Brigid Alverson interviewed me and studio/co-publishing mate, Gregory Benton about Hang Dai Editions and our upcoming slate of graphic novels at Robot 6.
"Seth Kushner was a photographer/comix creator and founding member of Hang Dai Studios and Hang Dai Editions. When I left Deep6 Studios in 2011, I recruited five other artists to spark a new studio, and Seth was the first person I asked. We had become fast friends after I first met him for a photo shoot for his book, The Brooklynites, and discovered that we had comix in common. Little by small, we worked on several comix projects, including the Act-i-vate movie and other stuff. Seth had never been part of a studio before, so there was hesitation, but he grew to love the shared work environment. So much so we co-created TripCity.net, an online salon version of our studio with Chris Miskiewicz and Jeffrey Burandt. Between the time we spent physically and virtually, it felt like Seth was a Bat-phone call away at all times. Even though it’s been almost two months since he passed away, I still think about Seth 20 times a day and stumble, knowing that I can’t show him anything I’m working on and/or can’t talk to him about anything and everything. When Seth died, a part of me died."
"When Hang Dai started publishing in 2013, we didn’t have a distributor but we were printing comix (pamphlets) and selling them at shows. I found that I was doing a bunch of exhibitions and comic cons and, often, the people that showed up at my table already had the comix I’d worked on for other companies. So, I decided to publish some creator-owned stuff, comix and prints that you could only get directly from me. As did Seth, Gregory, and Josh. Only, at some point, they decided to make their comix available at a few comix shops while I kept my efforts, Psychotronic Comix and Heart-Shaped Hole, exclusive to an intimate parlay between me and the interested reader.
I remember the last time Seth Kushner did a signing, it was at MoCCA 2015, and he was having a hard time signing with his signature hand. Gregory suggested he apply ink to his thumb and use his own thumbprint as his signature. His DNA, kinda. Which was apropos because we deemed our Hang Dai publications as “signature works.” I thought that was a beautiful way to deal with a sensitive problem yet spoke volumes to the kind of interaction I want to have with my readers and peers and friends."
"There’s a big difference between producing comic books with editorial oversight and comix that an author is inherently compelled to make, despite the odds. I strive to produce meaningful and entertaining work for the companies that hire me but there are stories and experiments I produce via Hang Dai that are experiences that don’t necessarily trend or compete with the market. Hang Dai affords the latitude to be unpredictable and unquantifiable."
"On the heels of that sobering, Oprah Winfrey-esque interview conducted by Tom Spurgeon a few years ago, I realized that freelance is synonymous with innovation. As a freelancer you’re constantly innovating. It’s like playing a game of pool; you’re shooting for the next shot and not necessarily for the ball that’s obvious. You try to sink all your balls in one turn if possible in hopes you get a good shot at the 8-ball. Otherwise, your opponent, in an effort to maximize their tactics, will most likely reposition everything you’ve been setting up and promote chaos. And, since nothing ever goes according to plan, we learn to create in chaos. I fight the freelance life most every day. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s gotten harder. It sometimes feel like I have to beg for a few franchise morsels and, after doing this full time for 15-plus years, that’s not fun. I’ve been offered the privilege to shepherd some company-owned characters through the next leg of their legacies but it’s not like I’m breaking new ground. In fact, a lot of what I do honors the classic stuff I loved reading growing up. And, since I tend to steep in the avant garde, my comix come with a weird wink and twist, and I’m not sure most publishers know what to do with me. Ergo, Hang Dai Editions.
However, as I type the answers to the interview from the second floor of an old mansion in the woods while on writers retreat in upstate New York, I must acknowledge how lucky I am to be able to steal time away from my normal grind so I can investigate other storytelling methods. So, I can write that novel, finish those screenplays and TV shows, and tighten up those pitches. Even though my heart remains faithful to the art of comix, the business of comix is a bitch and I need to explore my abilities in other media or forever stumble in four color books with a broken heart."
You can read the entire interview here: http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2015/07/dean-haspiel-and-gregory-benton-on-hang-dai-and-seth-kushner/