The Harvey-award winning team of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis have collaborated together for over a decade, beginning with their series High Moon, which launched in 2007 on DC’s long defunct webcomic service Zuda. Since then the duo have produced five volumes of The Only Living Boy.
12-year old Erik Farrell, runs away from home only to find himself without his memory, stranded on a patchwork planet with danger lurking around every corner. Every day is a struggle to survive. Erik quickly allies himself with Morgan, a mermaid warrior and Thea, a teenage princess from a mysterious insect race. He’ll need their help to escape the Dreaded Lord Baalikar and the evil Doctor Once and maybe, one day, find his way back home.
With The Only Living Boy now collected in an omnibus format, Gallaher and Ellis have launched their latest series, The Only Living Girl, which further explores the world they created.
Zandra ‘Zee’ Parfitt is one of the last human survivors of a cosmic disaster that merged hundreds of planets into the mysterious patchwork wasteland of Chimerika. After learning that the experiments of her late father, the diabolical Doctor Once, created this world, Zee and her companions — classmate Erik Farrell and mermaid warrior Morgan — embark on a dangerous quest filled with robots, monsters, unknown civilizations, and unlikely allies. Together they push back against the relentless Consortium, who want control of this new world at any cost. Through it all, Zee searches for the truth of her past so she can redeem her father’s legacy.
David and Steve took some time to discuss their new series, it’s influences and upcoming projects.
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FOG!: Your latest book, The Only Living Girl, is a sequel to your previous series, The Only Living Boy. How would you describe this title and do you feel that it is accessible to new readers who haven’t read the previous series?
Steve Ellis: What’s nice is, Zee the protagonist of The Only Living Girl, has her own tale of how she gets to the patchwork plant of Chimerika.
It’s part of Erik’s story from the first series, but her experience is completely different so instead of treating it like a sequel, its written as if Zee is the voice and you learn everything from her point of view. The new reader can jump right in.
David Gallaher: What’s interesting about Zee is that she’s the daughter of an incredibly wicked mad scientist named Doctor Once, he’s father didn’t just build this world — but he also experimented on hundreds of creatures living in it. He’s basically Doctor Moreau.
In the series, she had to come to terms with her father’s crimes and ask herself if her father’s legacy is worth redeeming.
I think the struggles she goes through during the story are incredibly intense and personal. It makes for some very rich storytelling.
How far back did you both plan this sequel and are there plans after this series ends to continue to explore The Only Living Universe in other stories?
SE: We always knew there was more to the world and as we explored it over The Only Living Boy, we realized the world just kept growing.
By the time Erik’s tale was halfway over we realized there were too many things we wanted to do with the characters and the world. We definitely have plans to continue past this series.
DG: When I wrote the outline for The Only Living Boy back in 2012, I recognized there was an opportunity to tell Zee’s story and give her a lot of agency and become the hero of her own story. Steve and I had a lot of conversations about what we wanted to do when Erik’s story was finished… and this series really opens the door for that.
Who or what have been the biggest sources of inspiration for this work?
SE: For me, it’s a modern take on Thundarr the Barbarian and Narnia with some John Carter of Mars. Part tragedy of lost past, part exploration and part building a new future. I want to call up the excitement and energy I got reading those books which seemed to explore impossible worlds yet still have a very personal story to balance it.
DG: We take lot of our cues from Saturday Morning cartoons, children’s literature and adventure fiction. I think my single biggest influence this series is Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, but there are loads of other influences.
Steve, how did the world change (if at all) visually when starting this new series?
SE: This series is like the next level. In the first series, you’d see remnants of earth and NYC especially, as the group explores outward, the world begins to look more and more influenced by the alien races that are part of the patchwork planet. Each place they visit is unique, each civilization has its own culture, history, visual style, so I try to push the limits of my imagination with each new group.
After collaborating together for a decade starting with 2007’s High Moon, how do you feel that your work together has evolved?
SE: I think we have the ability to know what the other wants from a page or a story.
DG: I think we’ve really adapted well to each other and knowing what helps make a great story even better.
David, you recently announced that you were writing the next Ghost Recon game for Ubisoft. What is that process like?
DG: Just like writing comics, writing video games is an incredibly collaborative process that involves thinking about how a story is told visually.
Video games have so many different ways you can experience a story and there are more narrative levels in telling story than there are in writing a comic, and the experience has really made my scripting and storytelling skills better.
What are you currently geeking out over?
SE: Honestly, I had a total geek out over Endgame and I’ve been gorging myself on Vikings… I love the visual style of the costumes and the cinematography. I’ve been getting really into Norse Mythology and History and have been listening to a group called Heilung (healing) which is a Viking tribal band.
DG: I’ve really gotten into C. Robert Cargill’s books — Sea of Rust and Dreams & Shadows. I think he’s a tremendously talented writer. I think graphic novelists like Gene Ha, Norm Harper and Sam Sattin are really doing some fantastic work too.
Where are your upcoming projects?
SE: I think my next big thing might have to do with Mythology I’m some way… I want to work in an Epic scale. I have been working on a book called “Monsterwood” that is a fantasy story with sculptor/creator Jason Rosen that will be our later this summer.
DG: We just did a small educational comic for the Children’s Tumor Foundation that we’re really proud of — and we’ll be working on The Only Living Girl for a while — but we have some other pretty exciting projects in the works — including more news about Ghost Recon, another adventure series and possibly a screenplay. I’m also co-hosting the For The Love Of Comics podcast, which has been a lot of fun. It’s a podcast devoted to celebrating the our collective love of comics and storytelling.
Honestly, it’s a tremendously exciting time for us creatively.
The Only Living Girl is in stores and e-tailers now