After making a name for themselves with popular webcomics like High Moon and Box 13 plus the Winter Guard mini-series at Marvel Comics, writer David Gallaher and artist Steve Ellis are turning to the readers for helping them reach the next level. Announced yesterday, The Only Living Boy is a four-volume graphic novel series the duo plans to debut at ComicCon International: San Diego with help from a fundraising drive on Kickstarter.
Described as a “pulp adventure” series, The Only Living Boy follows 12-year old Erik Farrell who finds himself stranded in a patchwork version of earth. With no one his age or of his species for that matter, Erik must try to piece together his memories of how he got here and how he can survive. Although humans are no where to be found, Erik will run across other species like insectoids, mermaids and a variety of other creatures who call this strange world home. Inspired by their own boyhood (and adulthood) passions for stories like Tarzan, Flash Gordon, The Jungle Book, this story of a boy navigating a strange, new world is a unique follow-up to their previous work on High Moon and Box 13.
After providing their previous comics free online to readers, they’re turning to Kickstarter and their fans to fund them as they plan to self-publish this series on their own. Aiming to raise $11,500 by the end of March, the funds will go towards the printing the book for its Comic-Con debut and for fees, postage, and development of the comic and the funding incentives. In the past we’ve seen Kickstarter fund drives exceed their goals, and the duo plan for any additional money to go towards the three remaining volumes of the series. Although donating money for the publishing of a privately-owned book might seem out of sorts, through the unique incentives they offer the minimum donation, $5, gives you a copy of the first issue as a PDF – akin to ordering a book in advance. For more, we talked with Gallaher and Ellis.Newsarama: Before I dig into the book, I have to ask: the title of this reminds me of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Only Living Boy In New York;" is that intentional, or mere coincidence?
David Gallaher: Around the time the idea first popped into my head was when they were filming I Am Legend by my house in New York. The idea for our series sprung out of the feelings of desolation and loneliness than come from growing up as a boy in a big, scary city. And by scary ... of course ... I mean littered with monsters. As we worked on and polished the book and the series concept, the title just seemed to fit nicely with what we were doing.
Nrama: And what can you tell us about the story that developed?
Steve Ellis: It's the story of Erik Farrell - a 12 year-old boy who is transported to a chimerical world -- one that is created from pieces of hundreds of other alien and potentially horrifying worlds all jumbled together.Nrama: What kind of kid is Erik, given what he’s stuck into?
Gallaher: DG: He's nervous, smart, curious, scared, impulsive, charming, and a little over-reactionary. He's 12 – he runs the full gamut of human emotion. Remember what you were like at the age of 12? That's Erik.
Ellis: He's a boy who's lost between childhood and adulthood. All the rules he has come to know about life and living – suddenly make no sense at all to him.
Nrama: And what's the world he lives in like? Steve described it as “chimerical”, but tell us more.
Gallaher: To borrow a line from Thundarr the Barbarian, “It is a world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery.”Ellis: It's our world sorta – but with lush jungles, wild oceans, massive underwater cities, floating insectoid hives, and pieces of old New York mixed in. It's pieces of everything really. It is beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous.
Gallaher: Did monsters invade? Did Erik wake up in the future? Where did all the people go? These are the Twilight-Zone-ish questions that Erik must ask himself. He'll have help, of course, along the way.
Nrama: Before we get to that morsel of an idea about help, will we ever find out how and why Erik ended up the last boy on earth?
Ellis: We find out pretty early on HOW he gets there…Gallaher: WHY he gets there ... that's what we'll be exploring.
Ellis: Erik has a backstory all his own.
Nrama: You mentioned help. Although he may be the only living boy, are there any girls or other sentient creatures in this world?
Ellis: There are a lot of different sentients, some of them female, but we wouldn't exactly categorize them as human girls. The different races on the new world are from vastly different environments and societies, and Erik is thrown into the middle of a giant clash between them all.Nrama: Your previous collaborations have all had their roots in pulp storytelling. Will this carry on in that tradition?
Gallaher: Absolutely. I was raised on the pulps and their style of storytelling. This isn't an homage, by any means, but there's a great deal of down-and-dirty storytelling in the tradition of books and serials like Flash Gordon, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan. The series is very visually driven -- lush landscapes, dangerous sword fighting, grotesque monsters, true love, daring adventure -- and it's fun to play around in a world that is familiar yet very alien.
Nrama: Your previous works together came out through other people -- High Moon at DC’s Zuda webcomics site, Box 13 via Comixology and the Winter Guard stories for Marvel. What led you to attempt to fund this project via Kickstarter?Ellis: The freedom from the traditional system and our belief that our readers are our most important asset. This way we get to produce work directly for them.
Nrama: You're planning to do this as a graphic novel, which is a break from your previous work which has been primarily told first as webcomics. Why'd you go that path?
Ellis: Over the last five years we've cultivated a very strong and very passionate following of readers, who mostly follow our work online. This is an opportunity to help create a stronger bridge between our online and print readership.
Ellis: The Only Living Boy will still have a fairly heavy web presence. We're just planning for all situations with The Only Living Boy.