April 7th, 2018


Fueled by Death Cast episode 69: Stoya

Fueled by Death Cast episode 69: Stoya https://www.deathwishcoffee.com/pages/fueled-by-death-cast-ep-69-stoya


Jeff Ayers: Speaking of acting, you're also in an upcoming play.

Stoya: The Last Bar at the End of the World.

Jeff: That's so great. Written by a mutual friend, Dean Haspiel which is wonderful. This is the second time that you're working with him on stage, right?

Stoya: Yeah.

Jeff: These two times, is this your first foray into stage acting?

Stoya: Yup.

Jeff: What do you think of that? Do you like that?

Stoya: I might like that even better than film acting.

Jeff: Really, how come?

Stoya: I mean the pay is terrible.

Jeff: What are the differences between film and on the stage?

Stoya: So, on the stage it's very immediate. There's no oops, can we go back and do that again, there's no, fuck, what's my line. There's no, oh, you stepped on my line, I'm going to cram. No, you just have to like roll with it. So it's exhilarating and having the instant feedback is also wonderful.

The Last Bar At The End Of The World roundtable w/Haspiel, Cruise, Miller & Stefanic @Comicon.com

Hannah Means-Shannon conducted a great, heartfelt roundtable interview about my third play, THE LAST BAR AT THE END OF THE WORLD, with me, Philip Cruise, Ed Miller & Anna Stefanic at Comicon.com


"Having written the play, I guess I was compelled to express my feelings about what it takes to make art for a living and being vulnerable during a toxic, post-truth era of public shame, outrage and “fake news.” I wanted to address what it means to be authentic, even when it could hurt loved ones. I wanted to discuss the concept of legacy and what obsession does to a heart and soul. And, what does death mean if you haven’t lived your life the way you wanted to? How many of us get the chance to live the way we want to? And, if you could course correct it, would you?"

"They say your entire life flashes before you in a near-death moment. I’ve always been afraid of facing that emotional ticker-tape of micro and macro milestones. I’m afraid to find out that all I actually cared about was a wooden sled. I don’t want to have to boil down my life into a mobius strip of hits and misses. I’d rather stoke it like a yule log fire. All the while knowing that it was the people that mattered the most.

How can you appreciate the people in your life until you have hindsight? Who were they? What did they mean to you? Does it take a break-up or a death bed to reflect and honor the people in your life? I think we inadvertently take time for granted. Time is so damned fleeting and you can never get it back.

I’m trying to do better by living in the moment, but I’ve had a tough time dealing with family and friends dying. It feels like an inhale that never exhales. So, you try to live well. A major part of living life well is having empathy for others. And, once you can imagine another person’s pain, you can start to understand your impact on others, and vice versa. Contrast and context is key. It’s important to forgive and to be truly thankful. And, love. It’s essential to give and receive love from the people you spend time with. If we’re all destined to die, then I want to be slowly euthanized by kindness and joy."

"Acting is the most important part of theater. My friend, actress Orlagh Cassidy was in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Public Theater in NYC in 2016, and they performed it as a mobile unit exploiting the virtues of minimalistic means. I think the props were a few movable boxes and a couple of chairs. Plus, gorgeous costumes. And, it was great. The mind fills in what is missing as long as the actors are there to anchor you and take you to those physical and emotional places."

"Just like how conveying comix is very different from conveying movies, the same goes for theater. I write plays very differently than how I write comix. Sure, they both employ text, but that’s about the only thing they share. And, I rely on the expertize of directors like Philip Cruise, and Ian W. Hill, and all the actors and designers to make theater magic. Were I to adapt my plays into graphic novels, I would draw a lot of what was being said and probably reduce some of the dialogue. In fact, theater is all dialogue where comix can be mute, if necessary."

"I hope audience members will think about what it might take to be happy rather than right. I know how important it is to be right. To do what’s right. But, people are puzzles and situations are complex. And context is everything. And, if we could just astral project like Doctor Strange and hover over our lives for a few seconds, once in awhile, the perspective might just provide insight and wisdom for a better life well lived—today."

You can read the entire interview here: http://www.comicon.com/2018/04/04/the-last-bar-at-the-end-of-the-world-roundtable-interview-with-dean-haspiel-philip-cruise-ed-miller-anna-stefanic/

Dean Haspiel talks THE LAST BAR AT THE END OF THE WORLD at Villain Media

(Stoya and Seth Gilliam in rehearsal for The Last Bar At The End of The World)

Jorge Solis interviewed me about my third play, THE LAST BAR AT THE END OF THE WORLD at Villain Media.


"When my second play, Harakiri Kane was enjoying its ten-sold out performances at The Brick in Brooklyn, NY — produced by Gemini CollisionWorks — I was busy writing my third play. I wanted to ride the momentum and the synergy of the actors, directors and the audiences kept me going full throttle. The Last Bar at the End of the World is a Frankenstein of several sources: equal parts an abandoned screenplay, essays I wrote when I was on retreat at Yaddo, and brand new material reacting to a post-truth world as seen through the eyes of two best friends who come to a proverbial fork-in-the-road to face their demons. One guy is an attorney and the other is a cartoonist. And they both encounter marvelous women who trigger change."

"Writing comix relies on artists to fully realize the story, whereas writing plays relies on actors to perform the tale. And, the pacing is different. A parlay can go longer in theater and earn space for monologues. Too much text in a comic doesn’t look right and feels clogged. Cast the right actor and they can read you the phone book and keep you on the edge of your seat. But, you sure wouldn’t wanna read a graphic novel of the phone book. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll bet cartoonist, R. Sikoryak could make it sing."

"Phil Cruise is fierce and intense. Once he embodies a project, he knows exactly what he wants but is open to intelligent influence. There’s nothing wishy-washy about Phil. He reminds me of me only it’s an early morning version of me. He’s the farmer to my grave digger. The fact that he’s a great actor AND produces and directs is a great asset. I’ve been lucky to have my plays produced and directed by actors like Phil Cruise and Ian W. Hill. I learn a lot from their insight and innovations."

"I tend to write a mouthful — Thanks, Anna Stefanic! — and I bite the inside of my cheek every time I watch a performance of my play because I know I’ve created a real challenge with the words. But the actors figure out a way to make me sound good and they elevate the story. As a cartoonist, I’ve gotten pretty good at pacing stories and creating melodrama. Something the actors have to do with their voices an bodies and behavior. It’s a wonder to watch and absorb. A thrill. The major difference is that you can roll up a comic book into your back pocket or bookmark a webcomic and read it again later. Guerilla-style, black box theater is nearly impossible to record, so the performance evaporates into an experience you can only carry in your heart and mind. Theater is bittersweet!"

"If there’s anything that officially makes me a jerk, it’s the fact that I haven’t watched The Wire yet. I know…I KNOW!! Stop berating me world! So, the thing I know mostly about Seth Gilliam’s work is that they like to make him cry…A LOT…on The Walking Dead. So much so, I actually complained to Robert Kirkman about it. And, they finally let Seth have a machete and a gun, so he can man up a little. But, in all seriousness, Seth took to Tobias, the character he portrays in The Last Bar…, like a fish to water. His ability to flex a wide range of emotions is astounding. Even when Seth is quiet, he holds you hostage. Now, I gotta go watch The Wire!"

"Thanks, I thought Stoya did a great job playing Sharon in Harakiri Kane! Especially her final monologue! It was a beautiful! Made me cry a few times! When I think about writing for Stoya, I try to imagine her in situations she hasn’t performed. I try to cast her opposite of what others might do. Because she’s an international pornstar, I enjoyed the irony that she had to play an abstinent agent of death in my last play. I like to challenge Stoya and substantiate her versatility as an actress. I wrote Stella, specifically for Stoya to portray in The Last Bar at the End of the World. Stella is a tricky character to play and I can’t wait to see Stoya put her into action!"

Read the entire interview here: https://villainmedia.com/interview-dean-haspiel-last-bar-end-world/

Smash Pages Q&A: Dean Haspiel on New Brooklyn, his new play and more

Alex Deuben interviewed me about War Cry, The Red Hook, and The Last Bar At The End Of The World for Smash Pages.


"War Cry is the dead girlfriend of The Red Hook – spoiler alert, she dies in the first book – is resurrected into the body of a young teenage boy who has inherited basically all the powers of all the dead American superheroes. When he shouts the words “War Cry” – kind of like when Billy Batson shouts “SHAZAM!” – he becomes the greatest superhero of all. I was inspired by a couple of things. One, a mashup of SHAZAM and OMAC with a little Firestorm and Hawk and Dove thrown in. Firestorm because it’s about two people sharing a body. Hawk and Dove because they have two different sensibilities.

The boy almost represents a certain sense of peace so he’s the dove where she is the hawk. Her purpose is to stop extreme situations and save the world. She’s having a tough time with a couple of things. She only appears when needed, meaning a violent space. And then she also has some amnesia because she died so she’s trying to put the piece back together of who she was. The only way I could tell this story was through the white guy – the Red Hook, her boyfriend who’s trying to figure out what’s going on. And also while this is all happening the black teenage boy discovers that he’s gay. So everything is complicated. [laughs]"

"To me War Cry still has that Silver Age Jack Kirby bombast. If Red Hook is more of a 1961 pastiche, maybe War Cry is a 1966 pastiche? It’s addressing modern concerns, but it’s got a basically flat-color palate. Again that’s due to my limitations, but I was looking at old Batman and the Outsiders comics colored by Tatjana Wood."

"The late 70s and 80s were my golden age of comics. I read more indie comics in the 90s, and so I missed a lot of that initial Image launch. I was reading more black and white stuff and autobio comics. Superheroes got grittier, and I don’t mind grit, but I don’t want horror to subsume my superheroes. I feel like things got really ugly really fast because lesser minds were trying to capitalize on the darkness and grit of what Watchmen and Dark Knight proposed, but they didn’t realize that that was a kind of commentary. I avoided a lot of that because I’d rather see a horror movie; I want my superheroes to be superheroes. I go back to George Reeves Superman where he grabbed a robber’s gun and turned it into a metal pretzel. I still like the bombast and the cosmic energy and the Kirby krackle and trying to answer the bigger questions because that’s what Jack Kirby did. He dared to write and draw about God and death and even dared to answer those questions."

"Romance is the key to it all. Otherwise who cares? For me the hardest part of any longform story is trying to find the romance angle because that’s what tethers us universally – love. That’s going to be a major part of the third part of the trilogy if I get to do that story. I’m not a guru about the subject, but I have been heartbroken many times. We all can relate to what that feels like. We all can relate to wanting it, I presume. But we all can’t relate to putting on tights or getting superpowers and fighting bad guys. So we deal with those questions about dating, about who you’re supposed to be with or who you pine for or those kinds of obsessions. Which is actually a major part of my play The Last Bar at the End of the World."

"You have to experience theater live. It means that a lot of people have trouble writing and producing theater because it evaporates, and you only walk away with the experience. I ignored it even though I grew up around a lot of actors and I went to school with actors and directors. I enjoyed theater from afar. I’d been checking out plays and staying in touch with actors and directors and producers and that’s how I got my first play Switch to Kill done in 2014 at the Brick Theater during a comic book festival of sorts. The festival either featured comic book characters or were written by comic book creators or somehow they were all involved. R. Sikoryak, Adam McGovern and a whole bunch of people were involved. I was turned onto this festival by Crystal Skillman, who’s a playwright. She told me about it and I thought, I have this screenplay that’s essentially a play because I wrote it as a low budget movie for one room. I submitted this play and it got accepted. It was amazing. I got bit by the bug."

"It’s a really beautiful time for me right now because it’s a time of full autonomy. I am writing and drawing comics and characters that I own – and getting paid, which is crazy. I never thought I would be in that creative space. I understand it’s a privilege and an honor, but I worked really fucking hard to get here hopscotching between working on franchise comics and indie stuff and creating these posses like Act-I-Vate or Hang Dai or Deep Six. Being communal and giving back and helping others, but the one person I wasn’t helping as much as I should have was myself. A good friend of mine said, sometimes you have to take the energy you’re putting on other people and put it back on yourself. I thought about that and realigned things."

"I had been introduced and collaborated with Stoya, the porn star. I adapted one of her essays into a comic for Heavy Metal magazine. We became friendly and I realized she would be perfect to play the lead in Harikari Kane. She’d never done theater before but when I approached her she was totally into it and did a great job. She’s writing essays and starred in a movie and just won best actress at a film festival. She’s also going to be in my new play. I specifically wrote a scene that I wanted to see Seth Gilliam and Stoya perform in my play and in a way woo them to agree to do it – and they did. That scene is also a really important part of the play. Seth plays Father Gabriel Stokes on The Walking Dead, he was in The Wire and Starship Troopers. He’s good friends with Phil Cruise. I think he just liked the writing and wanted to act in a play."

How are things going for you in this Brooklyn?

"You mean real Brooklyn? [laughs] It’s hard. I’m either at home or in my studio, or I go to Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook. That’s about it. To be an autonomous freelance cartoonist you have to live small in order to achieve that. The good thing is that I’ve lived in my apartment for years and it’s rent controlled so that means it’s affordable. But that’s about the only thing that’s affordable. Our subways don’t work anymore. Our landscape is becoming a lot of closed stores and shops because landlords decide to jack up the prices to the brink of insanity. I’m going to be 51 in May so I’m getting cranky and I’m losing a lot of what I grew up with. A lot of people have left and moved to more affordable spaces in other cities and states. I’ve always had one foot in the Catskills, but I’m such a city boy. I don’t know, they might have to drag me out of here in order to live a more comfortable lifestyle."

Read the entire interview here: http://smashpages.net/2018/04/06/smash-pages-qa-dean-haspiel-on-new-brooklyn-his-new-play-and-more/

Read WAR CRY: https://www.webtoons.com/en/super-hero/war-cry/list?title_no=1247