Tell us a bit about Who You Are And How You Came To Be.
I’m Owen Heitmann, a writer and artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. I wish I had an exciting origin story, but I’m just a guy who grew up reading Tintin, Asterix, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes and Carl Barks’ duck comics. Now I create comics myself. I’ve also written about comics for major newspapers and other outlets, but I still have an office job to pay the bills.
How did you find yourself making comics?
I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t make comics! Some of my earliest memories involve scribbling cartoons mocking my younger brother. I drew comic strips for my primary school newsletter, was published in comic books in high school, and drew cartoons for a national newspaper in university. Since then I’ve self-published around a dozen comics and appeared in numerous anthologies. Some years have been more productive than others, but I can’t ever see myself not creating comics. I have far too much love for the potential the medium has and the avenues it offers to express myself and tell stories.
Without giving too much away, tell us about your story “Descent” and how you approached it.
Most of my comics are either light humour or slice of life drama. With ‘Descent’, I wanted to try something different. My intention was to create an tense, atmospheric story, with a building sense that things aren’t as they should be, like a disturbing dream. I wrote the story with Jake in mind: his fluid, organic style, heavily inspired by street art, perfectly matches the feeling I wanted to create. I basically started with a bunch of vaguely disturbing unconnected images and started working out how they fitted together. Drawing inspiration from various comics that have unsettled me, I used many silent panels, and left a lot of things unexplained and open to the reader’s interpretation.
What are you reading right now, comics or otherwise?
My “To read” pile is absolutely mammoth! Key titles that I’m in the process of reading or looking forward to include the latest book in Kazu Kabuishi’s Amulet series, Alex: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell, the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse library from Fantagraphics, Any Empire by Nate Powell, Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s, and The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire. I’m also re-reading Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim and Jeff Smith’s Bone in their reissued colour versions. Outside of comics I’ve got The Gonzo Papers Anthology by Hunter S Thompson, By Hook or By Crook by David Crystal, and The Mad Scientists’ Club Complete Collection by Betrand R Brinley (revisiting a childhood favourite).
How did you meet up, and what’s your creative process like?
I originally met Jake Bresanello (artist of Descent) through our shared interest and involvement in the local Adelaide music scene. Our friendship was cemented by traveling in the same social circles and having other common interests, such as comics. I published some of his solo work in a comics anthology zine that I edited in 2009. I’ve always loved Jake’s art, and pushed him to collaborate with me when I heard he was having trouble writing his own material. I sent him the synopsis I had written for Descent, and when we discussed it later over a few beers I was delighted to find that we were right on the same page. The way he described his visual approach to the story was exactly how I was seeing it in my head. I did some rough thumbnails as a guideline, and then my role was to play motivator and keep encouraging him to have the artwork finished by the deadline. I think the completed story looks absolutely sensational, and it was a real thrill to see my ideas brought to the page by such a creative artist.
What else is in the works for you, and where can readers find your work next?
I’ve always got a lot of projects on the boil! Hic & Hoc Publications’ new anthology Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends features a short comic I wrote and drew about the factual 1967 disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt. I’m also very pleased with The Snow Child, a folk tale adaptation written by Sarah Milne that I drew for Gurukitty Studios’ recent Once Upon A Time anthology. Jake Bresanello has illustrated another of script of mine called Junkyard Dogs – that story is completed and we’re about to submit it to yet another anthology. I’m currently writing scripts for talented artist Gina Chadderton about a swamp monster who moves to the big city. We’re planning to build up a graphic novel from short chapters and standalone stories. I also have a great script written by Anna Jeavons for me to illustrate, as well as some stories of my own I’d like to draw. That’s not to mention the hundreds of online-only comics and other news at my website (www.24hourcynic.com)!