I had the pleasure of meeting Headlocked creator Mike Kingston at Comic Con two years ago and also interviewing him for our Beyond The Mic interview series. Mike's work with Headlocked is not only a labor of love but it is a great story with deep pro wrestling roots. Headlocked is not only loved by the pro wrestling community but involves them in various creative aspects of the books. $10 backers will get a PDF of the first edition with an intro by The Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels and a painted cover by Jerry “The King” Lawler” and that's just a sampling of the pro-wrestling talent involved in this book.
The latest chapter Headlocked: The Last Territory needs our help so I'll turn it over to Mike Kingston to explain how you can help.
Welcome to the Headlocked: The Last Territory Kickstarter!
What is Headlocked?
In one sentence, it's a wrestling cable drama in a comic book!
Headlocked is a coming-of-age story chronicling a college theater major's quest to become a professional wrestler. It begins from the moment he unexpectedly falls in love with wrestling and follows his journey through the insanity of the wrestling business as he chases his dream of making it to the bright lights and the big stage of the WFW.
On a deeper level, Headlocked is an examination of wrestling as an art form. Our main character, Mike Hartmann, is a college theater major that drops out of school to try to break into the wrestling business. So the reader will learn more about the craft of wrestling through the eyes of a performance artist.
To further our theme of wrestling as art, we use wrestlers to contribute to the book artistically. Our interior artist, Michel Mulipola, is a wrestler from New Zealand. And our cover artist, you might have heard of him….
WWE Hall of Famer, Jerry “The King” Lawler!
If you read further, you'll see we have a metric ton of awesome guest contributors from the world of comics and wrestling lined up to help make this even better!
For almost 30 years, I've been a student of wrestling and comics. I've always considered them to be two very underutilized storytelling mediums. When I decided I wanted to start writing comics, it was only natural that I wrote about wrestling. Of course, over the years, I've suffered through a ton of horrible, horrible wrestling comics (not going to name names, but you all know what I'm talking about) so I thought I'd make one that I, as a wrestling fan, would want to read.
If you've been a fan of wrestling for any length of time, you're often called upon to defend your fandom. My other goal with Headlocked, when it's all said and done, is to be my defense of wrestling…all the reasons why people fall in love with it….served up inside of an entertaining story about a boy chasing his dream.
We launched Headlocked a few years back. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Wrestlers, wrestling fans, comic fans….even people who didn't like wrestling could relate to the story of a kid striking out to chase his dreams.
But here's a dirty little secret about comics: They're expensive to make. And why not? It's art….hand-crafted by artists. But in comparison to the costs, they don't generally command a high price point.
So, for a comic to survive, you need a certain number of readers.
To get readers, you need awareness. And this is where it gets tricky…
Both the wrestling and the comics industry are dominated by a very small handful of companies….so to get the necessary retail and media support to produce a successful comic book without being supported by those companies is extremely difficult.
As you can see in the entertainment business these days, it's not easy to get support for anything that's not a sequel, a remake, a reboot, star-driven, or attached to a license…and the comic book business is no different.
This is why we brought this project to Kickstarter.
We're very proud of the work we've produced and we think it deserves a bigger audience. We think a lot of people will dig it. We think if you're a fan of wrestling and comics, you deserve a product created by people who are just as passionate about it as you are. No wrestlers fighting demons, no licensed cash grabs, and no beating up naked Santa Claus…just a good story about wrestling, created by people who love wrestling.
The Last Territory
(NOTE: Even though this is our second story arc, you don't have to have read the first arc to follow this story)
In The Last Territory, Hartmann's journey brings him to Texas and Kings of Texas Championship Wrestling. Built around the ultimate regional superstar, Magnificent Mark Steele, it's the last surviving wrestling territory in the country. Because they still draw strong crowds, the WFW uses it as a developmental promotion to prepare their talent before bringing them up to the “big leagues.” It's a heavy dose of the old-school “smoky arena” days mashed up with modern corporate wrestling politics. In this type of environment, we'll meet wrestlers at every level of their career: rising stars, veterans getting repackaged, superstars on injury rehab, territory lifers, and the hopeless dreamers. With all these guys literally one call away from making it to “the show,” you can bet there's going to be some drama!
Of course, this new setting raises all kinds of questions. Why is Hartmann there? What caused him to leave Philadelphia? Don't worry…all will be revealed!
Who the heck are you guys?
Michael Kingston – Ever since George The Animal Steele completely transfixed me as an eight year old boy, I've been in love with wrestling…in all its forms…from big arenas to high school gyms. I can't even begin to tell you the miles I've put on my car driving all over the east coast to watch indy wrestling shows. And from the first issue of Spider-man I bought from a spinner rack in Kinney Drugs, I've had an equally passionate love affair with comics. Over the years, my tastes have changed but I've never lost my love for the medium of sequential art.
Michel Mulipola – Michel Mulipola is a Samoan comic book artist/professional wrestler/comic book store clerk based in Auckland, New Zealand. He's been wrestling for New Zealand's premiere promotion, Impact Pro Wrestling, for almost 8 years. As well as doing artwork for Headlocked, he has done work for The Gutters webcomic and various other projects. He can usually be found drawing comics at the comic book store he runs, Arkham City Comics, in Auckland.
Chuck Obach – Chuck is, in his own words, a self-taught Comic Book Colorist and an advocate of the Jedi Force “look ma' no hands” coloring technique.
Jason Arthur – Jason Arthur is a super talented designer and letterer that's been with the team since Day 1. He's got credits from damn near everyone in the industry from DC, Image, Dark Horse, Top Cow, BOOM, and others.
Jerry “The King” Lawler – If you're looking at this, I'm pretty sure you know who “The King” is. Many people know him as a wrestling legend, the voice of WWE Raw, and the man who slapped Andy Kaufmann on David Letterman. But not many people realize that The King's first love was actually art, and it was always his dream to be a comic book cover artist. His first published comic book cover ever was for Headlocked: The Tryout #1 and he also painted the cover to our collected edition.
Special guest creators!
Luckily over the years, we've managed to impress a few people with our book. People who, like us, are passionate about wrestling, comics, and art. They like what we're doing and they've agreed to contribute to Headlocked to help get as many eyeballs on the project as we possibly can.
All of the content from our special guest contributors is Kickstarter exclusive! When we reprint these stories for conventions, it won't have any of the wrestler-generated content, including the Lawler cover. That's our gift to you for helping support our project at this critical juncture!
Ken Anderson – Impact Wrestling Superstar, the former Mr. Kennedy and the current VP of Aces & 8's, actor, and artist. Ken will be contributing a Kickstarter exclusive pinup.
Sinn Bodhi – former WWE/TNA star, currently an amazing tattoo artist. Self-published his own comic book called Fred the Possessed Flower in 1999. Sinn will be contributing a Kickstarter exclusive pinup.
“Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels – Impact Wrestling Superstar. One half of Bad Influence with Frankie Kazarian and one of the biggest comic book fans in the wrestling business. Chris will be contributing a Kickstarter exclusive short story.
Shane “Hurricane” Helms– former WWE/WCW star, longest reigning crusierweight champion in history, and wrestling's first superhero! Shane will providing a Kickstarter exclusive short story.
Beth Phoenix – This retired WWE diva is now a professional artist, launching her own studio called GlamCanvas earlier this year. Beth wil be contributing a Kickstarter exclusive pinup.
Jill Thompson – multiple Eisner award winning artist best known for her work on Scary Godmother, Sandman, and Beasts of Burden. She's designed T-shirts for CM Punk and gear for Daniel Bryan. Jill will be providing the chapter breaks between the five chapters of this book.
Rob Van Dam – WWE superstar, comedian, actor, and author. Mr. Monday Night is also a noted comic book fan and has published his own story, Soldiers of Karma. Rob will be contributing a Kickstarter exclusive short story.
So how's this all gonna work?
We're trying to make is a 150 pg. graphic novel consisting of 5 chapters of Headlocked: The Last Territory. Jerry Lawler is painting the cover and Jill Thompson is providing the chapter breaks. We're also featuring Kickstarter Exclusive short stories from RVD, Hurricane, and Christopher Daniels as well as Kickstarter Exclusive art from Ken Anderson, Beth Phoenix, and Sinn Bodhi. While the story of Headlocked is Mike Hartmann's, the wrestler content will help shape the Headlocked universe at large, giving us places to take Hartmann down the road.
WHAT ARE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS PAYING FOR?
8% of our pledge total is to pay for Kickstarter and Amazon Payment fees.
17% is budgeted to pay for reward production, printing, and shipping costs.
75% is budgeted to pay for the art for the three full-time artists on the project to produce 150 pages of professional quality art.
Every dime pledged beyond our total will go into the continuation of Headlocked by funding more art to further the story. There won't be holofoil covers, polybags, stickers, gatefold covers, glow-in-the dark inks, posters, or buttons…just more story!
For more info on Headlocked, check out the following links:
Thanks for checking out our Kickstarter! Help us bring this story to life! We love what we're doing….but we can't do it without you!