Be still my dogs of war, it’s time for “So You Want To Read Comics”, a weekly feature where we examine a single topic, then offer a pair of comic book recommendations for new readers, based on that topic. This week we’re hopping into the last of the V8 Interceptors and looking at Mad Max.
Directed by George Miller and first released in 1979, Mad Max is an sci-fi film that raced onto the scene and quickly captured the attention of audiences. The high-octane, car focused, depiction of a society on the brink of collapse and the wild policeman named Max Rockatansky who still patrolled the roads, was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. It was gritty, it was rough, there was more car chase than plot, it just simply wasn’t your typical Hollywood action flick, and that turned out to be just what everyone wanted. Filmed with guerilla filmmaking tactics and a budget of only $300k, it brought in $150 million during its original run (fun fact, this was a world record until The Blair Witch Project came out). It went on to spawn three sequels over the following three decades, turning it into a bonafide sci-fi franchise with it’s latest installment, Fury Road, being nominated for Best Picture in 2016. Not to mention it also launched the career of Mel Gibson (for better or worse).
So, where do you get this sort of raw, gasoline soaked, action in comic books? Well, you could start with these two suggestions.
Writer: Alan C Martin
Artist: Jamie Hewlett
Publisher: Titan Books
One of the major appeals of the Mad Max franchise (especially the first two) is just how different it is from what was and is considered mainstream. They were movies that existed simply because some people wanted to make some movies and say what they wanted to say. So when you go to find this similar spirit in the world of comics, it’s hard to go wrong with the British alternative comics scene of the 80s and 90s and one of the most famous titles to come from that scene, Tank Girl. Focusing on the eponymous character, her kangarooman boyfriend, and their various friends as they traipse across the wastelands of Australia in a big friggin tank. It’s anti-establishment, it’s raunchy, it’s vulgar, and it’s fun. Similar to the original Mad Max, Tank Girl isn’t concerned with telling a traditional story but rather presenting a tone and idea. And, since it’s been in publication in one way or another since 1988, there’s more than enough content to satisfy for a good long time.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Tony Salvadore Daniels & Tomeu Morey
Publisher: Image Comics
Arguably the two most popular entries in the Mad Max franchise are the second movie, The Road Warrior, and the fourth, Fury Road. The thing that these both have in common is that their plots revolve around Max driving an 18-wheeler somewhere while a bunch of bad guys want to stop him. Like that? Then here’s Nocterra. A fairly new comic book series, this one is set on an Earth where the sun has been completely blocked out and the ensuing darkness turns things and people caught in it into monsters. Enter Val, a highly skilled “ferryman” who is tasked with delivering people, including her own brother, to a so-called sanctuary. There’s a lot of familiar elements here to the sort of world depicted in Mad Max, with a bit of supernatural tinge to it. While it might not be well known by non-comic book fans, the creator of Nocterra, Scott Snyder, is responsible for some of the wildest stories in recent history for DC Comics, which is promising for this series. Also, as of writing this feature there’s only been three issues of the series, so it’s a great time to get in on it since the cost of entry is low and you’ll be able to follow along month to month with everyone else.
What do you think of these recommendations? Do you have some suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments section.