Before Max became mad, before the V8 interceptors fell into extinction, there was a cartoon known as Wacky Races, a late-1960s Hanna-Barbera creation that featured (as you can guess) wacky-looking racecars battling it out every episode for position. When DC Comics decided to rebirth the slap-stick racing series for a Mad Max-inspired comic, they called upon Mad Max: Fury Road co-writer and storyboard artist Mark Sexton to draw up the early concept art for their new series.
With Wacky Races, each car was as unique as its driver, which stretched from likes of the conniving Dick Dastardly and Muttley the Mutt, to the Southern Belle known as Penelope Pitstop, to the cave-dwelling Slag Brothers. Each machine had its own set of weapons, and arbitrary performance advantages, and the show felt like Wile E. Coyote at 100 mph. While the show ran for just 5 months between 1968 and 1969, it had a resurgence in the 1990s with the advent of TV stations like Cartoon Network, which re-ran episodes with regular programming.
Sexton grew up with the legend of Mad Max living on VHS tape, with the totalitarian R-rating inviting him into the allure of the blower, the violence, and the machines of The Road Warrior. Years later, in 1999, Sexton was called into the hallowed halls of George Miller, the creator of the Mad Max series, to discuss a project that he was working on. Sexton was only told that it was about a dancing penguin, but that meeting would end up with him staring at four words written on Miller’s office: “MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.”
“I did end up working on the dancing penguin movie, Happy Feet, following the animated adventures of Mumble and spending five years designing the white and blue world of a digital Antarctica,” Sexton told DC Comics. “But before that eventuated, I spent two glorious years sitting in that big room with George, co-writer Brendan McCarthy and vehicle designer Peter Pound and we boarded the crap out of a wild, totally insane story that the world is just discovering now.”
He worked with Miller to build out the framework of Fury Road through storyboard over the next two years, until his role with Miller had essentially ended when the storyboarding process was over in 2001. Thankfully, Sexton planted a seed in Miller’s head about a comic series to supplement the return of the Mad Max universe, and 14 years later, they created a series of prequels in February of 2015 under the helm of Vertigo, DC Comic’s more “R-rated” publishing arm.
At this same time, DC reached out to Sexton to draw up the concept art for another post-apocalyptic storyline they were working on: Wacky Raceland, a play on “wasteland” that mixes the bizarre machines of Wacky Races with the death, destruction, and chaos of Mad Max. DC went on to produce Wacky Racelandwith art by Leonardo Manco, and on sale at the time of this writing with new issues.