Sunday, May 26, 2013

Slam-A-Rama #s 2 & 5

By Dave Howlett

So I read an issue of this comic last year some time, and didn't even think about about reviewing it on this site. Why? I really don't know, maybe because it seems so professional in its content and presentation. It's printed by an actual printing business, it's in full colour, and it's incredibly solid in it's construction. It's obvious to me that Howlett wrote the entire thing in advance, and had a script and knew when everything would happen. Even if the final version doesn't match the script exactly, he had a plan and put in the time to complete it. So why am I actually reviewing it this time? Well, it is a minicomic size wise, and I know that there were only a few hundred copies printed, plus I liked it!

I only had issues two and five, but after finishing reading them I went to Howlett's site and was happily surprised to discover that the entire comic is there, so I read all of the other issues. Even if I read them out of order, I'm glad I was able to read the entire story.

This comic is a love story to professional wrestling in the 1980s, complete with bad action movies and Saturday morning cartoons staring wrestlers. This is something that I was never exposed to at the time (in no small part because I didn't live in North America during that time), and it's not something I ever really got into even after I came to North America, though I remember I went from thinking "Wrestling is stupid" to saying "Wrestling is awesome!" after watching Kaiju Big Battel.

Slam-A-Rama is set at the 1988 Slam-A-Rama wrestling event, and the story weaves amongst all of the different wrestlers and performers. In many ways it's not a traditional narrative telling one story about one person, but rather it tells the events of one night and the many stories that happen. In effect, it is reproducing the style of an actual wrestling event. The narrative veers between many different characters, most of whom never meet, while supporting characters will show up in multiple stories.

One neat thing is that the characters are shown in both their in-the-ring and real life personas. They plan out matches before they happen, get into arguments over who the winner is going to be, and deal with real life problems that may or may not have any real effect on what happens to their wrestling career. Even if a character only shows up in one issue, Howlett still generally manages to give them motivations and problems, and have them run through some sort of challenge and reach a resolution.

The illustration style effectively tells the story, and while the style doesn't blow me away I think the art and colouring are generally of a high quality. I have some problems with the lettering from time to time, but that's a fairly minor thing in an otherwise well put together package.

It seems obvious to me that Howlett (who manages the Strange Adventures comic shop in Halifax) has studied the way comics are made, and has really tried to put everything he's learned into this comic. It succeeds in telling a story, makes you care about the characters and wonder who will win the fights, and even manages to have some pretty effective action scenes. I'm not a big wrestling fan, but I am apparently a fan of comics about wrestling.

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