William Fred Heitman was born on January 31, 1878, in Germany and came to the United States as a young child with his parents. As a boy, Heitman lived in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. He went to work for the Van Camp Company as a sign painter and decided then to become an artist. Heitman studied at the Indiana School of Art under William Forsyth and worked for the Indiana Illustrating Company. He landed a job as an illustrator with the Indianapolis News in about 1897 and spent the rest of his career doing layouts, illustrating feature stories, and drawing cartoons and caricatures for newspapers in Indianapolis, Cleveland, and St. Louis. Other artists with whom he worked included Sidney Smith (later of The Gumps), Johnny Gruelle (Raggedy Ann), and his close friend, Chic Jackson, creator of Roger Bean. Heitman also illustrated two books of verse by James Whitcomb Riley, the book Indianapolitans "As We See 'Em" (ca. 1905), and the magazine Weird Tales. Known as one of the fastest newspaper artists in the Midwest, Heitman competed with Chic Jackson when it came to beating a deadline. At the drawing board he always wore his hat. Like his friend Johnny Gruelle, Heitman made Sunday fishing trips to Sugar Creek near Edinburgh, Indiana, a place now within Camp Atterbury. Heitman continued to work for the Indianapolis Star until retiring in 1943. He died in Miami, Florida, the home city of his daughter, on January 10, 1945. His body was returned to Indianapolis for burial.
Weird Tales, May 1923, the third issue of the magazine, with cover art by William F. Heitman.
And the cover for the fourth issue, June 1923.
An illustration for a poem by the Indiana poet Tramp Starr (Carl Wilson) from the Indianapolis Star, January 7, 1940.
And a drawing from the same paper illustrating a feature on the Mechanic Arts School in Evansville, Indiana, May 5, 1940.
Text and captions copyright 2012 by Terence E. Hanley