“Justice ain’t got no age” is the perfect tag line for Cow Boy, a new all ages comic about a ten year old boy in the Wild West. As the introductory page explains, “Boyd’s exploits ain’t for those with weak bellies and genteel dispositions..” Good thing I don’t know any kids like that! Written by Nate Cosby and illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, and published by Archaia, Cow Boy will appeal to kids and adults alike.
The Cow Boy himself, Boyd, is introduced as he heads off to capture his first bounty, Dub Linney. As the storyline unfolds, we learn that each bounty on his list is actually a member of his family, and Dub is his father. Boyd’s sense of justice overrides any family ties, though, and his fierce independence requires him to take them in, one by one.
Boyd’s voice shines through from the very first line, “Bounty huntin’s simple. A man done wrong. You get that man.” I found myself reading his words out loud, just to hear him speaking. His voice was incredibly appealing to the two boys in my own house, and I’m excited to find out what my students think about it in the fall. The writing could also be a wonderful model for students on how dialect enhances character development, if teachers wanted to use a portion as a mentor text.
Boyd stands up for his beliefs, and he’s a charming little rogue while he does it. I heard echoes of some of my favorite scoundrels in many of his lines. Like Han Solo, he tosses down some coins and apologizes for the trouble he’s caused. With each story in the book, we get small glimpses into Boyd’s past. It’s clear his sense of fair play wasn’t inherited or taught at home. Kids will love his spunk and commitment to his ideals.
The art is a perfect match for the story. The simple lines, wonderful lettering, and slightly washed out colors gives it a rugged feel, and every picture feels like I’ve jumped into the old West. Even the end papers and the appearance of faded leather on the cover add to the overall experience of becoming a Wild West bounty hunter. The panels flow easily from one to the next; making it a graphic novel even a new fan of the format could follow with ease.
The book is labeled E for everyone, and recommended to kids second grade and up. While Boyd does carry what looks like a rifle in the shape of a ride on horse, he refers to it as a “pea shooter with a loud holler”, and none of the gun fights have casualties.
Nate and Chris took a huge risk and released most of the content for free online at Cowboycomic.net prior to publication. That content is still available for you to check out for yourself. Their hope was that people who read it would be hooked and want to own a copy. I’ll tell you what, it worked for me. I grabbed two copies, and had to fight my sons to get them back to read for this review. I can’t wait to bring it to my classroom in the fall, and I’m sure it won’t spend very much time on the shelves. Get your very own copy of Cow Boy, by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos.