By Dean Haspiel

I was not prepared for what Arlen was going to do with my words. What started as a candid response to the art and business of making comix turned into this beautiful gift from artist/designer/comic book historian, Arlen Schumer. If you know me, you know that I love The Fantastic Four and, despite my healthy ego, there is no way that I could have conjured this cover concept. It’s a poster, a comic, an homage and a mantra. I’m humbled and grateful that Arlen took his talent and time to create this for me and, possibly, other comix fans to enjoy. Thank you, Arlen, for helping make turning 46 a little bit easier.

–Dean Haspiel

(Caught on Camera! My response to Arlen gifting me F46 at Bergen Street Comics on my birthday)

PS – I asked Arlen to describe how “Fantastic Forty-Six” came to be:

“The text in the balloons of “Fantastic Forty-Six” began as a Facebook post Dean had written about 2 months ago; when I read it, I remarked to D that not only was it a heartfelt little piece about growing up with comics (specifically the Fantastic Four), but that I could see it as a Harvey Pekar-esque 1-page comic, in which Dean could address the reader over multiple panels with what he wrote, split up into separate word balloons.

When I began to actually design the page, it came to me that I could really bring the Fantastic Four theme to the fore by picturing Dean at 4 stages of his life–and as all 4 members of the FF! So I asked D to send me enough pix of himself so I could choose the best 4 to use, and voila! After that, the piece just designed itself as a mock FF comic book cover–even the title was meant to be!”

–Arlen Schumer

Arlen Schumer is a member of The Society of Illustrators, creating comic book-style illustrations for advertising and editorial usage, and one of the foremost historians of comic book art—his book The Silver Age of Comic Book Art won the Independent Publishers Award for Best Popular Culture Book of 2003. He lectures on these and other pop culture subjects he is a recognized expert in, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and the music of Bruce Springsteen, at universities and cultural institutions nationwide.