RICH INTERVIEWS: Jonno Heyne Creator/Writer/Artist for Tiki and the Carrot

First Comics News: What made you want to create comic books?

Jonno Heyne: I grew up with a mild reading disorder. Reading was hard because my eye would have trouble following lines of text. I had to read sentences over and over, and it took forever to complete even the most engrossing book.

One day, I traded a sandwich for a day of reading Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Instead of a blurry gray mass of text, I found pages of artwork, arranged so that my eye could wander without getting lost. Of course, the story was amazing and well beyond the Disney-style books I’d read as a younger kid.

Life happened, and I found myself in a college-level art and English course focused on the study of comics and how they worked. I never looked back.

1st: How did the idea for “Tiki and the Carrot” come to you?

Jonno: T&C started as a series of parody comic book covers, done in a pulp novel style as an art project. They were silly bits of faux pop art, but I realized how much fun it would be to tell a story in this over-the-top style. At its core, the story is about pair of characters who are morally opposed, but find strength as they challenge each other.

Without knowing it, the tale became a love letter of sorts to my muse, manager, and wife, Kendra. Like Yin and Yang, we regularly challenge each other’s ideas of how things should be. Soon our adventures (once wildly exaggerated, of course) became the inspiration for our literary counterparts.

1st: What is the story about in “Tiki and the Carrot”?

Jonno: An optimistic, freshly minted superhero named Tiki Guy faces his first villain, and finds himself teamed with Super Baby Carrot, a cynical and brutal antihero who utterly hates him for his idealistic style, and dresses as a carrot – for reasons.

They, along with teammates Solar Flexus and Blind Date must learn to work together as they face gangs, zombies, and sometimes each other in an effort to uncover a plot to destroy the city.

The story is a light-hearted action-superhero-romcom, taking place in a world where anyone can be a hero.

1st: Why use a carrot as the vegetable over other ones?

Jonno: Perhaps someday, someone will get the nerve to ask Super Baby Carrot about that.

1st: What is Tiki’s outlook on life?

Jonno: Tiki starts the story with a comfortable, polarized sense of right and wrong. He arrives in the big city and soon sees his doing questionable things for justifiable reasons. Tiki’s story arc is about him navigating the path of superheroism while rewriting his own definitions of “good” and “evil.”

1st: Who is Ed McCune?

Jonno: Ed is a hard-working farmer with a glowing pitchfork hidden in his barn. When his wife leaves him, he uses it to become a blue armored beast named Farmadillo. His dreams are haunted by the ghosts of his ancient ancestors, who compel him to join the other heroes in their battle with evil.

1st: What type of person will enjoy this comic book?

Jonno: Tiki and the Carrot is for the person who seeks the kinetic fun of Teen Titans, Go, blended with the brutal subversion of Deadpool, and a squeeze of Tick humor. This is for the person who wants a superhero story that doesn’t begin or end with the Earth exploding.

1st: Who is the artist on “Tiki and the Carrot” and how would you describe the style?

Jonno: I write and illustrate Tiki and The Carrot and its spin-offs. The style is a collage of elements created with a South Park-like use of cut paper technique, layered with 3d rendered artwork. When called for, any number of drawing styles including watercolor and pastels are employed to give each character their own unique design theme. When people say “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” I like to think it’s a good thing…

We print the books in large format, to improve readability and to allow more room for wild artwork. And each deliberately has a different page count, because it’s more suspenseful when you don’t know exactly when a story is about to end.

1st: Do you eat many carrots, how do you like them?

Jonno: Most carrots are sweet, rich with vitamins and fiber, and very good for you, but at least one is a cold-blooded sword wielding vigilante. Always check before eating.

1st: What other comic books have you worked on?

Jonno: Tiki and the Carrot shares its universe with the deadpan Time-traveling comedy Gray Man, which has two books released so far. Other in-universe tales include The Ballad of The Avenging Avenger (That Avenges) and, my fave, Don’t Zombie my Dog.

1st: Do you have any new comics coming out soon?

Jonno: The two-issue conclusion to Tiki and The Carrot is right on schedule. And I’m happy to announce a series of children’s books, slated for release this year.

1st: How did you become as good an artist as you are?

Jonno: I surround myself with peers willing to criticize my work; the more brutal, the better. (And I regularly change them up.) It’s important to never stop challenging yourself or let others stop challenging you.

1st: If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

Jonno: Superpowers? No thanks. I’m the Batman/Ironman sort: give me a billion dollars and a car with rocket launcher headlights, and I’ll be fine.

1st: What do you have to say to the fans of your comics?

Jonno: I’ll paraphrase Carrot: It’s easy to be a hero. Just decide what will make the world better, then do what you can with what you have, where you are. Cheers!

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