Going indie: New comic shows the borough seceding

Going indie: New comic shows the borough seceding
Dean Haspiel

Brooklyn draws the line!

A new online comic launching today imagines a super-charged Brooklyn, reversing the Mistake of ’98 to create a world in which the borough secedes not just from New York City, but from the entire United States.

In the opening panels of “The Red Hook,” which launches its first chapter today, a seismic shock shatters the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and separates Kings County from Queens. The comic’s creator came up with the earth-shaking idea in July 2014, when artists replaced the American flags on the top of the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags.

“I joked to a friend, ‘Oh my God, Brooklyn gave up!’ ” said Dean Haspiel. “That’s a really interesting idea, what if Brooklyn was sentient? And it literally and physically decided to secede from America?”

The Carroll Gardens cartoonist began to imagine life in the new Brooklyn, and the new lives that people might build in the broken borough. But he decided not to be worry about being too realistic.

The hero Brooklyn deserves: Super-thief the Red Hook foils a bank robbery and then takes the money for himself, in his eponymous new online comic.
Dean Haspiel

“I’m not a scientist, I’m not going to fact-check how this could actually happen. I’m romanticizing the fantasy of a seceded Brooklyn,” he said.

Haspiel has been in the comics biz for more than 25 years, and has drawn superhero books including “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Batman Adventures,” along with original characters and personal stories about living in Brooklyn. His new comic bridges those two worlds, introducing superheroes and super-villains to his home borough, starting with the title character of “The Red Hook.”

“I was aiming for a superhero but what I came up with is a super-thief,” said Haspiel. “I thought about Red Hook and how difficult it is to live there. And I thought about what kind of superhero would be in Red Hook and I kind of created a bad guy. He’s kind of like a Robin Hood, but he only takes care of himself and his girlfriend.”

Haspiel drew on his biggest influences, artists Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and Alex Toth when designing the Red Hook’s solid costume — in red, naturally.

“I like that simplified, streamlined look,” said Haspiel. “I can’t get into all the bells and whistles of the new superheroes designed today. I like simplicity and clarity.”

Ink master: Artist Dean Haspiel, in his Gowanus studo, holds up two pages from his new series “The Red Hook.”
Photo by Jason Speakman

The super-thief’s epic story will appear weekly on the Line Webtoons site, with new installments coming for the next 26 weeks. Each chapter is a long line of images, optimized for viewing on mobile devices, but Haspiel plans to collect adapted versions of the pages into a graphic novel after the end of the online run.

Two more comics set in the same world as “The Red Hook” are planned to start in the fall: “The Brooklynite” and “The Purple Heart.”

“The Red Hook” is now available at www.webtoons.com.

Looking over the city: Carroll Gardens cartoonist Dean Haspiel has created a new comics universe in which Brooklyn becomes its own country.
Photo by Jason Speakman