|Archive Exclusive - the new cover for the forthcoming free eBook, Two of a Kind|
I caught up with Tony and fired a few questions his way.
GD: I read somewhere that the original depiction of Edge was based on the footballer, George Best. Is this true?
Clifton Dey was a very fine illustrator who I had great admiration for but obviously we all have our own techniques and style, so I was eventually able to bring my own look to the covers. Across the years I felt some calls were needed for change every so often as taste and inclination progressed amongst the buying public, the shift to a looser oil painting style in No. 45 forinstance. Then latterly, more design based images using airbrush as in No. 58.
Where the original cover look succeeded I believe, was in the minimalist content - main figure and some kind of suggestion of violence in the background. A simple and effective shorthand which gave the main character predominance and repetitively created a visual personality the reader could identify with.
GD: When commissioned for a paperback cover painting - western or otherwise, how much freedom did you have in deciding on the painting?
|"Edge 30 . A lot of gouache work."|
TM: It varied greatly, some clients were very particular about following the synopses or manuscript I received. Others, as was the case with the Edge and Steele series, I had a great deal of leeway and was usually allowed to come up with my own ideas with maybe an element or two from Terry’s synopses (Mexicans or Noah’s Ark! - the guy had some weird ideas sometimes) to give the cover relevance. Every cover had to have a pencil visual which needed to be okayed by the publisher before going to artwork and usually this was a rubber stamp procedure.
Normally I would strap on the gunbelt and Navy Colt, grab the model Winchester and snap off a set of shots using a Polaroid - there was a little shoe box I had set aside for all the Edge bits and pieces; black shirt, necktie, etc. Then it was a matter of finding reference for the background and stitching Edge’s head correctly in place instead of mine. Movie stills played a big part as a reference source and scouring the movie shops and convention halls for these was an ongoing mission.
GD: Any particular favourites among your work?
TM: Edge favourites: No. 30 - pleased with the painting, which was a lot of detailed gouache work with a ‘000’ sable brush and with a difficult lighting source to achieve. No. 20 - just like the gouache paint work on this one which I think was particularly successful. No. 48 - personal reasons really, because I used my (then) young son as a model.
GD: Your new mesh-up for the first Edge eBook is spot on and obviously shows an understanding of the character, so what is it about Edge do you think that gives him this evergreen status when many other western series are forgotten?
|ALL NEW EDGE|
TM: The archetypal anti-hero image, I suppose. Man in black, standing alone against all odds, a format that fits so well into the Western genre.
Tony's personal website HERE contains many examples of his distinctive work and not only in the western field - over the years Tony has worked in just about every genre there is. His work for the Dr Who Books must be seen to be believed. Readers may also like to check out the detailed interview with Tony over at Western Fiction Review.
And there's more Edge to come on the Archive when creator, Terry Harknett joins us around the virtual campfire.