Fernando Ruiz talks about THE HAUNTED COWBOY

The Haunted Cowboy is n original graphic novel revolving around Deadwood, a local boy named Rusty Grainger and the murder of Wild Bill Hickok in 1876. It’s brought to you by an all-star creative team of Scott Young writing, Fernando Ruiz penciling, Kim DeMulder inking and the great Tom Mandrake on the cover art. Fernando Ruiz was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to let our readers know what to expect from the Haunted Cowboy.

First Comics News: Who is Wild Bill Hickok?

Fernando Ruiz: In the Haunted Cowboy, Will Bill is loosely based on the real-life frontiersman…he’s a performer in a traveling show with Calamity Jane, Charlie Utter, and others, he’s a notorious gambler and he is shot and killed by Jack McCall in Deadwood on August 2nd, 1876. Otherwise, we’ve taken some liberties with his personality, his overall demeanor and obviously, the circumstances directly after his murder.

1st: Who is Rusty Grainger?

Fernando: Rusty is a 15-year-old dreamer living in Deadwood. He goes to school and works in his Uncle Jim’s livery. Jim is Rusty’s only remaining family and the boy was foisted on him when his sister died a few years earlier. He’s a hard man who doesn’t know how to be a parent so he mistreats Rusty in hopes it will harden him up and make him a man. Rusty longs to perform in a traveling show like his idol, Wild Bill. His penchant for daydreaming, his awkwardness, and his red hair make Rusty a target for bullies, teens and adults alike.

1st: What brings Wild Bill Hickok and Rusty together?

Fernando: Wild Bill and his companions arrived in Deadwood on July 31st and Bill decided to find a poker game. He played all night at Nuttle and Mann’s, into the early morning of August 1st, thoroughly beating Jack McCall in the process. The next morning as the game was breaking up, McCall staggered out of the saloon doors and was knocked over by Rusty, who was running from some school bullies. McCall was going to throttle the boy when Wild Bill stepped in and, in an effort to calm the man, offered to buy him breakfast. McCall was humiliated by the offer and stomped off, swearing that “This ain’t over, Hickok!”

1st: Who is Jack McCall?

Fernando: The version of Jack McCall in the Haunted Cowboy is loosely based on the real-life version. The facts remain the same: he lost to Bill, he was insulted by an offer to pay for breakfast and he shot Wild Bill in the back in retribution for the imagined slight. In real life, McCall is arrested and released and soon flees Deadwood. In this story, he sticks around a little longer to play off the notoriety of being the man who killed Wild Bill.

1st: The story focuses on Rusty and the ghost of Wild Bill Hickock preparing for a gunfight with Jack McCall? Jack McCall was quickly arrested after the murder, does the story take place between the two trials?

Fernando: Yes. In The Haunted Cowboy, Rusty witnesses the murder of his idol and, filled with rage, tries to attack Jack but is easily dismissed. McCall left Deadwood after the first trial in real life. In this story, he gathers a gang of other criminals/outlaws and begins to throw his weight around as “the man who killed Wild Bill.” He thinks he can take over the town and most of the people are scared of him and his cronies. When Rusty hears McCall is free, he takes his Uncle Jim’s pistol and calls out McCall. He loses the gunfight and most of the town thinks McCall killed him. This further spreads fear through the town’s populace.

1st: Rusty Grainger is the victim of bullying, does the graphic novel explore modern anti-bullying themes?

Fernando: The bullying is more akin to Rudolf, the Red-nosed Reindeer than any modern parable. The town thinks Rusty is a joke and piles on the abuse until he rises up (with the help of Wild Bill’s ghost) and helps take back the town.

1st: Who is Abigail?

Fernando: Abigail Archer is a classmate of Rusty’s. He is quite smitten with her and while she is kinder to Rusty than most people, he wishes she could love him back.

1st: What is the connection to the Kubert School?

Fernando: All creators of this project graduated from the Kubert School and 3 of the 4 are currently instructors there.

1st: Is the graphic novel color or black & white?

Fernando: We are hoping to publish in color (it’s a stretch goal but even in black and white it would have some ink wash and other techniques done by Kim.

1st: Is this softcover or hardcover?

Fernando: A softcover unless we hit our first stretch goal which changes it to hardcover.

1st: What is the minimum price for a PDF?

Fernando: $10.00

1st: What is the minimum price for a physical copy?

Fernando: $25.00

1st: What type of rewards are you offering?

Fernando: Lots and lots of rewards! Hardcover versions of Die Kitty Die Volumes 1 and 2, The Fernando Ruiz Sketchbook 2, The Art of Kim DeMulder hardcover, both Scott Young novels in paperback, original commissions by Fernando, commissions from Kim, commissions penciled by Fernando and inked by Kim, commission by our cover artist, Tom Mandrake, all signed by the creators. Also other items like original illustrations by Kim, old west wanted posters of the creators, Kim is offering to do portraits from any photo you send, ebooks, PDF versions of stuff and of course, The Haunted Cowboy itself!

1st: Will this project only be available on Kickstarter, or will there be a version available from Astro Comics and or Chapterhouse?

Fernando: Right now the plan is to make The Haunted Cowboy available through support for our Kickstarter campaign. In the future, we’d certainly entertain bringing the book to a wider audience through a publisher. First, though, we have to make the book happen.

1st: For anyone still on the fence about this comic, what makes the haunting of Rusty Grainger so cool that no true comic fan should miss it?

Fernando: It’s been said that Scott Young creates characters that resonate with the audience, that everyone can relate to…and Rusty, Abigail, Uncle Jim, and even Jack McCall are these types of characters. There is a tremendous amount of heart behind this story and despite the setting and supernatural aspects, it’s basically a story about an outsider who finds the will and courage to be his authentic self. When rendered by Fernando Ruiz and inked by Kim DeMulder, The Haunted Cowboy is a story that everyone will love, young and old alike.

The Haunted Cowboy is on Kickstarter now, CLICK HERE

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