I had the opportunity to virtually sit down with the creative team behind the all-ages original graphic novel COW BOY, writer and former Marvel editor Nate Cosby and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos. Gentlemen, tell us about Cow Boy.
NATE: Boyd Linney’s a ten-year-old bounty hunter that travels the Old West, hunting down his entire outlaw family. It’s an All-Ages tale, coming out online first at cowboycomic.net starting in January, and as a hardcover from Archaia in early April.
Where did the idea of a western about a ten-year old bounty hunter come from?
NATE: I had a hankering to do a Western for a few years. Once Chris and I had decided we wanted to work together on something, me writing/him drawing, I asked him if he liked Westerns. He said no. But then he went and drew a little cowboy and colored it with crayon. I looked at it and said “Cow Boy.” After that, I figured the only reason a little cowboy would be a grim dude would have to do with the people he knew best: his family. Whole story folded out from there.
Chris, even though you said you didn’t like westerns you created quite the striking figure in Boyd Linney. Was there any particular inspiration for him, and how did you find working on a western once you got started on it?
CHRIS: Basically, the script, when I read it, I saw Boyd fully formed in my mind. I did a few sketches that Nate seemed to really like.
You’re releasing Cow Boy online before the graphic novel hits shelves in April. What made you decide to release it this way?
NATE: It’s not a known property. Best way to prove to people that something’s worth having is to give them a free taste, y’know? We’re hoping people’ll become so invested in Boyd that they’ll want to have the hardcover to read again and again, by themselves and with their kids.
Given the flexible state of the comic market nowadays, how important do you think an approach like this is? Was this something you had to “sell” Archaia on?
NATE: Archaia’s a really progressive-minded company, they’re willing to take risks if they believe in a project. Editor-in-chief Stephen Christy was totally supportive of us putting the book online before the hardcover went on-sale. They do this with a few other titles as well.
Chris, you produced your strip “Misery Loves Sherman” on-line for almost three years. Did that experience help the decision to release on-line?
CHRIS: It did. I think with the internet and this new world of free, it has changed the way works should be released. You put your work online and get people involved and, if you’ve done good work, lead them to make that purchase. With any new project, I think you have to show people what they will be buying.
One of the things that’s interesting about the book is how the chapters are separated by shorts contributed by other teams. Why did you decide to format the book this way?
NATE: Just felt fun, to give the reader a richer reading experience by separating the chapters with little Western shorts by some of the best storytellers currently in the comic industry. Both Chris and I were SO jazzed that Roger Langridge, Colleen Coover, Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Mitch Gerads and Mike Maihack contributed to our lil’ book. They all did such a fantastic job.
Cow Boy, which looks at first like it’s going to be a fairly straightforward “kid’s western,” takes some surprising turns and has a lot of depth to it, which is something I think people tend to forget all-ages books can do. It’s clear that you haven’t, especially since you spent time editing all-ages titles for Marvel (including Thor: The Mighty Avenger, one of my favorites). Do you think telling deeper, all-ages stories is something mainstream super-hero comics need to do more of and do you think the market can support them?
NATE: I think comics as an industry (not as a medium) sometimes accidentally falls into the same trap as Major League Baseball…there’s such an emphasis put on maintaining the audience you’ve got, and they forget that people keep getting born, and those people need to be entertained as they’re growing up. It seems like such a no-brainer to make a product accessible and rich, not talking down to your audience, but instead showing why the comics medium is so dang cool and important. All-Ages is my passion. I’ll keep telling these kinds of stories for as long as I keep making comics. Every comic is someone’s first. More comics should act like it.
Chris, aside from your lettering career you’ve worked almost exclusively in all-ages books. I take it you feel the same way?
CHRIS: Yes. I’ve always felt that all-ages doesn’t mean books targeting just children. I’ve always wanted to create books that the whole family can read and enjoy together. Something that you can read at 10 and get something from and at 30 get something different. In essence, I’ve wanted to do books that I’d enjoy reading with my kids.
How much has the work that you did for Marvel affect how you approach making comics now that you’re a freelancer?
NATE: Working at Marvel gave me invaluable experience. I learned how a comic is actually made, and how to collaborate with other creators. My freelance career definitely wouldn’t have been as smooth if I didn’t have the experience that being an editor gave me. But I will say that working all those years for one of the Big 2 gave me a huge appreciation for non-super-hero comics. Super-heroes are great, don’t get me wrong…but it sure is fun stepping outside that one genre and testing the limits of the genre. I’m doing a Western, espionage, comedy, and I’m developing projects in the romantic comedy, horror, sci-fi and historical fiction genres. It’s fun to stretch the muscles.
It seems like there are a lot of “super-hero” properties that can fit a lot of those genres you mentioned. Are there any in particular that you two would like to work on (together or separately)?
CHRIS: I think if DC were to approach us to do an Impulse comic, Nate and I would be in heaven.
NATE: LOVE Impulse, but I’d pick Legion of Super-Heroes. There are limitless possibilites with the characters and setting. Plus Chris draws a mean Ferro Lad.
Aside from Cow Boy, what else are you two working on?
NATE: There’s PIGS, which I write with Ben McCool every month from Image (2nd generation KGB Cuban sleep cell infiltrates America…NOT All-Ages). I’m doing three short stories with Evan Shaner for Dark Horse Presents called BUDDY COPS (a drunken space cop and 1970s robot team up and bicker for 8 pages at a time while hitting monsters). I also edited and wrote a story for JIM HENSON’S THE STORYTELLER from Archaia (based on the TV show, featuring an incredible cast of creators).
Those’re the only things announced for now…but there’s about 8 or 9 things I’ve got bubbling, so I’ll let ya know soon.
Are you planning on doing more Cow Boy?
CHRIS: I would love to continue on. That is the plan–to keep going.
NATE: Yeah, Boyd’s got a big family to round up. If it sells well, we’ll see if the entire Linney clan be brought to justice.
Here’s hoping it does, because it’s a fantastic read. In the meantime, people can keep up with you on Twitter, (Chris at @chriseliopoulos and Nate at @NateCosBOOM) and can keep reading COW BOY at cowboycomic.net, with new pages being added every weekday. Pre-order your copy of the hardcover from your retailer with the Diamond order code JAN120822 so you can be sure to get it when it’s released this April. Also, you can see Nate at this year’s C2E2.
Filed Under: Interviews