I am super excited for the new Restoration Games release Thunder Road: Vendetta, an update of the 1980s car combat game designed by David Chalker and Brett Myers. My copy—the all-in, super-blinged “Maximum Chrome” edition—arrived recently and I’m fired up to get the game to the table soon.
When I met with Justin Jacobson of Restoration Games at Gen Con for the first time a couple years ago, we talked about Thunder Road: Vendetta (which I will refer to as “TRV” for the interview questions and responses below). He also shared screenshots of the artwork.
I was floored. This is what I want on my walls; all of the pictures made me think of a grittier, art-house film take on a Mad Max flick. In fact, I loved the artwork so much that I added on the art prints to my pledge for the game, and now those prints will live in frames near my game collection for others to admire.
The artist behind this work, Marie Bergeron, shares many of the artistic leanings I expected when I asked to conduct an interview with her in the spring of 2022 on her influences and what it was like to illustrate such a coveted title. Below are her answers to questions that I provided to Marie by e-mail.
I know you are based in Montreal; I first hope you are doing OK mentally during COVID in Canada. Many of my “day job” co-workers are based in Canada and I know lockdown has been difficult!
Marie Bergeron: It’s definitely something out of the ordinary. Social life took a big hit, but I managed since as a freelancer we are used to being alone most of the time. That said, I had the chance to keep a very low social life, at least, by seeing my close friends and families.
Unpredictably, I met my partner in crime during that time. So this whole new love life plus a very busy work period of time, even in COVID, passed the time pretty quickly. I kept thinking about those who were physically or mentally deprived of everyone…it must have been hell for them. So I’m sending a little positive vibe to them.
I spent a little time on your website (http://www.mariebergeron.com/) and I’m a hardcore movie junkie; in 2013, I saw 160 movies in theaters. I have a feeling you might see more movies than I do! Any all-time favorites, or recent films you loved?
MB: Oh wow!! You’re on another level haha! I haven’t seen many films. I mean Dune is probably the one that comes first. Also the recent Spider Man was just a ton of fun. I’m a huge fan of A24 so I’m keeping my eyes peeled for whatever comes out on their end. I was disappointed by The Green Knight though. I had a huge expectation of it but felt like an empty but gorgeous shell. I’m a huge horror fan, but since my boyfriend isn’t keen on horror films, they took a step down for now.
Since I’m quite busy also, television series have been my go to. An hour here, an hour there. Euphoria is just one perfect series that I hope never ends. Everything is perfect in it. Also Ozark, wow! But yeah, I have a HUGE list of films to watch, just need more time.
Absolutely agree on A24! Clearly, films are a really strong influence on your work. I had the chance to work with a director of photography as a production assistant many years ago; it was amazing to watch him set up scenes while discussing the vision behind why cameras should be placed in certain ways and at certain angles. How much does your cinematography background inform your style?
MB: Oh you hit what makes me tingle haha! I actually studied some basic stuff in cinema at a young age. Cinematography and photo direction is what speaks to me the most in this field. I can’t think of a better man than Roger Deakins. If you ask me what job I would want to do if not illustration, that would be it. Image speaks to me like words. It is a natural thing for me. I am indeed very visual, and I think my strongest asset is to resume one film, or video, in one simple image. Creating a mood per se with only colors, and a strong composition. Cinema is based on image. So yes, it is part of my inspiration like it is part of my work.
Many of your portfolio illustrations focus on video games. What’s your earliest video game memory? And what’s your favorite all-time video game?
MB: I do! I love video games. Again, I wish I had more time to play, but work comes first. I used to be Day One on everything, on mostly everything in this field. I mean consoles, Day One, AAA games, Day One….but not anymore and thank God haha! Because I would be stressed out of missing out. I just bought my new Xbox, and I’m exploring here and there. I’m a huge fan of RPG, turn-based stuff, narrative stories, indie games…solo stuff haha! I hate playing multiplayer. I like to plunge into a world without having someone that knocks me out of it by saying stupid stuff.
I know most people my age would say that classic games are the best, but my favorites are recent ones. I never had any emotions in a game like I did in both The Last of Us games. They are, by far, the most emotional, smart, fun and deepest video games I have ever played. Something else. Masterpieces. Also, the most recent God of War game…I mean just WOW! What a game. My favorite series other than The Last of Us is definitely the Zelda series. Can’t wait for the next one.
I may have missed this, but I don’t see any illustrations of other board games on your blog. Is TRV your first foray into board game illustration? What drew you in?
MB: Yup! First one. And since some of the stuff from TRV has gotten online, more clients are asking me to join their teams. So I’m glad people are liking what they see. It’s definitely something else to work on this versus a simple poster, but just as much as fun. I’m drawn by anything challenging, new, or which can open another door. TRV was one of them. I’m glad to be part of it and exploring something new in the field.
Do you play many board games now? Any recent favorites?
MB: Yes, yes even more in COVID times and with a boyfriend, now that I’m not alone anymore. I just can’t WAIT to have my pre-ordered copy of HeroQuest. Wow that game. I’m not a D&D player, but this is pretty much the base way to play. I used to play this game when I was 8-10 years old with my brother, so I’m very nostalgic about it. Other than that, quiz games, chess, dice games…easy stuff. Huge fan of Secret Hitler also and that design…I mean it is in my perspective, the most beautiful game created. But this game requires 5 people at least…hard to come by lately!
When I first saw the TRV box cover artwork, I thought a lot about “grindhouse” films from the 1970s and 80s: slasher films, low-budget action films, “blaxploitation” films, etc. How much influence came from grindhouse poster style in the design of some of the car and character artwork in the game?
MB: It was the direction the team briefed me with. So it all made sense right off the bat. Just got inspired by it, and my artwork fit easily with it.
What’s next for you? Any more projects coming up in the tabletop hobby space?
MB: My personal work took a big hit also lately, I’m looking forward to showcase more of it. I have to take the time to create new stuff. Should be soon enough. Hope so. Looking forward to creating something on Dune, one series I’m currently working on, as well as private commissions.
Thanks so much for taking the time, Marie! We here at Meeple Mountain are excited to see what’s coming next.
MB: Thanks to you!!