Most all-ages comics try to avoid the hard, harsh realities of growing up. The idea is to typically remind readers that being young is supposed to be full of wonder and magic. Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos take the alternate road in their graphic novel Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse. The story’s main character, Boyd, is a 10-year-old bounty hunter on the hunt for his own criminal family. Growing up just got a little harsher. Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse is a beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel that reminds us that sometimes our parents are not always good people.
Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse attacks several deeply complex themes while maintaining an adventurous all-ages feeling. Nate Cosby does not sugarcoat what young Boyd is tasked with doing. In fact, Cosby embraces with zeal the terrible sorrow that is a childhood lost. Boyd is half Wyatt Earp and half Jesse James with a stern demeanor that only comes from a hard life. It’s only when Boyd is around his grandfather that we are reminded of the fact that Boyd is in fact a child. You begin to forget this around the time he knocks a saloon owner out and burns down a sheriff’s office.
Chris Eliopoulos is a man who understands all-ages art. Even when drawing gunfights and fisticuffs, he is able to infuse every panel with the cartoon style commonly found in this type of comic. Characters are illustrated to have the gritty look of the old west while keeping an easy to digest style that kids won’t be overwhelmed by. With any other style besides that of Chris Eliopoulos, this comic could have easily not been an all-ages title. However, Chris creates a lighter tone that keeps this comic kid friendly.
Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse has all the makings of a wonderful all-ages comic. It’s massive amounts of fun and the short chapter breaks done by additional artists and writers only add to the excitement. But at its core Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse is very sad. There is no hiding that our protagonist Boyd is a lonely kid. There are powerful moments in this book that some kids might not be ready for. However, if they are, then Cow Boy: A Boy And His Horse will quickly become something they’ll adore.