Wrestler CM Punk Writing for Thor Annual 2015

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World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler CM Punk is writing a Thor short story. Wrestling fans Editor-in-chief Claire Napier and Staff Writer Rachel Stevens sat down to chat about this new venture.

Rachel

So, CM Punk is doing a Marvel Comics story for Thor. I’m enthused about this — I got into wrestling because a friend of mine linked me a video of CM Punk’s sitdown in the ring, talking to the crowd about he felt like he had a raw deal. He seemed like an interesting, charismatic dude, and wrestling seemed like more than the big dudes in spandex slamming against each other that I thought they were in my youth. Now, I’m an off and on wrestling viewer, but I’m sad that I missed most of CM Punk’s tenure at WWE. I would gladly read a Thor comic he wrote.

On the flip side, I’m very conflicted about the artist. Rob Guillory, co-creator of Chew, has portrayed trans women in a very transphobic way. He is a good artist, I enjoy his cartoonish style, but I feel wary of supporting a book he’s on.

Claire

On my part, I don’t like CM Punk. He gives me bad vibes and makes me nervous. He’s hungry, you know? It showed in his WWE character, and that’s why people liked him, which is fine and fair, but I can’t quite get along with a guy who makes his name on being the corporate rebel. It’s… IT’S SO NOT PUNK. He followed the Stone Cold template, be the guy who’s calling shit on the boss, but the WW is such a freakish dictatorship that that just plays really strange to me. They were selling CM Punk’s rebellion to fuel their corporate position, and he was right there with them. This shouldn’t reflect too much on my feelings regarding an individual, because it’s a fucked up industry and no one person can really change that, but Marvel has so many similarly capitalism-based structural problems that I can’t get “FASCIST FASCISTS MONEY MONEY FASCISTS” out of my head when I see these two entities crossing over in such a way. *shrug*

The description of the story in question sounds so predictably low-rebellious, too, I am Lady Cynicism on this one.

Rachel

That is more than fair. That is a sufficiently critical look at the guy and the corporations he’s working for. I dunno, I’m a fan of the little guy fighting against the big identity subsuming machine. I adore The Prisoner; I like when Tom Scioli gets grumpy at Hasbro for suddenly making him change stuff in Transformers VS GI Joe, trying to fight back from inside is something that I like. The way you described his efforts, though, reminded me of David Brothers’ piece about Kanye and Jay-Z.

It’s important to remember what rebellion actually is and isn’t, and I’m glad that you’re cynical enough to recognize that. I’m too much of an idealist for my own good, and I fall victim for enjoying rebellious fantasies that are themselves monetized. I know I should be creating my own stories or consuming stories that aren’t produced by huge, monstrous entities, but I still can’t help but enjoy the products of the people inside those vast cogworks. I recognize my shortcomings in that capacity, but I still keep repeating the cycle of “analyze it, recognize what’s dishonest about it, enjoy it anyway.”

Claire

Excellent point on the linked piece. I’m not suggesting that buying rebellious symbols can never be positive or good-feeling or useful, or even unpunk, I guess? I fully intend to buy a Harley Davidson one day, and that is not an urge that grew from the ether. It was this video that crystalised what I wasn’t connecting with re: CM Punk

I guess I had no problem with the character being a part of the roster. There’s a need for the opposing view and the “other character” no matter which story you’re telling. But when a yearly franchised video game is sold using that imagery… sticks in the craw, it’s just too much.

I am pretty interested in this levelling up of the connection between the comic book industry (and I mean *industry*) and pro-wrestling. American, specifically. There’s always been crossover of fandom, of course, and there have been plenty of WWE comics, WCW comics, whatever. Chikara does interesting stuff with the ~nerd lifestyle~ trappings, and there are plenty of manga that involve wrestlers or wrestling, real and imagined. But it’s kind of weird, now that I think of it, that there hasn’t (or has there?) been MORE of an obvious pooling of resources. I assumed that DC had some sort of deal with the WWF, as it was, to allow Hurricane Helms to show his Green Lantern tattoo. There has been overt bootlegging of Marvel Movie character designs in more recent years, too, HHH with his hair and hammer, Sheamus-as-Loki for whatever reason. Why haven’t there been wrestlers doing writerly duties before now? Why hasn’t it gone directly through WWE media relations, as I assume CM Punk is brokering this deal outside of his broken contract? Oh — looks like a yes.

Rachel

Have you seen Mick Foley’s WWE comic? It’s a teamup with Papercutz comics, mind you, and therefore isn’t with the Big Two. I also recall an Undertaker comic by whoever did those awful Evil Ernie comics though I don’t believe a wrestler wrote it.

I have noticed an increase in crossing over with WWE and Marvel lately, most notably that Hugh Jackman appearance with Damien Sandow (RIP his character as a scholar) dressing up as Magneto to confront him. Maybe, following the increasing notability of comic characters in the public eye, WWE realized that they needed to get into that directly? Sure, there were nerds and enthusiasts among them, and they would reference each other a bit, but now the connections have been strengthened, and it’s clearly on a corporate level. I think it’s just a matter of the executives finally getting around to it. It’s weird wrestling, at least in the WWE, hasn’t been as big as it was in the Attitude Era, and Marvel’s sales have gone downhill since the 90s. They aren’t really struggling, but they might be trying to help prop each other up? I really couldn’t tell you, I’m not nearly informed enough in the corporate arena.

Claire

I don’t know, I think they’re still staying out of it. It looks like the Punk deal happened at least semi-organically, and even when they do sell their performers as “nerds,” it’s non-specific — “video games and comics!”

AJ Lee action figure box card blurb, WWE

Yeah, okay. I feels like I knows ya, AJ. On the one hand, maybe that’s smart anti-team sense; if you’re not Marvel specific then DC fans don’t need to get upset, etc. But honestly I just think… they’re not good. The WWE likes to be sponsored, and it likes to profit, but I don’t think it’s got a strong creative power on the business team at the moment, and I don’t think there’s enough panache involved at control-level to actually broker any real deals or take enough of a chance to work with a huge name like Marvel (or Disney).

wrestleshare.com Jill Thompson riffing on teh Fantastic Four (marvel) for CM Punk and WWEJill Thompson has worked, I think still works with WWE merchandising, but she’s Vertigo when she’s big two, right? And she’s engaged with them as a freelancer. She did the Clobberin’ Time cover pastiche for Punk — we know he’s a Marvel fan, but that’s personal even if it bleeds into professional. The Papercutz title is an interesting thing (probably quite good, if Foley’s writing — I keep meaning to read his novel) because Papercutz are such a small name! Who talks about Papercutz? And they’re specifically a publisher for kids. Marvel really isn’t, and I have no idea who the sports entertainment of WWE is actually designed for.

Rachel

Mick Foley for WWE & Papercutz, 2014

Why is the Undertaker tattooing a guy? I don’t know!

The WWE comic that Papercutz is putting out is ridiculous, just the most absurd thing. I remember reading it when my roommate picked up the first issue, it was goofy, goofy fun.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the corporate aspect of all this, and the writer, but I am curious about your own feelings on Guillory. Like I said, I’m conflicted and don’t want to support the work because of his prior work, but that’s me. Your thoughts?

Claire

Let me just take one second to point you to the only wrestle comic anybody really needs.

You’re welcome. Anyway: Guillory. To be honest, I’ve not followed his work. I’m aware of Chew, have been since it debuted I think, but it sounded kind of gross, so having read (edited) your piece that covered even less savoury elements of his work, I’m nervous about seeing a WWE-er team up! Because pro wrestling is not the best about gender! I’ve not made a habit of watching Punk promos (I probably will now, just for clarity), but there are a lot of guys who got really big who are, well, the opposite of okay with stepping outside of the gender cube. The Attitude Era’s passed, but the culture lives on. Is it more easily escaped when you’re out of the lifestyle, out of the company? Time will tell, I suppose.

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The rock that drops on your head. WWAC Chief Comics Ed. Find me at claire.napier@wwacomics.com

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