MRR Comics & Art Issue Artist Q&A with Heather Benjamin
This month’s MRR magazine is the Comics & Art Issue! Throughout March we are highlighting some of the participating artists right here on MRR.com. Today we hear from Heather Benjamin from Providence, Rhode Island.
What are your main publishing projects?
I’ve mostly put out my own zines, but have also made some shirts and prints of my own work as well as done a lot of flyer/poster and record/tape/t-shirt artwork for different bands. I guess the two main things I’ve had published are the Sad Sex book, put out by Desert Island in 2012, which is a paperback collection of the ten issues of my zine Sad Sex which I self-published for several years before the book came out, and Exorcise Book, a collection of about 70 of my drawings published by A Bolha, which is an imprint out of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Both those books are sold out now, but I think we might be printing a second edition of Exorcise Book this year.
What are some of your artistic influences?
I love the underground comix of the ’70s, things like Zap, Young Lust, and especially Wimmen’s Comix, pretty much anything put out by Last Gasp. Lately I’ve been really obsessed with the old sappy romance comics from the ’50s/’60s. I am totally obsessed with the artists Virgil Finlay and Leonor Fini. But, of course, probably some of the biggest influences on me in the last few years have been Japanese artists like Suehiro Maruo, Junji Ito, King Terry…I didn’t grow up looking at these artists, I’d never heard of them until just a few years ago, but discovering them after already having started to learn towards some sort of similar content/a similar aesthetic and getting to look into them more has been huge.
I love old psychedelic Bollywood music, I think that’s been the majority of what I’ve been listening to lately…Soul music forever, X, Merle Haggard, Vom, the Catch A Wave comp…I can’t stop buying Mississippi Records tapes and I just got really heavy into Sheer Mag…
How would you describe your style of drawing?
That’s a tough one, I don’t know. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory. Personal, line-heavy, drippy…
What other punk projects are you involved with?
I’m not in any bands, but the house I live at in Providence now has shows in our basement, so I guess I’ve been sort of involved in that, and have made a couple flyers for the house and other shows in Providence since I’ve moved here…I recently did a shirt for Impalers, from Austin, collaborated with Alex Heir on the record design for Stoic Violence’s Chained release, and drew the tour poster for the Raw Distractions (Tokyo) east coast tour in April, as well as the artwork for the most recent cassette tape release by Virusse, a friend’s solo project here in Providence. But recently, I’ve been just focusing on working more on my own stuff, rather than picking up commission work for other people.
What’s in the future for you as a cartoonist/artist?
Right now I’m just working (really slowly) on a few different zine and book projects, as well as on images for a portfolio of color prints that’s being put out for me. I’m making work for shows, but that feels less important right now than trying to teach myself some new tricks and maybe move into different territory, so there hasn’t been a lot of instant gratification lately, but that’s okay. I also just learned how to animate last year and have only made one animation so far but totally love doing it, so I’m hoping to get some more of that done this year and think about ways of releasing that, maybe a VHS release or something.
Check out more from Heather at heather-benjamin.tumblr.com.