Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Rasslin' with Comics: Tinieblas Jr. #1

Giant tongued monster babies, lion headed gatekeepers, and martial arts practicing Yeti's?  Yep, you guessed it, we are headed back to the Masked Republic Luchaverse this week with Tinieblas Jr. #1!

Masked Republic's Luchaverse from Chido Comics is a series of one shots featuring some of the biggest stars in Lucha Libre.  Tinieblas Jr. is the second of the Luchaverse one shots I've covered and both have been an absolute blast to read.  Check out my previous review of Rey Mysterio number one here.

Tinieblas Jr. is the son of legendary Luchadore Tinieblas (obviously).  Tinieblas Sr. was a huge star in the 70's who was featured in his own comic book series and films like the lucha star studded '"Los Campeones Justicieros"' so it's very fitting that Junior receive his own comic book.  

Tinieblas Jr., in the comic, not only inherited the mask, but the position of Monster Hunter.   The tale sees him on a quest to discover a map that will aid Rey Mysterio in his quest for the mask of the first Mysterio.  So, technically I read these out of order, but it didn't take away from the story at all.  Another legend, Konnan has a brief cameo and it seems like he and his group "The Ambassadors will play a big role in the Luchaverse.

During the quest, which starts in Las Vegas and takes him from ancient  to Nepal  Tinieblas Jr. have confrontations with giant tongued demon babies, and run ins with both a lion headed gatekeeper with ties to Tinieblas Sr., and a horned man trained in Lucha Libre. The last panel sets up some craziness with martial arts trained Yeti.  I will forever love this series because it lets me type the words "martial arts trained Yeti"

He's swinging the monster by it's tongue!!!

The art and pace are great in this series, the scenes drawn by artist Diego Simone are too much fun, and the monster designs are very cool.  I personally want a print of Tinieblas Jr. swinging the baby monster by it's tongue.

I cannot recommend this series enough, especially if you like Lucha Libre, monster comics, or are a fun of fun old sci-fi movie craziness.

You can purchase the comics at the  Masked Republic Luchaverse  website.  

Tinieblas Jr. #1 $3.99
Chido Comics/Masked Republic
Story and Script: Mario Lopez & Ivan Plaza
Art and cover: Diego Simone

Friday, June 5, 2020

Rasslin' with Comics: Update on the Kickstarter

A few weeks ago I talked about a Kickstarter project that I'm pretty excited about.  "The Comic Book Encyclopedia of Pro Wrestling" is a project from Squared Circle Comics that I backed and shared about here and online.  Well I'm very happy to say that the project has been successfully backed and will be coming out in the near future!
And because of the overwhelming support for the book, several stretch goals were reached and the book is going to ship with 8 bonus pages of content including entries on Hulk Hogan, Miss Elizabeth and Jake "the Snake" Roberts.

I will be reviewing the book once it arrives, along with another book I picked up as part of the campaign.  More on that later.  

If you'd like to order your own copy, you can preorder the book at this link

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Throwback Wrestling Thursday... looking at the future, remembering the past.

If you've followed me for some time, you know I have a daughter who aspires to be a professional dancer.  Well, I guess I shouldn't say aspires any longer, because she has started receiving gigs. I drove her up to her first gig, her and two of her friends were opening for an up and coming singer/songwriter. I was surprised however by the rush of nostalgia I got standing in the back of the small theater. Even though the performance was different I found it to be an all too familiar scene that brought me to another place and time.

My daughter and her squad rehearsing for their big night.
People were rushing around, setting up chairs, checking the sound system, going over their performances.  There was an energy in the room that was infectious.  All of these... kids really, standing at the beginning of their roads, taking their first steps, ready to chase their dreams after so much hard work.  I as watched it all play out, I couldn't help to see the parallels to the beginning of my own journey. 

I went back to the days of a little gym on 5th and Allegheny. Back to those early shows, carrying pieces of the ring, setting up chairs, going over matches, learning literally everything about the business as we went.  Excited to be living the dream that played out in our heads a million times.  We were standing on the beginning of our own roads when we knew it all and (unbeknownst to us at the time) still had oh so much to learn. There was a newness and a sense of wonder as the bigger world of pro wrestling was just beginning to reveal itself.

And I thought of my squad, the crazy road trips, training sessions and late night Denny's stops after shows where we'd talk shop, come up with new ideas, go over that nights events in great detail. We were making the greatest memories that I hope lasts the rest of my life. 

Driving home that night, I told my daughter to treasure that feeling, that energy.  That one day, if she is lucky, she will be able to look back at these early days with love and nostalgia like I do now.  I'm excited to see where my daughters path leads, I hope beyond hope that she gets to live out her childhood dream like I got the chance too. 

 Keep that energy and spirit and wonder kiddo, and hold those kindred spirits close, they will keep you going even during the rough times.

Dedicated to these crazy kids that helped me on my road.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Rasslin' with Comics: The Comic Book Encyclopedia of Pro Wrestling

Howdy friends, A brand new Kickstarter campaign is underway for a comic book that I'm very anxious to get a hold of, The Comic Book Encyclopedia of Pro Wrestling! I'm pretty excited about this book, so I've decided to do a series of posts, following the path of the Kickstarter and ending with an extensive review of the book, once it's fully funded and delivered into my hot little hands.

The book, from the Squared Circle Comics imprint of Inverse Press is a collection of entries using information they gathered from interviews that writer and pro wrestling historian John Crowther did with the actual wrestlers, all of whom were featured in different comics from Squared Circle.  So far the information they've released as a part of the campaign looks great and I love what I see.  This should be a fun book for fans, especially fans of old school pro wrestling.

I first discovered Squared Circle when I came across their Nikolai Volkoff issues one and two, those comics inspired the idea for the "Rasslin' with Comics" reviews. You can check those out here

Stretch goals for the book include up to 20 more pages of entries, with the possibility of entries on Hulk Hogan, Miss Elizabeth and more.  If you're unfamiliar, Stretch goals are incentives and additions to the book for going above and beyond the needed funds for publishing a book. 
Here is some official text from the Kickstarter page.  You should definitely head there to see sample pages, art work and incentives for the project.  Click the link to see the page.

Pro Wrestling Encyclopedia on Kickstarter

The Comic Book Encyclopedia of Pro Wrestling is a soft-cover, perfect-bound, full-color book in standard comic book dimensions (6.625" x 10.25"). While the base version is 280 pages, there are opportunities to expand the page count up to 300 with Stretch Goals and certain rewards.

 Volume 1 of The Comic Book Encyclopedia of Pro Wrestling includes full-length comic stories (20-32 pages each) from:
Bruno Sammartino
Nikolai Volkoff
The Genius Lanny Poffo
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
B. Brian Blair of The Killer Bees
Jumpin' Jim Brunzell of The Killer Bees
Ricky Morton of The Rock 'n' Roll Express
Bobby Fulton of The Fantastics
Sunny the California Girl from G.L.O.W.
Jake Hager (a.k.a. Jack Swagger)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Rasslin' with Comics: Rey Mysterio!

He's the most famous masked wrestler of the modern era, and one of the most famous Luchadores of all time, he's Rey Mysterio and it's very appropriate that he now has his own comic book!

Rey Mysterio #1 is a part of Masked Republic's series of "Luchaverse" comics.  The line is a shared universe featuring many legendary Luchadores including Konnan, the Lucha Brothers and of course Rey.  I picked up the first four comics in the series, at the time of purchase the Konan comic hadn't released yet.  I will be picking that book up soon so I can review the whole series. Currently you can purchase all five titles as well as very cool collected issues of the original one shots.  As a much appreciated bonus, Masked Republic upgraded my Lucha Bros. comic to the variant addition as a thank you for purchasing all four.

The comic establishes Rey as the current in a long line of legendary Mysterios who are champions of the people, trained to battle a great evil that is set to return.  To prepare for this, Rey and a group known as "The Ambassadors are on a quest to find the mask of the first Mysterio, a mythical object that is needed to battle the returning evil.  Along the way we get a glimpse at Mysterio's training, battles with undead killer cat people, and quite possibly the coolest priest of all time, a priest who happens to be  well versed in submission wrestling. 

I loved the world set up in this book, there is a craziness that hearkens back to the classic Lucha movies featuring the likes of Santo and Blue Demon.  I'd LOVE to see the Luchaverse turned into a movie.  And let's face it, Rey Mysterio should've already had a series of Lucha movies. I can't be the only one who wants to see Rey give a 619 to some Alien Vampires.

This comic book came out before Rey returned to the WWE in 2018, so I hope that doesn't ruin plans for future stories.  That would be a shame, because there is a fun world set up here and I'd love to see Rey play a big part in it.

Being part of a shared universe, there are references to the other heroes in the line, as well as the undertones of a bigger story we have yet to uncover.  All of this adds to the fun of the book.  I'm looking forward to the others in the series.

If you like Rey Mysterio, Lucha Libre or Lucha movies, pick up this book, it's worth the read for sure.

You can purchase the comics at the Masked Republic Luchaverse  website.  

Rey Mysterio #1 $3.99
Chido Comics/Masked Republic
Story and Script: Mario Lopez & Ivan Plaza
Art: Ben Harvey

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Throwback Wrestling Thursday: AAW at CADES

Howdy Friends,
I had two or three very different ideas for this weeks blog, but then, an old friend I haven't spoken to in years hit me up and shared with me a gem he uncovered with all his newly acquired time.  An old AAW wrestling event from CADES in Swarthmore.

AAW, which was short for All-American Wrestling was the name I used when I organized and ran fundraising shows for an organization called CADES (Children and Adult Disability and Education Services) in the mid to late 90's.  Yes, 1990's.

At the time I was working at CADES to pay the bills, and was just starting my journey in Pro Wrestling.  I had the opportunity to organize some wrestling fundraising events, and after a few successful events with my friends at LAW I decided to promote the events myself, and thus AAW was born.

With my friend Marie

That lead to a series of fun shows and assemblies that were both successful financially and incredibly popular with families.  One of my crowning moments is when I was approached at the show by a legendary ring announcer who attended the show as a fan with his family and said how much he enjoyed the shows and was happy to have wrestling shows he could bring his family to.
Look Ma, no mask

Most of the wrestlers donated their time or wrestled at very discounted rates, and we were still able to bring in some great talent, guys like the Headbangers, Tom Brandi, Doink The Clown all appeared on the shows, but in the end it was the local guys, who were the most well received.  The wrestlers who took the time to visit the school to promote the shows and support other events.  Guys and girls who would visit the classrooms and get to know the individuals.  It did so much for the individuals at CADES who loved getting visits from the wrestlers, and I feel it did wonders for the wrestlers as well

Maverick Vs Mark Mest

In no way were the shows a solo effort.  There are some folks who were so instrumental in the events that I couldn't do it without them.  Guys like Norm The Barfly, who was my right hand through it all.  Mark and Troy Mest, who were in a lot of ways the backbone of the shows and a big reason we were able to do what we did.  First, they were amazing villains, they were the best foils I could have.  And since they own one of the best and longest running wrestling schools in the area, they always brought in young talent who were looking for a chance to work in front of crowds.  And of course my usual crew of friends who went above and beyond to make the shows a lot of fun. Spallding, Frank Cody, Chris Petra, James Austin, Mike Kehner all were vital to helping to run the shows.
A classroom visit with the rasslers!

I really enjoyed watching the old video, catching up with an old friend and looking back at how young we were.  I'm proud of the funds we raised and the good we did. I still have our little AAW championship belt in my collection too.

I added a few old pics I found from the shows I was able to dig up.  Yes, those are "Pre Mask" days for the old cowboy! I hope you enjoyed the glimpse back.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rasslin' With Comics: Jim Cornette's Behind The Curtain

Howdy friends,
I'll admit, I could listen to Jim Cornette tell old wrestling stories all day, and sometimes lately I do just that, but they say reading is fundamental so having a chance to have Cornette tell these stories in another medium is a fun change of pace.  And love him or hate him, you have to admit, no one probably knows more about the history of the wrestling business than James E.  

Behind the Curtain is a fascinating graphic novel that well, peels back the curtain on several of pro wrestling's most legendary stories. Some you've probably heard of, like the Montreal Screwjob and the Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler feud.  In some cases, like the story of the plane crash that broke Ric Flair's back, Corney includes details you've probably never heard and make the stories so much more interesting than you ever dreamed. 

This graphic novel started as a Kickstarter campaign, and it was funded in 24 hours, and has since sold out of it's hardcover and first prints! Hopefully that means there is consideration for a second book.

Brandon Easton wrote the comic based on Cornette's stories, and I bet Brandon probably could write a comic about the Cornette telling him the stories.  The art is by Denis Medri who also did the art on another book I will be reviewing down the road.   

Seasoned throughout the book are newspaper clippings, no doubt from Cornette's unbelievable personal collection, adding validity to each story. Also included are some fun touches like "Dream  Supercards", illustrated pinups and a glossary of pro wrestling terms that make this a fun treat for any fan of the history of pro wrestling.

I'd love to go into details on many of the stories in this book, however I feel that would rob you of the "experience" (pun intended).  My only disappointment is that I ordered this off of Amazon when it popped up in my suggestions, and didn't know you could get an autographed copy from Cornette himself off of his website.  Truth is, I may order another copy anyway.

Jim Cornette Presents: Behind The Curtain
IDW Publishing
Stories by Jim Cornette
Written by Brandon Easton
Illustrated by Denis Medri
80 pages $14.99 cover price
(note: Autographed copy may have a different price)

Comic is available on Amazon, Jim Cornette's website (link is above) and possibly still orderable at your local comic shop... You'll have to check on that.