A Letter Lasts Longer

By Dean Haspiel

In October, 2012, I spent three weeks at a comix residency as a “master artist” at The Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I helped select, mentor, and impart comix-making wisdom to eight amazing, willing, and dedicated cartoonists from America, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. I was there alongside two other “master artists,” Megan Kelso and Ellen Forney, and their fantastic cartoonists groups. Ellen called her group Team Zep and Megan arrived at the Field House Gang. At the behest of Jp, one of my associates, I dubbed our posse, Studio YOLO (“You Only Live Once”) and that was our battle cry, throughout. We even invented a new character named Shifty Goth, that culminated in a round robin of “Sad Life” comix among all three posses and some artists even got prison style tattoos in the form of a crying skull to honor the experience.

Like a tropical think-tank, we steeped in my associates long-form tales and I helped each of them excavate the narrative gold within and identify the meaning of their work while exploiting the virtues of the medium in order to best serve their stories. And they, in turn, helped each other out, including me. We rummaged in the vigor of sequential storytelling. It was an intense and exhaustive comix camp that will live with me forever. Big Ups to ACA’s organizers, staff, and Chef Tom!

Which brings us to this series of comix. Studio YOLO conducted a group activity where I wrote an original piece of text for a comic book story with all the visual descriptions removed and asked everyone to interpret said text into a fully realized comic sans supervision. It was an experiment meant to indulge a certain type of collaboration, challenge the boundaries of story, and reveal something about the artist. Please click through the images above and enjoy the many variations of “A Letter Lasts Longer.”

–Dean Haspiel


Studio YOLO consists of:

Meghan Lands likes to draw pictures of animals. She lives in Montreal, Quebec. www.meghanlands.tumblr.com

George Jurard (George Folz) is a Minneapolis-based cartoonist and illustrator who works as freelancer through The Creative Group, a subsidiary of Robert Half International. He is in the midst of completing his debut graphic novel, “H-Bomb Rodeo”, and maintains a tumblr featuring his work at http://disciplinegeorgejurard.tumblr.com/

Gregory Mackay is best known for his comic strip Francis Bear as well as award-winning autobiographical comics. Gregory is a regularly featured artist in the French Turkey Comix anthology published by The Hoochie Coochie, who in 2010 released a collected Francis Bear book. http://gregorymackay.com/

Jess Ruliffson hails from Biloxi, Mississippi and lives in Brooklyn. She is currently working on a comic book based on interviews with veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. You can read more of her stories on her blog: callingthedog.blogspot.com

Jp Pollard is a cartoonist and Graphic Designer in Chicago, IL. Updates on his comics, particularly his ongoing self-published title Thomas VS The Monsters, are available at http://thomasvsmonsters.com/ He’s also on Twitter: @JpPollard

Fionnuala Doran was born to a human mother in 1984. Breathing an oxygen and carbon composite Fionnuala grew to be of average height, weight and appearance. Fionnuala can be found in Belfast, Northern Ireland and has made comics since 2006, working with organisations such as the Asia Europe Foundation, the Banff Centre Canada and the European Exchange Academy. Fionnuala forms one half of the collaborative Aideen&FionnualaDoran. www.fdoran.com / www.fedorancentre.com

James Greene drew cartoons for his high school and college newspapers in Iowa before receiving his BFA in Studio Art from the University of Northern Iowa in 2001. In 2006 he earned his MFA in Printmaking from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He currently has a number of comic book projects in the works. In May of 2012, James and writer Ben Kubczak self-published their first graphic novel entitled Salvaged Horizon. James also lettered the forthcoming independent comic book Planetfall, written by Al Letson and drawn by Amancay Nahuelpan. James teaches 2D Foundations as well as Comics and Sequential Art at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where he lives with his wife and two sons. http://valuistics.com/

Christa Cassano is beautiful and she has a comics anthology called Swingin’ Meat and it will be available online and in print in the near future. [Note from Dean: “Alas, TRIP CITY’s limited formatting doesn’t do Christa’s version of “A Letter Lasts Longer” any justice and y’all should see it blown up on a museum wall.”]

Dean Haspiel wants to make movies but would consider being a mail man, a first responder, or a cook if he wasn’t struggling to understand how to make comix. He likes Jack Kirby, Bea Arthur, Sergio Leone, Throbbing Gristle, Doug Stanhope, and horror movies.