The Way to Fury Road
As Mad Max: Fury Road DVD & Blu Ray have just been released we thought we’d revisit our chat with Tommy Lee Edwards, cover artist on Vertigo’s comic adaptation of the movie. Edwards, who has worked for decades in both comics and movies, gave us a small glimpse into how he approached creating the magnificent covers for the series…
TW: Why is Mad Max still important all these years after the first film came out?
TLE: MAD MAX is important because of what it did to propel a genre of film. Through showing us rather than merely telling us, the original film compressed character, setting, and social commentary into visceral action. The opening of Mad Max has the best intro to the HERO I’ve ever seen. Through the use of photography, stunts, design, sound, music, and especially editing, it’s the perfect combination of storytelling tools. George Miller has continued that approach with each of his subsequent projects, including the other Mad Max films, Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe and Happy Feet.
TW: How did the film affect you when you first saw it?
TLE:Like most Americans, the first time I entered this world was with MAD MAX 2: ROAD WARRIOR. At around ten years old, I was too young to appreciate it. Plus it was on television and cropped to hell. I saw the original Mad Max a couple years later on video, and then Thunderdome at the cinema in ’85. While attending film school in Los Angeles in the early 90’s, I bought the original films on laserdisc, finally seeing them in the proper aspect ratio. It was glorious; like seeing a Sergio Leone film for the first time. I’ve since been able to see 35mm prints projected of all three MAX films at various screenings and revival houses. I’ve been a massive fan for most of my life, and have now passed it on to my own children.
TW: Thirty years is a huge gap between films. Why do you think there are still stories to tell about Max and the world he inhabits?
TLE: MAD MAX is about the characters surviving in a harsh environment. Each story has revolved around the hero and a tiny piece of this future-world, so there’s no shortage of possibilities. The core themes and commentary about humanity are timeless. It may hit even harder with 2015 audiences, as some of the ideas Mr. Miller conveyed were ahead of their time.
TW: As cover artist on the Vertigo series, how did you see your role? Was it to give a general flavour of what was going on inside the comic?
TLE:The fourth cover is the most “story-specific” illustration I did for Mad Max. But generally yes, I’m selling the readers on what they’re going to get inside the book. That’s my primary responsibility. Personally, I just really wanted to be sure I was delivering a honest and consistent depiction of George Miller’s creation. It was an honor and inspiration having his guidance and approval on each of these covers.
TW: As someone with a very long career in illustration, what was your approach to creating the four cover images for the comic series?
TLE: This Mad Max mini-series was originally going to be a graphic novel, and I was going to illustrate one of the “Max” stories. Unfortunately I had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts. Luckily, DC/Vertigo morphed this thing into what it’s become and offered me the cover gig. I jumped at this chance because I am a fan of the material. That can be rare for me actually. Sure it’s cool getting hired to draw just about anything- But this was MAD MAX! My favorite is the third cover, where I put in everything that I personally wanted to see in a Mad Max comic, including tiny pieces of all three previous films. It actually works perfectly, since the comic helps bridge the gap between the previous Max films and FURY ROAD.
Check out Tommy Lee Edwards’ cover sketches and final art for two of his covers here (click to enlarge)…
Fury Road is available on Amazon, by come back here for even more coverage tied in with it including a review of the film, interview with interior artist on the comic adaptation Mark Sexton and a look at the art book that Vertigo has put out featuring art inspired by the movie.
Website: DC Comics
Website: Mad Max Fury Road