In September, Brooklyn comics collective Hang Dai Studios is releasing books by three founding members via a new distribution deal with Alternative Comics..
Hang Dai Studios will debut the titles, which are published under its Hang Dai Editions line, at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland (September 19–20) and at the Baltimore Comic-Con (Sept. 25–27).
The list includes Dean Haspiel’s Beef With Tomato, a 96-page trade paperback that collects Street Code, a series of autobiographical web comics, along with essays by the cartoonist. A veteran of the mainstream comics industry and the indie comics scene, Haspiel told PW that Beef with Tomato is a “love letter to New York City” that details his “escape from Manhattan to Brooklyn.”
In Gregory Benton’s Smoke, an 80-page full-color hardcover release, the endearing dog-creature Xolo (the mythological Aztec protector of souls) stars in a wordless, surreal narrative focused on two young brothers who work on an industrial tobacco farm. “I love the idea of communicating the story in the most essential way—with symbols and images,” Benton said.
The third title is Schmuck, a Kickstarter-funded anthology of autobiographical comics by the late and much admired photographer/comics writer Seth Kushner (1973–2015). Schmuck collects Kushner’s comics series focusing on the entertainingly awkward relationship and dating problems of Adam Kessler, a young New Yorker very much like the author. The book features art by a who’s who of indie cartoonists including Nick Bertozzi, Christa Cassano, Noah Van Sciver and HDS co-founders Haspiel and Benton.
Haspiel noted that the many artists who contributed art to Kushner’s anthology will be available to help promote Schmuck. He also said that more Kushner comics, and fundraising benefits for the Kushner family, are forthcoming. “We have his scripts. Seth did more work while he was in the hospital than most people do walking around healthy.”
The Hang Dai Studios collective debuted in 2013 at Comics Art Brooklyn, the annual independent comics festival in Williamsburg, with the goal of working independently of conventional publishers. “We launched Hang Dai so we could piggyback on each others work,” Haspiel said. “If you like my work, you’ll probably like my partners’ works.”
Hang Dai typically publishes limited-edition periodicals, which are sold almost exclusively via Hang Dai appearances at comics festivals. For the three forthcoming book-format titles, however, Hang Dai reached an agreement with Cupertino, Calif., indie comics house Alternative Comics, which is distributed to the book trade by Consortium; the latter has actively sought out independent graphic novel publishers to add to its list of clients.
Alternative Comics publisher Marc Arsenault said that the Hang Dai deal was an easy call, as his company had already published work by most of the collective’s members: “Anyone published by AC will always have a home here.”