Party Like It's 1985: Tommy Lee Edwards

The MARVEL: 1985 artist speaks about the unique series and his own life as a comic fan in the ‘80s

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By Ethan Kaye Remember living in 1985? Remember the first Wrestlemania, New Coke, MacGyver, and the time all those Marvel super villains stormed our reality? Wait, you don't remember that last one? Well, buddy, you need to catch up on some history with the new MARVEL: 1985 limited series from writer Mark Millar and artist Tommy Lee Edwards, first issue hitting stand on May 14! You'll never look at the '80s the same again! Edwards brings the perspective of a 1985 survivor to the project, as well as that of an old-school Marvel Comics reader, a fan of series like SECRET WARS and the black costume Spider-man saga.

"I was 12 years old back in 1985," the artist reminisces. "I hated school, and had a horrible relationship with my parents—and pretty much any authority figure. But I had an escape. The mid-'80s was filled with great comics and books and movies. I read comics and wrote comics and drew comics. I took art lessons and already knew that I wanted to tell stories when I grew up. I couldn't wait to grow up and get on with life." And it's that world of Edwards' adolescence that became the stage for MARVEL: 1985. "1985 is the story [of] a boy named Toby who lives in the real world, our world of 1985," explains Edwards. "He's in love with Marvel comics, and reads them constantly. The characters and stories found in these newsprint pages serve not only as wonderful entertainment, but also as an escape from the serious troubles of his family life and more. His

dad was the same way back in the 1960s. This is also a story about a father and son, about their love for comics and for each other." In the story, Toby discovers that the fictional Marvel Universe has begun to bleed into his real world. "He wonders if he's going crazy," notes Edwards. "Maybe he's spent too much time obsessing over Secret Wars...but it's real, and scary as hell. And Toby is the only person who has the knowledge and strength to solve this mystery and save the entire planet from a fate worse than anything found in his comics." And if the plot sounds like a hit, just wait until you hear who'll be showing up! The Avengers and Fantastic Four play major roles in the story, as well as the Hulk and Spider-Man in that black costume. "There are some that I should probably save as a surprise," teases Edwards. "The

best thing is that I get to draw then in the way I remember them. Wolverine has the brown costume! Spidey is [wearing] black!" Readers can also expect to see a laundry list of Marvel villains, including the Vulture, the Mole Man, the Abomination, Juggernaut, Doctor Doom, Electro, the Sandman, Stilt-Man, Leap Frog, M.O.D.O.K., the Lizard, Bullseye, the Trapster, the Mandarin, the Blob, and more! Tommy Lee definitely knows his way around books full of characters. In 2006 he worked on BULLET POINTS with writer J. Michael Straczynski, a "what if" take on what might have happened if key events in the Marvel timeline went off differently. The book included massive team battles, including a final issue where heroes and villains alike squared off against Galactus.

The comic book landscape has changed since 1985, and Edwards happily remembers those times gone by. "I do long for the days before the Direct Sales market, when I could go and buy a comic at the local mom & pop corner store," he recalls. "Those days are long gone. There is good and bad with all of it: the production values have obviously gone up a ton, but so have the prices." Edwards promises 1985 will definitely have that old-school feel to it, reflecting the artist's own childhood. "Toby is basically the same age I was in 1985, so drawing his world comes very naturally," he continues. "His room is how I remember mine. The comic shop he frequents is filled with the stuff I loved back then. Not only do we see the comics of that

era and earlier, but I loved sneaking-in old toys and stuff from Godzilla and 'Battlestar Galactica' and the like. I didn't go crazy with it, though, that could get very distracting. I feel the art should be more 'timeless,' so I primarily focused on the time-period's visual accuracy." Indeed, a line must be drawn. "Everybody's not constantly watching 'Miami Vice' or walking around in leg-warmers," he jokes. The six-issue limited series MARVEL: 1985 #1 releases in stores on May 14. While you wait, flash back to the good old days and check out SECRET WARS on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

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