Yes, it’s the week after Comic-Con and I’m sure all of you are still reeling from all the wonderfully delicious news pouring out of the San Diego Convention Center from Comic-Con International. I was fortunate enough to talk to writer David Gallaher over the weekend because, you know, neither of us were in San Diego this year. Gallaher, with High Moon co-creator Steve Ellis, were recently nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers their work on their self-published project, The Only Living Boy,
FreakSugar: You and Steve Ellis have been making The Only Living Boy since 2012 and you’ve gotten a quite a bit of acclaim and some award nominations; what’s your best pitch to attract new readers?
David Gallaher: Remember being a pre-teen? No friends. Always feeling misunderstood.The Only Living Boy is sorta like that, but with monsters. It’s the Jungle Book meets the The Island of Doctor Moreau meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
FreakSugar: There’s a lot of vulnerability under the surface of Erik Farrell; how do you tap into that as a writer? What lies at the heart of Farrell as your protagonist?
David Gallaher: I used to be a special education teacher, where I would see the struggle of children first hand. This project, for me, also addresses the vulnerabilities I had as a pre-teen, not knowing why I always felt like I was in trouble. It’s a tough world for kids these days–and growing up isn’t easy. it’s even harder when the metaphorical monsters we feel surrounded us are real.
FreakSugar: What sorts of influences led you and Steve to creating The Only Living Boy?
David Gallaher: When we first pitched the series around in Summer 2009 it was a little different–much more of an “I am Legend” riff with a 6 year old as the lead. While we liked that set up fine–and it worked great for a promotional pitch–we found ourselves wanting to go deeper into the story, deeper into the characters and their emotional journeys. Some of it is influenced by my own experiences as a teacher. Some of it is taken from Steve’s experiences as a parent. Some of it is taken from the adventure stories we read as children–including The Jungle Book, Killraven, Flash Gordon, and the works of Lloyd Alexander. There’s some Kirby and Toth influences thrown in the mix, but we’re really trying to push beyond our influences to create something new, unique, and fantastic.
FreakSugar: What are some of the challenges of creating your own webcomic? The design for your site is very simple and elegant; how much planning and effort did it take to construct the infrastructure for your project?
David Gallaher: Since last March, Steve and I were talking about building a site. We were happy with the success the book had on Comixology and happy with how the series gained interest at conventions, but we wanted to take the readership to the next level. We worked Brock Beauchamp of SelfCentEnt to help us build the site. From the planning to the implementation, it took about 3 or 4 months, with several of those months just Steve and I going back and forth on what we wanted out of
site. Brock took all of our notes and had site up and running for us in a few weeks. All the credit really belongs to him.
FreakSugar: What’s the key to organically growing an audience online?
David Gallaher: Remove the barriers for entry. That’s really it. Choose two or three platforms and let your comic find it’s audience. We serialize our book on our own site, but also on Tumblr and Tapastic. We make full issues available through NoiseTrade Books and Comixology. Go to where the fans are. Make the comic easily discover-able. Update regularly. Those are the keys, really, in my experience.
FreakSugar: Is The Only Living Boy a finite story with a definitive end in sight or would you be willing to carry this project out indefinitely?
David Gallaher: Erik’s current adventure ends on Page 300. I don’t want to spoil much more than that. There are lots of stories to tell in the world.
FreakSugar: With digital comics on the rise, is there a sense of value in publishing a project slowly on your own for free and then publishing it in a collected format and charging money for it on Comixology? Ultimately, do you want to print the entire project or do you want to print it in trades?
David Gallaher: Sure. There is value in it. Our site operates on a broadcast model–similar to what you might find on television or radio. We have a monthly advertising sponsor that helps offset the cost of production. We then make our book available digitally on Comixology. The same way you might download a commercial free version of your favorite show off of iTunes. We make print versions of the book available at cons for our fans and select comic shops. Those are also supported by ad sponsors. Will we make the book available as a trade? That’s something that is always in the cards.
FreakSugar: How do you manage multiple writing projects? How much post-production work are you involved with The Only Living Boy?
David Gallaher: I wake up at 4 in the morning. I have a tight, structured schedule, similar to an academic schedule. There’s writing time, play time, business time, and pre-and-post-production time all built in to it. As far as post-production on Only Living Boy, specifically. About three hours a week, unless we have a book going to print–in which case, it varies.
FreakSugar: Is there any sort of genre mash-up that you haven’t had a chance to try out yet that you’re really interested in handling?
David Gallaher: We don’t set out to do homages, mash-ups, or riffs…every project starts off we a strong concept first. We built the story around the concept. But– to answer the question–we’ve been kicking around the idea of supernatural detective story for our character Marlowe. We’ve got some modern Ray Harryhausen-esque stuff we’ve been pining to do in The Extinguished. It’s all about finding the right time and the right vehicle or platform for their release.
FreakSugar: Is there any chance that you and Steve might revisit High Moon in the future?
David Gallaher: There’s always a chance. We love that book!