High Moon: Talking Western Werewolves with The Zuda Creators
"High Moon," the horror western webcomic that won the first monthly online competition at DC's Zuda Comics, released its first print volume this week. David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, the creative team behind High Moon, talked with ComicsAlliance about the evolution of the series, where it drew its inspiration, and new season of the webcomic that launches tomorrow.
Gallaher began writing the story for "High Moon" in 2004. "At that time," he recalled. "I had envisioned it as an ongoing series or original graphic novel. I wrote the plot and script for the first issue, but had to put the whole project on hold for personal reasons. Also, the idea of the project getting drowned out in a sea of other comics really didn't appeal to me. The timing just didn't work for me on many levels."
After a few years off the project came to life again when he explained it to Ellis, who expressed interest in doing the illustrations. The premise was first pitched to DC before Zuda was announced, but the new online showcase gave the two with an ideal place to spotlight their work, and the website brought an audience to the book that simply throwing an untested idea out on the shelves wouldn't have.
Three different storylines of "High Moon" have been produced, each referred to as its own "season." All three take place in a western setting, at the transition from the gilded age to the industrial age. The first immediately noticeable difference from a traditional Western is the supernatural elements, most prominently the werewolf lawman protagonist. But dig a little deeper and you can see the unique influences from mythology and literature infused into each tale.
Season one, according to Gallaher and Ellis, "pulls a great deal of its ambiance and mood from the old Gunsmoke radio serial and Celtic mythology." Season two continues on the Celtic mythology thread while weaving in elements of Norse mythology, although according to the creators it's "actually far more inspired by William Faulkner and the works of playwright August Wilson than anything else." Season three adds elements of Russian, Cherokee and Sioux mythology to the unique American melting pot Gallaher and Ellis have built, as well as setting the stage for a longer narrative that continues in the upcoming launch of season four.
As each new tale by Gallaher adds another layer to the world of "High Moon," Ellis' artwork has been equally important to giving the book a unique feel. Ellis has done past illustration work for the pen and paper roleplaying game company White Wolf, including its Werewolf line, but when designing the universe of High Moon he wanted to do something different. According to the artist, "I did make a conscious decision to move away from that. When I was doing the White Wolf werewolves they were far more muscular and bulky, whereas High Moon's werewolves are far more wolf-like and sinewy. I cut my teeth on White Wolf, pardon the pun, but this stuff is far more inhuman than anything I'd ever draw for their books."
The success of "High Moon" has mostly kept the two busy working on more "High Moon," and season four begins at Zuda's site on Saturday, October 3rd. But Ellis and Gallaher have also found themselves in greater demand and will be collaborating on other projects, including the upcoming "Hulk: Winter Guard" one-shot in December.
Ellis and Gallaher were also eager to give recommendations to any readers who enjoyed High Moon and want to see what else Zuda has to offer. Both suggest Night Owls, Bayou, I Rule the Night, and Street Code, while Gallaher adds Black Cherry Bombshells, Supertron and Bottle of Awesome. With over two hundred comics currently readable, including all of "High Moon," odds are there's something there for any interested reader.