Feeding My Sickness: The Return of the Warrior

Bloggified by Jake on Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Holy shit, what is wrong with me? Throughout my life, I can remember several times when my mother would voice concern over my inability to "just let things go."

Further proving my mom correct is Ultimate Warrior's foray into comics, Warrior, specifically issue #4. Two weeks ago, I spent the better part of two weeks trying to make sense of issue #2 (to no avail). Without issue #3, I have a lot of blanks to fill and, unfortunately, there's no way to connect the dots since nothing from issue two logically flows into anything from issue four.

Then again, nothing from the second page of issue two flowed logically into anything from page three of issue two, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised.

The first thing that strikes you when you pick up Warrior #4 is that it isn't colored. This might lead you to assume this is a special variant copy or perhaps a Showcase/Essentials-style reprint of classic material, but, surprisingly, it's just that Warrior (the writer/publisher/former wrestler) was so far behind schedule publishing Warrior (the comic), the story of Warrior (the character based on Warrior[the creator]) becoming not just a warrior (one who engages in war-like situations), but the Warrior, (the ultimate example of a warrior [one who shoots down the walls of heartache, bang bang]) versed in the philosophy of Warrior (the teachings of Warrior [the batshit crazy wrestler guy]), that there wasn't any time--nor likely any money--to get a colorist involved.

In the comic, this doesn't cause too much trouble. I've read black and white comics before. One of the things I love about original art is seeing the pure lines of ink without a colorist's influence.

No, the problem arises when you try to read the rantings of Warrior with only various grey tones and red. Click on the inside cover blurb to the right and you'll see that Warrior gave us an abbreviated version of his issue two inside cover rant about how someone one day had to create the first "comic book" and until then, no such thing existed, yet today we take for granted what a comic book is because we all know what they are and thus Warrior is becoming the first "Warrior" which had never been defined before 1997.

Really, you won't see it. At least not all of it. Because Warrior opted to print his rant in grey over a background of slightly-less-grey, the majority is difficult to read and certain parts, like the "last issue" bit at the bottom are impossible as the greys are exactly the same.

This issue proved to be the last of the series, and, though he indicates that "The End" is coming in issue #5 to be released in May of 1997, Warrior provides a fitting eulogy for the book in the final pages, in the form of an unreadable, four-page, borderline libelous rant about artist Jim Callahan.

Jim Callahan? The artistic force Warrior himself described as "what others in this industry will soon recognize as perfection and 'standard setting'"? Yes, the same! But before I explain the whys and wherefores of Warrior's change of heart, let me stress that "unreadable" is not just limited to the Warrior's nonsensical rambling style of prose but also to his decision to print each page over a background image of the Warrior character, with varying color schemes involving grey, black, red, and white for each page. The migraine-inducingest of the four is the red letters on a high contrast photo negative of the background.

Here. Suck on four paragraphs of this and then reflect on the fact I adjusted the contrast and brightness in Photoshop to make it easier on the eye!Okay, so back to Callahan, in comparison to whom Warrior once said no other artist "could have even come close." What is Warrior saying two issues later?In case you can't read that, the title of his four page blather is "Callahan is a piece of shit."

It takes the better part of the first two single spaced pages and two Advils before Warrior explains why Callahan is a piece of shit both literally and figuratively, instead complaining about the comic book industry--to borrow a wrestling term--shooting on the big publishers for hurting small publishers by not being honest about how bad some of the hacks out there can be.

The gist, as best I can tell, is that Callahan must have worked for a "big company." I'm guessing Awesome or whatever the hell Liefeld's Image offshoot was called since his style seemed to be poor man's Marat Mychaels, but the company is really immaterial. While there, Callahan proved himself inept and unable to meet a deadline and got fired.

Holy shit, when Rob Liefeld fires you for missing deadlines and turning in poor artwork, the only logical next step involves a gun with a built-in mouthpiece.

Unfortunately, according to Warrior, in the comic industry, people don't rip guys for such things. When you get fired, it's not because you're an idiot who can't draw or meet a deadline to save your life. It's because there were creative differences or you wanted to work on other projects. Thus, small publishers take a chance on the no-goodniks and find out the real reasons they aren't at the big companies any more. Sadly, while Spider-Man or Batman are well established enough to have a bad artist come aboard and fuck around for three or four issues without any major loss in readership, a budding new comic is not so lucky and is more likely to fold for every week it's published behind schedule.

The basics covered, Warrior dishes the dirt on Callahan with plenty of specifics. Callahan got sick and ultimately wound up needing surgery. To pay the medical bills, Callahan asked for more money up front. Callahan kept falling behind on the art he was supposed to deliver, then started complaining that the book offended his born again Christian values. Finally, the Fresno Child Welfare Division contacted Warrior to determine how much Callahan had been paid because he wasn't paying child support.

This part really grabbed me because Warrior goes off on Callahan. "How does a man feed himself before he feeds his kids?... It's not cool to leave kids, which you have fathered, hanging out high and dry, suffering on their own... it's wrong, black and white wrong." These are the words of the man who illustrated the Way of Warrior by punching a metaphorical child into thousands of pieces, indicating that a true Warrior will sacrifice the weak without hesitation.

Any way, the gist of Warrior's rant is that people need to take responsibility for their own actions and the problems those actions may cause in their lives. Most of the time, when someone fails at something it is because of things they did wrong, but then they start pointing fingers, blaming others, and looking for sympathy. Sympathy the Warrior insists they do not deserve!

And that, according to Warrior, is why the terriblly written, ill-conceived comic he created based on his own incomprehensible philosophies and featuring a character based on a one-dimensional, poorly trained professional wrestler never overtook Superman, Fantastic Four, or even NFL SuperPro in popularity and was ultimately run into the ground... by Callahan!

Tomorrow: The Story

In case you missed them the first time:
Wisdom of the Warrior: Part One
Wisdom of the Warrior: Part Two
Wisdom of the Warrior: Part Three
One More Thing

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