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DF Interview: Wrestler Christopher Daniels grapples with comics
By Byron Brewer
There are many types of angels in the world of comic books, from Warren Worthington III to Angela. But in wrestling as in comics, there is only one Fallen Angel. That is sports entertainer (i.e., wrestler) Christopher Daniels.
Not long ago, Daniels had a dream come true when he had his own comic published: Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestling Aw Yeah Comics! which featured Daniels and his tag team partner, Frankie Kazarian.
To get to the heart of this situation, Dynamic Forces sat down with Daniels in the smelliest gym in Jersey and got the 411.
Dynamic Forces: There is some inherent connection between wrestlers and comics: C.M. Punk loves the Thing, Jerry Lawler Superman, and Rob Van Dam owns a comic book shop. How do you explain the connection?
Christopher Daniels: Well, first of all, I think that comics and wrestling are two forms of entertainment that grab you as a child and never let go. Of course, there are some fans of both mediums that become fans late in their life, but I feel, especially in my case, that you gravitate to this entertainment as a kid, and when you do, it's easy to remain a fan of it for life. Your appreciation of it may change and mature as you do, but the passion for it is fueled by the enjoyment you felt for it as a child.
Second, I feel that the closest you'll ever get to real-life superheroes and super-villains is professional wrestling. Comics and wrestling both tell stories of good vs. evil, have colorful characters fighting for what they believe in, and whether it's technical wrestling, high-flying, or out and out brawling, deal with individuals using their "powers" to achieve their ends. In my case, I feel that these were reasons that brought me to these two forms of entertainment, and have kept my interest in them for over 30 years.
DF: You had your own comic published recently. What was it like doing Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestling Aw Yeah Comics! which featured you and your tag team partner, Frankie Kazarian?
Christopher Daniels: It was a real blast, and no matter what happens in my career from this day forth, I'll always be able to say that I'm a published comic book writer. I was so excited during the process of getting it published, and the day I first held an actual copy in my hand was a feeling I'll never forget.
DF: What was the process like?
Christopher Daniels: Well, in 2011, at the San Diego Comic-Con, I had the opportunity to meet with Art Baltazar and Franco, who at that point were already award winning artists and creators of Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures for DC Comics. They told me that they were wrestling fans and enjoyed my work with TNA and IMPACT Wrestling. We kept in touch the next few years, and soon after, they did a Kickstarter campaign to fund their own publishing company, which ended up becoming Aw Yeah Comics. At another convention, they gave Frankie and me some copies of their first few issues, and that was where I was introduced to their characters of Action Cat, Adventure Bug and Awesome Bear.
Soon after that, I had an idea to write a story where Frankie and I interacted with these Aw Yeah characters, and I sat down and wrote the story out pretty quickly. I sent the script over to Chris Smits, one of the gentlemen responsible for getting the Aw Yeah Kickstarter going, and asked if they'd be interested in producing this comic book. To my sheer delight, Art and Franco were excited to do it, and it was soon after that that they sat right down and made it happen!
DF: As a real fanboy, what was it like to see yourself as rendered by artist Art Baltazar? Right there, and with staples!
Christopher Daniels: An absolute thrill, to be sure! After meeting Art and Franco, I got an opportunity to see their work with Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures, as well as their work with Itty Bitty Hellboy for Dark Horse, and I really enjoyed it all. They're both great artists and cartoonists, and they have a great flair for writing all-ages style adventures for these superheroes. I was really nervous that they wouldn't like my script, or that a lot of the humor was too "insider," but they put me at ease right away. And the first time Art sent over a pin-up of Frankie and me in his unmistakable style, I was excited out of my mind!
DF: Is there another comic book in the future of the Fallen Angel?
Christopher Daniels: Well, I don't know if I have it in me to become a full-time writer like Art and Franco, but I do have a few ideas that I'd like to work on. I've put pen to paper for a sequel to the first book, starring Frankie and me and the rest of the Aw Yeah gang!
DF: Rumor has it your favorite comic book creations are the X-Men, with a special interest in Wolverine. True?
Christopher Daniels: Yes, 100 percent true. One of my first titles that I really got excited about, and really the one that changed me from a casual reader to a real collector, was Chris Claremont and John Byrne's Uncanny X-Men. That was where I got the idea to track down back issues and put them in bags and boards, and their work is still one of my favorites to this day. When Wolverine started to break out as a character, I followed all of his titles and appearances.
DF: What are your thoughts on the various X-Men movies, especially The Wolverine?
Christopher Daniels: I've enjoyed all of them to varying degrees, and really there's an overall excitement in the fact that these characters made it to the big screen in the first place. I think Hugh Jackman has been great in portraying Wolverine, and I really appreciated how much of the original Claremont/[Frank] Miller mini-series was in the most recent film.
DF: Are you still trading comics with the likes of Somoa Joe and Homicide?
Christopher Daniels: Not as much as I'm sharing a lot of digital codes with guys. Because we travel so much, I've transitioned into doing a lot of digital collecting these days, and I often share codes with Frankie and other wrestlers like Eric Young and Gunner.
DF: If you could write your dream comic book, what existing character would star in it? Who would the big-bad be?
Christopher Daniels: I'd love to do a story with Wolverine as the lead, just to say I did. I'd probably stay away for his regular Rogue's Gallery for the villain, just because I don't know if I'd be able to do some of them justice. I'll have to get back to you on the real enemy in that story.
DF: What is on the wrestling horizon for the King of the Indies?
Christopher Daniels: Well, I've just recently announced my return to Ring of Honor, one of my favorite promotions to work for. I've also lined up a few international dates coming up in England, Scotland, Canada and perhaps even Japan.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Christopher Daniels for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
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