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The Cowboy Wally Show Paperback – April 7, 1996
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Considered a cult classic (at least that's what it says on the back cover) from the artist who went on to write and draw the highly praised Why I Hate Saturn, The Cowboy Wally Show consists of four chapters. "The Cowboy Wally Legend" is our introduction to this overblown mockery of a film star; "Sands of Blood" and "The Making of Hamlet" are two crazy attempts at film; and "Cowboy Wally's Late Night Celebrity Showdown" is his final moment of television glory. This will appeal to fans of trashy television talk shows.
About the Author
Cartoonist Kyle Baker has authored over 15 graphic novels and illustrated hundreds more in a career which extends over three decades long . His animation has appeared on MN, SHOWTIME, DISNEY channels and CARTOON NETWORK. He has contributed as a writer and artist to shows such as PHINEAS AND FERB and LOONEY TUNES. He recently completed an ad campaign for NIKE featuring KEVIN DURANT. His cartoons have appeared in VIBE, THE NEW YORKER, SPIN, MAD, and numerous other magazines, including countless MARVEL and DC comics. Baker is the winner of 8 Eisner Awards, 4 Harvey Awards, and an Inkpot Award and Glyph Award, and others. A pioneer in the Graphic Novel format since the 1980's, works such as NAT TURNER, WHY I HATE SATURN, and KING DAVID helped define and evolve the medium. In addition to licensing and products, his work now expands into digital realms with new apps, streaming animation, and game design. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Cowboy Wally is a legendary Hollywood entertainer, a mix of W.C. Fields, Ed McMahon, and P.T. Barnum. He’s a fat, stupid drunk who nevertheless became a celebrity due to determination alone. Ultimately, he’s one of those famous for being famous (a type we’re ever more familiar with these days), a star obsessed with seeming to be a regular guy while inviting camera crews into his mansion. The book’s four chapters cover various of his attempts at fame, within the frame of a career retrospective documentary, along the way pointing out how idiotic this all is.
The first chapter looks back at the star’s beginnings as host of a kids’ show, a role he’s singularly poorly suited for. But then that’s true of all of his many many TV tries, all lovingly captured here. As this sections opens, with a pack of bodyguards and hangers-on surrounding the lead, it feels like every walk of fame you’ve ever seen. Except that Wally’s ridiculously high hat, visible as a raised finger above the crowds surrounding him, lends it all an air of lunacy.
Other chapters feature “Sands of Blood”, Wally’s French Foreign Legion film; an attempt to film Hamlet in a jail cell; and his stint hosting a late-night talk show. This last is surreal, as an accomplished actress assumes his work must be a put-on, because who could play that garbage straight, while Wally talks his way out of being taken hostage and argues with an old man about when he should best die to get his revenge.
The art is simply astounding. Baker populates a standard framework of eight panels per page (four rows of two each) with line drawings that beautifully capture expression and attitude with the skill of an old-time cartoonist. Then there’s the dialogue. Baker’s sarcastic wit has never been more directly presented, aimed directly at the business of popular culture.
This couldn’t be anything but a comic. With real people, it would be too mean and painful. As this, what it is is lots and lots of jokes taking on Hollywood celebrity. By the end, it’s hard not to like Cowboy Wally, dumb as he is, just because he’s an eternal optimist. If you liked Why I Hate Saturn, be sure to read this. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
This is the fictional life-story, brought as a documentary with many flashbacks, of Cowboy Wally. All the way from when his B-career started up till today. Cowboy Wally is a guy who's big, loud and stupid and who got into show-business (and moves around in it) by `questionable methods' to say the least. That doesn't stop him from bragging about his achievements though (he IS his biggest fan), meanwhile emphasizing "how normal he maintained to be for a star of his caliber'. The reader gets to witness him making really really really cheap movies, him exploiting people who trust him and even ruining Shakespeare's `Hamlet'.
A pretty funny book (especially the last part where it all comes together and the past catches up on Wally) about a fictional TV-character, which satirically mocks real-life TV-personalities. Like in all Baker's books the humor is often very subtle though. The art is pure black-and-white (without tones of gray like in the same author's `Why I Hate Saturn'). It's nicely detailed and doesn't suffer from the lack of color though. It's comparable to Terry Moore's art in `Strangers in Paradise'.
Although it's pretty good overall I feel it could have been better with lesser segments in it, but paying more attention to the segments which remained. It looks a little cramped now, as if Baker didn't have as much pages as he really wanted to tell the tale. Nonetheless, for fans of satirical/sarcastic humor this is a good choice AFTER you've read `Why I Hate Saturn', his better book.