by Amanda Steele
Dave Dwonch is a comic book creator and writer who has recently gotten the attention of fans of Bryan Fuller’s work as his newest comic, Mind Palace, features characters from many of Bryan Fuller’s TV shows such as Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, and more. He was promoting this work and others at NYCC this year, and I was able to chat with him a bit about his history creating comics as well as Mind Palace.
Amanda Steele: What got you into comics? What was the first comic you remember reading?
Dave Dwonch: I’ve been drawing comic book characters for as long as I remember. Back when I was five or six, I had a babysitter, my cousin Mike, who was way into Spider-Man and Batman. He was a pretty accomplished illustrator himself, for a 16-year-old, and he showed me the ropes. My mom used to bring home those old DC Treasury Editions from the library to stoke the flames, but what really solidified my love of the medium was my dad. We lived in California, and he was sent to New York for a year for work. He’d come back every month or so with a stack of comics, and we’d just… read together. He knew I loved drawing, so he’d visit his “local” comic shop in New York and ask for whatever was cool.
This was back in 1985, so I was lucky enough to get the first issue of TMNT (first print!) and a bunch of X-Men books. Once my dad figured out that I was a Marvel zombie, he started digging into back issues like the Wolverine mini and Miller’s Daredevil run. Basically early Frank Miller ruled my ten year old brain.
Steele: What was the first comic you ever wrote?
Dwonch: I started with dreams of being a comics artist, so I started with mini comics and zines– comic strip style stuff. My first published work as a writer/artist was a book called “Special Education” in 2004-2005. It was about a powerless kid who, because his parents were superheroes, gets sent to a high school for gifted youth. Because he’s “normal,” he gets put in the remedial class which is being instructed by the headmaster’s “reformed” arch-nemesis. It was my commentary on Catholic school, and really, really funny stuff. I rolled that funny into a webcomic called Space-Time Condominium, which is a predecessor of sorts to my newest web series, Mind Palace.
Steele: What gave you the idea to create Mind Palace? Have you been a fan of Bryan Fuller’s work for a long time?
Dwonch: I’ve been a fan since Wonderfalls aired back in 2004. Pushing Daisies was a lightning rod for me, and it broke my heart when it didn’t return for a third season. The last straw was Hannibal’s short lived run. It really had me asking myself, “What would Bryan Fuller do given the chance to continue these series?” I imagined that his characters continued living in the back of his head, and that’s where Mind Palace takes place– Bryan Fuller’s subconscious mind. The catch is that the inmates have been left to run the asylum (or Bed and Breakfast in this case), and things are going to get… complicated.
Steele: What has the reaction from Bryan Fuller fandom been to the comics?
Dwonch: VERY supportive. I was a little worried about my interpretation of Bryan’s characters and the situation I’ve put them in, but everyone has been really great! Artist Santi Guillen and I are attempting to produce a Vertigo Comics level book, and while I think it shows, I was a skeptical if anyone would read much less enjoy it. I’m over the moon with the response we’ve got. The Fannibals are awesome, and I’m super stoked that they’ve welcomed me into the fold.
A few weeks back, I got a “This is amazing!” tweet from Bryan, which really helped assure me that we are on the right track.
Steele: Want to highlight what you’re working on right now or other upcoming works?
Dwonch: Sure! Mind Palace posts every Tuesday and Thursday, and currently I’m wrapping up the long awaited sequel to my series, Double Jumpers. It’s called Double Jumpers: Full Circle Jerks. Issue 3 (of 4) will be hitting shelves in the next couple of weeks. It’s sort of Freaky Friday meets The Hangover by way of World of Warcraft. I also have a new graphic novel called Prom of the Dead, which is the first of three books in the SPORES trilogy being published by Behemoth Comics. It’ll hit shelves nationwide next year, but you can order copies on their website right now.
Steele: Give us some insight into your creative process and how you go about the writing process?
Dwonch: I literally obsess about my projects for weeks before putting pen to paper. I usually create a “beat sheet” outline so I know where I’m headed, and how the issues will be divided. By the time I’m ready to commit to script I know the characters inside and out, but like the flexibility of letting the characters speak for themselves. There have been plenty of times where I’ve taken a left turn when I had intended to make a right. I like the spontaneity that comes along with letting the characters inform the work.
Steele: Talk to me about some of your other comic series such as Vamplets and Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab. Do you have a favorite?
Dwonch: I love the work my team has put into the Infinite Seven series. Arturo Mesa and Geraldo Filho are amazing! Infinite Seven combines all the things we love about comics and movies, and is really challenging. Balancing story and over the top action the way we do always feels like an accomplishment.
Cyrus Perkins is near and dear to my heart. A few years back I was dying (long story) and I stumbled into a taxi cab. On the way to the hospital I told the cabbie that if I died in the cab I would haunt it, and the premise of Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab was born. Right after surgery I wrote the story of a teenage boy who dies in the back of a cab, thrusting the driver (Cyrus) into the role of detective to solve the boy’s murder. It’s something I’m really proud of, and the fact that it was inspired by my life makes it all the more special for me.