Howard Bassem is a student at Perdido Beach School, and is part of Orc's crew, along with being his number one toady. He was killed by Drake in Fear.
Howard is a small, "weaselly", skinny black kid that sticks up to Orc. He is also physically weak.
Because of Sam Temple's absence, Howard took advantage of the confusion and helped Orc come to power as appointed Captain, in charge of "stopping everybody running crazy" and "busting everything up, taking anything they wanted". Howard made sure that someone helped Mary get the necessary materials to take care of the Littles as long as she knew that it was Orc's crew that helped her.
Caine Soren arrives and takes control. He then takes an important position under Caine's leadership until Sam returns. At that point he tries to join Sam's side.
Howard is seen acting as Orc's manager. He decides when Orc should work, and how much he gets paid, usually in the form of alcohol. He also spots Drake with a gun in the hole created by Sam at the power plant. This ultimately saves Dekka's life and probably many others.
Somehow, Howard has managed to weasel his way onto the town council, being Orc's representative due to Orc's cement body making him ideal for doing the more dangerous jobs. He also aids Edilio, Dekka, Computer Jack, Ellen and others in preventing the fire created by Zil and the 'Human Crew' from spreading across parts of Perdido Beach. After the fire has stopped he has a breakdown, crying in front of Astrid, Albert and Edilio, because he is so sad of everything that has happened. Through the book he starts standing up against Astrid, because he thinks she is a bad leader.
Howard is tasked with guarding Drake/Brittney with Orc. He later saves Albert's life and conceals a boy's corpse which Orc was responsible for killing.
Howard leaves the lake to check on his alcohol at Coates Academy. He encounters Drake and his coyotes. Although the coyotes are starving, they are forbidden by the Gaiaphage to kill anyone (they could not discern who was "important" to the Gaiaphage's plans, like powerful freaks). Howard is strangled by Drake in order to feed the coyotes.
Howard jokes around a lot, annoying others. He is selfish, doing what he can do survive, as well as pleasing Orc. Howard never follows the rules, and frequently insults people, calling them morons or idiots most of the time.
He often went against others, as shown by his operation of the alcohol and, supposedly, drugs. Even though everyone was told to shut down their drugs and booze businesses, Howard still went on, creating his own at the disused Coates Academy, after Caine leaves it to go to San Francisco de Sales Island.
Despite going against the rules, he is weak and a coward. However, because he has Orc on his side, he has never properly been challenged. He is also fairly intelligent, as managing to keep things secret.
- Sam Temple
Sam and Howard originally disliked each other. Howard was part of Caine's team before the Thanksgiving Battle, but joined Sam. After the death of Duck Zhang and the supposed death of the Gaiaphage, Howard had to work with Sam on the council. He and Sam the started to respect each other more and work together better. However, he still hid things from Sam.
Howard works for Orc. They are both bullies although Orc is the head. Orc and Howard are best friends, even though they both keep using each other throughout the books, especially because Howard stayed with Orc when no one else did and he saw the human part of Orc, unlike many others. After Howard was killed, Orc was the only one who was affected by his death.
- Astrid Ellison
Howard and Astrid disliked each other. Howard enjoyed annoying her, and Astrid didn't like how he ran the alcohol operation. However, Orc likes Astrid so Howard had to spend some time around her. They were on the council together.
- Drake Merwin
Howard was scared of Drake, but agreed to keep him locked up in his and Orc's basement. His fear is possibly strengthened when Drake goes up against Orc. No-one messes with Orc, and yet Orc couldn't manage to beat Drake.
When Howard goes to fetch some of his homemade alcohol from Coates Academy and bring it back to Lake Tramonto, Drake strangles him to death in order to feed the coyotes.
- Howard likes to dub things. It was him who invented the term "FAYZ".
- He has also come up with the names for 'Bertos, Sammy suns, zekes, Cabka, Mary's Big Jump, and the Big Split.