Interview With David Gallaher

David Gallaher

David Gallaher, writer of winning Zuda webcomic High Moon, was kind enough to answer my questions over the weekend.

What does winning mean for you? Were you offered an online publishing deal? If so, what is DC paying? What are you giving them in return?

Winning this competition means that Steve Ellis (artist), Scott O. Brown (letterer), and I can finish the first High Moon story on the Zuda site, which is really rather exciting. High Moon is a story I’ve been waiting to tell for over three years. When we were approached to work for Zuda, we knew what DC was looking for, and we were excited to be a part of something new and exciting. Our team will get $13,000 to finish the story, along with other nice perks in exchange for joint ownership of High Moon for the duration of the contract.

What’s the contract duration? How long will it take to finish the story? How many more pages (or screens, in Zuda terms) do you expect it to run?

The initial contract is for a year, I believe. The first High Moon story will be 52 more screens. That averages out to a page a week. However, I don’t think readers want to wait a full year to read the rest of High Moon, so we are in the process of meeting with DC to develop a schedule that pleases everyone.

How long have you been writing comics?

I’ve been writing professionally for over a decade and writing comics since 1999. I’ve taught several courses on comics, and I run the Brooklyn Comic Writer’s Workshop.

My first published work was a series of computer manuals in 1997 and ’98. I also wrote a variety of articles and stories for Marvel Interactive during my tenure there. After that, I developed a series of textbooks for McGraw-Hill and the Sylvan Learning Center. But the majority of my writing career has been writing print, radio, and television advertising for various clients including the New York City Police Department, CitiBank, Verizon, Pfizer, Saturn, Miller Brewing Company, the Save Darfur Coalition, Virgin Atlantic, and Kmart. And I’ve done some comics here and there for Moonstone, Chalk Outlines Studios, and Sky-Dog Press.

What contact(s) did you have with DC before Zuda was announced, if any?

When I was at Marvel Interactive, I had the opportunity to work with Kwanza, Ron, and Dave, who are now all members of Team Zuda. Based on my previous work at Moonstone, I was invited to submit a project to Zuda. I wrote up three different proposals, and High Moon was the one that Kwanza selected to go forward with.

This year, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet some fantastic folks at DC in different capacities for some other projects. But, overall, my experience with DC has been fairly limited.

What are your future plans? How do you think this will help you?

Well, my first priority is to finish High Moon. Outside of that, I’ve always been interested in writing comics that speak to my experience. Every comic I’ve written to date is a reflection of my inspirations –- and I’d like to continue telling those kind of stories. I’m interested in writing fun stories, that you don’t need a PHD in Comics to read, understand, and enjoy. So, whether I’m telling a story about a suicidal ghost, reinventing old-time-radio heroes, or writing a werewolf western, I want to have body of work that is accessible and fun for everyone.

Zuda has certainly been a huge stepping stone in terms of developing new readership. And I’m looking forward to what the future might hold as we enter 2008.

What were the specific inspirations for High Moon?

I mostly grew up in Frederick, Maryland, a town steeped in Civil War history and dirty little secrets. And for over a decade, I’ve wanted to do a Civil War-themed horror book with werewolves. In 2004, High Moon morphed, with the main character evolving from a Union solider to a bounty hunter and then to a Pinkerton detective. Mostly because I love a good detective story.

High Moon is part supernatural detective story, ala Constantine or Harry Dresden, with a mixture of old-time-radio shows such as Gunsmoke or Have Gun, Will Travel, a whole lot of authentic history and journals, a little Tom Waits, plus there are trappings of two distinct myths running around in our narrative. Also, visually, I know that Steve was drawing inspiration from Django and High Plains Drifter. So, the answer is that High Moon is inspired by a little bit of everything.

What advice do you have for someone interested in competing at Zuda?

With only eight screens to tell your story, you need to be ready to be awesome right out of the gate. So, give it your all and make sure your submission is the best that you can make it. And whether you win or lose, you’ll already be in better shape than you were before you submitted, because you’ve cultivated an audience that you didn’t have before.

Be awesome, be professional, and have fun.

Thanks again to David for taking the time to participate.

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