Reporter Cesar Bustamante, Jr. interviewed Dean Haspiel about his graphic novel, BEEF WITH TOMATO, for The NY Daily News.
“It’s funny because when I was first walking down the street in Carroll Gardens I would see the old Italians, they would be eyeballing me. I think they looked at me and thought I was some kind of rich yuppie. Because they wouldn’t know I was a struggling cartoonist. I just looked like some white guy invading their neighborhood.
It took many years before I didn’t feel alienated by the neighborhood because the neighborhood was thick with history.”
“Working with Harvey Pekar was a learning experience of what to do and what not to do in autobio comics. What I really loved about Harvey Pekar’s writing was his ability to observe and listen to other people’s talking, how they talk and what they say and how that can possibly turn into a story, no matter how mundane the event is. He was very good at highlighting the quotidian aspects of life.
I think a lot of autobio comics do that because they can’t compete with the superhero comics because of the action and fantasy. But luckily or unluckily I happen to have a lot of things that happened to me or made myself available to, like riding a bike and getting hit by a car.”
“I’m kind of a boisterous character and I get involved. I think a lot of writers don’t tend to get involved so that’s where I think my comics are different in term of autobio comics. Also I don’t use my platform to rant and rave. I let the story be my commentary in a way.”
“New York City is the most heartbreaking city in the world. I think people go to Paris to fall in love, they must go to New York to break their hearts.
As a true blue New Yorker, I have fully invested my life and my energies and my soul into this city as it hopefully has to me.
But the older I get, and the more I work as an artist in the city… I’m standing in a building right now in Gowanus that we have been given maybe a year or two left that we can work here and then we’re going to be kicked out so that developers can turn this into expensive office buildings or another CVS, another bank. It’s already happened next door to us. People have been given one month’s notice after making this area cool with its art.
But that seems to happen over and over and over again. That speaks also to the heartbreak, the innate heartbreak one experiences in New York City.”
“Have you ever broken up with someone or they broke up who you, the writing was on the wall but you kept trying over and over again to make it work. I guess this is my shattered woo, my broken woo to try to make it work still with New York City before I bite the bullet and leave.
The city is what you make it so I can’t blame this inanimate object on what’s been happening but I can still fight and try. I do love the city, whenever I visit any other place in the world, anytime I come back to New York it still feels like home. I don’t want to abandon it. It’s hard to abandon.
In a way living in New York City is a relationship between a person and the landscape. And I know enough New Yorkers that have left and not come back because maybe they’re afraid to come back. They’ve found a better quality of life outside of New York City.
We’re not talking about rich New Yorkers. We’re talking about the artists, the working class and those kinds of folks.
I always complain that I live in New York City but I can’t enjoy it’s virtues because I ride my bike from my studio to my home, back and forth seven days a week. Occasionally I might dip outside and do something in the city but I can’t afford it. I’m working too hard to pay my rent.
Apparently, there are other ways to live that’s not like this and I need to consider alternative lifestyles so that maybe I won’t be breaking my back just to suffer for this city and the city is not suffering for me.”
Read the entire interview here: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/pageviews/dean-haspiel-beef-tomato-life-brooklyn-blog-entry-1.2403365