David Gallaher may in fact be the grown up, real world equivalent of Eric Farrell, the main protagonist in The Only Living Boy. Gallaher, in as much as he is a fully paid member of the Grownups Club, has that innate ability to recall life as a 12 year old kid and the challenges inherent in that transitory period.
The Only Living Boy is a young adult graphic novel that tells the story of Erik Farrell, a 12-year old boy, who finds himself with alone and abandoned in a patchwork world. As the last human boy left on earth, he’ll try to piece his memory back together, while trying to piece together a new life for himself.
It’s easy to see how Gallaher would have made a great teacher. With his easy manner and gruff charm, the Harvey Award winning writer of comics such as High Moon and Box 13 is somebody you could sit and talk to for hours about comic books and life in general. He took a half hour to sit and share his wisdom with Curicon at his exceptionally busy booth at Comic Con and told us all about the ‘patchwork’ world of The Only Living Boy as a metaphor for life and the art of growing up.
On the inspiration for The Only Living Boy
There’s a Paul Simon song called The Only Living Boy in New York, and that was sort of the impetus for the title. But I was inspired by the fact that the movie I Am Legend was filming in my neighbourhood in New York and I thought how cool it would be to have a kid-centric story about being one of the only living boys left alive. As I was working on the story, I really got to think about my time as a teacher and how being 12 years old really was the most interesting time because you don’t know what kind of child you’re going to become; you don’t know what’s going to happen to you.
On being 12 years old
At 12 years old, the world is wonderful; it’s so fraught with danger, it’s so fraught with challenges and you go through some interesting phases like your punk rock stage, your British mod stage, that time you decided you’d talk like Jacko….
On living in a diverse world
We live in a world with Muslims, Blacks, Christians, Jews, Scientologists and Mormons and Australians and Scots and Brits and you know. So we live in that world and that’s what this [The Only Living Boy] is sort of a metaphor for, how we incorporate all that.
The story was sort of inspired by The Jungle Book and Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and those sorts of worlds where it’s one man versus the entire world. I love stuff like that. … I love stuff that confronts the challenges of growing up.
On the art of growing up
When you’re 12 you’re sort of scared of everything. You’re stuck in this position where the rules you had as a kid don’t apply to you any more and you’re not ready for the rules grown ups have. Nobody gives teenagers a handbook; when you’re 12 nobody follows the rules, you get bullied, you get picked on, your body starts to change. (Does a convincing impression of a 12 year old) “Oh wow, I’ve got hair here”, (lowering his vocal register)“Oh wow my voice deepens”, it’s a really strange place to be.
So The Only Living Boy is sort of a metaphor for that (those interesting phases) as our main character Eric finds himself in a patchwork work where he’s able to try on different identities and cultures and determine what sort of a boy, and man, he’s going to become.
On the writing process
You have the idea, you work with it, you massage it, and you kick it around a bit.
On the impact of digital comics in the comic book industry
For me it’s fine because I’ve always been a supporter of digital comics. High Moon was originally digital so it’s nice to have that flow [of real and digital comics].
The Only Living Boy is available for download on Comixology