Comics and wrestling may sound like opponents, but Michael Kingston and Michel Mulipola’s Headlocked has just defied everything you think you know about either one.
Kingston, a hardcore wrestling and comic fan since the age of eight, had seen plenty of series blasting off with superheroes. While he did see the occasional flash of Undertaker or Mad Max or, as he remembered, "Ultimate Warrior stripping Santa Claus naked," none of these comics were really about wrestling — so he created his own.
Headlocked illustrator and former wrestler Mulipola met Kingston after flying over to San Diego Comic-Con from New Zealand. Kingston was wowed. You just don't see too many professional wrestlers-turned-comic-book artists, not even at a convention where you can expect to see just about everything.
So what got this dynamic duo into the ring? Kingston's first taste of wrestling glory was George 'The Animal' Steele going wild, which made him want to put down the remote as he was flipping through channels. It was actually comics that got Mulipola, who always wanted to see those pages jump to life, into wrestling. His inspirations also draw on late '80s-'90s era X-Men comics, among others, but he saw wrestling was the closest thing to real-life comic books. It really isn't that far off if you think about the crossover of bright colors and the eternal struggle between forces of good and evil.
X-Men also got Kingston into comics, but what really made him want to get in the ring was Paul Chadwick's Concrete, however unlikely that is.
"I almost don't read any superhero stuff anymore, but I read tons of comics," he told SYFY WIRE's Dany Roth (who thinks Concrete is one of the greatest comics in existence).
Wrestling is one of those things that people tend to either love or hate with a burning passion. Kingston wanted readers to see wrestling as the art form it is through his eyes, which is why he created the character of ex-theatre major Mike Hartman, who only thinks he can't stand wrestling until being dragged to a live show turns everything around.
Pro wrestlers who went to comic cons as fans started noticing Headlocked in Artists' Alley, and the series got a serious power boost as they realized how passionate he was about making wrestling comics a thing.
"When you're doing something out of passion," as Kingston said, "I don't think you can fake that."
This article was contributed to by Elizabeth Rayne.