For our 9th issue of People of Timmins, we interviewed Davis Dewsbery, a local comic book writer.
Q: What made you fall in love with comic books?
A: Ever since I was a kid, I always loved having time to myself and I found that reading comic books was a perfect accompaniment to that alone time. I’ve always loved a great story. I’m mostly an adventure guy but give me a great comedy or action…heck, even a western. If it’s done right, every genre can be an enjoyable experience. There’s something magical about comic books. Since it’s often a collaborative effort between writers and artists, sometimes you get something really special. It’s like watching a really talented band and watching how each member works off of one another to create this flawless piece of art. Not everything’s a hit but man, when something works? It’s really something, you know?
Q: What’s the first comic book you remember reading?
A: I don’t really remember the first comic I read. It may have been a Green Lantern comic book. But I do remember the first comic book I bought: Amazing Spider-Man #290. It was released in July of 1987. I was nine years old. I bought it off the red racks in the in the old Shopper’s Drug Mart that used to be in the Riverside Plaza. Long gone now. I remember being drawn to that book with the shadow of Spider-Man’s black costume cast across that crisp white cover. The cover said, “Peter Parker asks the BIG question,” as Peter held a shocked Mary Jane Watson by her arms. I remember thinking, what happens if she says no? What will Spidey do? My little mind was blown!
Q: When did you start writing your own comic books?
A: I started a web comic around 2007. It was a lot different than the stuff I write now. It was a blue-satire focused on a dysfunctional Canadian superhero team called E.H.JOES: REAL CANADIAN HEROES?! It was crass and very immature but I remember having a ton of fun doing it. To this day, I love the characters. They were all loosely based on my friends and I so not only was every strip a comic in itself, but it was occasionally an inside joke amongst my friends as well. I’m hoping one day, I can go back to it. My artist and I kind of gave up on E.H.JOES right in the middle of a story arc where we were having fun de-constructing an imitation Marvel Comics Canadian superhero team. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. But again, it was way different from the kind of stuff I’m writing now.
Q: What has been the public response to your Auric of the Great White North series?
A: It’s been great. The media really rallied behind my crew and I when we first released the book in 2015. And with that big push, there was tons of buzz and we sold really well on that first weekend that we launched. It’s really crazy how word of mouth spreads too. I have to say that we have been really lucky with local sponsors like Jump City, our local comic shop, and Wicked Stuff, who have been behind us right from the beginning. And when Full Beard agreed to name one of their beers Lion’s Mane and have the can sport Auric art, we were truly honoured! The local support has been astounding, really. And in 2018 we won the CanComicWikiAward for Best Comic for our third issue of Auric of the Great White North. And this year, our Auric spin-off Norlan: Sorceress of Light was nominated in the same category. Actually, we find out the result next week.
Q: We recently lost a legend of the comic book world, Stan Lee. In what ways did he and his work inspire you?
A: Stan Lee helped create some of my favourite characters of all time and I feel like I’m in his eternal debt for that alone. But, the thing that I loved and respected about Stan the most, Stan was always a champion for comic books. Wherever he went, Stan would sing the praises of the medium of comic books. That may not seem like a big deal today where Marvel and DC films are very mainstream and well received, but back in the 80’s and 90’s, when there were no big superhero blockbusters in Hollywood, most people looked at comic books as a hobby for children. Heck, lots of people still do. People don’t realize that comic books aren’t all just muscle-bound men and supermodel women running around in tights and capes beating up the bad guy. Sure, there are lots of stories like that but there are so many different genres covering so many different subjects. Do you like psychological thrillers? Comics have got ‘em! Do you want to read a biographical story that deals with mental illness? Comics have got ‘em. Do you want to read sci-fi adventures on the same level or better than Star Wars? Comics have got ‘em!
Q: Tell us about the Northern Ontario Expo, which I believe is now called Comicon Timmins. What inspired you to organize it?
A: Actually, Northern Ontario Expo is a not-for-profit organization, where I’m just one of several board members responsible for putting together our main event and fundraisers. And, as of this year, we have rebranded our annual comicon show to TIMMINSCON. We have been lucky to grow a little bit each year and with our new additions of more family and children focused attractions we realized that we should pick our forever-name and run with it. We want the public to know that we are a part of the community of Timmins and we are here to represent and thrive!
Q: How vibrant is comic book culture in Timmins today?
A: I think it’s doing better than it ever has but unless you run a store like my friends who run our local shop, Jump City, it’s hard to tell just how vibrant. Comic book collecting and comic culture is still a very personal hobby. You know what? The best example of when you can see how well it’s doing is when you attend our annual TIMMINSCON on April 13th and 14th this year at the McIntyre Arena. Plug Plug! Yes, everyone should check that out this year. It’s definitely a site to behold!
Q: Okay, time for a few fun, rapid fire questions. If you were to win one major award in your lifetime, which would you want to win?
A: A Best Father Award. My kids are the most important thing to me. I just want to be there for them and love them the best way I know how.
Q: What’s one dessert you can’t resist?
A: I’m not really a huge dessert guy but I can’t remember ever turning down a slice of a nice warm blueberry or pumpkin pie.
Q: People pick some pretty strange names for their kids. What unusual name do you think should be more popular?
A: Herbert. I’d definitely like to see more Herberts out there. But Auric’s a pretty good name, don’t you think?
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