David Gallaher is a Hood College alumnus, a Harvey Award winning comic book writer, and a local boy all rolled up into one friendly package.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1975 to a military family, he traveled as a child before his family came to Frederick, Maryland. In high school, Gallaher developed and early love for theater which followed him into his college career.
He first attended Hood College in 1995 as an early childhood education major with a minor in English, and worked at the childcare center on campus. But Gallaher unwillingly transferred from Hood in 1998 after an unfortunate strawberry shortcake accident. He recalls that, for spring celebration, the Hood community made a massive strawberry shortcake and while he was enjoying his piece of the treat, he went into anaphylactic shock from a previously unknown allergy to strawberries. This left him hospitalized and absent from both his classes and his job.
By the time he had finally regained his health from the attack of the killer strawberry shortcake, Gallaher had missed so many classes and so much work that it didn’t make logical sense for him to return to a high-price institution like Hood. He transferred to Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont where he studied comic books. “It was sort of like a choose-your-own-major school,” Gallaher explains. “As part of my project for one of my classes, I drew my resume as a six-panel comic strip and faxed it to Marvel, and got an internship and later a job there.”
And that’s what began his comic career.
Gallaher interned for Marvel in 1999, then freelanced for them afterwards while also writing advertisements for the New York City Police department.
In 2008, Comic Foundry Magazine named Gallaher “Breakout Creator,” and in 2009 Gallaher’s work “High Moon” was awarded the Harvey Award for “Best Online Comics Work.” “That was pretty cool,” Gallaher says, in reference to the award. “I think it made a difference in the way that web comics were perceived in terms of adding some degree of authority.”
“High Moon” is a werewolf western and is based on Gallaher’s experiences living in Frederick and the town’s deep roots in the Civil War. He explains how he used to meet with friends on weekends to play role-playing games and these influences were an inspiration to him. “I was like ‘it would be really cool if we did a vampire game that took place in Maryland where the north was vampires and the south was werewolves and it would be like the Civil War,’” says Gallaher.
Years later, he revisited the idea while writing “High Moon,” but determined that the Civil War theme had been overused, and decided to go with a western instead.
Gallaher is also known for other works such as “The Only Living Boy” – which he describes as an “all-ages, young adult and childhood comic” – and “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,” Gallaher’s first published work and comic rendition of the 1949 radio drama of the same name. Gallaher’s most recent work is for DC comics, writing “Green Lantern Corps: Convergence.”
When asked what inspires his writing, Gallaher doesn’t hesitate before he names old-time radio dramas. “I really have a penchant for the peculiar,” he explains casually. “I love stuff that’s just a little off-beat, a little off-center, but I also love the way stories are told.” He describes writing a comic as doing a radio drama in reverse – instead of people adding the audio in their heads while reading, he writes it out in his head as he listens.
As for aspiring comic writers out there, Gallaher offers this advice: “Be so good that people can’t ignore you. Be constantly on the hunt to make yourself THE best, all the time. Surround yourself with information, surround yourself with people smarter than you, and just be awesome.”