Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl

Written by Mark Ricketts
Art by Mike Hawthorne
120 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

Yeehah! You might be hearing people shout that out a lot these days, and it’s probably because they’ve gotten their first glimpse of Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl. On the surface, this is a really attractive book, designed to look like a nice leatherbound volume with an attractive picture of Whiskey Dickel herself on the cover, a nice solid paper stock, and a great little notation that its genre is “cowgirl fiction”. Of course, once they actually open the book, expect a lot more “yeehah!”s coming from their direction.

Whiskey Dickel is a real superstar; who else can be a movie star, astronaut, diplomat… and rodeo queen? Why, it’s got to be Whiskey Dickel, raised by her father and grandmother who taught her everything she needed to know about both life. More importantly, it was her grandmother that taught Whiskey how to be a cowgirl, and while you can take the cowgirl off the ranch, you can never take the ranch out of the cowgirl.

In just two pages, Mark Ricketts is able to completely explain to the reader just what sort of book Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl will be. Whiskey is a guest on a talk show and, when asked about her mother dying in childbirth, Whiskey sorrowfully says, “It was tractor pull night, see. It’s hard to find a proper doctor on tractor pull night.” It’s this mixture of humor and drama that makes up Whiskey Dickel‘s lead story; there’s a lot of really funny stuff on the surface, but it’s effortlessly mixed together with a very serious story about Whiskey’s relationship with her family. The backup story is just as charming, though; flashing back to a much earlier point in Whiskey’s career. After the first story talking a lot about her exploits, it was nice to actually see one of them here as Whiskey goes up against a buffalo and meets a rather unique group of clowns. The second story also shows that while Ricketts can certainly talk about all of these earlier events in Whiskey’s life and make them sound interesting, he can just as easily bring them to life and make them as fun as you’d imagined them.

I loved Mike Hawthorne’s art on Three Days in Europe, and I’m still just as happy with his work here. He’s able to bring Whiskey’s tall, lanky figure to life here; she’d never be mistaken for a leggy supermodel, but looks like someone who’d cheerfully arm-wrestle you before lunch while the others whispered about her in the corner. Hawthorne gives her a real sense of personality in the way she moves and interacts with others; from her purposeful strides into the carnival to a broad smile when speaking of Mamaw’s pearls of wisdom, Hawthorne brings Ricketts’s script to life. As an added bonus, there are a bunch of International Cowgirl pin-ups in the middle of the book by an all-star line-up of writers (who came up with the accompanying text) and artists. When you’ve got people like Jill Thompson, David Mack, Guy Davis, P. Craig Russell, and Galen Showman (to name but a few), this is an event in its own right and not just a quick way to pad out a book.

By the time you finish reading Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl (and we haven’t even touched on the hysterically funny “animation attempts” which show everything wrong about creative projects being tinkered with by committee), you’ll be wondering, “But now what?” Well, there’s a big “1” on the spine so I’m hoping that we get a Volume 2 before too long. I think everyone else who sees Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl will be back as well. Darn tootin’.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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