The OTT, oversized characters of professional wrestling make such obvious subjects for the comics medium that it’s something of a surprise there’s not already a slew of biographies detailing their exploits. But Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend stands pretty much alone.
But much like its subject, it deserves to. This is an accomplished work from someone who has put a lot of time and effort into researching Andre René Roussimoff, and who clearly has a lot of affection for him. Brown doesn’t allow that to blind him to the harsh realities, though, and isn’t afraid to portray Andre in a less-than-positive light. As a result, the graphic novel serves as an honest look at a flawed, complex individual, one whose condition brought him both joy (in terms of his wrestling career) and pain (because of the ridicule others subjected him to).
The black-and-white artwork is unfussy yet striking, with the simple thick lines emphasising Andre’s larger-than-life physique but also capturing the smaller moments when he didn’t feel like such a giant. And as you’d hope, the scenes depicting in-ring action feel both physical and kinetic, carrying a real sense of weight.
For First Second Books, 2014 is proving to be a banner year, and this is another release the publisher can be proud of. And for Box Brown, it’s a work that will make people sit up and take notice.