Writer and artist: Owen Heitman
Amplified Press, 2016 and 2022
Some months ago, in furtherance of both better promoting independent comics publishers and indulging in unabashed parochialism, we undertook to spend more time focussing on Australian comic books (see https://www.worldcomicbookreview.com/the-other-side-of-the-world-our-infrequent-newsletter/ ). Attending the Perth Comic Art Festival today, a bustling hive of independent comic vendors and enthusiastic purchasers, lead to an introduction to a number of Australian publishers which had previously not been on our radar. Foremost amongst these is Amplified Press, a publisher based in South Australia. We overindulged on a number of Amplified Press’ titles, and this is our review of the first of them.
Writer and artist Owen Heitmann created A Space Oddity back in 2016, and it this year spawned a second printing. The antagonist is a “space viking”, and despite the red hair, barrel-shaped body, and Muppet-like visage, more than strongly resembled actor Australian Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal of the American superhero Thor in Marvel Studios’ more recent movies. These motion pictures are directed by New Zealander Taika Waititi, whose zany brand of humour has for better (Thor: Ragnarok) or worse (Thor: Love and Thunder) pervaded Marvel’s cinematic output. A lot of that is here.: the banter, the use of the word “bro”, and the bro-behaviour (“Well, I was going to eject you both to die instantly in the vacuum of space… but I refused to be the obstacle to a bro getting some action!”). We smirked, repeatedly, as we read the dialogue in the comic often in Mr Hemsworth’s voice.
The protagonists are bored astronauts, Rich and Sally, who have been stuck on a tin can rocket ship together for three years. They are ridiculously hapless, and towards the end of the comic engage in some Star Wars Tattooine droid bickering, which caused another smirk.
The substantive complaint is its length. It is too short. The reason for this is explained in the afterward: it was produced as a “24 hour comic”. Mr Heitmann notes, “I was seldom thinking more than a page or two ahead, and many of the creative choices seem mysterious to me now.” Indeed: how is it, that despite spending three years together in space, Rich and Sally will be rescued in 24 hours? Were they flying in tight circles? Possibly: Sally after all somehow walks a full circle of the desert. This comic has all the characteristics of pub-talk inspiration, the sort of funny, almost pointless chatter that friends indulge in over a drink or four.