Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Nick Barber
Colorist: Simon Gough
For anyone that knows me, I immerse myself in two fandoms: Comics and Professional Wrestling. In some cases, the two intersect, such was the case this week with the release of Ringside. After hearing that this title was more or less about a wrestler, I went on a black out of solicits for it, as I was extremely excited and wanted to go in blind. I had no idea what to expect, and coming out I’m happy with the product.
We are following the story of Dan Knossos, former wrestler who has returned from the land that made him famous to deal with something or someone from his past. While the story is one we’ve all heard before, having it happen with the professional wrestling background is really fun and new. This issue gives us everything you want in a first issue of a creator owned series: world building, character introduction, and multiple story hooks to keep us coming back. While it’s clear that Keatinge nailed the comic story aspect, the part that made me really happy was, unsurprisingly, the wrestling world. I instantly felt like I was travelling through the old territory days with these characters. On top of the little wrestling business phrases and “isms”, the book just felt like a wrestling book. Another example of this is the film The Wrestler from a few years ago with Mickey Rouke. There’s a sense of nostalgia but also a touch of helplessness and grind. There’s a duo of a younger wrestler travelling with a vet, which just bleeds of realism, of a young Ric Flair travelling with Dick Murdock and Dusty Rhodes. Everything from the way they spoke, to the food they ordered was spot on. Keatinge is making us wrestling fans feel all warm and fuzzy with this accuracy and nods, as long as this continues, I’ll be back; the great story is just icing on the cake.
In terms of Nick Barber’s art, I am still trying to come to a definitive feeling about it. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and that’s partially to add to my quandary, but also it’s not like much I’ve seen before. It’s a very simple, sometimes blocky style that doesn’t always have the most detailed faces, but the storytelling remains clear panel to panel, and the gritty sparseness almost adds to the ambiance of the world building. However, I don’t think the coloring is doing many favors to the linework. There is a gradient feel to most of the panels, kind of like a digital watercoloring, but it’s different from that. Clearly, it’s hard to put into words, but sometimes I found it a little distracting. On the other hand, there is some good highlighting work with the colors, so the promise is there.
When you put these two subject together, wrestling and comics, I’m picking up the book. Keatinge and Barber, both clearly knowledgeable on the subject as seen in the back matter, are producing a book for any wrestling fan, but definitely those who remember the territory days. I cannot wait for issue two, and in the mean time, I’ll have to watch some classic Clash of Champions.
4.5 Diving Crossbodys out of 5