An Interview with Merv Heers

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To celebrate the launch of The Lifted Brow’sexhibition of Riso prints in collaboration with the Emerging Writers’ Festival, TLB Events Coordinator Kate McKenzie chatted to artist Merv Heers, whose work is featured in a bunch of Brows including our most recent issue, Issue 30.

The Lifted Brow: Hi! How are you today?

Merv Heers: I am good thank you! I just woke up.

TLB: Can you tell us a bit about the work you’ve contributed to the show? What ideas are you really interested in at the moment?

MH: The piece I contributed to the show is taken from a larger piece of illustration that I’ve been working on about the Old Testament and Gnostic Christianity. In particular I guess it’s about the link between pre-Judaic cultures of Mesopotamia and modern Western culture. The word Ninib in the top left corner refers to a solar deity who was worshiped in Babylonia and may have been the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always found that sort of thing interesting.

TLB: Have you done Riso stuff before? Is it similar or different to your usual process?

MH: Just this year I’ve started printing the covers for my zine, No Brains, on a Risograph printer with my dear friends Marc Pearson and Michael Hawkins. It’s definitely a lot more complicated than the photocopier at the Sticky Institute but the results are a lot nicer plus it’s super trendy. The major difference is drawing everything in multiple layers which is an interesting challenge.

TLB: What does a day-in-the-life of you look like?

MH: I work part time washing dishes but on a good day I wake up in my apartment with my partner Charlotte and my rabbit Susan. I drink a lot of coffee and start working on a comic. I have about nine books going at one time in various stages of drafting, inking, editing etc. I try and work on only one or two a day though. I close all the blinds and work on the dining room table until Charlotte comes home in the evening. We usually watch a film or listen to an audio books in the evening and then later I try and stay up til around midnight working. It sounds quite productive but I take a lot of breaks.

TLB: Susan is a really great name for a rabbit. Would you mind sharing a picture?

MH: Susan is a really great rabbit.

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TLB: Can you link me to a weird internet thing that you’ve found recently?

MH: The best thing I’ve found on the Internet lately is Let’s Paint, Exercise, Cook & Play Chess TV. It’s a public access TV show about a guy who paints portraits while exercising on a treadmill and doing various other activities while also taking live calls. If you get a good one the camera person also gets pretty experimental.

TLB: Since this is a collab with the Emerging Writers Festival, I’m gonna ask everyone a classic writers’ fest question: what’s on your reading list at the moment?

MH: On my reading list at the moment is Philip K Dick’s novel Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Kindred by Octavia Butler and the final novel in the Dune trilogy, Children of Dune.

TLB: The religious imagery in those sci-fi novels is really strong and pretty subversive, do you consider them an influence on your work?

MH: Oh yeah for sure! I’m a big sci-fi fan and I particularly like Philip K Dick’s exploration of religion and spirituality. I’m working on a comic book that’s based on a synthesis of scenes from his novels Martian Time Slip and Ubik as well as Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami.

TLB: Thanks for the chat. I’m going to go delve into the Let’s Paint back catalogue now.

MH: Thanks for chatting to me.

Merv Heers is a Melbourne-based comic book artist who is currently working on a Western about a cowboy in the afterlife.