HANG DAI Editions hits MoCCA Fest with new comics

Founded in 2013 by Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel and Seth Kushner, the Brooklyn-based HANG DAI Editions (HDE) imprint has always struck me as more of a family.

This weekend, Benton, Haspiel, Kushner and Josh Neufeld, who joined HANG Dai last year, premiere new comics at MoCCA Fest 2015 [at Table 314]. To mark the occasion, I conducted a brief Q&A with each creator, in which they share what makes MoCCA such a great show.

No one is happier about it than Kushner, particularly as MoCCA 2014 was the last show he attended before his diagnosis with myeloid acute leukemia. So, much to everyone's delight, MoCCA 2015 heralds Kushner's return to comics.

Gregory Benton

Tim O'Shea: What were the inspirations/motivations for your latest projects?

Gregory Benton: I have two new-to-MoCCA books for this festival. STAKE, which takes the character F from my AdHouse book B+F and expands on her lore. It is wordless and watercolor, short, sweet and violent. The other publication is Pocket Book 2, a loose narrative told through life-drawn sketchbook pages. Not intended as a story when executed, more a collection of drawings assembled from various sketchbooks that convey a journey. Both of these books had life as limited hand printed/made editions that have now been released in a more conventional format.

Are there any creators or projects you are looking forward to seeing at MoCCA?

MoCCA has always been a great show for me. I love that the Society of Illustrators has breathed new life into it and enabled the festival to continue. I am very much looking forward to what Keren Katz will have this year. She designed the badges for this show, and her comix are always incredible: personal, poetic and fantastical. Jon Chad will no-doubt have some amazingly engineered small batch comics. I want to pick up the new Ink Brick, Alexander Rothman's anthology of poetry comics. Pat Dorian (Grand Comics Fest creator) will have a wordless bio-comic about Lon Chaney Sr. which looks intriguing. Andrea Tsurumi always has something great, and will be debuting her mini Library Book which might be book porn, I don't know. The fun thing about MoCCA is just wandering, talking with folks and finding those great works you'd never see otherwise. I'm very excited for that.

And of course it will be great to have Seth there. He's been sorely missed on these Hang Dai Editions festival excursions.

Dean Haspiel

What was the inspiration/motivation for your latest book?

Dean Haspiel: I've been itching to collect my short Billy Dogma stories under one cover for awhile now and Heart-Shaped Hole serves as the perfect starter kit for the uninitiated. I described the project as: Billy Dogma and Jane Legit punch the apocalypse right in the kisser as their eternal war of woo breaks a Trip City-wide hymen.

Heart-Shaped Hole will not be distributed in stores nor digitally and you can only get it personally by visiting me at any of the comix shows I attend. Heart-Shaped Hole is a 21st century olive branch meant to initiate an intimate, one-on-one experience between the reader and author. Too many published stories that I work on get distributed to places and people that I never get to meet and/or share a response with. Sure, social networking teases at some parlays, and positive reviews are nice, but I miss physical and spirited discussions with people who care more about story than the perceived "collectors item" value of a sealed comic book. I sometimes curate/host and take-part in semi-regular salons because I seek the energy of live and spontaneous participation. Heart-Shaped Hole is meant to bring back the very thing that is missing from my laptop and smart phone: human contact.

What prompted you to premiere Heart-Shaped Hole at MoCCA?

MoCCA is New York City's top comix show that celebrates alternative comix art and independent publishing. I've been attending shows like these across the boroughs and nation -- hawking my personal wares and premiering my signature works -- since 1995. And, even though I currently make my living writing and drawing franchise characters, communities like MoCCA (and other small press expos) encourages me to produce new, original and unexpurgated comix.

Are there any creators or projects you are looking forward to seeing at MoCCA?

The community aspect is my favorite part of these indie/alt comix shows. I get to see old friends and make new ones. I get to feel out-of-touch and ancient but reinvigorated, sometimes angered, often surprised by what I see. I hold court and stay en garde as the new guard breaks ground for what's cool and different. It's at shows like MoCCA that I get to discover the likes of David (The Rise) Trustman, who brings a whole new level of folk-art to super-mythology, and artists like my studio mate, Christa Cassano, who will debut a 50-panel hexagon comic that you can read backwards and forwards and puts a spell on you. And, if you think about it, it's shows like MoCCA, SPX, CAB, APE, etc., NOT the mainstream shows, that rallied a few kids in Philadelphia at Locust Moon Comics to put up or shut up and, not only curate and host their own indie/alt-comix show but also produce a passionate tome like LITTLE NEMO: Dream Another Dream, arguably the best anthology of this decade.

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