A new comic book based on pro wrestling is seeking funding via Kickstarter.

The project, entitled "Headlocked: The Last Territory," will be about a man (Mike Hartmann) trying to achieve his dream of becoming a pro wrestler.

I recently caught up with one of the comic's creators, Michael Kingston, to talk about the project.


Tell me about "Headlocked"

In one sentence, it's a wrestling cable drama in a comic book. Headlocked is the story of Mike Hartmann, a college theater major that unexpectedly falls in love with professional wrestling, and his journey through the underbelly of the wrestling business as he tries to get to the bright lights and the big stage of the WFW. It's one part coming-of-age-story and one part examination of the craft of wrestling through the eyes of a performance artist. As Mike navigates the wrestling business and learns the craft of wrestling, the reader can learn right along with him. The story is completely accessible to anyone and you don't need to watch wrestling or be a wrestling fan to enjoy it. 

Our artist, Michel Mulipola, is a professional wrestler from New Zealand and Jerry "The King" Lawler is the cover artist. In addition to the five chapters of Headlocked, we also have content being created by some of the top wrestlers in the world. Shane Helms, Christopher Daniels, and Rob Van Dam are providing short stories.  Then we have Beth Phoenix, Ken Anderson, and Sinn Bodhi contributing pinups to the book. 


How did you get those wrestlers, from every notable wrestling organization in North America, involved in this project?

The first wrestler I got involved was Jerry Lawler. And it was the weirdest thing. I just emailed him through his website. At the time, it was such a ridiculous longshot that I forgot that I did it after I did it. A few days later, he emailed me back, I sent him some books, and he agreed to do it. Jerry is a huge fan of comic book art and before getting into wrestling, his dream was to be a comic book cover artist. He's done two covers for Headlocked so far and we've done a bunch of conventions together. I would never have gotten as far as I have without his support. 

The rest of the wrestlers I've simply met at conventions. The funny thing is that most of them were at the conventions as fans and not in a professional capacity. I was lucky enough to have impressed them with what we were doing and they've all offered to help us raise our profile. When I decided to try the Kickstarter, everyone was more than willing to contribute. And the cool thing is that I actually have more wrestlers lined up to contribute story and art for future books. 

The reason we are able to get wrestlers across all the promotions is because the book isn't about a promotion, its about wrestling. And the people that are all involved are passionate about wrestling, comics, and art. I've actually turned down wrestlers that have wanted to appear in the book because they weren't comic book fans. And the comic book artists we have paired up with Shane, Rob, and Chris are all huge wrestling fans, too. We have the great Jill Thompson (Sandman, Scary Godmother), Mike Borkowski (Scooby Doo, Iron Man), Mark Poulton (Savage Hawkman), and Josh Adams (Dr. Who). And I think the passion for wrestling and comics on the part of the creators is what separates Headlocked from most other wrestling comics that have come before it.

 
What is your history with pro wrestling comics?

As a wrestling fan that read comics, I was perpetually disappointed by the wrestling comics that had been offered. Most of them were licensed books or books that people put together to cash in on wrestling when it was hot. That's not to say there haven't been a few bright spots (Super Pro KO, Raven's Spider-Man story, Whoa Nellie, come to mind) but for the most part, wrestling comics have been a huge letdown. I decided to write a book that I, as a wrestling fan, would want to read. 


What is the goal for this project? How much money needs to be raised, how can people donate, what will the end result be?

Kickstarter is a fantastic way to get your project out in front of as many people as possible. For us, it essentially functions like a pre-order mechanism in a way that might not be available to us without a big publisher attached. The downside is that if we don't hit the goal, we don't get anything. As a reward to anyone that pledges, the wrestler content in Headlocked: The Last Territory is only available through Kickstarter. You won't be able to get this book, in this form, in stores or at conventions.  

We launched the Kickstarter in support of our book for two purposes. First and foremost, we're hoping to pay for the full-time artists (penciler, colorist, letterer) working on the book, printing costs, shipping costs, and Kickstarter fees. Secondly, we're just hoping to raise our profile in the comic book world. The single most essential ingredient for a successful comic book is distribution/retail penetration. So we're hoping that a strong showing with the Kickstarter will perhaps impress one of the bigger comic book publishers and help us tell this story for as long as we can. Big donations are certainly appreciated but more importantly, we want readers. If you'd like to be a part of this project, just head over to the Kickstarter website and search for Headlocked: The Last Territory.