Headlocked Creator on Working Wrestling Into the Comic Industry, More
– Mike Kingston, creator of the comic book Headlocked, spoke with Wrestling Inc about the comic and more. You can check out highlights below and see the Kickstarer for the remastered first edition of the book here.
On the concept behind Headlocked: “I was a wrestling fan and a comic book fan from the time I was 8 years old. Whenever a wrestling comic would come out, I’d go get it and they’d always not be very good. There was always Undertaker fighting demons, the Ultimate Warrior stripping Santa Claus naked, Kevin Nash as Mad Max. It wasn’t about wrestling. I became aware that they weren’t going to make the wrestling comic that I wanted, so I decided to make my own. I made a book called Headlocked, which is about a theater major in college who falls in love with wrestling and decides to become a wrestler. He quits school, and its his journey from day zero where he navigates the underbelly of the business.”
On the comic’s reception within the industry: “Unbelievable, really. I’d like to say Headlocked is sort of my love letter to the industry, but some of the negative aspects are what drives the story, so you’re sort of walking a line. We seem to have hit on it just right. Right from the very beginning, Hurricane Helms and Rob Van Dam bought copies at San Diego Comic Con. Christopher Daniels had bought a copy from me. Everyone has been universally positive about it. I haven’t met anyone who has given me a hard time. Even old school guys – Tom Prichard liked it, Jim Cornette was really jazzed about it. I’m pretty happy with the reception.”
On if there will continue to be stories from wrestlers in the books: “How I get the books funded is through Kickstarter. One of the things that has been that the comic book industry is a difficult one to navigate. It’s very superhero heavy, it’s run by a couple of large publishers, so if you don’t go through those publishers, you really can’t get a book made. So what we do is fund our books through Kickstarter, and then the people who back the books on Kickstarter get stories from famous wrestlers. We’ve had Hurricane and Rob Van Dam, Booker T, a bunch of different guys have contributed art or stories. For the books that we have now, we have Samoa Joe, MVP, The Young Bucks, Tom Laruffa, Scott Lost, Papadon, Danny Havoc.”
On if comics and wrestling are becoming a closer-intwined concept: “I started this way back in 2008, and I pitched it to a guy from one of the largest comic book companies in the world and he straight up laughed in my face. Even now doing what I’m doing, it’s not something widely accepted in the industry. There are a couple of wrestling comic books that are starting to come out, but I feel like we kind of laid the ground work for that. I think now you get a lot of the Attitude Era growing up and getting in more prominent spots, and The Rock’s success as an actor, people are more open to taking it seriously. It’s definitely more accepted than it’s ever been, which is weird because the ratings aren’t as successful as they were.”
On working with Tony Atlas: “(laughs) It definitely was an experience, because he’s an old school guy. He’s an artist, and he works in pointalism, with these little dots, and he’s this giant man, even at his age. I can’t picture him hunched over a table, making art with little dots. One of my favorite things about doing this is the random guys that have come up to me and asked if they could do something for me. The first thing Ken Anderson ever said to me was ‘Hey, can I do a piece of art for you, bro?’ He’s not a guy you’d think has art skills, but he does. I’ve been texting back and forth with Sam Shaw who is doing a piece for the book. It’s funny, you never know. Tugboat came up and told me he has some skills with pen and ink. It’s amazing to see guys who are so talented in one area be talented in another.”
On the Kickstarter: “Yeah over at Kickstarter.com. Our first tweet is a link to that. For us, we use Kickstarter as a pre-order mechanism. Comics are very expensive to make. There are four people involved in the process – myself, my artist, my colorist, my letterer. We also have guest artists and an editor, and all of those people get paid. I don’t get paid and I don’t care. Any other dollars go right back into the book. I do more shows or bigger shows, or get a better space at a bigger show to make sure we get in front of more people. I love what we’re doing, I think if you’re in comics to get rich, you’re in the wrong business. We have a lot of incentives. You can be drawn into the book, which is a popular incentive. Those always go first. You can be drawn in as an extra or a speaking role. We have books and shirts that are signed, we have a poster that’s signed by 17 people that contributed to the book, all the big names. You can get our first book or all the books in digital form. I try to make every Kickstarter accessible to everybody. The Kickstarter books are better. We don’t sell those anywhere else. They generally have 30 extra pages an art by famous wrestlers. I try to make sure the backers get the best experience possible. This is the only year where we’re going to do two Kickstarters in one year, and volume four is coming soon. We’re going to have the biggest line-up we’ve ever had. Right now I have Mick Foley, Rey Mysterio, Zack Sabre and a couple other names I’m 99 percent sure on. It’s just going to be an unbelievable collection. We’re working on an incentive for people who own all of our Kickstarter books.”