Rolling along with the Fall line-up for comics, here’s another September release, Hang Dai Studios has teamed with Alternative Comics to release their fall schedule, which includes three titles Beef with Tomato by Dean Haspiel, Smoke by Gregory Benton, and Schmuck by Seth Kushner and an all-star line-up of cartoonists. It’s a powerhouse line-up of talent, each book with its own distinctive voice born of living life on the streets of New York City. Here’s an exclusive preview of “Snow Dope” a cool story to chill out these heated summer days that’s a meditation on self medication, as Haspiel braves the elements for simple human contact. We also caught up with Haspiel for some insight on the making of the story:


Why is this comic of importance to you personally?

I tend to hopscotch between the comix aisles and polarize readers with my work. I know this because my friends have told me so! I don’t know why but it seems that a lot of folks who read superheroes don’t necessarily read memoir and vice versa, and I want to help bridge that gap. I had hoped to blur those lines in my Vertigo collaborations with Jonathan Ames on The Alcoholic, Inverna Lockpez on Cuba: My Revolution, and with Harvey Pekar on The Quitter, but my style tends to skate the fringes and, perhaps, the market wasn’t ready to pick up what I was laying down. I’d like to think that fans of my current genre work on comix like The Fox will be interested in my personal comix and get a hold of BEEF WITH TOMATO. Half the reason my studio mate, Gregory Benton (along with the late Seth Kushner) and I originally launched Hang Dai Editions was so we could put our money where our mouths are and publish signature works that could appeal to a more diverse and willing readership.

What inspired the work in it?
Ever since I discovered Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor as a young teenager in NYC, I’ve been a fan of memoir comix. Everything from Joe Matt, Joe Sacco, and Gabrielle Bell to Seth Kushner’s posthumous Schmuck, and Jennifer Hayden’s upcoming, The Story Of My Tits. In the 1990s, I expanded my superhero trappings and dabbled in my own semi-autobio comix within the pages of Keyhole, a two-man anthology I did at the behest of my then-high school buddy Josh Neufeld, who has grown to become one of the premiere non-fiction comix journalists. I remember discovering the power of true life conversations within the pages of David Greenberger’s Duplex Planet Illustrated, and contributing my own rookie sensibilities to that wonderful project. I’ve always been enamored by the auteur voice and their thinly disguised avatars the likes of Jessica Abel, Adrian Tomine, and Bob Fingerman. BEEF WITH TOMATO is my way of contributing to that literary library.
You are returning to long form (even though they are short stories) after a long absence. Was it difficult to get into the frame of mind to do these?
Even though a lot of BEEF WITH TOMATO comprises most of my “Street Code” comix from 2008, I’ve continued to write, draw, and perform my memoir comix. I knew that one day I wanted to publish a proper collection of the material but I was surprised to learn that I enjoyed prose writing as much as I did comix writing. I’ve been fortunate enough to be recognized for some of my essay and screenplay writing outside of the comix industry, getting into prestigious artists’ residencies like Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY, and doing spoken word salons. BEEF WITH TOMATO is a natural evolution of my life’s work with the aim to become more vulnerable and dig deeper.
What do you hope that readers learn from these?

I’m a died-in-wool believer in sharing stories. More important than money, stories is our universal commerce. Were benevolent aliens to land in Prospect Park today, we wouldn’t be throwing gold at each other, we’d be huddled around a fire trading stories; the very currency of community. BEEF WITH TOMATO is a book meant to honor a NYC that no longer exists while helping spark a conversational flame between you and me.


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