David Gallaher on ‘The Only Living Boy’

After funding the The Only Living Boy #1 last year through Kickstarter, it was a while before David Gallaher and Steve Ellis (High MoonBox 13) brought digital copies to ComiXology–but when they did, it outperformed expectations, taking the #1 slot on the ComiXology bestseller list that week and outselling Big Two titles and high-profile indies.

The series’ second issue is expected to bow at San Diego Comic Con International in July, while the pair work on a number of both creator-owned and work-for-hire works around it (and Gallaher tells us he wants Earth 2 over at DC, remember).

Gallaher joined ComicBook.com to talk about the series’s success and where to go from here.

ComicBook.com: You guys seem to have always had a good deal of success building a rep online. Has that translated to digital sales?

David Gallaher: Yes. We are thrilled with how High MoonBox 13, and The Only Living Boy have done over the last few years. The Only Living Boy was one of the top selling comics during the first week of May — outselling Injustice, Spider-Man, Avengers and more. That’s a great feeling.

ComicBook.com: There’s about a hundred different ways that this book couldn’t be more different from Y: the Last Man, but with that title, have you got anybody confused yet?

Gallaher: Not with Y: The Last Man so much … but there are some folks who seemed to think we were making a riff off of Kamandi … and that’s not really true either. The whole ‘only survivor’ concept echoes through hallowed halls of science fiction. The book is inspired by old pulps — like Jungle BookFlash GordonKillravenJohn CarterTarzanA Boy and his Dog, and I Am Legend. That’s it really … similar starting point, radically different direction.

OLB1ComicBook.com: That said, it begins in Central Park. Is it fair to say the title is a play on the Simon & Garfunkel song?

Gallaher: It’s a tip of a hat to the song, certainly. It plays the feelings of tremendous isolation that come from being a teenager. Never really sure where you’d fit in. Feeling like, despite being surrounded by family and friends, that nobody understands you. Who hasn’t felt that way before?

ComicBook.com: Whose idea was it to make the narrative boxes hexagons? It feels a little…frantic, or something, and it fits well with the story, especially in that opening sequence.

Gallaher: I believe it was out letterer Scott O. Brown. It works great for the sort of story we’re telling. It it’s a callback to the thought-balloon in some regards. But — it also works to contribute to the fractured world our main character Erik finds himself in.

ComicBook.com: On that note, this feels like a book where the colors and letters are very consciously part of the look and feel of the book. I felt that way about Box 13, too. Is that just a byproduct of being in charge of your own work, so there’s not a default house style?

Gallaher: Unlike High Moon or Box 13, we made this project specifically for print. We use a handful of double page spreads to convey the sense of wonder and majesty. Those are the sorts of things we do in our digital projects.

OLB2ComicBook.com: There’s something great about the look of the creatures and aliens in this book; they all feel just a bit, like fifteen degrees or something off from stuff we’ve seen before, and that grounds it in a way that a lot of these types of fantasy stories often aren’t. It makes it easier for sci-fi guys like me to get into it. Does that make sense?

Gallaher: The creature is actually named after our assistant editor Zack Rosenberg, who is a crazy, flesh-devouring monster. True story.

That said — we try to bring a sense of the ‘vaguely familiar’ to the story — while still trying to bring a fresh perspective on a very archetypical story. It’s the Hero’s Journey — as lived though a 12-year-old.

ComicBook.com: There’s an element, at least in the early part of the story, of Erik underselling himself. If nothing else, about four seconds after he declares that he “always” chooses wrong, the backpack he picked up for no particular reason saves him. Was that done specifically?

Gallaher: He undersells himself and also oversells himself. That’s what being a teenager is all about — finding the right balance between courage and humility. In terms of ‘Bear’ his backpack … well … we’ll see how that all shakes out in volumes #2 and #3. Choosing wrong is part of growing up. It’s how we learn. And it’s something Erik will have to learn.

ComicBook.com: You guys always seem to have a few things going on. With this project (which has been around for a while) hitting ComiXology, what are you up to now?

Well, we do a lot of comic proposals and customized comic work for other clients (outside of the comic industry) — but we’re also doing a slew of new projects — on tap next is either The Extinguished or a Holmes story, I’ve been waiting to tell for about three years. We’re about 1/2 way done with Only Living Boy. The second issue debuts at SDCC. After that … we’ll see what the climate is and release a project that fits with where we’re going.

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