It's not as big a leap as you might think from comic book artist to an award-winning movie like "American Splendor" or Emmy-winning graphics for an HBO series.
Both of those  are wound into the life of Dean Haspiel, a comic book artist who has worked for Marvel and Archie, and who will be in Wilmington Saturday for the 14th annual Free Comic Book Day.

Haspiel, who will be promoting his series "The Fox" from Archie Comics imprint Dark Circle, also was the man who introduced comic writer Harvey Pekar to a movie producer, which led to the making of "American Splendor," the movie of Pekar's life.
Haspiel had been doing background inks for other artists when he first approached Pekar with a packet of superhero-oriented artwork. By then, Pekar was an industry legend who wrote about his life, but hired others to do the artwork. Haspiel never heard anything back.

"I was kind of devastated," Haspiel said from Wizard World Comic Con in Las Vegas.
Instead of giving up, Haspiel sent a second submission to Pekar that was an anthology called "Keyhole," which he co-created with friend Josh Neufeld in 1987. Neufeld had worked with Pekar before, and Haspiel was sure they would hear back.
"Keyhole" included a two-page story called "American Dilemma."
"My dilemma was I sent Harvey artwork and maybe he thought I was too commercial or something, or didn't like it ... it was a true slice of life story."
They still didn't hear anything from Pekar.
"Crickets," described Haspiel, and he was really hacked off.
"Two or three years later, I get a phone call from that I thought a was prank, a guy acting like he was Harvey Pekar," Haspiel said. " 'I got a one-page story I'd like you to draw. C'mon, don't you want to make some bread?' "
Haspiel almost blew it off, but kept questioning the caller until Pekar hung up on him. Haspiel then called Neufeld who said that, yes, it was Harvey Pekar.
Haspiel agreed to the coveted one-page story with Pekar. At that time, Haspiel was an assistant to independent-movie producer Ted Hope, who was also a big comics fan.
Haspiel suggested Hope make a film about Pekar's life and introduced them. This ultimately led another producer creating "American Splendor," the 2003 Sundance award-winning film starring Paul Giamatti, Haspiel said.
He continued to work with Pekar, producing the graphic novel about Pekar's early life, "The Quitter."

Haspiel will be at The Comic Book Shop! Saturday at noon to sign copies of comics. It's part of the nationwide celebrations of the 14th annual Free Comic Book Day. Comic book shops will offer free comics to people who visit, including "Dark Circle" by Archie Comics, which will feature about 11 pages from "The Fox" No. 1 and pages from "Black Hood," "The Shield" and more.

Comic Book Shop! owners Sarah and Patrick Titus have scheduled activities all weekend, including an appearance by professional Star Wars cos-players, a "Blast a Trooper" fundraiser on Sunday to benefit Toys for Tots, and appearances by Hang Dai Studio artists Haspiel, Neufeld, Seth Kushner and Gregory Benton.
Haspiel, now 47, was born in New York City and always wanted to be a comic book artist.

"When I was a kid, I decided, 'One day I'm going to grow up to pencil "The Fantastic Four."' That was my dream," Haspiel said. "But then I discovered alternative comics, Chester Brown's 'Yummy Fur' and Harvey Pekar's 'American Splendor.'
"And then I realized a couple things: not only could you build your own universes and own them, but you could also write stories about your life."

In 1985, Haspiel got his start in comics working for other artists by illustrating backgrounds in comics, including "Thor" for writer-artist Walt Simonson, "American Flagg!" for writer-artist Howard Chaykin, and Bill Sienkiewicz's "New Mutants" and "Electra: Assassin." But Haspiel wanted to go work for Marvel and DC.
"As the years went on, I was trying to get work in comics with the big two and not really getting any traction that way. I decided to try and do my own comics," Haspiel said.

He has published several comics, including "Psychotronic Comix" and "Billy Dogma." Haspiel also won an Emmy Award for the graphic design of the title sequence of HBO's "Bored to Death," and has also been nominated several times for the Eisner Award, the equivalent of an Oscar for creative achievement in American comic books.
Resultado de imagem para Dean Haspiel
Haspiel wasn't a fan when he first heard of Free Comic Book Day.
"I did balk at the idea," he said. "I feel like I'm basically doing it for free anyway because the money isn't great; only a handful of people in comics are doing well."
He understands that, he said, especially now as comic book-based movies are so popular and so good.

"Why would somebody try to dive their head into issue 612 of a continuity mess?" Haspiel said. Now he realizes the free day "does bring people in; it creates the hunger."
Haspiel is now working on a comic series for The Fox called "Fox Hunt," published by Archie Comics under its Dark Circle imprint. He also co-writes and provides the art, assisted with dialogue by friend and comics veteran Mark Waid, who currently is writing "Daredevil" for Marvel Comics.
Haspiel's "Fox" is a photographer who has no special superpowers. He first appeared in Blue Ribbon Comics No. 4 in 1940.

Today, Haspiel said, "Paul Patton Jr. is a photojournalist who couldn't seem to find the story, so he became a crime fighter to make the story come to him. Now the story won't stop."
Contact Christopher Calloway, the The News Journal's brand manager, at (302) 324-2543 or ccalloway@delawareonline.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 14th annual Free Comic Book day at area comic book stores
WHEN: Saturday
SPECIAL EVENT: Noon. Hang Dai Studio artists Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld, Seth Kushner and Gregory Benton at The Comic Book Shop! at 1855 Marsh Road, Wilmington.