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DF Interview: David Gallaher puts the Only Living Boy through his paces
By Byron Brewer
So have you been reading The Only Living Boy? The thrice-weekly webcomic from writer David Gallaher (High Moon, Box 13) and Steve Ellis (Breaking Bad: The Cost of Doing Business) has been following the adventures of Erik Farrell, an amnesiac kid trapped on a strange world.
Having been nominated for multiple Harvey Awards, The Only Living Boy finds 12-year-old Erik thrust into a patchwork planet without his memory, family or friends! Can he survive as “The Only Living Boy” left in the world?
To answer the questions, Dynamic Forces talked with Gallaher to discover the charm and secret success of this young adult comic.
Dynamic Forces: The Only Living Boy may be one of the most purely fun adventure books I have ever read. David, tell us how this concept came about.
David Gallaher: I was working with the NYPD when I Am Legend was filming by my apartment in Brooklyn. While I was on my way home, I was thinking about how Will Smith is always a bad-ass. What would be really interesting is seeing a wimpy pre-teen try and make his way through a crazy mixed-up world with monsters. Just as I was thinking it, “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Paul Simon came on the radio. I brought the concept to my High Moon and Box 13 co-creator Steve Ellis and in 2008 or so started laying the groundwork for the series. After we finished a few other projects, we started to bring it to life.
DF: To become a reality, you and artist/co-creator Steve Ellis certainly made the rounds, from Kickstarter to comiXology. And the fans helped and then some! Tell us about that journey.
David Gallaher: There was a little bit of back and forth on our part about the type of book we wanted to create. Something that had shades of Saturday morning cartoons, but hinted at something more profound. Once we hit that mark, we thought about different ways to bring the series to life. We looked at various publishers, before finally deciding to go the Kickstarter route. We had a relationship with comiXology from our work with Box 13, so bringing the series to their platform was simple.
Since then, we've brought it to Tumblr, Tapastic and Noisetrade. And, of course, we also serialize the story online for free. We want to remove the barriers for entry for readers to get into our series.
DF: Tell us about the process you, Steve and your team go through to make the book.
David Gallaher: Generally, I write the outline. Show it to Steve. Weave in Steve's feedback. Write the script. Weave in Steve's feedback. We work on layouts together. Steve weaves in my feedback. Steve draws the pages. Weaves in my feedback. He inks the book. Then our flatters (Mike Paar and Ten Van Winkle) take to working on the coloring process. Scott Brown letters the book. We review it in-house. Make changes here and there. Do a final review and then publish it.
DF: Where are you at in the book’s longevity presently? Is it digital only, or has it seen print?
David Gallaher: The first story ends around page 350. We have a whole lot of stories planned after that, but that's where we end the first adventure.
We make print copies available for our fans at conventions, through select comic shops, and through our online store on Square Marketplace.
DF: So … who IS Erik Farrell and what challenges does he face in OLB?
David Gallaher: Erik Farrell is the lead character of The Only Living Boy. He's 12 and has no idea really who he is or how he got to where he is. He's a blank slate, which gives readers an opportunity to enter this wondrous world without any pre-created cynicism about the world or how it works.
He faces the challenge of not knowing who he is, and without that information it's very difficult for him to decide about the type of person that he is going to become. There are monsters in the story, of course, but they exist to externalize his own internal struggles of growing up in a world that doesn't really want him around.
DF: Erik has met many monsters and mad men. Who is your favorite big-bad?
David Gallaher: All of the monsters are fun to create, but for me … Doctor Once is a sterling example of a big-bad. We don't know his entire agenda, but from we have seen it's pretty deplorable. Baalikar too, for that matter, but really -- for me -- it's all about Doctor Once.
DF: This is an all-ages comic, right? With all this adventure, is it difficult sometimes to stay in those parameters?
David Gallaher: As creators, we feel that this is a “Young Adult” adventure. Suitable for readers age 8+. We're keeping it in the spirit of classic young adult literature – like Bridge to Terabithia, The Fault In Our Stars, A Wrinkle In Time, and Jungle Book. I don't find it difficult or confining at all – mostly just liberating. I like to think we're doing something right; this year, we were nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Comic for Younger Readers. That's a flattering feeling.
DF: What does the future hold for The Only Living Boy, and what new is coming from writer David Gallaher?
David Gallaher: Well, Only Living Boy serializes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at olbcomic.com. Deadlands: Dead Man’s Hand hits comic shops in March from IDW. And … there's some stuff coming out from me in April and May that I can't talk about right now, but it'll be fun.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank David Gallaher for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
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