The road of a professional wrestler is long and hard.
The same can be said about getting a comic book about professional wrestling to publication.
So you can imagine the jubilation “Headlocked” creator Michael Kingston felt unveiling the next volume of “Headlocked: The Last Territory Volume 2” to the masses during Magic City Comic Con Jan. 16 and 17 in Miami. After some delays during production, the event timed perfectly with the comic’s official launch.
“This is one of my favorite shows,” Kingston said manning his booth on the convention floor of the Miami Airport Convention Center. “I love this show and the venue with Supercon. It’s always a fun show. There is always so much stuff going on. So it fit nicely. I’d like to say it’s a huge relief to have it out, but now we have the next one to think about.”
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Kingston also has to continue his convention tour, which seems to get busier each year. The lifelong wrestling fan with a bio-chemistry degree wouldn’t have it any other way. He somehow juggles his passion project with 60-hour workweeks at his day job. Joining him on the road regularly is WWE Hall of Famer and Headlocked collaborating artist Jerry “The King” Lawler, who created the Norman Rockwell-inspired cover for the second “Headlocked” book.
Lawler add much-needed name value to this and other independent projects in the series, funded through Kickstarter campaigns. Kingston is grateful to have support from his famous friend and others within the business. He has found the warriors of the ring resonate with Mike Hartmann’s experiences.
“The book is an examination of the art of pro wrestling through the eyes of a performing artist,” Kingston said. “That is why we have the wrestlers involved. Pro wrestling is truly an American art form. I think of it as classic Americana. I want people to see wrestling from my eyes. I want someone who maybe isn’t a wrestling fan or watches it to see it through a different way. The level of skill involved to be good at what you do. These are talents and amazing talents. I don’t think wrestlers get enough credit for the level of skill and artistry they bring.
“…This is a dark book. This is his ‘Empire Strikes Back.’ It’s the concept of a fresh-faced suburban kid thrown into the Wild West, as he goes from a boy to a man. It’s not too heavy, but he is learning how to go from a boy to becoming a man.”
Michael Mulipola, Chuck Obach, Jules Rivera, Jill Thompson, Jacob Bascle, C. Edward Sellner of Visionary Creative Services and others helped keep the vision alive in helping produce “Headlocked: The Last Territory Volume 2.” Comedian Ron Funches writes the introduction. Kingston also corralled a strong lineup of wrestlers to once again contribute stories and artwork. These include Booker T., AJ Styles, John Morrison, Frankie Kazarian, Tony Atlas and Caylen Croft, who is actually an elementary school art teacher.
“I try to find guys who like comics and who have a social media presence,” Kingston said. “It’s fun to sit down with guys who are super creative. I had a lot of fun with AJ Styles for a story for this book. The general concept is there is this guy who is the most vicious heel in wrestling, sort of Abdullah the Butcher/Bad New Brown hybrid, but when he goes home his wife runs the house. This is a short story and super fun. We were throwing ideas back and forth. That’s my favorite part. The one with John Morrison was a lot o fun, too.”
Kingston is always thinking ahead, but also tries to take time out to appreciate the present. His social media is filled with pictures from his “Headlocked” tour travels including food stops, interactions with stars inside and outside the wrestling business, as well as shots to mark milestone moments such as being filmed for Corey Graves’ WWE Network show “Culture Shock.” Through it all he maintains his genuine love of professional wrestling, which most recently shines through in “Headlocked: The Last Territory Volume 2.”
- For more information or to pick up “Headlocked” products, visit
- Follow “Headlocked” and Kingston on Twitter @HeadlockedComic.
- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
- Pro Wrestling On The Web