten-years old, a prepubescent Sam Elliot comes to mind instead, and makes me laugh just imagining it. The line that made me fall in love from the get-go was “Boyd’s exploits ain’t for those with weak bellies and genteel dispositions.” Absolute gold, and the entire book is bursting with it.
Boyd Linney is a ten-year old bounty hunter in the Old West, trying to wrangle-up his own crooked kin. For “Justice ain’t got no age,” and Boyd’s determined to see to it that every yellow-bellied possum of an outlaw that he calls ‘family’ is delivered straight to the clinker, and he collects the bounty. In this first volume, A Boy And His Horse, Boyd is on a mission to track down his father Dub Linney and his older brother Zeke Linney. I say first volume, because I’m dying to see him round up the rest of the clan in future volumes! We see flashbacks and interactions with his family when he’s a baby, and apparently babies hold the deepest grudges. Then again, you might as well if you were tossed into a pigpen at an early age, and the swine treated you with kindness your own brother never gave you.
If you’ve never be lucky enough to observe Chris Eliopoulos art, this would be a good graphic novel to start with and get a feel of what he’s about. I came to know his style through the Franklin Richards series over at Marvel, and it’s very reminiscent of Bill Watterson and Charles Schultz, which makes me feel all warm and nostalgic on the inside. It’s entertaining seeing this ten-year old kid strut around and act like an adult, while not being taken seriously in the slightest. Does he break character? Quite the opposite; he proves to everyone that he is in fact a bounty hunter, and will do whatever it takes to get his man. If Jonah Hex had a son, Boyd Linney would kick his ass. The customized pee-shooter / stick horse is a great ‘weapon’, and Boyd wields it like a pro.
This being an all ages title, it’s easy to pass along to a younger comics reader after you’re done enjoying it. The paper stock has a nice thick feel to it, and the mini comics in between stories done by the likes of Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Collen Coover and more are an added bonus. The Old West is alive and well in this title, and it makes me want to go watch something with Clint Eastwood in it now. If this isn’t nominated for an Eisner next year, I suggest we run that panel of judges, nay, varmints, out of town faster than a tumbleweed in a tornado.
Now getalong little doggies, and go pick-up and read Cow Boy today. It’s tremendous fun, it’s a Western, and it’s a comic. What more could you possibly want?