The Story Behind the Story of Cowboy Ant.
The morning sun shines down on Cowboy Ant returning from an unusually torturous aphid drive. He is zooming along in his Moxie 0-23 full boogie tilt as he cruises into the outskirts of Tangleweed, a large seething metropolis inhabited by millions of insects, and yes, not unlike people in their manners and morals…
SO BEGAN THE ANGUISHED ADVENTURES OF COWBOY ANT.
Cowboy Ant has all the stuff that makes for a good read. It’s packed with action, has a great bad guy and aims to tell a story worthy of the best of the fireside tales told on the old beaten trail. But there is a lot more amiss than bug punching. Weaved within these pages is a story about the direct assault on something that was very dear to RJ Boone and his Native Seed Company. Here in the real world, a certain chemical company had been busy making genetically modified seeds, patenting them and letting them infect growers crops around the world without giving the growers notice. Then this same chemical company (OK it’s Monsanto) turns around and sues the farmers for illegally growing their patented seeds.
Boone’s Native Seed Company
It was a commercial venture run by Russell Judd Boone with business management by his wife Katie Boone. Russ worked hard to uncover authentic regional Native Seeds and sell them through his catalog at more than reasonable prices. The annual catalog itself was a labor of love whose entries were carefully worded and categorized. The overall design had a modern take on early 1900s catalog and included aesthetic original art and a new beautifully illustrated cover with every release.
But Russ was never one to look at things from a single side. He read. He read a lot. The daily newspaper got read cover to cover and Russell put a lot of things together long before many of us had a clue where this crazy world was heading back in the mid-1990s. Monsanto’s takeover of our food source was one of the pieces of a complex puzzle that he had a stake in, so he focused his efforts at getting the word out. Cowboy Ant was his way of doing that. But he also knew how to make it fun and a good read.
Introducing Me to Cowboy Ant
I’ll always remember him slyly showing me the first completed script. Completely unannounced, he had conceived the entire world of Cowboy Ant. Ready for me to design the characters and scenes. Though I didn’t really have a history of artwork that suggested I was the right man for the job, I had at least created a number of natural scenes used in the catalog and I believe that my commercial work showed an ability to tackle many subjects and context. And it was also well timed, as I had recently completed a series of stories and was looking for something new to cut my teeth on.
Sadly we only got 3 installments done and I never got to find out where Russ was heading with the strip. He had a stroke halfway through the 3rd chapter and after a slow recovery, he managed to squeeze out the last few pages. Then fate took a devastating blow when an accident involving a traumatic brain injury made him unable to continue. He would spend his remaining years in struggle and then passed in 2009. A great loss for many of us.
Will we see Cowboy Ant again? Maybe. I created a follow-up story, only indirectly related to Cowboy Ant’s original tale. But a few years later. Perhaps with renewed interest we’ll see if we will finally see Cowboy Ant continued. Let me know what you think and stay tuned.
A Fun Synopsis of the Comic with Samples
The Art of Boone’s Native Seed Company
We’re also really excited to include a feature article in the Cowboy Ant Collection about all the wonderful art found in Cowboy Ant’s original publication BOONE’S NATIVE SEED COMPANY CATALOG. The digital edition includes more art, but we supplied quite a bit of art in the online version. You can read it complete and online below.