STUDIO TOURS: Tommy Lee Edwards

Wed, March 26th, 2008 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Andy Khouri, Editor

"Marvel 1985" #1 on sale in May
Tommy Lee Edwards is well known in the comic book, film and commercial art industries for his striking and stylish illustrations, and perhaps most especially for his numerous Star Wars works. In comics, readers have enjoyed Edwards' artwork and covers for titles including "Bullet Points," "Hellboy: Weird Tales," "Daredevil," "Golden Streets of Gotham," "The Question," and "The Matrix Comics."

The style guide artist for "Superman Returns" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Edwards' latest high profile gig is Marvel Comics' "Marvel 1985" with writer Mark Millar.

Story continues below

By Tommy Lee Edwards

My daughter calls the studio "Daddy's House."

Having the studio about 30 yards behind our actual house gives me the pleasures of working at home and being close to my family. It also gives me the healthy separation I need to stay productive. I try and treat my workday as a 9-to-5 kind of thing -- unless the deadlines are real tight, and I come back out after the kids go to bed. Sometimes that makes me nervous, because rural North Carolina gets very dark at night, so I often get scared by darting deer or imagine myself being mauled by an escaped panther. Lots of beer and loud music help me get through the late nights, though.

I like to keep the door open when weather permits. My constant companion comes in the form of our 3-year-old border collie named Jane Mary.

So I've pasted three photos together to give you the above image. This shot gives you the general vibe of my space. And as I do live in this place most of the time, it was built to serve those needs. The floor downstairs is concrete with some area rugs, because I'm always spilling paint or ink or coffee. It's got power (obviously) and heat and air, but no water. So I have to run back to the house if I need to wash a brush or use the bathroom. Here's a reverse angle…

As any creative person knows, you've got to have your workspace both functional and stimulating. I surround myself with things I admire and find inspirational for certain projects: Books, airplanes, monsters, Star Wars, artwork… the usual. I've been collecting Godzilla figures since I was a kid. I have no idea how many I have, but there is no more room. So I stopped. Mostly.

The amount of books is pretty sick, too. And there are a lot more in the house. Plenty of shelves, needless to say.

I don't like hanging my own artwork, usually, as it tends to make me sick after a while. I do enjoy decorating with other people's original art, though. The wall in the above shot is primarily filled with drawings and paintings done by Herbert Morton Stoops. I've collected his pre and pos- World War I illustrations for years via auction houses. Also on that wall is a piece of Glacier Girl's fuselage (a restored WW2 P-38) and art from my pals John Paul Leon and Rodolfo Damaggio.

The studio has a few different workstations, as I typically work on several projects at once. Above is a shot of the PowerMac G4 and where I do most of my digital coloring. I also import all of my paintings into this computer with the Umax 2100 EX scanner near the window. Everything from Star Wars to "Bullet Points" to "The Question" to the first Harry Potter movie has gone through this scanner and computer.

Turning around to look the other way, you'll see where I do all of my painting. I've actually had that drafting table since the seventh grade. Those shelves in the background are filled with art books. Everything is rather organized and categorized into what kind of art and what era or country.

Speaking of organization…

Supplies! LOTS of them. Inks, dyes, brushes, acrylic paints, gouache, watercolor, prismacolor pencils, etc. I use all of those while sitting here, and keep most of that crap in the file drawers seen above. Oh, and it's a bit hard to make out there, but also in that shot is one of my favorite Doctor Who drawings done by my nine-year-old son.

Now switching back to that rear wall where we have the G5. I do all of my sketching on that Wacom 21" Cintiq tablet seen on the right. When this picture was taken, I was in the middle of laying-out "1985" issue #4. I also put this machine to good use via iTunes and film and video editing.

Above the G5 is a shelf of CDs and some model cars. To the left is a ridiculously expensive large-format Epson printer that that runs on ridiculously expensive gigantic ink cartridges. On the wall there is an original Teddy Grant piece that Mike Mignola drew for me.

Here's where I do all of my ink drawings. A local department store went out of business and I snagged that lightbox from their display window. Then I drilled it to that crappy drawing table. I like working on a lightbox when drawing, so that I can see my rough pencils on the sheet underneath. I can then just draw directly onto the finished piece with brush and ink.

 

Directly behind my "inking station" is a shelf with more books, monsters, and laserdiscs (remember those?), shipping supplies, motorcycle club paperwork needing filed. Man, I gotta wrap this up and get to work.

Going up the stairs, I've got more friends' artwork and some Universal Monster Prints done by Thomas Blackshear for the US Postal Service. There's also a Rocketeer movie poster, commemorating the first movie my wife and I ever saw together back when we were pals in High School.

More books! I keep a lot of the stuff I've done hidden away here upstairs. Comics, children's books, Star Wars guide books, RPG books, board games, video games, and product and licensing stuff. Lunchboxes, clocks, T-shirts, posters, and all that kind of stuff from movies like "Batman Begins," "Superman Returns," and "Men Black II."

Also got some work-out equipment up here, a futon, shipping supplies, and photographic supplies.

I keep a lot of reference material up here. Lots of costumes and props. Jedi costumes, model kits, lightsabers, guns, swords, masks, and hats. The desk up here in the above shot we use for paperwork. Fun stuff like contracts and taxes and all that. Yep, this is a business after all….

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