It’s not every day that an established and supremely talented artist offers his skills up to the masses. David Heatley has been in some small publications that you may have heard of, like The New Yorker and Marvel Comics…..
But we have an exclusive David Heatley Q and A and slideshow….so, without further ado:
David Heatley’s newest work is rad, rad, rad. Otis Dooda is a book written by Ellen Potter. When David started illustrating it, the words literally came to life. I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but watch this and be amazed:
The coolest part? You can grab yourself a soundtrack right HERE and then listen and follow along with your book. It’s like those old school read along tape cassettes of our youth, only way, way, way cooler.
eva: Did you start hearing Otis’s soundtrack in your head as you were illustrating? Or did that come later?
David: The music definitely came later. I had finished illustrating Otis and I loved it so much and the world Ellen created that I just couldn’t let him go. Ellen and I talked about doing an animated book trailer and that’s when the idea of an Otis theme song came into my head since we’d need some kind of soundtrack to go with the illustrations. Before I knew it, I had a catchy tune haunting me: “Doo-doo-doo-d-doo-doo-da!” The song practically wrote itself. And then before I knew it, I realized I could write 15 more almost as easily, just scanning down the titles of the table of contents. It was kind of crazy how quickly the whole thing came together. My band The Bischoffs wrote and recorded our album over a 2 year period, but this album was written and recorded in the space of 2 months! Thanks to Sanford Livingston for the amazing mixing job.
eva: Your trailer was so SPOT ON, are you considering a full length movie version of the soundtrack
David: Thanks so much. We’re talking about how Otis might translate over to TV-land. Nothing firm yet, but we’ve got some ideas. Potted Plant Guy’s curses are kind of endless and could be fodder for many, many fun episodes. Add to that Subway Zombies, the force of nature that is Cat, Perry’s ninja skills and you got a recipe for a pretty awesome show, I think!
eva: Do you draw to music? If yes, what’s your main inspiration musically?
David: I draw to music all the time. But if I’m trying to figure out something tricky, I can’t listen to lyrics. So I often put on jazz or classical or ambient looping music. The musicians who put me on my musical path are probably John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, Frank Black of the Pixies, David Byrne of Talking Heads and Dogbowl of the band King Missile (Dog Fly Religion). Dogbowl isn’t very well known, but in high school I discovered that in addition to writing amazing, catchy, bizarre songs, he also painted and wrote novels. I was pretty blown away and kind of idolized him for most of high school. I’m lucky to be friends with him these days. In fact, last year he was my daughter’s art teacher! Amazing what can happen in your life. One other source of inspiration is the music I heard as a kid… church hymns and Sesame Street songs—particularly the classic songs written by Joe Raposo, as much a genius as Jim Henson in my book.
eva: My kid doodles on EVERYTHING, including his schoolwork. I encourage it, but I know that his teachers don’t appreciate it quite as much. Thoughts? Were you a doodler? Is it possible to control?
David: I drew on every piece of paper I could find and made my own illustrated books before I was in kindergarten. I think having sketchbooks and notebooks that were specifically dedicated to my stories made it easier to not draw all over my math sheets. I still remember my “Horror Stories” book and how proud I was of all the stories and art and the secret pockets in the back of the book containing the identity of my best friends and ex-best friends. I wish I still had that thing. It’s pretty funny watching my son create almost the exact same looking notebook (without me telling him about mine) now that he’s going into second grade. Some things are just universal I guess!
eva: Where did your zombie inspiration come from?
David: My first exposure to zombies was Michael Jackson’s Thriller video which I think is still the gold standard! Zombies are cool. But zombies doing Michael Jackson dance moves are ridiculously cool!
I just started drawing the subway zombies. I didn’t think too hard about how they should look, but I bet those Thriller zombies were in the back of my mind somewhere.