Andre the Giant, the late professional wrestler best known for being body-slammed by Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania III, has now made the transition from the wrestling ring to the printed page with a graphic-novel biography.
“Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven” will be published by Lion Forge Comics this December, and fans were treated to a panel discussion of the work Thursday, October 8, during the first day of New York Comic Con 2015. In attendance were Shannon Eric Denton, the piece’s editor, and Robin Christensen-Roussimoff, Andre’s daughter.
“He was a big kid,” Denton said of Andre, explaining what sparked the initial interest in the project.
Not only that, but the novel’s artist and co-author, Denis Medri, is a wrestling fan, so research into Andre’s life was pretty much done before the book was started.
Heidi MacDonald, a comics editor and journalist, moderated the panel, and at one point asked if it was hard to draw Andre.
Cartoonist Jarrett Williams said that, because wrestling matches are full of fast-paced action, transitioning that action to the page “could be difficult.”
Despite there being another graphic novel about the grappler in print, “Andre the Giant: Life and Legend,” the piece from Lion Forge will be officially authorised by Andre’s estate. In fact, not only does Christensen-Roussimoff manage her father’s estate, but she also wrote the comic’s foreword.
During the panel, the discussion inevitably turned toward the wrestling industry and Andre’s role in it. When talk turned to the main-event match of WrestleMania III, Andre’s daughter let everyone know why it was booked in the first place.
“I can tell you right now that the only reason it happened is because my dad agreed to it,” she told the moderator.
Andre suffered from gigantism, so for health reasons he decided to take a step back from the spotlight. The “Eighth Wonder of the World,” according to WWE.com, stood 7 feet 4 inches and weighed 520 pounds. He was 46 when he died in 1993. He was the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame and the only member of the class of 1993.
Outside wrestling, Andre is probably best known as Fezzik in the 1987 movie “The Princess Bride.”
“He loved it, he absolutely loved it,” Christensen-Roussimoff said of her father’s work in the film. “It was one of his most relaxing times in his life.”
She said her father had a strong work ethic in the ring, but actually wasn’t a showy person.
So when one audience member asked how her father would have fared now in wrestling, which tends to be more soap-opera-ish, Christensen-Roussimoff had an answer.
“I think just like back in the ’80s he’d be in a class all his own,” she said.
The graphic novel, a 104-page paperback, will be available December 10.
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