For the recently-completed #Inktober challenge, writer/artist Dan Schkade re-imagined wrestler/actor John Cena as the Spirit - and it kinda works.
Schkade, who drew Dynamite's Will Eisner's The Spirit Returns, drew 31 Cena/Spirit pieces over the course of the 31 days of October (which you can see here). But how did it all start? We asked him.
"Near the end of September, fellow artist Andy Michael posted a picture of John Cena wearing a blue suit next to a Will Eisner Spirit cover and was like, 'hear me out,' which I thought was a pretty great piece of just-joking-but-maybe-not comic book casting," Schkade told Newsarama. "As I thought more about it, I liked how Cena’s unbeatable superchamp wrestling persona played off Eisner’s constantly outnumbered crimefighter, and both have a shared comedic dimension that bridged the gap. I wasn’t going to do Inktober this year, but this seemed like too weird a challenge to pass up. Besides, I once drew the Spirit for an entire year and loved it. What's thirty one days in a man's life?"
Now here on November 1, Schkade said he's gained some added nuance to John Cena as an actor - inside the ring and outside of it.
"Staring at John Cena’s big mug for an hour a day, it really strikes me how focused the man is when he’s preforming in the ring," the artist said. "He’s not afraid to look goofy, because his character is broad enough to allow for these small bits of looking dumb in between the times he looks strong. He’s 100% committed to the bit, and that translates very smoothly to being turned into a character like the Spirit."
"It’s why I didn’t use any candid photos in this series, because then he’s just a (very big) guy like you or I -but when he’s on the clock, the way he moves and stands and emotes makes him just as much of a cartoon as anybody else in Central City," Schkade continued. "I've got a lot of respect for wrestlers as storytellers, and the amount of visual language they share with cartoonists continues to surprise me."
Schkade's currently writing and drawing Lavender Jack, which has new chapters every Tuesday on Webtoon.