Writer/artist Dean Haspiel has a thing for monsters - especially those with a heart of gold. He's drawn the superhero genre's resident misunderstood monster the Thing before, and some would say Haspiel has a bit of Ben Grimm about him if you've had the chance to meet him in person.
Recently in his creator-owned series The Red Hook (opens in new tab), Haspiel has introduced his own misunderstood monster: the Cobble Hill Colossus. The series, published by Webtoon, is a direct homage to early Marvel Comics, combined with Haspiel's very real concerns with modern life.
Newsarama spoke with Haspiel about the Cobble Hill Colossus, and caught up with him about The Red Hook's current season, Blackout.
Newsarama: Dean, you wear your love for misunderstood monsters on your sleeve - and now you've created your own with Cobble Hill Colossus in your Webtoon series Red Hook: Blackout. Can you tell us about him?
Dean Haspiel: When I first conceived of the Cobble Hill Colossus, it was a throwaway character. A mere mention. When I was chipping away at Blackout, I realized I needed someone new to help serve a critical aspect of the story and there it was.
I say 'it' because I'm not sure of the gender of the Cobble Hill Colossus as it's a walking, burping crystallization of the toxins and stones expelled from a sentient New Brooklyn's kidney but with a heart of gold. It's like an abandoned dog made of junk that looks like a Jack Kirby reject from ye olde Tales to Astonish series.
Nrama: Frankenstein's Monster, the Thing, Cobble Hill Colossus - what do you think draws you to this archetype?
Haspiel: Don't forget King Kong. Boo Radley from Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. Etc, etc.
The misunderstood monster is evergreen with possibility and teaches us the most about humanity. The investigation of the banished misfit is rich with romance and redemption, where we can dissect bitter intent and gain sweet context.
Pure evil is not as interesting as moral ambiguity. We often ask 'why?' when we should be focusing on 'when and where.' Mapping the origin of a soul can tell you a lot.
Nrama: The Cobble Hill Colossus is born when a supernatural sword called the Apocalypse Sword slashes the kidney of the living, breathing city of New Brooklyn. That's a lot of fantastical concepts - but I'll get right to it. Is the Colossus a kidney stone? I've never been through one myself, but sounds painful…
It's much more than that because of the very pain you speak of. The Cobble Hill Colossus reveals itself to be quite an empathic creature. Something to learn from.
Nrama: The Colossus's debut comes just after the debut of Sun Kiss, who was inspired by your previous hero Sun Dog. What's Sun Kiss's story?
Haspiel: Sun Kiss, a.k.a. Ai Nui, sister to the late, great Don Nui (a.k.a. Sun Dog), is a mutant (like her brother) who has fire powers and has inherited the Nui dynasty located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York where opium was distributed through their chain of Chinese restaurants. Upon meeting the Red Hook, Sun Dog had a change of mind and heart and ended their family drug reign to make New Brooklyn a better place to live in.
When Sun Dog helped the Red Hook and War Cry save earth from an ice age and (SPOILER) sacrificed his life (see/read: STARCROSS, The Red Hook season 3), Ai Nui was handed the family legacy and is trying to do the same thing her brother did by also helping redeem her fiance, Crystal Creed (a.k.a. The Possum), to turn from a life of crime to heroism.
Nrama: Sun Kiss and the Cobble Hill Colossus are debuting right in the middle of your current storyline, Blackout. How would you describe what Red Hook and New Brooklyn are going through here?
Haspiel: For the new reader: The Red Hook saga is a romantic superhero noir about a thief who is forced to become a hero against his will during a time when Brooklyn reveals herself to be sentient, but is so heartbroken by the toxicity of the world that she literally and physically secedes from America to spark a new Brooklyn where art can be bartered for food and services.
In season four, Blackout, the Red Hook must combat his vigilante mother to destroy an Apocalypse Sword, only to rebirth the wrath of a villain who threatens to send New Brooklyn back to the stone age!
In a lot of ways, season four is my direct homage to early Marvel Comics coupled with my frustrations with social media, cancel culture, surveillance society, and the desire to get back to a time and space when we got our news and comics from newsstands, and we talked to each other on stoops and park benches.