Dandy Don the Valiant’s Interview with Dave Howlett – Writer & Artist of THE MAKERS (Paskettiwestern Productions)
Interview with Dave Howlett
Oh, hey, Mom. I feel like I’m stepping up in the world. I just finished my very first interview. What? No, I didn’t get interviewed, I did the interviewing. I got to interview, Dave Howlett, a comic book writer and artist from Canada. He writes and draws a new comic book series titled, The Makers. What do you mean what color are they? No, Mom, I said Makers, not markers. Geesh! Sorry about that, OG peeps. Now, let’s get to this week’s Dandy Don the Valiant’s very first interview.
Dave Howlett is a Canadian born comic book writer and artist. He was born January 31, 1974 in Scarborough, Ontario, and has lived in Nova Scotia since about 1976. Almost all of his writing credits are self-owned and self-published creations. Some of his credits include: Scenester (HFX Comics; 2002-2003), Slam-A-Rama (Tuco Comics; 2010-12), Hobo with a Shotgun (self-published; 2012), and The Last Paper Route (Decent Comics; 2015). He also did the lettering for The Street Fighting Man and Grand Adventure, both for Grandway Comics (2018). He is currently working on another creator owned series titled, The Makers (Paskettiwestern Productions). He has been employed for the past twenty-five years at Strange Adventures Comics & Curiosities comic book store in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This conversation with Dave Howlett came about after reading The Makers #1.
ME: I just want to start off by saying I thoroughly enjoyed issue #1 of The Makers (Insert my review here). Loved it! Obviously, this was a takeoff from the creation of Image Comics back in 1992. I love the premise. I don’t know how old you are, so I was wondering if you were into comics back then and remembered when it all happened?
DAVE: Glad you enjoyed it! I was a surly teen when Image debuted. I had followed all those guys at Marvel and DC and found it all pretty exciting when Image Comics started hitting the shelves, but I have to admit I lost interest pretty quickly. Like a lot of the critics at the time, I felt the stories and characters were kinda lacking. What was worse, the influence of all that stuff was starting to bleed into the Marvel and DC comics of the period, so it basically caused me to quit reading comics for a year or two…until I discovered Sin City and Astro City, anyway. In recent years, though, I’ve been reexamining a lot of those early Image titles, and I’ve been really struck with the energy and enthusiasm, more than any of the storytelling drawbacks. That enthusiasm is something I find missing from a lot of modern comics, and thinking about that, and the various behind-the-scenes drama of Image, planted the seeds for what would become The Makers. I should also give credit to the highly entertaining documentary The Image Revolution, from 2014, which I didn’t catch until about three years ago. That gave me a lot of ideas as well, plus a new appreciation for how tough it must have been for these young artists to suddenly find themselves in the position of being instant moguls.
ME: Yeah, when Image first came out, I loved all the huge splash pages and battles and bright colors. But you’re right, it got old quick. But like you, looking back on it, it was an enjoyable time. Ah, I haven’t seen the Image Revolution documentary. I’ll have to check that out.
DAVE: If you have a membership to Amazon Prime, you can watch the doc there and I highly recommend you do if you have any interest in the period!
ME: Inside the front cover, you dedicated your comic book series to the 7 founders of Image Comics. Which one or ones were/are your favorites?
DAVE: Erik Larsen would be my favorite since a) I really do believe he’s the best writer in the bunch, and b) he’s the only founder who stuck with his original plan/title. McFarlane would be up there too—they’re a bit clunky but those early Spawn issues were and are undeniably exciting.
ME: Spawn is probably still my favorite Image series of all-time. Now, The Makers at the end of #1 seem a lot like The Watchers (Marvel). Are they?
DAVE: The people we see at the end of issue one aren’t The Watchers, but they are clearly not of this earth, as readers will see in issue two.
ME: When will #1 be released?
DAVE: As to the release, the first two issues are actually up for sale digitally now on Gumroad! I released the first one back in April, and the second one went up last week. The third one is done, too. I’ll be releasing it in August. Six issues total, bimonthly schedule.
ME: Good to know on the releases. So, are you based in Canada?
DAVE: I am based in Halifax, Canada. Nova Scotia to be precise.
ME: Did you create the new Paskettiwestern Productions company?
DAVE: Paskettiwestern is my online handle going back a ways, and it seemed like the time to start using it for more than that.
ME: Is The Makers series the first release then? Do you have any other series planned yet?
DAVE: It is the first release under this imprint, but hopefully not the last. Alongside The Makers, I’m also assembling a one-man anthology called Flopsweat that will contain a lot of shorter strips and possibly some longer material that will be serialized in chunks. I love the old format of stuff like Eightball and Dork and wanted to do something in that vein for things that don’t really have a home elsewhere. Some of it has appeared on my Instagram, Twitter, and on Facebook, while other stuff will be brand new. Plus, there are other titles I want to get into once The Makers is done, which, if all goes according to plan, will be early next year.
ME: Are you the one man show, or do you have others at Paskettiwestern Productions?
DAVE: Just me!
ME: Cool. You’re doing a great job. Will any of these issues make the local comic book shops or will they all be digital?
DAVE: I’m hoping to do a print version at some point, but I have to figure out the logistics of it during a pandemic, unfortunately! I prefer print comics myself, but this seemed like a good way to reach a wider audience. I don’t want to cling too much to older media, but that’s ultimately where my heart is.
ME: How long have you been in the business and what was your first job?
DAVE: My first job in the biz would technically be when I was hired at Strange Adventures in Halifax almost 25 years ago. Still there, too—I’m a comics lifer through and through.<
ME: That’s so cool! Living the comic book dream. You mention that you still work at the Strange Adventures comic book store. I see on their website that they have three locations in Canada. Which one do you work at?
DAVE: I manage the Halifax location.
ME: What was your first writing/art credit in the industry?
DAVE: I don’t really have one, it’s all self-published mini-comics and zines!
ME: So, all your comics are self-published, and creator owned then. Nice! Was Hobo with a Shotgun your first one?
DAVE: No, I self-published a werewolf miniseries in 1996 called Bad Moon Rising. That probably would have been my first.
ME: Oh, I would love to read that one! Okay, one final question. When it comes to writing and drawing, are you self-taught or did you have some schooling?
DAVE: I did half a semester of art school and dropped out—just wasn’t my scene! So, I’m largely self-taught, but I’ve also been lucky enough to have lot of talented friends who taught me lots along the way, as well.
ME: That is so cool! That’s what friends are for…lol. You are very talented indeed, my friend. Well, that about wraps it up. I want to thank you so much for making my very first interview a most enjoyable and pleasant experience. You’re very nice for doing this and for putting up with me. You are one cool dude! I wish you much success with The Makers series and all your series that are sure to follow. I can’t wait to read ‘em all! Thanks again, Dave.
DAVE: No problem! Let me know if you need anything else. Thanks for doing this!
Dave Howlett seems like a genuine down to earth guy. He has created an original and interesting premise with The Makers. Playing on the history of when Image Comics was created back in 1992, Howlett mixes a similar history with a science fiction story. Brilliant! Click on the link and purchase the first two digital issues of this wonderful series. It’s definitely worth it!
So, Mom, what did you think of the interview after you read it? No, Mom, your internet bill didn’t go up just because I talked to somebody from Canada. Oh, boy.