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Book Review!? - The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling

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G. Badger

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I've been a life long fan of wrestling and comic books. The only time I faded from both was in college. Beer, skateboarding and school work took the driver seat during those years. Now that I'm older with no more parties to go to, no more tests to study for and a bad back that allows 1-2 hours of skating a week, wrestling and comics are my go to source of entertainment.

Surprisingly, it's rare for these two mediums to mix however. I'm sure we remember the awful WWF tie-in comics from the late 90's and 2000's. I know Undertaker & Kane had one or two mini-series, ugh. Aside from that I'm not sure what else is out there from the US. I know Love & Rockets feature ladies wrestling from time to time but, I've never picked it up. I don't think it's too much of a focus. The Tiger Mask manga seemed like an option but, availability is an issue. So what else is out there? And is it a quality product? Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri (which has a similiar speed, style and approach to the subject book) was the first title I found that seemed to really nail the action of wrestling while catering to a "smart" audience. It presented wrestling and its story as something deeper than ironic indulgence or the subject of farce. Since, then, I've not really seen anything like it. That is until I stumbled upon The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling by Sitterson & Moreno.

It's a 200+ page overview of the global pop cultural phenomena that is pro wrestling. It's scope covers the 1880's to present day (or at least the high points). It goes fast but, it does a really good job of getting the information across in a focused yet, fun & energetic way. The conciseness is really due to the amount of promotions & personalities it attempts to cover. (See the image of the map of territories. This was the selling point to me.) They very easily could have blown by the NWA territories, the international scenes, and just covered the 1980's US to present with a focus on Turner vs WWF/E to present day. That would have been cool but, not for me.

The best way I can summarize is by sharing my thoughts on the Puroresu chapter since this is, generally speaking, a Puro blog :)

Chapter Six: Puroresu, Strong Style and King's Road

 This chapter, like the others does an excellent job hitting the high points of pro-wrestling history. Just when you think the book will stop at a certain point or topic, it takes it one step further. For instance, it would have been perfectly acceptable to cover Rikidozan, then JWA with Baba & Inoki eventually splitting then time warp to 2010's NJPW explosion. But the authors take the time to explain the difference between King's Road and Strong Style. Furthermore, they go on to show how they've changed throughout the years. They say there is some overlap between the two and how puroresu is truly a hybrid style borrowing the "best" bits from all over the globe and how the world has now borrowed from them. Another 'above and beyond moment' was the inclusion of FMW and the deathmatch/hardcore style. In 2018, Onita and his crew have become sort of a blip on wrestling history radar (like Michinoku Pro who are not included other than by logo and Great Sasuke mentioned for the '94 Super J Cup). So it was awesome to see them along with the killer action panels of Onita eating the wire and Hayabusa Falcon Arrowing Mr. Onita. Double Plus bonus, it goes on to Joshi (if only mentioning AJW in any detail) but, never did I think I'd see Aja Kong, Kyoko, Bull et al in ink.


 Now, I cannot say that anything brand new is presented besides Sorakichi Matsuda immigrating to the US in the 1880's and wrestling then, returning back to Japan with hopes of introducing pro-wrestling... Well, I mean that IS pretty new to me BUT it's only 1 page :) And perhaps that will give you the idea of the pacing of the book. Each page could be it's own comic (AND I would love to see that) but things move rather quickly. The 4 Pillars of AJPW get a box on a page, we get a Burning Hammer box, the 3 Musketeers get another box with Muta getting a nod in a box, etc. Who wouldn't love to see a whole comic devoted to the feuds of Misawa for instance? This is not that book though...Admittedly, as wrestle dorks, we love this kind of stuff, right?

I hope that helped give you a better idea.

Generally speaking, it is well written, informative (especially the older stuff), and penciled, inked, & colored very well. It's not Jim Lee or top art but, it fits  a non-fiction documentary type book. The simple style fits the tone perfectly and the color make the action pop off the page. Both do an excellent job creating a relatively linear historical narrative by linking the big personalities to smaller, yet equally important people. They show the development of wrestling through the ages without getting side tracked or kissing butt. Kudos!

If you're getting into wrestling (especially beyond the WWE stuff) and want a fun way to dig deeper then, this is an awesome option to get you started. If comics aren't your thing or you JUST want the historical info then, save your money. I'm sure this is all available in plain black & white text online. If you are a longtime comic fan & wrestling fan though, you should get this book without a doubt :)

By the way, I'm not associated with the authors/publisher and haven't been compensated, asked to review this book or any shit like that.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Just finished this book after a break. It's fantastic for old and new fans alike. It really gets a ton of information across while still being an exciting wrestling comic. Its tied together very nicely so, it can be enjoyed in sections or reading from cover to cover. Plus, it encourages you to watch wrestling :) As a comic and wrestling fan, this would be a great under $20 gift this holiday season. Or just get yourself a little treat...go on, you deserve it...

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