Kevin LaPorte of Inverse Press writes for Bleeding Cool about the Killer Bees, now on Kickstarter.
Professional wrestling perpetually lurks in the shadows of pop culture entertainment. Despite its overwhelming staying power (for well more than a century now) and despite its enormous popularity, the scripted sport remains plagued by a lurking sense that it is somehow less than other forms of popular entertainment. And, in that way, pro wrestling is very much like the art form of comic books. Both are at the heart of robust and raucous fandoms, but both are side-eyed by the mainstream, regardless of their obvious influence on more-lauded forms, namely film and animation.
Our Squared Circle Comics imprint joins these seemingly divorced forms in a line of fun, fully authorized biographical comics featuring some of the all-time greats in pro wrestling. Each comic is based on information gained from actual interviews with the subject wrestler(s) and features the story of their lives amidst bombastic action scenes pulled from their greatest matches and championship moments.
The latest in this series of comics is The Killer Bees – the story of two established wrestlers, B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell, who began their training alongside legends Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, respectively, and who, in the middle of burgeoning careers, joined to tag-team as The Killer Bees. They took the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) by storm, igniting a feud with The Hart Foundation and competing in epic matches at WrestleMania II and III.
Costumes and masks are core aspects of comics and wrestling, and few grapplers ever used them as effectively or as cleverly as The Killer Bees. Brian and Jim had similar builds and style and color of hair, so they developed a gimmick in which they donned identical yellow-and-black striped masks to become virtually indistinguishable. This allowed them to confuse their competition and the referee and, thus, game the tag team rules in ways that brought appreciative roars from the crowd. Sometimes, they even had a third masked partner appear from nowhere to add to the awesome chaos.
The Bees also displayed bombastic fighting styles reminiscent of comic book superheroes. Jim earned the "Jumping Jim" nickname by powering up the highest dropkick in the business, flying around the ring and from the top ropes like Spider-Man or Daredevil, levying powerful kicks against the craniums of his rivals. Brian employed the lithe brawling form of a Captain America or Wildcat, and the two paired to exploit the synergy of their disparate combat repertoires like a classic duo such as Power Man and Iron Fist or Wolverine and Nightcrawler.
See this marriage of pro wrestling and comics in The Killer Bees complete series, three issues, and a total of 77 pages of story funding right now through Sunday, September 20th, on Kickstarter. The series is drawn by Marvel Comics legend, Dell Barras (Conan the Barbarian, Spider-Man, Death's Head II), with colors by Andrew Pate, all from a script by wrestling historian John Crowther (Heavy Metal, Rochelle, Hacksaw Jim Duggan). Rewards from the campaign include comics autographed by The Killer Bees themselves, in addition to variant cover editions of the books, original cover art, and a unique collector box available only in this campaign.