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Dean Haspiel

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6th December 2017

10:59am: Dean Haspiel's WAR CRY debuts!


In the follow up to the 2017 Ringo Award-winner for Best Webcomic, The Red Hook’s dead girlfriend is resurrected into War Cry, a human of mass destruction hosted by a teenage boy. When a demigod from their past comes to haunt them to death they must resolve their lost love.

War Cry is a spin-off title to the critical hit The Red Hook. It will draw readers back into the Red Hook’s adventure with the surprising return of another familiar face. Written and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, War Cry takes readers into the aftermath of the alien attack on earth that killed most of America’s superheroes. Now an orphaned, teenager named Rajak has mysteriously become the recipient of all of the dead superheroes powers and escaped to New Brooklyn. When he shouts the words “War Cry,” Rajak transforms into the perfect war goddess, who is a cosmic resurrection of Ava Blume, formerly known as The Possum and love interest of superhero The Red Hook.

Please click here for chapter one (best viewed on your smart phone or tablet): http://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/ep-1/viewer?title_no=1247&episode_no=1
11:27am: Brooklyn Paper: ‘War’ of the sexes: New comic stars gender swap superhero(ine)
Bill Roundy talked to me about my new free webcomic, WAR CRY, at The Brooklyn Paper.

Excerpts:

“War Cry” is a sequel to his series “The Red Hook,” about a superpowered thief forced to do good, in a universe in which Brooklyn becomes sentient and literally separates from the United States. When creating the new main character, Haspiel said he was inspired by two classic superheroes: Captain Marvel, a kid who transforms into an adult hero when he shouts the word “Shazam!” and the superhuman cyborg called OMAC, for One Man Army Corps.

“I always liked the idea of those two characters, and I wanted to do a mash-up,” he said. “And I wanted to do a comic where a young kid shouts a word — and the hero he becomes is this female goddess called War Cry. So instead of One Man Army Corps, it’s One Woman Army Corps.”

The adventure story comes with a dose of melodramatic romance, because the ferocious female he becomes is also the reincarnation of the Red Hook’s dead girlfriend.

“We have to navigate all this through the eyes of the Red Hook — and he just wants his girlfriend back,” said Haspiel. “It becomes this kind of star-crossed Romeo vs. Juliet — or maybe Romeo versus Juliet and Julio!”

The story showcases locations around the borough, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Red Hook grain silo, and an analogue of popular dim sum restaurant Pacificana in Sunset Park. Putting his super-characters in the real world — even a fantasy version of the world — helps the high-flying action to feel more grounded, said Haspiel.

“You can make up characters, but if you can put them in real places, it feels more real,” he said.

Read the entire article/interview here: https://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/40/49/24-war-cry-comic-book-2017-12-08-bk.html

Start reading WAR CRY here: http://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/ep-1/viewer?title_no=1247&episode_no=1
12:03pm: The NY Daily News: 'War Cry' enters New Brooklyn comics with a bang
I spoke to reporter Cesar R. Bustamante Jr. about my new free webcomic, WAR CRY, at The NY Daily News.

Excerpts:

It tells the story of Rajak, a teenage boy who after witnessing the death of a team of superheroes finds himself sharing a body with the superhuman one woman army, War Cry.

“It makes it feel more real (setting it in Brooklyn). I get to hold up a mirror to society in a more blatant way and I get to comment about current events like how our very best fiction does,” he said.

“It’s just another fun cosmic romp, kind of like what I tried to do at the end of season one, inspired by the works of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, C. C. Beck, all the kind of comics I grew up reading as a young kid,” he said.

You can read the entire article/interview here: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/theater-arts/war-cry-enters-new-brooklyn-comics-bang-article-1.3679299

Start reading WAR CRY: http://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/ep-1/viewer?title_no=1247&episode_no=1
7:01pm: The Comics Beat: Dean Haspiel’s New Brooklyn Prepares for WAR CRY


AJ Frost interviewed me about WAR CRY for The Comics Beat.

Excerpts:

AJ FROST: The Red Hook is this epic story about a “bad guy,” a thief who becomes a superhero, and its one of the most dynamic explorations of using the vast digital space of the web as the mode of dissemination. What excites you about exploring the ambiguity of “goodness” in your work with Red Hook, and now War Cry?

DEAN HASPIEL: Thanks for the cheer! I don’t know anyone who is 100% good and, frankly, those kinds of people make for boring stories. Sorry! I believe most people can be sympathetic to others but not necessarily empathetic. And, that’s a huge difference. To step into another person’s shoes and experience their truth is something most of us can’t do or won’t do. It’s easier to acknowledge pain and struggle and then look the other way or donate to a cause because you’re dealing with your own struggles and pain. People are complex souls and time is an enemy. Some people choose to spend their time understanding others while most people glean a cursory understanding of the human condition, at best, and move on. I’d like to think I observe people well enough to get a good sense but who knows? Our subconscious tends to seek a narrative that supports our personal beliefs rather than energize a third eye for spelunking what’s alien. But, I get it. I’m just as culpable as the next person when it comes to turning a blind eye, but I try to keep an open mind.

I don’t know how many more times I can become outraged by gun violence, racism, and sexism, but I can ask questions in my work and try to impart good will. So, with that in mind, I find that the bad guys or the misunderstood monsters are much more interesting to navigate because they are the ones who have the most to rehabilitate. Thus, my reasoning for starting The Red Hook‘s story as a super-thief who is forced to become a superhero against his will or he will die and the choices he makes to foster positive change. War Cry has to deal with a lot more than just sharing a body. He/she struggles with purpose over persona while desperately holding onto what makes them individual.

FROST: The character of War Cry is a gay, teenage African-American boy who becomes, as you say, a “Super Goddess” when going into hero mode. When did the idea for War Cry come about? And when did it seem that the potential for the character was there to create a new and separate story?

HASPIEL: I came up with the idea of WAR CRY many years ago but didn’t know where to put it or how to use it. So, it incubated until I created The Red Hook and co-created the New Brooklyn Universe. When I was thinking about a sequel to The Red Hook, I knew I wanted to explore the evolution of heroism and the crisis of identity. WAR CRY is about two very different binary characters who share a non-binary body. After being graced with the power of America’s superheroes (think a bastardized combination of The Avengers and The Justice League of America), a teenage boy named Rajak shouts the words “War Cry!” and instantly evolves into a war goddess, the resurrection of The Red Hook’s dead-girlfriend Ava Blume (think of a mash-up between Shazam and OMAC with Hawk & Dove). It’s a big idea that I explore through the eyes of The Red Hook while presenting the concerns of Rajak and Ava. In some ways, the concept is above my head but I’m not a journalist or a reporter and, instead, I’m a cartoonist who is challenged by the idea of what that might be like and express it in my art. As communication artists, we grow up in public, warts and all, but I won’t let that stop me from telling an existential story that explores the shores of identity.

FROST: As I said, The Red Hook is epic in scope and grand in execution, but it’s obvious that the universe you’ve created needs more exploration. When did the idea to do a sequel story become a tangible idea? How much of an influence was Jack Kirby on these projects?

Jack Kirby is the bell I strive to ring every time I tackle a superhero comic book. Kirby is one of the forefathers of the superhero lexicon. I believe the acolytes of Kirby, of which I hesitate to include myself because I don’t know that I have what he had, are unafraid to explore the depths of imagination while making human connections. It’s that very notion that keeps me from suffering writer’s block.

And, yes, there is MUCH MORE of New Brooklyn to explore and make work. The idea of a sentient Brooklyn that’s heart is broken by the apathy and indifference of the world, so much so that it secedes from America to start it’s own republic where art can be bartered for food and services, is a fantasy that could probably never really happen but, like a Jack Kirby comic book that asks questions about God and then dares to answer them, WHY NOT put out stuff that might could alter the tide of the human condition? That might could help affect change? I’m no kinda revolutionary but art has proven to influence and innovate.

Read the entire interview here: http://www.comicsbeat.com/interview-dean-haspiels-new-brooklyn-prepares-for-war-cry/

Start reading WAR CRY for free: http://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/ep-1/viewer?title_no=1247&episode_no=1
8:15pm: Heed The War Cry – Dean Haspiel Discusses A Person Of Mass Destruction


Hannah Means-Shannon interviews me about WAR CRY at Comicon.com

Excerpts:

Hannah Means-Shannon: War Cry starts with a homeless orphan and a transformative experience of finding others. It reminds me of elements of classic super hero narratives, but at the same time, it seems new to me among the works you’ve created. Is this new ground for you?

Dean Haspiel: I’m definitely exploring new territory with WAR CRY. A kind of emotional conflict I’ve been thinking about for many years. And, with today’s politically charged climate, one could hazard that I’m not the artist that’s “allowed” to write and draw a story like this because it features a teenage African-American boy named Rajak who shares a body with a cosmically resurrected African-American woman; The Red Hook’s dead-girlfriend who has become a Human of Mass Destruction!

But, I was careful in finding a way to tell the tale while respecting boundaries. And, even though I didn’t have access to consult a war goddess (relying solely on my imagination), I did grow up with a diverse group of friends, including Mike Hueston, my best friend since we were 12-years old, and I got to observe and share in his plight as an African-American growing up in the 1970s/80s NYC.

HMS: What is the appeal (and I feel it too) of the weird, wild, and wacky heroes and villains from the Golden and Silver Age of comics—the ones who never became big stars? Where do you find the biggest troves of that strangeness?

It must have influenced War Cry and the whole New Brooklyn Universe. That kind of underground energy of super hero traditions without traditional super hero constraints is very compelling.


DH: Weird heroes are the best. I’m influenced by the oddities of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, C.C. Beck, Alex Toth, Will Eisner, Ramona Fradon, Irwin Hasen, Wally Wood, Gil Kane and a bunch of Golden and Silver Age cartoonists. But, as much as we love the more popular superheroes, there’s something undeniable about the off-beat heroes that skate the outskirts of normality. I’ve written and drawn Marvel’s Woodgod. I’ve drawn DC’s Wildcat, and, I’ve plotted and illustrated Archie’s The Fox. More recently, I’ve created a gallery of absurd yet meaningful characters for New Brooklyn because that’s how I wrestle with the world and those are the kinds of misunderstood monsters I’m attracted to. It’s their stories I wish to convey.

HMS: War Cry will raise some eyebrows in terms of gender perceptions, since our hero is a teen boy who becomes a female hero when he transforms. And as he seems to express, some of his proudest moments happen as a woman. What did you want to express about gender here? How do you hope fans will respond to it?

DH: Everyone knows women are more intelligent and more powerful than men. I’ve admired women all my life. Most of my best friend’s are female. My mother is my mama but she’s also a great pal. So, when I realized in War Cry that the boy was gonna transform into the most powerful hero of all, he had to become a she. Who’s kidding who? And, anybody who has a problem with that, well, they’re just thinking with their dick.



War Cry is influenced by Jack Kirby’s O.M.A.C. (One Man Army Corp), C.C. Beck & Bill Parker’s Shazam (the original Captain Marvel), Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom’s Firestorm, and Steve Ditko’s Hawk & Dove. Think of a black Billy Batson shouting “War Cry” instead of “Shazam,” and, instead of transforming into the world’s mightiest mortal, he turns into a female version of O.M.A.C. (or O.W.A.C.) where she is Hawk to his Dove with a Firestorm complex. You’ll have to read the damned comic to understand what I’m going for.

HMS: Is this the first female hero you’ve focused an entire series on? Do you think that changed the dynamic of your work at all?


DH: Not really. Female protagonists have always bolstered my male protagonists. Jane Legit is the smart one, the empathetic one who helps Billy Dogma find his way in my “last romantic antihero” series. Ava Blume aka The Possum aka War Cry is the emotional foundation for Sam Brosia aka The Rascal aka The Red Hook. But, I usually tell my tales through the male perspective because I’m a man. It’s no secret that my art, and my life, is profoundly affected by women.

HMS: Tell us about how Red Hook operates in this story. How much of his legacy is still present? I mean, he’s got some serious unresolved issues to deal with, surely. Not least that his [semi] deceased girlfriend Ava is now more powerful than him.

DH: The Red Hook is a bruiser with an uneasy past who was forced to become a superhero against his will or he would die. By the end of the first story arc, he embraced his fate as a fighter for good, but his world’s been turned upside down by the proposed death of his lover, The Possum, who has now been resurrected into a teenage boy. It’s a cluster fuck that’s only compounded by the fact that The Red Hook’s semi-psychotic mother has become a vigilante who calls herself The Coney. In War Cry, this sequel will reveal new things about The Red Hook’s family and challenge ideas of how to rekindle romance with a cosmic war goddess who shares a body with the opposite sex.

Read the entire interview here: http://www.comicon.com/2017/12/06/heed-the-war-cry-dean-haspiel-discusses-a-person-of-mass-destruction/

Start reading WAR CRY for free: http://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/ep-1/viewer?title_no=1247&episode_no=1

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