Hints&Tips with Merv Heers

Comic artist Merv Heers
Comic artist Merv Heers

Merv Heers is a Melbourne based comic book artist. He lives with his partner Charlotte and rabbit Susan. Known for self publishing the comic zine “No Brains”, Merv is currently working on a two-part political propaganda comic book entitled “No Brains in USA” about sleaze, corruption and violence in the capital of the empire. You can follow him on instagram. And if you would like to write to him, email mervdoesposters@gmail.com. Comic Books available here.


In your opinion, what makes a good comic?


Narrative. Something that I can read very easily in one sitting without squinting or getting bored.


What don’t you like?


Anything where the visual aspect overshadows the storyline. There’s no worse feeling than getting to the end of a comic and realising that nothing really happened. Any comic that doesn’t have a single person of colour or pass the Bechdel test is probably going to be pretty bad. Also when I hear someone use the word pacing I start to feel a little sleepy.


What really gets you going/makes you sit up and pay attention?


Violence. Not necessarily physical violence but a story needs some sort of conflict to make it interesting. The more the better!


Why are comics important today?


Comics are important today because we are moving away from a literacy based culture and returning to one more centred around images. A lot of people read comics as children as a stepping stone to solely text based literature and I like to think that comics are a good medium to help society step backwards. Also painting and video art have pretty much gone to the dogs by now.


Is there something you have seen done really well recently?


The comics that I read coming out of Melbourne are consistently good. There are a lot of shit ones too though.


Is there something you would like to see more of?


Ever since I first became aware of the alternative comic scene in Australia I’ve been looking for episodic narratives with recurring characters. There are a few people who are doing this sort of work but not enough.


How do you start out in the comic world?


You need to draw and publish at least 100 pages of your own work. No matter what the quality. Once you’ve done that you can start to think about how to improve it. I’m no expert but if I was to go back in time that’s what I would tell my former self.


Was there a transformative moment for you in your process/practice?


For me the major break through came when I found I could break animated films down into screenshots, collage them into new storylines and trace them off my laptop screen by flipping the computer upside down and turning the brightness all the way up. This has allowed me to go from releasing a 20 page zine every 6 months to a 40 page zine every 2 months.


What advice would you give to someone beginning to draw comics.


Find people in your local area who are producing comics regularly and force them to read your work. Avoid artists who talk to much and don’t actually publish anything. Trace as much as possible. Don’t try and develop an original style. Find scenes from movies and television that you like and break them down into storyboards. Use a computer as much as possible to save time but avoid a final product that doesn’t look like it was drawn by hand. Self loathing is the most important tool a comic book artist possesses. Look at work that you’ve done and try and find out why you hate it so much. This is the only way to improve and used correctly it will push you to work harder.