An official biography told in graphic novel form is far from typical, but then again, the same could be said for Andre Roussimoff, the pro-wrestling legend better known to fans as Andre the Giant. The 2015 graphic novel Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven will serve as the inspiration for the late wrestler’s big screen biopic, with his daughter Robin Christensen-Roussimoff serving as consultant on the project.
Andre the Giant
Earlier this year, First Second released Box Brown's Andre The Giant: Life And Legend – a graphic novel biography of the wrestling legend that immediately jumped onto the New York Times bestseller list, and has been met with great acclaim from wrestling fans and comics critics alike. Our own Chris Sims described the book thusly:
"It shows Andre as a person. Not the giant with a dubious fifteen-year undefeated streak, not as the monster who was bodyslammed by Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, not as the absent father that was put on blast by A Current Affair shortly before his death, and not even as the drinker and prankster behind the scenes in the world of wrestling. It shows him as all of those, as a person whose life was larger than everyone’s, but whose flaws were no bigger or smaller than anyone else’s. It makes the Giant relatable without ever undermining him. There’s a love in this book, but there’s an honesty, too, and it comes through in every scene..."
Recently, we got the chance to sit down and speak with Brown about the culture of professional wrestling, his artistic approach to comics, and how he went about adapting Andre's outsized life for a graphic novel.
Box Brown's Andre the Giant: Life and Legend is already one of my favorite graphic novels of the year. In an exhaustively researched, incredibly compelling biography, Brown goes through the major events of Andre's life, both in the ring and outside of it, and he pulls off the pretty amazing trick of making him seem like a flawed and relatable human being while simultaneously painting him as the larger-than-life giant that he was.
Today, with the book finally being released next week, I've spoken to Brown about the research that he did, his experience watching Andre's match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III over and over, and why he's not Facebook friends with pro wrestler Blackjack Mulligan anymore.
If you'd asked me three months ago what my most anticipated graphic novel of 2014 was, I could've given you the answer without even having to think about it: Box Brown's Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a comic book biography of one of the most famous professional wrestlers of all time. Admittedly, I'm right smack in the center of the target audience for that book, but there's so much about the man that's fascinating, and Brown's work as a Xeric Grant and Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist is top notch -- it's something I feel like I would've been interested in even if I was going into it cold, with no knowledge whatsoever of the world of professional wrestling.
The book isn't out until May, but the book's publisher, First Second, sent over a review copy and I couldn't wait to read it. It's the sort of book that I knocked out in one sitting, and it lived up to every hope I had for it. It's not just one of my favorite graphic novels of the year, but it's also one of my favorite comic biographies of all time.