Dogma is AmGod spelled backward. That’s the kind of thing you pick up while reading the work of Dean Haspiel, the New York artist who finds himself at an interesting career crossroads with today’s release of “The Last Romantic Antihero.” Haspiel became one of our personal favorites after memorably putting his art with the words of Jonathan Ames (on “The Alcoholic”) and the late, great Harvey Pekar (on “The Quitter” as well as some installments of “American Splendor”), but with this new digital comic he goes back to his most persistent creation, the brawny Billy Dogma.
“I think he represents my thugishness as a lover and a partner,” Haspiel said last week. “He’s also the one thing I will never sell to any corporation.”
Dogma has been roaming the harsh ridgelines of Haspiel’s imagination for a while now but the writer-artist says he is “hitting the reset button in a way” with this 22-page story, which he says gives him a chance to “fully flex all muscles and fire all cylinders.” This might be a good time to point out that the sexual content in the story makes it something for R-rated audiences; we can’t link directly to it but we can tell you that Haspiel’s site, Welcome to Trip City, may lead you to it.
For Haspiel, he has a new ambition to make Dogma his own signature brand and personal forum. He points to the way that Paul Pope and Frank Miller have “THB” and “Sin City,” respectively, as anchoring statements of their sensibility even as they occasionally veer off and work on borrowed brands like DC’s Batman. With this new Dogma story, Haspiel plays with time, space, perception and destiny — he says you might see some of his love for “Planet of the Apes” and Jack Kirby’s Negative Zone tucked in the corners of some panels — and, clearly, we should all expect Haspiel’s future to be defined more and more by Dogma.
– Geoff Boucher
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