Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, creators of the Young Adult webcomic The Only Living Boy. The pair have previously collaborated on several projects, including the Harvey Award-winning online comic High Moon and Box 13, the first comic made exclusively for the iPhone.
Join us as we cover subjects ranging from Death Stars to zombies, and more!
In addition to his work as Chief Creative Officer for Bottled Lightning Inc., David Gallaher has written for Marvel Comics and served as a consultant for Random House, The New York Police Department, and McGraw-Hill. For five years shortly after college, he taught in the Maryland Public School System as a special education teacher.
Beyond his collaborations with Gallaher and his work as the Creative Director for Bottled Lightning, Inc., artist Steve Ellis is perhaps best known for his work for Wizards of the Coasts on Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering, and for creating storyboard designs and final art for interactive comic role playing games for AMC TV’s Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.
Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.
DAVID: This is such a great question because it reminds me of The Only Living Boy—stranded lost and alone. No other humans around. So… how about it, Steve?
STEVE: I’d like to say… pen, paper, bag of holding, dagger, and 50 ft length of rope.
DAVID: A bag of holding? How very D&D of you.
STEVE: What about you?
DAVID: A book on how to build a raft, a book on how to navigate by the stars, a book on wilderness survival, a Masterwork machete…
STEVE: How practical.
DAVID: Oh… and a yo-yo.
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
STEVE: Favorite monster… hrrrmmm… I think by default Cthulhu, because I love drawing tentacles, but the first thought in my head was Godzilla.
DAVID: Probably the the Dire Wraiths from ROM. They also have tentacles— Cthulhu-esque. Also they shapeshift, which which is kinda my favorite power.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your latest project, who would it be?
STEVE: David Bowie. His music is weird and off-kilter and beautiful. Oh wait… forget that. Mark Mothersbaugh. Not just his work on Devo—but all the work he’s done composing things like The Lego Movie. And all the stuff he did with Wes Anderson… so yeah… Mark Mothersbaugh.
DAVID: Can you imagine a Mark Mothersbaugh version of “The Only Living Boy in New York.” Kinda like an update of the Paul Simon song? That’d be neat. For me, it has got to be Hoyt Curtin, the composer of Jonny Quest and Battle of the Planets—those beats just stick with me somehow.
What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?
STEVE: Chaotic neutral.
DAVID: What about after coffee?
STEVE: Chaotic neutral. You?
DAVID: Lawful Good. I’m a morning person.
STEVE: Yeah, after 9 pm, you’re more Chaotic Tired.
Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…
STEVE: Tattooine’s a little too hot. And they blew up Alderaan. So I’ll take the Death Star.
DAVID: They also blew up the Death Star.
STEVE: Yeah… hrrrmmm… all the other places in Star Wars are too cold or too swampy… and there’s nothing good in the Game of Thrones world because everybody is always getting murdered. I’d hang out in Morodor, but they ruined that. I think I’ll hang out in Hogwarts.
DAVID: Innmouths. Go there for the the fishing, the sun, the good swimming…
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
STEVE: Star Wars. That was the start of it. Nothing surpassed it. It revolutionized everything. Fantasy—Dungeons and Dragons. I’m lucky in that in my career I’ve gotten to illustrate both Star Wars and D&D.
DAVID: I didn’t see Star Wars until much later in life, so it’s not really in my frame of reference. Flash Gordon though—the 70s cartoon—was something that really clicked with me. For fantasy, I think it was Clash of the Titans.
What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?
STEVE: I know how to throw an axe, so Ragnorak. Evil Robot Apocalypse would be the hardest to survive. I’ll willingly submit to my kindly robot overlords.
DAVID: Zombie Apocalypse is probably the easiest. Zombies are dumb. The thing I’d like to avoid? Probably the Anti-Life Equation. I was always bad at math.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
STEVE: (1) We’re storytellers above anything else and love telling all sorts of stories—from crime, horror, young adventure.
DAVID: (2) It may have the look and feel of a Saturday morning cartoon, but under the surface The Only Living Boy is much deeper—and plays with serious themes you’d find in works like Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra.
STEVE: (3) We want people to come to it an exciting adventures series, with crazy new worlds, that celebrates creativity and fun, but with a bit of a dark side.
What’s your favorite fairy tale, or fairy tale retelling?
STEVE: Hrrrrm. I have to say, I like the really dark ones. I like Sleeping Beauty. I like the motif of the thorns and the idea of the city being punished for the characters’ transgressions. It’s a really dark story if your read the original. I also love the creepiness of Rumpelstiltskin.
DAVID: I think Icarus is probably my favorite, event though it is more a myth than a fairy tale. I’m in it for the cool wings.