Dean Haspiel is an American comic book artist, known for his semi-autobiographical work in the alternative comics scene, and for his collaborations with writer Harvey Pekar. He was born in New York City, where he graduated from theThe High School of Music & Art/Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in 1985. He made his first steps in the comic book industry as an assistant of Howard Chaykin on 'American Flagg!', Bill Sienkiewicz on 'New Mutants' and 'Elektra: Assassin', and Walter Simonson on 'Thor' in the mid 1980s. He later attended the State University of New York at Purchase, where he majored in illustration and film. He made his professional debut during his study years, co-creating 'The Verdict' with Martin Powell for Eternity Comics in 1987.
With Josh Neufeld, he developed the black-and-white alternative comic book 'Keyhole', which they presented as a two-man anthology. The initial run was as four mini-comics in 1995, after which six full-sized issues were published by Millennium Publications and then Top Shelf Productions from 1996 to 1998. It was in 'Keyhole' that Haspiel created his 'Billy Dogma' character, as well as the one-page feature 'Travel Tips' and autobiographical stories. The artists also made the collaborative feature 'Lionel's Lament'. 'Keyhole' was inspired by Harvey Pekar's 'American Splendor' and 'Love and Rockets' by Los Bros Hernandez, and received much critical acclaim.
Haspiel's 'Billy Dogma' character has returned in several later works, such as 'Billy Dogma' (3 issues at Millennium Publications, 1997), 'Daydream Lullabies: A Billy Dogma Experience', (Top Shelf, 1999), 'Boy in My Pocket: The Billy Dogma Experience' (Top Shelf, 2000), and 'Brawl', a 3-issue miniseries with Michel Fiffe (Image Comics, 2007). The author was nominated for an Eisner for his groundbreaking semi-auto-bio comic 'Opposable Thumbs' (Alternative Comics, 2001), about a born-and-bred New Yorker and the trials and tribulations of living in the big bad city. He was also nominated for an Ignatz for 'Aim to Dazzle' (Alternative Comics, 2004), another story featuring Billy Dogma.
Haspiel has worked regularly with Harvey Pekar on the autobiographical 'American Splendor' series, first from 1999 to 2001, and then from 2006 to 2009. They also created the non-fiction graphic novel 'The Quitter' in 2005. With writer Jonathan Ames, he released his graphic novel 'The Alcoholic' at DC/Vertigo in 2008. Another notable collaboration was with Jay Lynch, with whom he made 'Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever' for Toon Books in 2008. In 2010 he illustrated the semi-autobiographical novel 'Cuba: My Revolution' (2010, Vertigo), written by Inverna Lockpez and colourized by José Villarubia. The comic is a coming-of-age story about teenager Sonya who lives through Fidel Castro's Communist takeover of Cuba in 1959 and the CIA's failed attempt to stage a coup against Castro in the Bay of Pigs (1961). Gradually she loses her ideals about the revolution and its new regime. The book gained wide media coverage.
Dino, as Dean is often called, has also contributed to anghologies like 'Bizarro Comics' (DC, 2001), 'The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist' (Dark Horse Comics, 2003 and 2008) and 'Alternative Comics' (2003-2005). He has done singles issues and stories for several Marvel comic books, such as 'X-Men Unlimited' #40 (2003), 'Spider-Man's Tangled Web' #20 (2003), 'Cyclops' #1 (2011), 'X-Men: First Class - Class Portraits' (2011) and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' #692 (2012). Dean Haspiel has worked with writer Evan Dorkin on Marvel's 4-issue mini-series 'The Thing: Night Falls on Yancy Street' in 2003. He has furthermore made features like 'Video King', 'Mummy Monster Sign' and 'The Scuzzbournes' for Nickelodeon Magazine, 'Thor's Day' for Shuttle Sheet magazine and 'Pot Monkeys' for High Times magazine. In 2015 he made five issues of the superhero comic 'The Fox' for Archie Comics with writer Mark Waid.
Cuba: My Revolution
Haspiel is also one of the USA's more prominent authors of webcomics. In 2006, Haspiel was one of the founders of ACT-I-VATE, a webcomics collective, which also featured work by Dan Goldman, Nick Bertozzi, Michel Fiffe, Leland Purvis, Nikki Cook, Tim Hamilton, and Josh Neufeld. Among Haspiel's contributions to the group were new 'Billy Dogma' serials like 'Immortal' (2006) and 'Fear, My Dear' (2007). Haspiel published his webcomic 'Street Code' on DC's webcomics imprint Zuda Comics in 2008, and in that same year he edited the webcomics anthology 'Next-Door Neighbor' for Smith Magazine. Tor.com ran his webcomic with writer Tim Hall, 'The Last Mortician', in 2011. In that same year, Haspiel spearheaded the online platform 'Trip City', which is described as "a Brooklyn-filtered, multimedia, literary arts salon featuring free regular exclusive content created by a fellowship of 21st Century auteurs".
A monograph called 'Dean Haspiel: The Early Years' was written by Christopher Irving and published by IDW/Graphic NYC Presents in 2010. Haspiel also received critical acclaim and an Emmy Award for his main title designs for the HBO show 'Bored to Death' in 2010.