Showing posts with label Harvey Pekar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harvey Pekar. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hang Dai Studios at Baltimore Comic-Con: Dean Haspiel speaks (UPDATED!)

by Mike Rhode

Baltimore Comic-Con is one of the best and friendliest of the mid-size superhero focused cons. Under the leadership of Marc Nathan and Brad Tree, it's grown quite a bit in a decade and a half, but still remains enjoyable for all ages and interests. Hang Dai Studios is based in Brooklyn, but as usual will have a big presence at Baltimore. My friend Dean Haspiel (and Hang Dai Studios founder) will be there with the whole studio, a week after he, Christa Cassano and Gregory Benton attended the Small Press Expo. We hope to have interviews with everyone in the studio throughout the week. Our fifth interview is with Dean Haspiel.

Where did "Hang Dai" come from? 

 "Hang Dai" was derived from HBO's "Deadwood." Whenever Al Swearengen and Mr. Wu would curse their way through a private deal and come to an agreement, Wu would cross his fingers and say "Hang Dai." Or, something that sounded like that and which meant "Brotherhood." Or, as my studio mate Christa Cassano likes to say, "Sisterhood."

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I hopscotch between superhero and memoir and psychedelic romance comix. My recent effort is called Beef With Tomato, co-published by Alternative Comics and Hang Dai Editions. It's about my escape from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Blue pencil, occasional brush pen and Micron pens + digital shading/coloring.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

1967. New York Hospital.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

The comic book rack on the newsstand at the corner of 79th street and Broadway in NYC was my comix kindergarten. Later on I discovered a steady flow of pop art pulp treasures at West Side Comics, opened a weekly account at Funny Business, and discovered American Splendor and Yummy Fur at Soho Zat. After that, any inklings of pursuing a normal life went out the window when dreams of drawing comix for a living took over and held my sway. I never learned how to draw comix in school because school didn't teach comix. School shunned comix. Comix taught me how to make comix. And, I'm still learning how, one panel at a time.

Who are your influences?

Ron Wilson, Jim Aparo, Jack Kirby, C.C. Beck, John Byrne, Steve Ditko, Alex Toth, Will Eisner, Frank Robbins, Jim Starlin, Michael Golden, Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, Katsuhiro Otomo, John Romita Jr., Frank Quitely, Goran Parlov, Darwyn Cooke, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee, Gregory Benton, Josh Bayer, Stan Lee, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Brian K Vaughan, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonathan Ames, Mickey Spillane, and Richard S. Prather.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

The Thing: Night Falls On Yancy Street. I wasn't ready. I would ask to change the dark ending, too, so me and Evan Dorkin could make it Marvel canon rather than Marvel folklore.

What work are you best-known for?

I believe I'm best known for my collaboration with Harvey Pekar on The Quitter. Possibly, the ten-issues of The Fox I recently co-wrote and drew for Archie Comics. Maybe, some Billy Dogma.

What work are you most proud of?

Billy Dogma in Fear, My Dear. And, Heart-Shaped Hole.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I aim to focus on creator-owned comix but, given the opportunity, I'd like to write and draw The Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel (Shazam), O.M.A.C., Deathlok, and bring back Marvel Two-In-One, featuring The Thing. I also have a great Batman & Superman story that features cameos of the JLA, done in the spirit of a cross between Sullivan's Travels and On The Road.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Wash dishes. Work on something wholly different. Mix it up. Your mind is always working. Let it work by letting it relax and think different.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

Patronized digital comix produced one panel at a time; published one per day, delivered directly to your phone, and story arcs get collected into print (if necessary).\

Why are you at the Baltimore Comic-Con this year?

Baltimore Comic-Con is my favorite show, bar none. A perfect combo of rookie and veteran cartoonists among old and new comic books and just the right amount of cosplay. I've also been a regular guest for almost 15 years.

What other cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Besides BCC, I usually attend SPX, NYCC, MoCCA, CAB, and Locust Moon Comics Festival. I was a guest of Wizard World six times this year. They treat me very well.

What's your favorite thing about Baltimore?

Marc Nathan and Brad Tree.

Least favorite?

I've yet to encounter anything in Baltimore to make me dislike its innate charm.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?


One day I plan to stay an extra day or two so I can personally visit Baltimore's culture.

How about a favorite local restaurant?


Out of pure proximity and laziness, I tend to grab dinner at the M&S Grill on E Pratt Street and soak in the Inner Harbor sights.

Do you have a website or blog?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OT: Harvey Pekar statue plea by Alan Moore

Here's Alan Moore asking you to contribute to Kickstarter for Harvey's statue. I've put in my money, days ago.

I'm actually quite happy to fund projects at Kickstarter. I think this is the 5th I've contributed to.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

latebreaking Harvey Pekar: Conversations review

I was just sent a review of a book I edited a couple of years ago -

Harvey Pekar: Conversations

Jordana Hall
Shofar (Winter 2011; 29:2), p. 190-192

- in which Ms. Hall says in conclusion, "To those unfamiliar with American Splendor, Conversations is an excellent introduction to the comics and their creator. To fans of Pekar's work, the book provides insight into the author, his personal tastes, and his creative process. What is more, the conversations with his artist collaborators offer an inside look at the entire production process. Taken together the twenty-one interviews are informative and entertaining, with humorous outbursts from Joyce Brabner, who also gets her say in the later pieces. Harvey Pekar: Conversations is an important book for any scholar or enthusiast of comics."

Ahhh. Thank you Ms. Hall.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dean Haspiel's EW Harvey Pekar Tribute

Years ago, my friend Dean Haspiel suggested that I interview Harvey for a Small Press Expo panel - that turned into a journal article, and then a book, as well as a friend acquaintance with Harvey. Harvey died earlier this year, and Dean's got a nice tribute strip up about Harvey now.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Today in The New York (Comics) Times

Pekar, Paul Conrad and Rutu Modan -

The Unfinished Tale of an Unlikely Hero
Harvey Pekar, the obsessive chronicler of everyday lives, was collaborating at the end of his life on a Web project whose fate in print remains uncertain.

Paul Conrad, Cartoonist, Dies at 86
Mr. Conrad’s editorial cartoons in The Los Angeles Times and other papers slashed presidents, skewered pomposity and exposed what he saw as injustice for six decades.

And Rutu Modan illustrated the review of Skippy Dies in the Book Review.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Harvey Pekar reminiscence by a long-time coworker

This is a nice letter from one of his co-workers at the VA hospital:

A day in the working life of VA file clerk and 'American Splendor' creator Harvey Pekar
Friday, July 23, 2010

At some point I'll try to list all of the interviews that popped up after Harvey's death, but hadn't been included in Harvey Pekar: Conversations.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harvey Pekar on Australian radio

I actually got a phone call from Australia last night - and I'm old enough to find that technologically marvelous and cool - for quotes for this story:

American Splendour's Harvey Pekar dies
Thea Dikeos reported this story on Wednesday, July 14, 2010
ABC News' PM

I'm going to keep mulling over that spontaneous Steinbeck comparison as I think there's something to it. When I mentioned Hemingway and Steinbeck, I initially meant Pekar was a quintessentially American writer, but I think he might have some real thematic links to Steinbeck.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More on Harvey Pekar

It sounds like Harvey just wore out last night.

I'm sure tributes and obituaries will be popping up all over this week. I know the Washington Post print edition should have one tomorrow. Today Comic Riffs did two posts on Harvey -

Remembering Harvey Pekar, legendary bard of the 'underground' comic book
By Michael Cavna, July 12, 2010

Michael got my first impressions for this article, almost immediately after I heard the news while on vacation -

Harvey Pekar book editor recalls a 'kind and diffident' man
By Michael Cavna, July 12, 2010.

A longer piece, quoting liberally from a 2005 interview I did with Harvey, should appear on the City Paper's website tomorrow.

Harvey Pekar's passing

I've just heard that Harvey Pekar passed away during the night. Some years ago I was asked to fill in and interview Harvey at SPX. I reluctantly agreed, and went home and brushed up on his career. Day 1 went well, so I did the second session the next day with Harvey and his collaborators Josh Neufeld, Ed Piskor and Dean Haspiel. These two interviews became the genesis of my edited book of interviews, Harvey Pekar: Conversations. Harvey gave me his permission to use anything he had done, but he didn't have a file of interviews to make my life much easier. I got the occasional thrill of picking up the phone and hearing him saying, "Hey Mike, it's Harvey Pekar" as though his gruff voice wasn't immediately recognizable. The book came out about a year later, and Harvey and I stayed loosely in touch. I always found him to be kind and approachable, not a curmudgeon, and will miss our infrequent talks and any new stories from him. Through the force of his intellect and willpower, Harvey made himself a part of the American experience and we've lost something with his death.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Another Pekar interview

You have to buy this one to photocopy the article and stick in your copy of Harvey Pekar: Conversations -

Pricco, Evan. 2010. Harvey Pekar [interview]. Juxtapoz (July): 76-87

- but you can read this one with his collaborator online -

Pricco, Evan. 2010. Interview with Pekar Project artist Tara Seibel: Part 1-2.
Juxtapoz (July 7-8): and

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Harvey Pekar interview

This one's an audiofile so it's going to be kind of hard to cut it out and tuck it in Harvey Pekar: Conversations, but I have faith in your ingenuity.

Phone call with Harvey Pekar
by LADYGUNN . March 15th, 2010 .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Harvey Pekar interview from 2000

Here's another interview that's not in my Harvey Pekar: Conversations, in case you want to print it out and tuck it in.

Q and A: Harvey Pekar in 2000
Words: Christopher Irving
Friday, December 4, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Nice new Pekar interview online

I'm not trying to keep up with all of Harvey's interviews now that the book is finished, but Irving and Kushner have a nice one up at their Graphic NYC blog. And Jeff Newelt's Pekar Project keeps moving along.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Harvey's Heads, an amusing conceit

Jeff Newelt of Smith Magazine's invited artists to draw Harvey Pekar for his 70th birthday, and the results are on their Harvey's Heads page.

I'm no artist, but I think I'll try my hand, using the magic of digital cameras and Photoshop.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

John Kovaleski's Shelf Porn includes Harvey Pekar: Conversations

John and I have communicated back and forth a bit after meeting at SPX. We swapped books, and I see Harvey Pekar: Conversations on his signed book shelf at "Send Us Your Shelf Porn!" by Chris Mautner,* September 9, 2009. Chris notes that John has a new book he'll be selling at SPX, and he's usually got some minicomics too - I'll be stopping by his table.

I love looking at pictures of people's libraries, but this is the first time they've looked back. So to speak.

*I also know Chris from the late, lamented Comix@ mailing list.