A New York City kid is the last living human in the new graphic novel “The Only Living Boy.”
Written by David Gallaher and drawn by Steve Ellis, the book centers on Erik Farrell, a runaway who falls asleep while hiding out in the Big Apple, only to awaken in a fantastical world with even more fantastical creatures.
The inspiration for the story came one day when Gallaher was heading home from work and came upon the Will Smith movie “I Am Legend” filming in New York.
“I was thinking, at the time, Will Smith is like this 40-year-old badass,” says Gallaher. “If I were a vampire, I’d be scared of him. He’s got a lifetime of skills to fall back on. … I thought to myself, what would be really scary, what would be really terrifying is if you were younger and had no skills to fall back on.”
It was then that the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Only Living Boy in New York” played on his iPod.
It was “kind of synchronicity,” Gallaher says. “And I was like, ‘Oh. Huh.’ And that was the story. That was the basic genesis of it. … For me, it was really about telling a story that deals with the profundity of growing up and not knowing where your place in the world is.”
World plays a big role in “The Only Living Boy.” The strange place Erik wakes up in has a very similar outline to the shape of New York City.
“For me, what is so great about New York City is people think of New York City and they think of the big buildings,” says Gallaher, who lives in Ditmas Park. “But we got this gigantic park in the middle of Manhattan. We have zoos and roller-skating rinks and bandshells. It’s got this giant underground steam pipe system. There’s all these really complicated bits and pieces that keep New York functioning in a way that is just awesome. We wanted to capture that and bring back a sense of wonder.”
That sense of wonder includes mad scientists, monsters and mermaid warriors.
“New York is a magical city, but we wanted to take it to its next literary step,” Gallaher says.
“The Only Living Boy” began as a web comic and now is making its debut as a print graphic novel. To celebrate the release, Gallaher and Ellis are hosting several #MakeComic events around the region this month, where they’ll help people collaborate on their own comic books.
“Comics are really a teamwork between words and pictures, working together to tell the best story possible,” Gallaher explains. “So what we’re really going to do is explain how comics are made, but really talk about the need to work collaboratively to produce great comics.”
Gallaher and Ellis themselves have been collaborating for the past nine years on award-winning books like “High Moon” and “Box 13.”
“We have a lot of similar sensibilities — our cultural touchstones are very similar,” Gallaher says. “And we both have role-playing games as a big part of our backgrounds.”
He says their joint love of “Dungeons & Dragons” helped create “the foundation for who we are.”
“‘D&D’ has this really strong collaborative background,” Gallaher says. “The Dungeon Master says, ‘You are in this crazy room, now what do your players do?’ … It’s a shared narrative. Steve and I are coming up with these ideas together.”
If you go
David Gallaher and Steve Ellis are at Aw Yeah Comics from noon-3 p.m. on March 5, 313 Halstead Ave., Harrison, in Westchester, 914-732-3600, FREE
They are at East Side Mags on March 5 from 4:30-7:30 p.m., 7 S. Fullerton Ave., Montclair, New Jersey, 862-333-4961, FREE
They are at Comic Book Jones on March 6 from noon-3 p.m. 2220 Forest Ave., Staten Island, 718-448-1234, FREE
Gallaher is at Elk Cafe on March 8 at 6 p.m., 154 Prospect Park SW, Windsor Terrace, 718-853-5500, FREE