From the Ringo Award and Emmy Award-winning cartoonist Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma, The Red Hook, Bored to Death) comes a new creator-owned comic book, COVID Cop, a 24-page horror romance for mature readers featuring a 21st-century antihero inspired by the ONGOING global pandemic. The book is currently being funded via Kickstarter.
Haspiel is known for creating the “last romantic antihero,” Billy Dogma, who debuted in Millenium Press’s Keyhole #1, written by Haspiel and illustrated by Josh Neufeld and Sari Wilson. The character later went on to star in other works from other publishers. Then, in 2008, Haspiel worked on a Vertigo original graphic novel, The Alcoholic, written by Jonathan Ames and drawn by Haspiel, that was later turned into the HBO series Bored to Death, for which the cartoonist won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design.
COVID Cop was inspired by Haspiel’s favorite cartoonist, Jack Kirby, and he was inspired to tell the story so that he could explore the “best and worst of humanity.” A cross between Judge Dredd, Toxic Avenger, Mad Max, and Sin City, COVID Cop is Haspiel’s” response to a pandemic that never found its cure and has wiped out 98% of mankind.”
Here’s how Haspiel describes the inspiration behind his Kickstarter project:
My favorite cartoonist, Jack Kirby (the co-creator of the Marvel Universe and some DC Comics characters), didn’t just think about what he wanted to spend his time creating or how it would sell. He wanted to connect with readers and melt minds. Go big or go home. For all of Kirby’s cosmic concepts, he never forgot about the heart of a story. Having fought in World War 2, I believe Kirby’s comics were a product of battlefield PTSD. The things he saw. The things he had to do. Kirby was working out the best and the worst of humanity. He questioned the idea of God and then dared to answer it. And that’s what art does best. It asks the hard questions that don’t necessarily have answers.
In 2020, around the same time I conceived & co-curated the Ringo Award nominated PANDEMIX (which was the first comic book anthology to respond to the pandemic), I created an idea that I showed to several publishers and it received the same reactions. “We love your idea but we can’t publish it.” They were too afraid. Scared of how people would respond. I took that as a good sign. A major clue that I’d made something that might truly resonate.
I spent the winter holidays and the early part of 2023 illustrating the story that I had written and pitched in 2020, during a time of isolation and terror, and do what art and comix do best, spawn an antihero.
Art is only just beginning to deal with the ramifications of the global pandemic. As someone who is disabled and high risk, I have been devouring anything that deals with the trauma of being forgotten and the FOMO of watching the world move on, all while making me laugh. Even if you are able-bodied, books that deal with the pandemic document our history, making them necessary for future generations. With this in mind, Haspiel invites you “to hop on board the ground floor of [his] grassroots effort and help [him] print an outlier sensation that will be mailed directly to your doorstep.”
The Kickstarter campaign for Covid Cop is live now, and runs through the end of the month.