Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Dana Folkard
DAVID GALLAHER INTERVIEW – HIGH MOON
Just in time for Halloween, Papercutz’s Super Genius imprint will publish the definitive edition of the first of three volumes of HIGH MOON, the acclaimed graphic novel series by writer David Gallaher and artist Steve Ellis. HIGH MOON is a unique western and horror genre mash-up about the investigations of a mysterious bounty hunter, one whose own dark secret emerges every full moon.
David Gallaher, one half of the creators of this epic series was kind enough to take the time to chat to Impulse Gamer about the re-release of High Moon, his love of Westerns and his long-time collaboration with Steve Ellis.
High Moon is getting reprinted by Papercutz. Can you give a little taste of what fans can expect from this re-release?
High Moon: Bullet Holes & Bite Marks is presented in wide-screen format and has the heft of a European-style graphic novel. On a technical level, co-creator Steve Ellis and I, working with letterer Christy Sawyer, took the time to re-master, re-color, and re-letter hundreds of pages of High Moon so that it would really pop off the page. We’ve added some gorgeous new back-matter that adds to the mythos of our world and we’ve packaged it all in a nifty slipcase cover. I am admittedly a little biased, but this is a gorgeous book.
For those who haven’t ventured into this tale before, can you give a little summary of what this tale is about?
High Moon is a werewolf western. Essentially, it’s the story of Matthew Macgregor— a fella too stubborn for his own good — who finds himself on the forefront of the ever-changing American landscape, during the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. During the course of events, this bounty hunter finds himself forced to make the decision to either live like a beast or die like a man. It’s a visceral tale that features cowboys wrestling werewolves — both literally and figuratively.
I absolutely love this western and horror genre mash-up, with gun-slinging monsters. Please explain where this wild concept of a werewolf western came from, and what inspired it?
Writing High Moon is something that speaks to my fondness for pulps, mythology, history, and old-time radio, but to tell you truth, I was never a huge fan of westerns. That is not to say that there aren’t some fantastic stories of the old west, but for the most part, I found many of the tales of the old west a little too simple. The man who changed that perception for me was a writer by the name of John Meston. John doesn’t get a lot of credit these days, but he was the principal writer and creator behind the radio series “Gunsmoke,” which I listened to a lot in my twenties.
Thirteen years or so ago, after a crazy fever dream, I had this idea of two werewolves dueling at sundown. The title for the series immediately popped into my head. Originally, I built the series around the aftermath of the American Civil War with vampires squaring off against werewolves for the future of our union. Thinking back to “Gunsmoke,” I loved how Meston wrote down every tired cowboy trope and cliché he could think of and set aside time to break every single one. I was really inspired by that philosophy. After putting some throught and research into it, I realized there was an great opportunity to tell a complex werewolf tale surrounding the true story of Jim Bowie and his failed expedition to the San Saba silver mines. Those elements became the framework for what the series would become.
There seems to be a high demand for Westerns recently. What do you believe it is about this genre that excites and inspires people so much?
The Western is one of America’s unique contributions to culture — and few things in history have had such a powerful an impact on the American psyche. I mean, the cowboy has pretty much cemented his place as an icon of masculinity. I think part of it too is that the ‘wild west’ serves as a metaphor for how chaotic and senseless the world can feel. The frontier represents this lawless landscape that is perfect for exploring themes of sexism, racism, nationalism, capitalism, and virtually and other -ism you can think of. Collectively, I think what excites us and inspires us about the genre is believing that we can somehow tame the untamable.
This isn’t the first time you two have collaborated. What is it that keeps bringing you back together?
Steve Ellis and I have been collaborating for over a decade. One of the things that keeps bringing us back together is our shared love of epic storytelling. We share many of the same cultural touchstones, love mythology, and visceral narratives. Whether it’s working on Green Lantern for DC Comics or working on The Only Living Boy for Papercutz, our collaborations ultimately bring out the best in one another.
How did it feel to venture back into this story once again?
It felt pretty darn great. Steve and I have been champing at the bit to tell more High Moon stories. We’ve lived with the stories and the characters for so long that they feel very much a part of our lives. We’re thrilled to bring High Moon to a new generation of fans and continue the adventure for fans who have been with us since the beginning.
Finally, can we expect you two to take us on another High Moon adventure in the future?
Without showing all of our cards, next year fans of the series will get to experience the return of some fan favorite characters. We’ll see an homage to both Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes, and we’ll discover the monstrosity that is the Giant Rat of Sumatra. The upcoming new High Moon stories will, I think, truly delight fans of horror, history, and the supernatural.