“The function of a wrestler is not to win; it is to go exactly through the motions that are expected of him”
Roland Barthes,”The World of Wrestling Mythology”, 1957
The above quote pretty much sums up this, still misunderstood, world of pro wrestling. Not until I read this book, did I have the slightest clue as to what went into those contest I enjoyed in the eighties. Andre Roussimouf a.k.a Andre The Giant, was a thing of myth when I was growing up. His presence on the canvass was a sight to behold. I still have a hard time understanding how normal sized men could fight someone like him…and now I know. Writer and illustrator Box Brown (Love is a Peculiar Type of Thing, Everything Dies) tries, in so many words and panels, to summarize the life of this living anomaly and does so surprisingly well.
Andre The Giant is a work several years in the making for Brown. Using bits and pieces of actual interviews and biographical literature, Brown does, what I still can’t believe, could be accomplished in a graphic. The simple art and cleverly placed source material, ingeniously, tells an outstanding rags to riches story. Brown brings the world of pro wrestling to life with each page. Things I remember growing up came back to me in a flood of visuals and trade secrets, that will leave you wanting more, well after the book is done. Andre’s life, although tumultuous and filled with alcohol and women, is undeniably exciting, especially when you consider how most of the world viewed this seemingly gentle giant at the time. From interviews with WWF greats like Hulk Hogan and the retelling of God-like drunken brawls in hotels, this book is everything one needs to understand who and what this man and world,was all about back then.
Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who’d been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant.
Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures.