A unique two-man exquisite corpse, Because of You is an unscripted, impromptu, dynamic dialogue between Josh Neufeld and Dean Haspiel. The protagonist, “Lionel,” wakes up one morning to an unpleasant surprise. From that point on he faces domestic crises, public transportation, the New York City streets, and his own hyperactive imagination — all in the course of one infamous ill-fated day.
An Exquisite Corpse
In the tradition of Zap Comix and The Narrative Corpse, long-time friends and collaborators Dean Haspiel and Josh Neufeld present Because of You, a unique two-man exquisite corpse consisting of an unscripted, impromptu, dynamic dialogue between the two cartoonists.
The story plumbs unparalleled depths of agony and personal humiliation. The protagonist, “Lionel,” wakes up one morning to an unpleasant surprise. From that point on he faces domestic crises, public transportation, the New York City streets, and his own hyperactive imagination — all in the course of one infamous ill-fated day (And we didn’t even mention the maggots.)
Behind the Scenes
Before Dean won an Emmy Award, before Josh was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in Journalism, there was… “Lionel’s Lament” — a collaborative strip that ran in the 1990s in the pages of Dean & Josh’s two-man anthology Keyhole. And then, at the dawn of the 21st century, Dean & Josh revived Lionel for this unique comics jam, now repackaged as Because of You!
The goal of the project was to create a completely improvisational two-man comic, working with two separate storylines about the same character. And the structure went like this: Each week, Dean and Josh drew two panels in the life of Lionel, one taking place in the morning, one taking place in the afternoon/evening of the same day. The two simultaneous storylines were then exchanged back and forth, from Dean to Josh and from Josh to Dean, from a.m. to p.m. and from p.m. to a.m., building both storylines two panels at a time. The ground rules were simple but strict: no discussion or hints of what each creator was planning as each tried to one-up the other! Eventually the two storylines meet (when morning turns into afternoon) to form one continuous narrative. The result is a comics jam that actually has a coherent (if slightly nauseating) narrative!
A bizarre change of pace from Dean & Josh’s usual stories and themes, Because of You is an exercise in anarchic tastelessness. It features impure thoughts, overflowing bedpans, a superhero and his arch-nemesis, exploding acne, maggot infestations, inner-city drama, and the ultimate taboo, 9/11. On the flip side, there are Ding Dongs. And a tender (but ill-fated) love story. To top it off, the story references everything from Star Trek to James Bond to Matt Madden’s Exercises in Style. (Should this be called “Exercises in Bile”?)
Sure, Lionel goes through the wringer, but his unique character is the cement that holds the whole story together. All due respect to a poor schlub just trying to get through a particularly stressful day.
Praise for Because of You:
It’s … a testament to … Neufeld and Haspiel’s strength in writing and cartooning — or the fact that they know each other well — that they were able to pull off such a coherently surreal story over the span of three years, two panels at a time. I don’t know of any other writer/artists in the field who would be able to do such a collaboration.
— Sequential Tart
|6.625 × .5 × 10.125 in
Hang Dai Editions