Writer(s): Geoff Darrow
Artist(s): Geoff Darrow
US Publisher: Burlyman Entertainment
An unnamed exiled shaolin monk wonders the american dessert with his faithful companion, a talking mule. Mayhem ensues whenever he goes.
It has been many years since I have been so impressed with a comic book artists, as Geoff has impressed me with his latest series.
Originally published in 2004 this series has flown under the radar for many years.
It has garnered some critical acclaim, but not the popular recognition it really deserves.
Geoff Darrow has been praised endlessly (and with merit) regarding his amazing detailed work on every panel he draws. This collection is no exception. If anything he has upped the ante. For the first time in my life I saw a four page splashpage, that actually warranted four pages, and contributed something to my growth as an artist, just by experience that four page spread.
Geoff is, without a doubt and without reservation, one of the greatest comic book artists of the 21st century,and by the same measure, he is also one of the most popularly under-rated.
When I get to speak with some friends who are working as illustrators or comic book artists, they all know of Geoff. Much like Tim Vigil, he is someone they all try to imitate at one point or another in their professional career.
The book Shaolin Cowboy is, unapologetically, a canvas for Geoff to display his artistic prowess. But don’t be fooled by the awesome, groundbreaking art. The story is full of amazingly mature and professional subtexts. The pictures in the backcovers they give the readers enough thread onto a narrative all of its own, letting the reader’s imagination wonder and fill gaps in ways that very innovative.
Then there is the more obvious points of the story, the talking ass, the talking crab, the myriads of foes the monk has to combat, the quests and the settings, even a talking shark??
Geoff is the rare type of artists who happens to be more of an illustrator than a comic book artists, but it shows in his love for the craft that he is an enamored of the sequential story-telling.
The love for the graphic art on the page gets displayed in his attention to detail and the love of line, but even more you can appreciate his adventuresome nature, when he explores new boundaries and techniques, such as the four page splash page that I keep bragging about, and that left such a strong impression on me.
When you peruse through this adventure series, be ready to face a new level of violence and gore like you haven’t seen before in American comics in the past few decades.
Remember those games you used to find in some publications, where you were shown almost two identical drawings and asked to find 10 differences in them?
That’s the type of attention you should dedicate to almost each panel of Geoff’s art, taking in all the elaborate details on each face in the crowd, the costumes on the villains , the shadows on the terrain, the expression on the faces of the slayed…
If you read carefully the previous paragraphs, you may notice I made strong emphasis on talking animals. The story brought about in Shaolin Cowboy is one worthy of the great masters of the absurd, such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, or even the great and late Giraud (Moebius). I found it to be a worthy narrative goal, something that the script should aspire to, in order to live up to the amazing art of the series.
In April 2009 it was announced that Geoff was in talks with a Japanese studio to make an animated movie out of the series.
In more recent news, it seems that Dark Horse has reached an agreement with Geoff and will re-launch this series in all its glory.
But the movie project seem to be stuck in limbo, and we can’t find any reports about being cancelled nor it moving forth.
In my critic’s rating I give Geoff Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy