A graphic biography of a gentle (outside the ring, anyway) giant who helped take professional wrestling from a grubby, localized sport to today’s glittering international spectacle.
The book opens with the abstract reflection that life is a struggle more between optimism and pessimism than good and evil, as the French-born fighter, whose real name was André René Roussimoff (1946-1993), lumbers from country to country, venue to venue, bout to bout, promoter to promoter until the early death brought on by his acromegaly. He’s awash in a sea of beer, but his other outsized appetites are only hinted at. Pro-wrestling fans may enjoy these inside views of the profession’s expansion and of renowned battles with Hulk Hogan and other fellow performers, but aside from playing Sasquatch in the Six Million Dollar Man and a single page about his memorable appearance as Fezzik in The Princess Bride, his film career goes unmentioned. Screenwriter, educator, and graphic novel creator Easton (Shadowlaw, 2012, etc.), who was a nominee for the 2014 Eisner Award, explores his subject’s inner life with bloviations (“In a world with no limits, temptation ceases to exist”) and defines his nonpublic one largely through his heavy drinking (he holds an unofficial record for most beers consumed in one sitting: more than 100), his body’s physical deterioration, and two poignant letters from his estranged daughter, Robin. The first-person narrative conveys a distinct sense of the champion wrestler’s melancholic temperament, and Medri’s brown-washed panel art captures his humongous bulk. Still, this is ultimately just a shorter alternative to Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend (2014), with most of the controversies and apocryphal incidents removed.
An earnest if colorless picture of both a career and a character.