Coyote River: Buck and Charles
Coyote River



You're smart, healthy, and surrounded by friends. You've got a good job, a nice car, and you live in the city where anything goes. You've got everything you could ever wish for.

So, then, why does life suck?

Come on up to Coyote River Ranch, where a much-needed fresh perspective awaits you. The mountains and the woods out here have a way of speaking to folks in a way they haven't heard in years, if ever. Maybe you'll hear it, maybe you won't—it's all up to you.

Meet Charles Albright, who's seen it all before—or so he thinks. Go with him to a place where love, sex, and everything in between seem new again, for a change. In Coyote River, an adult comic series written and drawn by Chris McKinley (artist of Associated Student Bodies), rediscover what it felt like before you had the world all figured out.

  Coyote River is published and sold by Rabbit Valley Comics, under the Spooo Presents anthology title.
  Click the cover images below to purchase.
Coyote River: Teaser Promo Coyote River #1: Great Wide Open Coyote River #2: The Straight and Narrow Coyote River #3: Don't Fence Me In
Teaser promo Episode 1:
"Great Wide Open"
Episode 2:
"The Straight and Narrow"
Episode 3:
"Don't Fence Me In"
  Subscribe to to receive announcements of new releases.*List is inactive and not accepting new subscriptions.


8/12/07 — A little backstory

In case anybody's curious, I did base Coyote River Ranch (the layout and setting, at least—not the gayness of it all) on a couple of real guest ranches I went to with my family when I was a kid. Google Earth junkies like me will be pleased to note that there's now high-res imagery of both these ranches—Triangle X Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

...And Elk Mountain Ranch in Buena Vista, Colorado, near the Collegiate Peaks:

Up till now, I've just been going by hazy memory from when I was 12 or so; but now I can see how these places were actually laid out, for example the oval-shaped loop of cabins at Triangle X in the lower right of the image, which the kids there used as a soccer field (which is why I put something similar in the comic, though I misremembered the exact shape).

This might not be of interest to anybody except me, but well, I think it's fascinating. So nyah.

...Oh yeah: Issue 4 is coming. I'm still laying out the pages and finalizing the plot points, but I intend to start pencilling pages within a week or so.


6/1/07 — Coyote River #3 Available Soon!

The cover(s) are colored, the curly quotes are all made consistent, and everything's all shipshape to ship. Well, except that it's still "Coming Soon" to Rabbit Valley's online store, along with the rest of the Spooo Presents new additions. Keep an eye out for general availability within the next few weeks!


4/3/07 — Shades of Gray

Shading's done.

Boy, you know, shading used to be the briefest phase of doing one of these things. Once I was done inking, I could look forward to an easy couple of weeks of roughing in four or five pages a night with chunky blocks of gray. But now, somehow, shading has turned into as painstaking and time-consuming a task as the initial drawing and inking. Six whole weeks it took this time. Yikes.

But I'm happy with it. People are saying that it's already looking hugely more cool than even the previous CR issues, what with the deeper and richer shadows and the firelight effects and so on; and I'm definitely feeling more confident about things like mountains and buildings, though I did cheat my way out of drawing any horses in this one. I think I can attribute a lot of improvement to that Queerman thing I did a few months ago; it gave me lots of practice in lighting and shading techniques that I never would have otherwise had the chance to fool around with. There aren't too many glowy death beams up in the mountains.

Anyway: now I just need to come up with a front and back cover, and then this thing'll be done. At least until I get cranking on #4.


2/14/07 — I'll try to keep the romance to a minimum

Just thought everyone should know—I finished inking issue #3 last night. Jeez... took long enough, huh? I'm getting the feeling that there's a pattern forming here: if it takes place over the holidays, inking an issue takes me about three full months. More if it's a longer-than-normal issue, like #3 is: 40 pages.

I think it's worth it. This one's pretty crunchy. It's all character-development-y and stuff. Plus like eight consecutive pages of sex.

I've also written out the outline for #4, which is the end of this story arc, though whether it's the end of the series remains to be seen. Considering that I wrote it all up just this morning, and that it's all been filtered from brain to paper since seeing "that movie" (which wasn't the case for any of the previous issues), it's inevitably going to involve some slightly more maudlin moments than I'd planned previously, though also some aspects of various characters have been respectively roughed up and sanded down in order to tease them in certain directions that I think are necessary to keep this story both a) unique and b) competitively satisfying. (I'm going to be all the more sensitive to any similarities, no matter how slight or unintentional, for some time now... and in no small part because that damn movie really got to me.)

I'm rambling. Short version: #3 inking done, shading beginning, AnthroCon release. #4 outline done, and I shall now proceed to somewhat morosely ponder the future.


2/11/07 — Hell Damn Crap

I just saw Brokeback Mountain for the first time last night.

I just thought it was worth documenting that event, because otherwise nobody would ever believe that I didn't just rip it off completely in writing Coyote River.

Jeezum crow. Everything right down to the boss's trailer and the barrel-riding cowgirl. %^!#$^.


11/14/06 — And Now For Something Completely Different

Hey! Here's something I bet nobody saw coming (especially Lance). Go buy it and make the sexy time!


10/25/06 — Issue #3 Well Underway

I just finished the pencils for Issue #3. And look—I'm ahead of schedule by like six days from where I was last year! Considering that I did a whole other comic in the interim, that's more of a feat than it sounds like.

This issue doesn't have any Buck/Charles sex. No! Wait! Don't go! I don't mean there isn't any sex. In fact, and not to give away spoilers, there's more in this issue than in either of the previous two. Just not between the two main characters. I hope that's okay.

This one's mostly about character development, anyway, and in some perhaps surprising places. As for our protagonists, let's just say that it's a shame that the booking at the ranch is only for a week, because time sure flies when you're having fun...


6/29/06 — In the Press

Hey hey! Coyote River has scored a press mention, in the Pittsburgh City Paper:
One of the largest clearinghouses for furry-targeted comics is Rabbit Valley, a Massachusetts-based comic-book publisher and seller with a big booth at Anthrocon. Proprietor Sean Rabbitt (yes, that’s his real name, and no, the irony is not lost on him) carries everything from innocent Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd work to more explicit titles — which, he says, are quite popular. Coyote River features the adventures of Charles and Buck, wolf and rabbit farmhands whose sexual adventures compromise their work on the farm. In Service with a Smile, a panther named Kaput encounters two randy “men” on his break at HickDonalds.
Great—they made it sound even more like Brokeback Mountain than it is.

Good article, though... probably as accurate a one on the fandom that I've ever seen.


6/26/06 — Coyote River T-shirt Available from Rabbit Valley

It's here! $25. And it's black, so it goes with anything. And it's got an unsubtle gag. What more could you want?


5/28/06 — Coyote River #2 now available!

I just got word that Issue #2 is ready for purchase at Rabbit Valley Comics! Go pick up your copy and support these hardworking publishers.

Thanks for all the support and positive feedback!


4/7/06 — Off to the printer

I'm done with the cover design for Issue 2 (now posted in the issue list above), and all the layout is done. The issue's on its way to the printer. It'll be available at AnthroCon 2006, which is June 15.

Now to start thinking about Issue 3, as well as another project I'd like to work on even before that. Nobody ever told me this stuff would get more fun the more I did of it...


3/27/06 — Hey, I remember you

Shading and word balloons are all done! Hip hip hooray!

I think this issue turned out looking really cool. I wasn't trying so hard with it as with the first one, and I think it shows—not so many gratuitously artsy bits, whether in the composition, the shading, the word balloons, the stupid puns, and so on. This one actually feels like more of a "story". Probably.

Now to work on a cover design. I've got a potentially interesting one in mind, one that will reflect the rather darker tone of this issue and also avoid all the covers being outdoor scenes with wooded mountains in the background. We'll see how well it turns out.


2/1/06 — Pens Down

Whew. Inking is finally done. That took a lot longer than I hoped it would; the other projects that have been taking up all my evening/weekend attention have been hard to clear out of the way. (Maybe I should stop taking on so many of them.)

Anyway, now comes the shading phase, which shouldn't take anywhere near as long; I can usually get several pages shaded in a good day. And then the lettering, which can be done in a single sitting. I don't anticipate that it'll take more than another month to have this issue ready to go. (Oh no, a committed date—now I've done it...)


10/31/05 — Pencils Down

I just finished the pencils for Issue 2—all 32 pages. Yay! And though I say it myself, I think it's looking real good. Way better than Issue 1, at any rate. Far fewer off-model panels, far less failed experimentation in layout, and the horses look like horses this time. (The secret is, you have to tape a bunch of cats together.) I think there are some really nice pages in this one. But of course that's probably just the thrill of accomplishment talking.

The story in Issue 2 takes a pretty heavy turn. Don't worry, there's still plenty of fun stuff; it's just that it's not entirely without its consequences. We meet at least three new characters, including ranch owner Fred Rangell and veteran wrangler Shane, and see the beginnings of what's going to become an ongoing background character development thread.

I've got some other major projects with tight deadlines just ramping up, so inking and shading might have to wait a little while; but the hard part is over now. And I'm pretty happy with it. That's a rare thing for me.


10/20/05 — Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it!

I suppose I'd better mention that yes, I am aware of the existence of Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen it, but it sure does look awfully familiar.

I was all prepared to say that apparently it's "gay cowboy season" or something, and that it was all just a funky coincidence; but thinking back, I actually remember reading the short story that the movie is based on, in college back in 1997 or so. So it turns out that I can't claim not to have known about it, or that it hasn't influenced Coyote River in concept or subject (or title, for that matter). I thought I was being original, but I guess that just goes to show... something.

Good thing I didn't go with Coyote Ridge after all, I guess.

Anyway, I guess it's on me to make sure the comic becomes a standalone story in its own right, without inspiring people to draw comparisons to a movie that came out at about the same time. (And which, by all appearances, looks to be well worth watching.)

Ah well. Issue 2 continues; I'm on page 23 now.


10/12/05 — Settling In

Hi, everybody! Work on Issue 2 is continuing, after a break of a few weeks during August. The script is fully fleshed out (that's the really difficult part), and I'm 15 pages done with the pencils, out of 32 total.

I need to kick whoever wrote this thing for including so many scenes with horses. Horse anatomy makes my brain hurt.

Seriously: the writing is by far the biggest hurdle with something like this, I'm finding. Figuring out how much plot to put on each page, working out the scene breaks so they occur on page-turn boundaries, breaking up dialogue into panels based on how much each character can say without needing more than one facial expression—that stuff takes a lot of brow-furrowing over a protracted period (say, a weekend). After that it's just rote: drawing what the script says for each panel. I can't picture anything mentally until I draw it, generally, and once the scriptwriting phase is done I feel more like a subordinate blindly following orders than someone calling the shots.

Anyway, in issue 2, Charles is gradually settling in at the ranch. Without giving away spoilers, here are a couple of preview pages from a random point in the middle of the story:

Yes, I know I'm no good at drawing guns. I dread the inevitable being taken to task over my inaccuracies, but I blame that writer guy (again) for putting me in this position in the first place. So there.

And work goes on. I'll keep updating this section whenever I have anything interesting to add. Thanks for being interested!


Chris McKinley can be reached at mckinley at arclight dot net

All material © 2005 Chris McKinley. All rights reserved.