Illustrator Heather Loase is obsessed with Michael Imperioli and “super lame men that take themselves very seriously”
The New York-based illustrator talks us through a few of her recent comics, most of which she’s shared with the Sopranos star on Instagram – who loves them all, of course.
- Ayla Angelos
- 17 March 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Heather Loase refers to herself as a late bloomer. Not only was she disinterested in art and comics when she was younger, she also wasn’t much a fan of her art classes in school either. This transcends to when she took a drawing class at the “first of many colleges” at the age of 19, “and hated it,” she tells It’s Nice That. But a lot of this can be put down to bad experiences, especially in terms of teaching and the fact that her professor was too focused on perspective and realism – “as I think most drawing 101 profs are”. She recalls on the matter: “I have a vivid memory of working on a perspective drawing in class for hours, my professor seeing it, erasing it and redrawing it ‘correctly’. It was disheartening and made me feel like I was bad at art. Also my professor was really hot and looked like a French Marissa Tomei so that didn’t help.”
Years later and Heather decided to go back to school at SUNY Plattsburgh to study Printmaking. To her surprise, she liked it, and she also had a supportive professor named Diane Fine who helped bring back her confidence. Graduating with a BA last December after going “in and out of college since 2008”, Heather is more than relieved. Although, that’s not to say that she feels like a printmaker either. In 2018, a friend named Peter reached out and convinced her to submit some cartoons to The New Yorker. “It took me a few years to finally get my shit together and go into the city on a Tuesday for a cartoonist open call,” she says, heading into The New Yorker offices and getting lost on its varying floors, “before a very nice woman led me directly to the conference room where all the cartoonists were hanging out.” Heather sold a comic called Social Media Noir for the magazine’s Daily Shouts, and that was it; this was the very moment that Heather landed on the medium of illustration and finally “became serious” about art.
A windy path to where she is today, this comic for The New Yorker opened up a whole lot of doors for the emerging creative. This includes selling more Daily Shouts and a big illustration job for WeTransfer. “Meanwhile,” she adds, “I was also really new to drawing, and didn’t have any kind of practice or focus. I would burn out drawing all day and have nothing to show for it. It’s taken me a really long time to figure out how to be productive, without ignoring all of my physical and mental needs.”
Heather’s lived with depression for most of her life, encountering a few bad episodes in her teens and early 20s. However, she uses these experiences as a point of inspiration – alongside "amateur poker player/social media influencer" Dan Bilzerian – and comes to terms with her emotions through the creation of comics. If not that, then Heather will turn towards more exterior influences, such as: “super lame men that take themselves very seriously. The entitled horniness of Bret Michaels and his rotating selection of bedazzled cowboy hats on Rock of Love. The garish opulence of Dan Bilzerian’s Instagram feed. Dave Navarro’s chin beard and lack of charisma on Inkmaster. They are all so precious (and annoying – but I love being annoyed). If they don’t have huge muscles, they better be wearing eyeliner and have problematic views on consent. I know it’s bad, I know they are bad. But I’m fascinated.”
One of Heather’s most recent ‘fascinations’ is Michael Imperioli, the American actor known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos. She’d reached out to him on Instagram to share news about a Sopranos comic she’d created for The New Yorker. He liked it, then she “rolled the dice” and sent him something else – a submission piece for Desert Island Comics Rescue Party, themed on the topic of Utopia and navigating around the storyline of Heather being in a plural relationship with Michael and Cat Stevens. “He liked that one (thank god) and I started emailing him comics I was working on based in the Sopranos universe where, after his character’s beloved and super hot girlfriend Adrianna is killed, he immediately gets involved with me; a frumpy, depressed, grey-haired cartoonist… and none of the other mob guys can understand what he sees in me.” Turns out that Heather was only making these comics for no other reason than for Michael’s consumption and, in fact, they were only created as a reason to email him.
Heather continued to create a bundle of other comics after this, like one for The New Yorker called The Hills Have Eyes: Nu Beginnings, plus another titled Woke Jersey Shore. Then there’s Heather Crush High, launched as part of a virtual residency for Colorama’s Clubhouse 14 anthology. A piece composed in response to her “lockdown horniness and looming depression”, she proceeded to create something abhorrently “fun and dumb”, wherein everyone around her is infatuated and downright obsessed with her. “I love that idea, but also, rationally, know it would become exhausting and annoying,” she says. The comic is set in a school and filled with her celebrity crushes – 70’s Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Jess from Gilmore Girls and, of course, Michael Imperioli. “They are all in love with me and spend their days studying my history, interests and turn ons.” One thing to note is that they are all brainwashed by Heather and respectively receive cursed moustaches, beanies and accessories to maintain their obedience.
And what came of this humorously brilliant comic? Well, Heather sent it to Michael and he agreed to read it for her at the Printed Matter Virtual Art Book Fair last month with Colorama Books. “He is such a nice, generous guy. And hot.”
GalleryCopyright © Heather Loase, 2021
Copyright © Heather Loase, 2021
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.