Harvey-Award winning comic creators David Gallaher (High Moon, Convergence: Green Lantern Corps) and Steve Ellis (High Moon, Hulk, Breaking Bad) have dubbed their studio Bottled Lighting and judging by the success of the comics they produce this is an appropriate name!
David joins us today to talk about The Only Living Boy: Volume One which is coming to bookstores everywhere from Papercutz.
The Only Living Boy started as a webcomic and was previously printed in a Kickstarter campaign before being collected in the upcoming edition.
David took the time to talk with us today to tell us the origin of this comic and more below as how Bottled Lightning came to be!
FOG!: I’ve just finished the first volume of The Only Living Boy and I can’t believe what I’ve been missing! How has the community support from Kickstarter to the webcomics helped you guys get the book to the people?
David Gallaher: First of all, thank you. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.
Technology has enabled us to reach everybody who has an internet connection and we love the digital community that has helped bring The Only Living Boy to the forefront.
We’ve been able to offer the series through so many different platforms — Kickstarter, Tapastic, Noisetrade, Tumblr, comiXology, Humble Bundle — and the response has been extraordinary. We’ve have over 200,000 readers across platforms and that’s been really special to us.
Our passionate fans are the reason we are here.
Which came first, the idea for a webcomic or was this designed for a book? When did Papercutz decide to put out the volume?
We were looking for a follow-up to Box 13, our previous series from comiXology. We had briefly started developing it as a mobile, Guided View-style comic, but decided to tell a more expansive story — nothing more akin to a children’s picture book.
We were in the middle of our fourth over-sized issue when we announced the deal with Papercutz. We’ve been really impressed with their level of dedication to the series.
When was the first time the two of you worked together on a comic, and what is the origin of Bottled Lightning?
In November of 2006, I was approached by Kwanza Osajyefo (of Black fame) to develop a project for a new DC Comics digital initiative called ZUDA. In February of 2007, I talked to Steve Ellis during New York Comic Con about working on project for that imprint. High Moon was the result — a steampunk-infused werewolf western series that ran for three years on DC’s website.
During its run it received the Harvey Award for Best Online Comic, had over 3.5 million views and a gained an insanely rabid following. High Moon opened a lot of doors for us as creators. With comiXology, we pioneered the first comic specifically designed for iOS with Box 13. We followed that up with the sequel Box 13: The Pandora Process. Both were nominated for several Harvey Awards.
We also developed projects for DC Comics, including the Green Lantern Corps, Deadlands for Image Comics, Hulk and Darkstar & The Winter Guard for Marvel Comics, and various projects for companies like Amazon Studios.
When we decided to work on The Only Living Boy, we thought we’d invite all of the passionate readers that followed us on High Moon and our other projects to join us for kickstarting our new series. The Kickstarter was funded within the first week — and we’ve been working on The Only Living Boy ever since.
On to The Only Living Boy — a story I thought was influenced as much by Kirby’s Kamandi as it was The Goonies. Our hero Erik Farrell finds himself in a new world after running away. Will he ever get back home?
We get the Kamandi reference quite a bit, but for us the influence is really more Mowgli from The Jungle Book and Jess from Bridge to Terebethia. We’ve built fantastical vivid fantasy, world where the burdens of adolescence are personified as multi-headed monsters and maniacal mad scientists.
Alice found her way back from Wonderland.
Dorothy found her way back from Oz.
Even Mowgli found his way out of the jungle.
Sarah found her way out of the Labyrinth.
But… that doesn’t mean Erik will find his way home.
I mean… we could tell you, but that’s a pretty big spoiler. We’d rather have you read the book instead.
Erik’s alone on his journey but meets some interesting friends along the way (including his Bear). What’s fun about writing and drawing these creatures of the new world?
We have these incredibly visual and dynamic characters that have such explosive and contagious personalities that it is hard to stop writing about them. Morgan, our mermaid warrior, has this loud presence that makes her just pop off of the page. It’s a real hoot to put her in a scene with the other characters and watch the pages come alive.
That’s true with a lot of the creatures in The Only Living Boy, actually. They are all very eccentric — Doctor Once, Thea, Baalikar, Raj Nod. They all have their quirks and odd personality traits which makes them compelling to write. It’s sorta addictive.
And the monsters — oh man — the monsters are just awesome to put together.
First of all, they are very asymmetrical. Think of all of the crazy things you drew when you were five years old and put them in a comic book. That’s sorta the basic idea for the monsters we come up with Multiple eyes and mouths, abnormally large arms, and other mutations you might not find in nature, you will find in our series.
We think of these things from a ‘story first’ perspective, and draw colors, behaviors, and patterns from nature, but after that, we let our imaginations run wild.
What’s fun about it? Well, it’s just us pouring everything out of our brains and onto the page. There’s something liberating about that.
You’ve already won Harvey Awards for comics and nominated for The Only Living Boy, but do you think this opportunity with Papercutz will bring the story to more kids?
We were very honored to win a Harvey Award for High Moon and to receive multiple nominations for The Only Living Boy. Papercutz has incredible reach with bookstores, comic shops, libraries, and schools — so for us, it felt like a natural fit to bring The Only Living Boy to them.
Over the next several months, we’ll be traveling to schools, comic shops and bookstores leading ‘how to make comics’ workshops across the country — and we think that will have a tremendous impact of children and readers of all ages.
What is the best part about making All-Ages comics?
I must admit I don’t appreciate when All-Ages gets confused with ‘comics for kids’ — the best way to describe any book is that any one of any age can enjoy it !
I’m nose deep into Harry Potter myself.
It’s funny, we don’t consider The Only Living Boy an all-ages book. We’re making a book for a young adult audience, it just happens to be family friendly. The best part of telling the story though? For me that would have to be building the most imaginative worlds we can think of. We’re making the book that we wanted to read when we were younger.
What is next after Volume 1? Does the story continue or have an end?
The Only Living Boy: Beyond Sea & Sky debuts in July and continues Erik’s adventures. Erik starts a dangerous quest to try to find his friends Morgan and Thea — and the result could spell catastrophe for the entire planet. And yes, the series does have a definitive end with Volume 5 next year, and after that…. well… that’d be telling.
We’ll do our best to send people to your social networks and whatnot — but what else is coming down the pike at Bottled Lightning?
Well, we have five volumes of The Only Living Boy coming out within the next 18 months. We’ll be releasing more of our werewolf series High Moon and we’re developing several new series now for various publishers and platforms. There’s lot of fun stuff off the horizon in the coming months…!
WE look forward to that and good luck! Thanks for joining us, David!