A labor-of-love tribute, exquisitely rendered, to the larger-than-life wrestling giant.
Artist Brown combines his passion for pro wrestling with the clarity of his drawings in a biography that never sentimentalizes its subject nor reduces his life to a rote series of facts. Despite his meticulous research, he admits that in the fantasyland of professional wrestling, it can be tough to separate tall tales from the truth, and he recognizes that for the sake of the narrative, he must rely on his creative imagination. Though he has a source for his anecdote about a boyhood encounter between Andre Roussimoff (1946-1993) and literary visionary Samuel Beckett, who offered the youngster a cigarette but warned that they “stunt your growth,” readers might likely conclude that whether or not it happened, it should have. Much of the rest is easier to document—his interview with David Letterman, his phenomenal wrestling career, his relationship with Hulk Hogan, his acting in The Princess Bride (both Billy Crystal and Mandy Patinkin make cameo appearances here), and his prodigious appetites for food, drink and sex. For all of Andre’s international success and acclaim, as Hogan says, “I heard people say horrible things and make fun of him. He lived in a cruel world….He was a gracious person with a kind heart.” He was also someone whose freakish size (almost 7 1/2 feet tall and 600 pounds) had him living under a death sentence, causing premature aging and countless medical problems, making it impossible to find beds that fit him and difficult to squeeze into bathrooms. Both the narrative and the drawing resist the clutter of unnecessary detail, rendering the life and legend of a complex man with creative precision.
An achievement that merits a wider readership than just wrestling fans, deserving recognition for the quality of its graphic art.