After only a three-month delay, our “bi-weekly” round-up of book reviews is back with three new titles worthy of your consideration with tales that range from semi-biographical (Andre the Giant: Life and Legend) to downright gonzo bonkers (Weird Melvin).
Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
Compiled from a series of interviews, books and historical records, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend is an approximated biography by cartoonist Box Brown. I say approximately because, as Brown notes in his introduction, “there are some parts in the story where dialogue and events were improvised.” However, this is mostly related to artistic license moreso than being purely fictional fluff.
Brown’s love for and knowledge of the wrestling industry is pretty extensive and he does a great job of accommodating fans of the sport as well as relative newcomers just interested in Andre. The book starts off with an interview wherein Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) shares his thoughts on Andre before we go back in time to France, circa 1958, for an intimate look at Andre’s childhood.
The rest of the book paints (rather, illustrates) Andre’s odyssey in professional wrestling from beginning to end, and it’s not always a pretty picture. Box pulls no punches when it comes to showing the giant’s dark side (estranged daughter, racism) just as he does Andre’s generosity and compassion.
Weird Melvin Vol.1 (2004)
Weird Melvin, from creator Marc Hansen, is one of those types of comics full of crazy monsters, gross jokes and desensitizing uber-violence… in other words, all my favorite stuff! First published as a cartoon strip in Comics Buyer’s Guide during the 90s, the story follows an adolescent fanboy (Kid) who discovers that his comic book idol—and all the monstrosities he hunts—are actually real.
What follows in this volume, which collects the comic series (not the strip), are 100+ pages of black and white head-popping, monster-stomping fun where a one-eyed hot-rodding demon literally drives to the moon, a monster fanboy attempts to raise the market value of his comic collection by burning every other copy in existence, and pair of “moonbeam steroidized” flies impregnate a couple of ghouls. In other words, it’s an out-of-this-world good read.
Originally released in 2010, Mesmo Delivery is a visually stunning story by writer/artist Rafael Grampá that finds two truck drivers—an ex-boxer meathead named Rufo and an Elvis impersonator named Sangrecco—as they make a seemingly trivial pitstop in a podunk gas station. Things get wild and weird with a quickness, though, as Rufo gets into a street fight with a giant-handed local before completely obliterating a floozy’s face in retaliation (to his credit, it was an accident) and getting KO’d by “giant hands McGee.”
Meanwhile Sangrecco, who’s been keeping a low profile inside the truck, is left to clean up the mess and does so with unexpected, bloodthirsty ninja-style finesse; slicing and dicing the locals into a pile of body parts. When Rufo is finally aroused from unconsciousness, Sangrecco acts as if nothing happens and the duo drive onwards to their destination. In a very Twilight Zone-esque note, Grampá tosses in a vague teaser of the cargo these two are actually carrying and how poor Rufo is actually part of it. Heavy stuff.