Wrestling Hardcore Icon MICK FOLEY Slams Into Comics
Wrestling Hardcore Icon Slams Into Comic
When a priceless package needs to be hand-delivered from Boston to Miami in a short amount of time, no questions asked while fending off pursuers, who do you call? In the upcoming comic series R.P.M., it’s Revere Windsor. Gifted with excellent driving skills and the ability to react faster than anyone in the world due to his hyper-kinetic depth perception, he’s uniquely qualified to take on the job. Being the direct descendant of Paul Revere doesn’t hurt either.
R.P.M. is set to peel out in comic stores this November thanks to longtime independent publisher 12 Gauge and bestselling author and professional wrestler Mick Foley. Beloved by his fans as the hardcore icon of pro wrestling, in recent years he’s made a name for himself in literary circles with back-to-back auto-bio bestsellers as well as two fiction novels. A longtime face at comic conventions across the country, he’s finally delved into the comics world itself with long-time friend, writer and collaborator Shane Riches.
With his comics debut set for November and his next memoir, scheduled for October, Foley steps into the comics ring and faces off with Newsarama.com.
Newsarama: So Mick, how'd you get involved with comics?
Mick Foley: Well, Shane Riches has probably been the biggest fan of my second novel, Scooter; he hated the first one, Tietam Brown. [laughs]
No, he’s a big fan of that one too. If either of those novels makes it to the big screen it’ll be because Shane has been so resilient in getting those scripts out there. He believed in my ability to tell a story, and he’s been after me for a few years to tell them in a different medium.
Nrama: I read that Jill Thompson, who you collaborated with on two children’s books, also egged you on to try comics.
Foley: Yeah, Jill had been the other one talking to me for awhile about trying to a story in the comic format. And Jill, when she gets a good idea she immediately goes into storyboard mode.
I’m so proud of Jill; she’s just been nominated for a couple Spike Scream awards; I’m thrilled for her.
Before I worked with Jill, I had no idea that most writers of children’s books had no relationship with the illustrator and they were just put together for the story. I loved working with her.
Nrama: Moving on to this new series, what can you tell us about Revere Windsor, the lead character in R.P.M.?
Foley: Shane knew I was a big history buff, and we’d been tossing around the idea of updating a historical character and I thought having it be a descendant of Paul Revere, who is literally a ‘revere’d figure in American history. [laughs]
We then went and gave him a somewhat believable superpower which he uses in his line of work.
Nrama: And what is Revere’s line of work exactly?
Foley: He would be a person to hire to deliver important goods in a brief amount of time. I guess he’s like a courier / mercenary – a Coursenary. [laughs]
Shane had the idea of making him a courier, but that didn’t sound too appealing to me so we started fleshing out ways we could turn it into an action adventure story. Nothing against Cannonball Run, we just had to make ours special.
Nrama: So will the action take place strictly behind the wheel of a car, or does Revere have some fighting chops?
Foley: He’s multi-faceted. The way he fights reminds me of the first time I saw a Jackie Chan movie, in the mid 90s, and it was just so clever. I was over in Japan and I couldn’t understand a word of it, it was either in Mandarin or dubbed into Japanese, but the action was so phenomenal. Not because it was bloody, but really clever. I think the action sequences in R.P.M. are clever because he’s using his hyper-kinetic depth perception to aid him in his quest.
Nrama: Speaking of that ‘hyper-kinetic depth perception’, in the world of comics with superpowers, this is described less as that but more grounded as a unique ability. How’d you and Shane get to this, and use it plausibly in the series?
Foley: This was really important to me. When Shane and I were working on this, I wanted something plausible – something that could really happen. It’s funny, because in my novel Scooter the main character loses an eye and essentially develops the same power. I don’t think it was a conscious thought at the time, but I guess it’s something I have a thing for. Maybe it goes back to watching the Six Million Dollar Man and its influence on me.
Nrama: In addition to Revere, I hear the cast also have a tough female lead and a dashing government agent. Can you tell us about these players?
Foley: I believe the “dashing” government agent you speak of bares a resemblance to yours truly. I thought it would be an interesting thing to work in for my fans who know my style of humor, and to get myself involved in the storyline.
As for the female lead, I’ve always enjoyed writing romance and the comic offers me a more visual way to move the love story along. With a novel you have to rely on a reader’s imagination, but with a comic that has a good artist you can help make sure it’s on the money.
Nrama: We’re going to be talking to the rest of the R.P.M. later this month, but can you give them the rub and tell us how the working relationship is for you and co-writer Shane Riches?
Foley: Sure. Every time I was in town we’d arrange a time to meet up. We’d throw around ideas, and I kind of prided myself on doing the dialogue. I felt like that was my forte, and Shane would take my over-abundant dialogue and whittle it down and shape it into a comic book format. I don’t know a lot the comic script format, so Shane deserves a lot of credit for shaping it into a script for to be illustrated. If you want to blame me for anything, it’s the characters and the dialogue.
Nrama: This isn’t your first take at fiction: you did those two novels, some great children’s books, and have been telling stories in the ring for a long time. You started writing books relatively late in your life – can you talk about you picking up the pen and beginning to tell stories outside of wrestling?
Foley: I really enjoyed it – this all got started because when the WWE wanted me to do a biography they assigned a ghostwriter. If that writer would’ve stayed on I’m afraid it would have ended up to be a pretty mundane memoir, while everyone would point the finger of blame at me. So I set out to right that wrong and write it myself; I had no idea how it would turn out… but it’s turned out great.
Nrama: That’s your non-fiction work, but with this comic – and the two prose novels – you get to write other people and create their lives. After years of writing just for and about you, what’s it like to create these new people?
Foley: I’ve always been interested in character development, and I was a huge Incredible Hulk fan going back to the 12 cent days. I didn’t start until 1972, but I went back and got issues going back to 1964. Reading those, I noticed that I didn’t enjoy the more talkative Hulk as a mono-syllabic monster; he’s not supposed to sound intelligent. You could see where different writers took the characters.
A few years ago when I started getting involved in comics again, I took out those old issues of Incredible Hulk and would flip through these twenty page stories and be amazed at how a brand new character and origin could be given, a problem could be created, conflict would arise and a conclusion would be reached – all in the space of twenty pages. I thought ‘Man, If wrestling could be that efficient it would be great.”
For R.P.M., we’re telling the story of Revere Windsor over the course of four issues so it gives us some room to do some great things.
Nrama: Like writing prose, comics give you the ability to take your story anywhere – you write it, the artist draws it. Did you capitalize on this nature of things to show things and go places you couldn’t on television or in movies?
Foley: That was one of my questions, as to whether an artist could advance the storyline and show Revere’s superpower. I think he’s done it in such a way that it really works. I don’t think I’m the only person that thinks “man this could easily be a movie” once they look at the comic. The action sequences are very original and exciting visually.
Nrama: When it came to plotting out these action sequences, who handles that – you or Shane? I’ve seen you thrown off cages, man.
Foley: [laughs] In that case, I rely on Shane’s experience in comics. I’m used to writing lengthy prose, and you don’t need that to describe an action sequences. I was glad to let Shane take the lead there.
Nrama: I’ve seen the vein of history in a lot of your work, be it the origin of Tietam Brown’s name, the classic baseball references in Scooter to quotes in your wrestling promos. In R.P.M. you’ve got a descendant of Paul Revere, and quote from Longfellow in the opening pages. Would you consider yourself a history buff?Foley: Yes, and I have been since I was a kid. My mom was a huge reader, and believed in reading to us and passing it on to her kids. I just came across a notebook with a list of everything I read when I was six – while not all the books were lengthy, I was reading every single day. The books were dealing with U.S. Presidents, U.S. history and so forth over the years. I jumped around to different time periods, from our founding fathers to the Civil War, World War 2 and the Vietnam era. Through that I’ve learned to appreciate world history and modern problems, especially the oppression of women around the world. If I could write a really good graphic novel about the oppression women face, I’d be on to something.
Nrama: What are some recent books you’ve read that jump out at you?
Foley: The last book I read was called Half the Sky; I read that on the way to India, and it was about the oppression facing women. So I happened to be going to a country where so many women are living under very difficult conditions. It was a pretty rough trip, even though I enjoyed knowing there were so many wrestling fans so far away from home. It was bittersweet.
Nrama: Although this is your first comic credit, like you said you’re a closet comic fan yourself. I even hear you got a tour of John Buscema’s home as a child – so can you tell us about your comic tastes?
Foley: That was one of my greatest moments. John Buscema’s son John Jr. was in my brother’s grade in school, and when he went over to swim in John’s pool he was nice enough to invite me. One time, Big John – that’s what they called John Buscema – he invited me into his studio where he was working on Thor. While there, he gave me one of those pages he illustrated. He also did one of the Hulk which he gave to my parents who passed it on to me. It was an amazing thing for a kid.
Nrama: Now as an adult and a star yourself in the wrestling arena, do your kids ever bring over friends from school who are star-struck by you?
Foley: Aww, yeah there have been a few people that were excited to me – mainly for the wrestling. But the thrill doesn’t seem as real to me as getting to meet John Buscema as a kid, but people can feel free to disagree with me.