If you haven’t heard of The Only Living Boy then you must have been living under a rock. Which considering how this story starts being under a rock might be the most magical place you could be.
Erik Farrell is a runaway in NYC who falls asleep under a strange rock in Central Park and wakes up in a world full of magic and wonder. I’m talking dragons, mer-people, mad scientists, fairies, beasts, and monsters. There is so much going on in this series it’s impossible to cover it all in a single review. That’s the real charm of this series; the moment you think that Gallaher and Ellis couldn’t possibly take the comic any further into their wild imaginations, that’s when you find yourself at just the start of the next amazing issue.
The Only Living Boy is like watching your childhood’s imagination being displayed on the page. Erik is the brave and innocent bystander who is thrust into the role of hero. He’s just a kid. Just a plain old little kid, no powers, no laser beams, and yet Erik displays the kind of courage in the face of adversity that we all hope we can find within ourselves when faced with hardships. There is no monster too big, there is no danger to hazardous; Erik is all heart and it shows through and through as the series moves along.
Gallaher has crafted a world full of interesting and magical creatures that rivals that of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. This is a world that is fully of different creatures and cultures, each with their own histories and motivations. There are a wealth of stories to be mined for future issues, so many different avenues for the creators to go down that it might take decades to fully uncover all of the hidden gems that lie within the pages of this series.
Ellis’ artwork falls squarely between Paul Pope and Mark Bagley. There is a sense of excitement and adventure on every page that lures the reader in and compels you to soak in the artwork. There are also signs that Ellis is getting more comfortable with the story as the series rolls on, his line work is more confident and his page layouts become more dynamic. It’s apparent that this artist is finding his groove on this title.
The Only Living Boy is title that is perfect for younger readers. This is the kind of comic that I would have gobbled up as a younger teen. I can easily imagine a younger version of myself reading this comic and then sitting back and daydreaming what it might be like to be Erik’s friend or sidekick; going on amazing adventures. This is a book that successfully visualizes what it was like to grow up with the mind of an overly-active imagination.
My complaints for this book are subtle. The pacing can be too fast at times. There is so much action placed in each issue that it can be difficult to keep up at times. This also doesn’t allow for readers to really stop and enjoy the different characters and environments that Erik comes in contact with during his adventures. The moment that things slow down it’s just long enough to catch your breath before the story takes off at a neck-breaking pace in another direction.
There are also some flaws with the artwork that falls on the colorist. There are multiple points where the rough pencil lines can be seen beneath the coloring; there are also other panels where the coloring bleeds. While these mistakes do not distract from the enjoyment of the book, they do become glaring when you stop and study the artwork.
I would urge anyone out there that knows a young, blooming comic fan to place this series in their hands. This is the perfect primer for the hobby.
Final Score: 4 out 5 stars
The Only Living Boy 1-4
Story: David Gallaher
Art: Steve Ellis
Colors: Holley McKend
Letters: Melanie Ujimori