“Kayfabe” is the unspoken understanding between the audience and pro wrestlers to suspend disbelief. You never have to question what goes on in the ring. But what pact do pro wrestlers make amongst themselves and each other? This is part of what is going on in RINGSIDE, a new comic published by Image Comics, by writer Joe Keatinge (SHUTTER) and artist Nick Barber. Rounding out the creative team is colorist Simon Gough and letterer Ariana Maher. This is a unique behind-the-scenes look at the world of pro wrestling in the form of a noir tale which kicks off, in this first issue, with our getting to know ex-champ Dan “The Minotaur” Knossos.
In the spirit of a shaggy dog gritty story by Ed Brubaker, Joe Keatinge’s script begins with Dan as he makes his way to right some past wrongs. He’s like on a mission from God; nothing will stop him. We see him uproot himself from a relatively good position in Japan hellbent for San Francisco. Dan is now of a certain age. At this point in his career, he is best served if he was a mentor or, even better, if he just gracefully walked away. But this is a messy situation that is only going to get messier. Just what we want.
Nick Barber has a very accessible style. It reminds me a bit of Box Brown’s approach: pared down to the basics. Brown especially comes to mind since he did a tremendous book on pro wrestling a few years back. His tribute to Andre the Giant set the gold standard as far as I’m concerned. You can read my review of ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND right here. Barber has that same energy running throughout RINGSIDE.
This is a comic with a cinematic quality keeping to a steady pace. I especially enjoy the conversations here that involve some creative back and forth between poses and background and never gets caught in the rut of talking heads. The dialogue and composition won’t allow for that. This first issue offers a lot of intriguing possibilities. Dan is clearly a cut above the typical aging ex-wrestler. And he is also clearly over his head with what he plans to do next.
RINGSIDE #1 is available as of November 25. For more details, visit our friends at Image Comics right here.