November 3rd, 2015


Sequential Tart / A Life in Comix: An Interview with Dean Haspiel

Jennifer Contino interviewed me for Sequential Tart:

Here are some excerpts:

I pray I've improved since the late 90s, and I believe the comix industry has to. There's much more diversity, much more access and communication, and you don't have to have read a Marvel or DC Comics to know what a comic book is or enjoy one. Recently, I was at The Small Press Expo, my beloved SPX that I've been attending (mostly) since 1996, and I realized I was a dinosaur. What with my Billy Dogma and semi-autobio comix, I've always kept one foot firmly planted in the indie/alt-comix scene and even felt that I was subversive at DC/Vertigo when I produced three graphic novels that could have easily been published by the likes of Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and/or Drawn & Quarterly. But, SPX isn't my party anymore. SPX is for the new kids; the new Deans and Renee Frenchs and James Kochalkas and Jessica Abels and Sam Hendersons, who are going to affect the future of comix. And, perhaps, elder creators of my ilk, are now the cheerleaders to their testament. It's an interesting time for me as I approach my latter years.

Marvel and DC Comics have changed a lot, too. I remember when editors and publishers were invisible. Nowadays, they're the voices we tend to hear from more than the creators. Mainstream comics now have show-runners not unlike television. What used to be a creator-driven gig has now become an editorially directed one and work-shopped to bits. Sure, once in awhile something odd and cool sneaks into the mainstream but, if you're looking for different and exciting comix, peruse Image and other independent publishers who are interested in exploring new terrain while honoring original visions. And, webcomix cum digital comix has changed what we expect to read and how we consume stories. The comix landscape has become a wild west of breaking new ground, more than ever before.


I sacrifice a quality of life to get the job done. That's how I've done it for many, many years. I've said "no" to too many invitations and spontaneous life stuff and I've ridden my bike home in the middle of the night to a sleeping girlfriend only to wake up late morning's alone in bed because the time escaped me. My life has become a cruel zephyr of fleeting deadlines and not enough ogling of sunsets with the ones I love. I'm currently undergoing physical therapy because my lower back is suffering acute spasms. I'm in chronic pain. My spine is compromised from years of sitting and crushing my core. I can't work or live like this anymore. Maybe it means I work less and I live smaller but my back -- and my soul -- will appreciate the breaks.


It's very important to step away from your regular work-space and be challenged by the unfamiliar. Dip your toes in new waters. Push your comfort zone. Expand your boundaries. Face the proverbial man in the mirror. Someone recently advised me that I should walk home a different way. A simple yet profound concept that is important to my creativity and life experiences.