Cow Boy is a strange experiment that charms in places, but doesn’t totally come together, and risks losing its audience with a misguided opening chapter. In that Nate Cosby uses his pint sized gunman to pastiche the style of the 1960s Spaghetti Westerns requiring artist Chris Eliopoulos to draw plenty of close-up facial expressions, cutting between people in any location, and terse, minimal dialogue. The result is a smile for the adults who pick up on what’s going on and barely any plot for the children at whom the graphic novel is aimed. For that matter, how much will they know about cowboys and Westerns in general?

Moving on to the second chapter, Cosby and Eliopoulos pick up the pace and we learn more about ten year old Boyd Linney and his purpose. He’s the apple that fell a long way from the tree, the one family member with a sense of right and wrong, and he’s going to bring his family to justice and collect the bounty money on them.

Eliopoulos’ cartooning is spot on. He’s good with expressions and is able to sell the idea of a ten year old bounty hunter in suitably recognisable Western locations, toying with the iconography. For all that, A Boy and his Horse is one hell of a quick read for a hardcover priced at $20. Without studying the art on every page it occupies roughly the same reading time as a standard superhero comic.

Several other talented creators supply the extra material, each of them offering a Western themed story in three pages or less. Roger Langridge is funny, and Mitch Gerards creates some great steampunk devices, but Colleen Coover is the only creator who moves beyond expectation. That includes the primary creators, and leaves Cow Boy as an interesting idea that never takes off.