Friday, February 21, 2014

Booknote: Andre the Giant

 Box Brown, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. New York: First Second, 2014. ISBN: 9781596438514. (link to publisher page. Book due out May 2014).

Box Brown's Andre the Giant: Life and Legend is a graphic novel biography that is sure to please wrestling fans. However, you do not have to be a wrestling fan in order to enjoy this book. It is a bittersweet biography that pulls no punches; we get to see a good man who did have his flaws. Box Brown truly humanizes the Giant in this interesting and moving work.

For readers who may not know a lot about the world of professional wrestling, the author provides a nice introduction that goes over the nature of professional wrestling. He also briefly discusses how he created the comic including explaining how he used some artistic license at times to bring us the life of Andre. As he writes, "creating this book was a scholarly pursuit" (7). He draws on various books, interviews, and other sources to weave the story. For readers interested in learning more, the book also includes a list of sources. I can that this biography is so interesting I may seek out some of the books listed and do some further reading.

The art in this graphic novel is simple black and white, minimal, that feels a bit playful yet also gives dignity to the story. Andre was a gentle and good hearted man who suffered much from the cruelty of the world as well as the pain of his condition, acromegaly. I felt his constant drinking off stage was tragic, but in the context of his constant pain, I can certainly sympathize as he was able to cope and function given a condition that would cripple him. In the end, despite his flaws and pain, he rose to be a great wrestler, entertainer, actor, and hero to many, many people around the world. He was a giant indeed.

Brown does an excellent job in showing us Andre's life in an easy to read way. Readers who enjoy wrestling biographies owe it to themselves to read this book. In addition, graphic novel readers and biography readers in general will enjoy this as well. It has a good narrative with a moving and at times heartwarming story plus some humor as well. This is a book I am happy to recommend to others. Though I read it via NetGalley as an e-book review copy (hey, this covers the disclosure that keeps The Man happy), this is one I would definitely add to my personal collection when it gets published.

This is the first substantial biography of Andre the Giant, so it is bound to be a popular book. Also, look for a small cameo by a famous literary figure. Public libraries will want to add this to their collections, either for biographies or graphic novels. This is one I would happily buy for my academic library, so I am recommending it for other academic libraries that have pop culture and/or recreational reading collections.

A definite 5 out of 5 stars.


Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

Hopping over from the Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I enjoy nonfiction in graphic novel format. I wouldn't have thought about reading a bio of Andre the Giant but this looks fun!

Angel Rivera said...

Hello Joy. Thanks for stopping by. This was a fun and interesting book to read. If you do pick it up, would love to hear what you think.

Best, and keep on blogging.