Cow Boy features a miniature man with no name out for justice in the harsh, Old West. Well, not exactly: Cow Boy is actually about Boyd Linney, a squinty li’l hero out to bring down some outlaws he knows all too well. Created by writer Nate Cosby (Pigs, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller) and artist Chris Eliopoulos (Misery Loves Sherman), the series, which has been running online since January, is getting a hardcover collection this June from Archaia.
We chatted with Cosby by e-mail about Cow Boy as well as his other creator-owned project Pigs.
MTV Geek: For our readers who don’t know, what’s Cow Boy about?
Nate Cosby: Cow Boy’s the tale of Boyd Linney, a 10-year-old bounty hunter dedicated to rounding up his entire outlaw family.
Geek: Tell us a little about Boyd.
Cosby: Boyd’s had a rough life. Raised by and around criminals of all sorts, he’s now fed up with everything he’s seen to this point, and shuns it in favor of a different path. He talks and acts tough, and rolls into every town with a chip on his shoulder and a modified stick-horse shotgun in his hands. But Boyd’s not Clint Eastwood… he’s just a kid. He sometimes does things impulsively, incorrectly. He’s learning as he goes along… sometimes that leads to good things, sometimes tragedy.
Geek: Was there ever a Boyd in your life?
Cosby: Growing up in Mississippi (and now living in Colorado), I know my fair share of cowboys. Cowboys are hard people to read sometimes, because they don’t always feel the need to tell you what they’re thinking. And when they DO finally speak, it’s because something’s been burning in their mind for a while. Boyd’s like that, a ball of tempered aggression, quiet most of the time, but speaks his mind when the situation calls for it. I have friends like that, and I’m like that sometimes too. There’s a LOT of my own personality in Boyd, for better or worse. I’ve been told a LOT that Boyd’s speech pattern is pretty much the way I talk in real life… so I’ve stopped denying how much I personally identify with Boyd.
Geek: How’d you arrive at the idea of a kid, his horse, and the old West? And how did you get Chris Eliopoulos onboard for this?
Cosby: I’ve always loved Westerns, and I wanted to do a Western that could be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
At the same time, Chris Eliopoulos and I were talking about collaborating on something. Chris has no background or particular affinity for the genre, but I asked him to draw a cowboy in his own style. He did, I looked at it, and I immediately wrote down “Cow Boy.” It just made sense.
From there, I wrote the first chapter of the hardcover in a couple days, having no plot in mind for it, just pouring out whatever came to me. Chris liked it, I developed Boyd’s entire life and mythos for the rest of the book, and it went from there. I ONLY considered Chris for Cow Boy, his art inspired me to write and I like to think my scripts inspired him to take time from his super-busy schedule to draw.
Cow Boy is the best art Chris has ever done.
Geek: How’s Pigs coming along? Any teases for the book that you might want to share with our readers?
Cosby: Ben McCool and I are wrapping up the second arc in the next month or so… we’ve just locked down the specifics through Issue 12, and it’s pretty dang nuts. All I can tell you is get ready for Issue 8, where the Pigs’ entire origin is laid out, but not at all in the way you’d expect. It’s mine and Ben’s version of an “info-dump” issue, but we’re trying to make it the coolest info-dump possible.
AND…something BIG is happening to the Pigs in a few months. It’s gonna be… I’ve said too much.
Geek: Is there a little bit of whiplash going from the somewhat more gentle-natured stuff in Cow Boy to the all-out action/violence of Pigs?
Cosby: Not really. I’m accustomed to working on several different projects for varied demographics. It’s all about telling a good story. Whether you need to be careful not to over-saturate your target audience with sex and violence, or go hog-wild with every crazy thing I can think of. No matter what the content or the audience, the focus is always on crafting a good story.
Geek: You’ve got some great contributors pitching in short stories for the hardcover. It’d probably suck to have to pick a favorite so… pick a favorite.
Cosby: Colleen Coover’s, obviously. Next question.
KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could NEVER pick a favorite, because I was CRAZY-fortunate to have some of my favorite creators do short stories for Cow Boy. Roger Langridge, Mike Maihack, Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Mitch Gerads & the aforementioned Ms. Coover were SO gracious to contribute awesome Western tales that fit between Boyd’s chapters. I’m really lucky to have such cool people taking the time for mine and Chris’ lil’ book.
Geek: I’ve been digging your “If I wrote…” posts on Tumblr in the voices of various comic characters. Hands-down, what character that’s not your own would you love to write?
Cosby: Thanks! They’re fun exercises to do, getting in the heads of characters I’m familiar with, before I strike out to create my own characters. My favorite one to write would have to be a 3-way tie between Golden Age Superman, Tim Drake Robin, and Impulse. Those characters are so unbelievably interesting to me, and I can relate to all of them. Captain Marvel and The Rocketeer would be my back-up choices.
Geek: Some writers with creator-owned projects kind of bristle at the idea of imagining writing for corporate characters. What are your thoughts on that?
Cosby: Every writer’s entitled to their opinion on writing for hire or writing what they own. I personally have no problem with writing characters that aren’t mine, as long as the details of the work are clearly laid out before work begins, especially how much editorial control there’ll be. I will say that I definitely prefer doing creator-owned work, simply because my collaborators and I can do exactly what we want, and not have to worry about filtering it through levels of approval. But sometimes having an opinionated editor is a good thing, like when I need a shoulder to cry on because my script’s not quite working.
Geek: What else are you working on now?
Cosby: I’ve got Buddy Cops with Evan Shaner, a buddy cop comedy (obviously) starring a demoted space cop and a 1970s patrol robot… that’ll be in Dark Horse Presents soon. I’ve also started work on a new volume of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller for Archaia (really happy with last year’s volume, SO excited to do the next one). And I’ve got a bunch of in-progress stuff getting off the ground the second half of the year, some digital and some print.
You can follow Boyd’s adventures on the Cow Boy site and the hardcover, Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse will be available this summer.