First Comics News: In 1991 you went to California College of the Arts what was your major?
Dave Dwonch: Illustration with a creative writing minor. For the amount of money spent I probably could have been a doctor, or played one on TV.
1st: Was the goal always to get into comics?
Dave: For sure. Initially I wanted to draw comics, and was self-publishing comics already by then. Zines and stuff. I actually started attending comics as a “pro” in artist alley years before. My first con was a tiny show in San Jose, CA… when I was 14 years old. It’s been a long road.
1st: What comics were you reading in college?
Dave: Oh man, what wasn’t I reading? I worked at a comic shop here in the Bay Area all through highschool, and another while in college so pretty much all the mainstream stuff. Up til that point they still had the Big Gun artists that I loved. McFarlane on Spider-man, Jim Lee on X-Men. It was a great time to be reading and selling books. I was a Marvel kid growing up, and always dreamed of drawing Daredevil. That series has always been super consistent, and surprising.
1st: Do you still dream of one day drawing Daredevil?
Dave: Not so much, but I would LOVE to write him, if only for an arc. I don’t think I could maintain a huge rum like Miller or Nocenti, but I do have a short term idea that I’d love to see come to life.
1st: While trying to get into comics you took a job at Southern Wine & Spirits, did that interfere with your ability to attend conventions and try to find work in the comic industry?
Dave: Surprisingly the opposite. There’s nothing like the security of a full time job! And 3 weeks of paid vacation can be stretched out pretty well over the course of a year!
Dave: Shawn Pryor and I have been great friends for a long time. We met at the CGS Super Show, I think back in 2008, and he then hired me to draw his book, Mercury and the Murd, which was a bit of a love letter to the CGS guys.
1st: How did PKD morph into Action Lab Entertainment?
Dave: The Comic Geek Speak community was a big reason we all came together. We were all very active on their message board, and really became a family through that. A few of us met up at a show in 2009 and Action Lab was born out of that meeting. PKD was a component, along with my studio Big Monster, and a few self-published creators.
1st: How did “Back In The Day” become Action Lab’s first release?
Dave: It was more out of necessity than anything. I’d already been working on it with artist Daniel Logan, and we all agreed that an extended one-shot, rather than an ongoing series, could be a way for ALE to dip its toes in the market. We then followed up the release with a couple of self-contained books before launching Fracture to a wider audience.
Dave: I wouldn’t say it’s part of our overall strategy, but we don’t discourage creators from crowdfunding. Kickstarter was a huge help to us in that first year. I personally Kickstarted my last book, Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab, and all of the funds went to my artist/collaborator, Anna Lencioni. We definitely could not have gotten that book done without the help of our fans!
1st: What are you looking for, when someone submits a project to Action Labs?
Dave: We’re wide open to all genres. I think it’s what we’ve become know for: boundary pushing, creator owned comics.
1st: You published a comic from a long time friend of First Comics News, Josh Henaman. He had an indie comic “Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman” self published with limited distribution. How does a project go from a self published convention comic to an internationally distributed comic with Action Labs?
Dave: 90% of our titles are submitted through the website, 5% are returning creators, and the other 5% are discovered at cons, like Bigfoot.
1st: In December 2015 you became president Action Labs, what made that the right timing for you?
Dave: I’ve always been pretty hands on, creatively, and when the spot became available I felt like I had what it took to elevate the company. I’ll be honest, my job duties haven’t changed much. I’m still looking for titles that are going to push the company forward. I just have the profile to jump into some of those bigger meetings.
Dave: Well, I got married! That’s a thing!
1st: What can we expect from Action Labs in 2017?
Dave: 2017. I feel that’s really where you’re going to see my influence. The 2016 schedule was already baked for the most part when I took the top spot. We’ve really loaded 2017 with what I think are the best books on the market. There will be at least one new title every month from Action Lab and Danger Zone. Dollface, Amerikarate, Peach and the Isle of Monsters, Vampblade Season Two, and my book Infinite Seven are leading the charge, and we have a big announcement coming for Q2. It’s going to be a wild ride!
Dave: Infinite Seven is my love letter to the action movies I grew up with. There was a rumor floating around a few years ago that all the James Bonds exist in one timeline, essentially one would replace the other, the name “James Bond” serving as its own codename. I really dug the idea and took it to the Nth degree. In the world of the Infinite Seven there are 7 master assassins, and the only ways to become a member of the group is to have the title handed down to them, or to kill one of the members to prove yourself worthy of the title.
1st: So they are international mercenaries for hire?
Dave: No, they work exclusively for The Shadow Cabinet– a secret world government that acts independently, sculpting the world to their image. Whether they are evil or work on the side of the angels is, like with any governing body, anyone’s guess.
1st: Who is Anthony Zane?
Dave: Without giving away too much, Anthony is our every man- a seemingly normal teenage boy that stumbles upon this crazy secret society.
1st: Who is Smash Brannagan?
1st: Who is Parrot?
Dave: Smash’s robot sidekick. He’s a smart ass floating orb that always saves Smash’s bacon.
1st: Who is Master Zhen?
1st: Who is Sherlock?
Dave: Again without giving much away, Sherlock is actually a Moriarty.
1st: Who is Wolfsberg?
1st: Who is Lord Ellington?
Dave: The only original member of the Infinite Seven. In my mind he is an aging Sean Connery Bond.
Dave: She’s actually a public domain golden age femme fatale. Look her up!
1st: What does she want?
Dave: She’s one of the leaders of Chimera- a global terrorist organization. What they want? World domination, of course.
1st: What is the octagon?
1st: What makes Infinite Seven so cool no true comic fan should miss it?
Dave: Infinite Seven is a really, really fun series that harkens back to old school X-Men books, Bruce Lee flicks, James Bond, Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse and 80s action movies. It’s truly like nothing else out there, and at its core it has heart. Check out that first issue. You’ll see what I mean!