Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Wrestling And Comics - Oil and Water or Soup and Salad?

It’s funny. I’ve been writing for 411 Comics for about a month now, and I can still barely believe it. This may have something to do with the reaction I get from everyone I explain it to. Be it my close friends who want to know about “the new writing gig” or total strangers at the comic shop, who hear me talking about my latest review with the clerks and even my family, the reaction has been unanimous.

“You write about comics for a wrestling website?“

"Umm… yes.”

“What do comics have to do with wrestling?”

Well, I thought about it trying to come up with a good answer. And, I’d like to share my conclusions with all of you.

The first common factor is that both comics and wrestling both have large audiences made up of devoted fans who are largely mocked by the mainstream American culture. We both suffer from stereotypes.

- Wrestling fans are often depicted as fat, toothless drunken bumpkins with the collective IQ’s of warm mayonnaise.

- Comic fans are often depicted as fat, anti-social, trivia-obsessed geeks with low intelligence or too much intelligence to relate to “normal people”.

Now obviously there are some people who match these stereotypes. I’m sure there are a few stupid drunks who are a little too into professional wrestling just as there are some fans who are a bit like “The Comic Book Guy” from “The Simpsons”. And I’d like to state for the record I have never gotten a wheelbarrow full of tacos to watch a Dr. Who marathon. A large bucket, yes… but not a wheelbarrow.

Regardless of my sick dieting habits, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of fans are ordinary people. Ordinary people who just happen to own a Triple-H bobble-head or Batman coffee mug. Ordinary people who have an “Austin 3:16” bumper-sticker or Spider-Man floormats on their car. Ordinary people who occasionally get into arguments of “Who would win in a fight: The Rock or Andre the Giant, at his peak?” of “Who would win a fight: The Hulk or Green Lantern?”

(And for those of you who wish to know who’d win in a tag-team match between the four of them, don’t be silly. It would all depend on which Green Lantern we’re talking about here. )

Both hobbies are also all about action and larger-than-life battles between good and evil as played out by dynamic characters in colorful costumes, with spectacular personal gimmicks.

I mean look at your average wrestler and you see someone who could just as easily be a super hero. Big muscles, spandex and leather clothing and lots of attitude.

Snappy dialogue is a common factor too. From the Thing’s “It’s Clobbering Time!” to Randy Savage’s distinctive “Ooooh yeah!” the character’s personal catch-phrase is a staple of both hobbies.

And consider some of the names: The Undertaker; Daredevil; The Rock; The Warrior. Most would be hard pressed to tell you which was a superhero and which was a wrestler. And do you think it’s just a coincidence that both hobbies have major legendary figures, widely recognized by the public, who are both called “Hulk”?

In fact, one of the most famous super heroes of all time got his start as a wrestler: Old Peter Parker himself. In fact, I’ve read serious literary articles by Ph.D. candidates whom talked of the brilliance of Stan Lee in linking Spider-Man to wrestling. Because that link created one of the few logically-justified reason for a hero to create a costume for himself outside of the reasons of needing something to protect his identity. This paradigm has been so steadfast that in none of the retellings of the Spider-Man origin has the detail of Peter turning to wrestling before heroism ever been changed, though other little details have.

So maybe there’s nothing too weird about me writing about comics for a wrestling magazine. Besides, I figure that if I can get Michele, the Wonder Woman in my life, reading “Amazing Spider-Man” and “Queen of Wands" ( http://www.queenofwands.net ) and she can get me to watch Smackdown without cringing too badly at some of the over-acting… well, maybe there’s a hope that the rest of us can find peace between our two hobbies.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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