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Brooklyn Comic Artist Gives Red Hook a New Hero

RED HOOK — Step aside, Batman. There’s a new hero in town.

Scaling buildings and dodging bullies, Brooklyn’s newest superhero “The Red Hook” was inspired by its namesake neighborhood.

Aiming for a pulp hero with a modern twist, artist Dean Haspiel said he wanted to create a character who was equally good and bad, drawing from a world that is neither black nor white, but shades of gray.

The neighborhood’s landscape “yields those kinds of characters,” Haspiel said. “It’s an homage to Red Hook by giving them a superhero."

Written in August 2012, "The Red Hook" begins the story as a narcissistic thief but eventually moves on to become a reluctant superhero, noted Haspiel, who published the story on Trip City, a Brooklyn literary arts website.

Haspiel, a freelance artist who has worked for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Archie Comics, among others, hopes to come out with a graphic novel for "The Red Hook" by 2014. 

“If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” Haspiel said of the neighborhood.

But the Red Hook isn’t Haspiel’s only nod to the nabe. Another work, “Mars Attacks Christmas,” follows a group of Brooklynites battling aliens and is set in Fort Defiance, a Van Brunt Street bar and café. The story is one in a series called “Mars Attacks the Holidays” published by IDW.

While he lives in Carroll Gardens, Haspiel said he frequents Red Hook and has even been helping the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Sunny’s Bar, a local favorite on Van Brunt Street, with its fundraising efforts by creating a T-shirt to raise money for renovations.

Since Haspiel moved to Carroll Gardens 16 years ago, he has created a number of Brooklyn-inspired stories and heroes, often drawing from his own life and memories of moving to the borough. 

Street Code” is the semi-autobiographical story of Jack, who transitions from Manhattan to Brooklyn, just like Haspiel. The comic, published by DC Comics in 2008, is the result of 16 years of note-taking and blogging, in which Haspiel fleshed out a character who faces challenges similar to those he has faced.

“Brooklyn is always the background of my life,” he said.