Grap­pling with graphic novel de­but

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JAMES IRE­LAND

Comic books led Michel Mulipola to be­come an artist and a pro­fes­sional wrestler.

Now they’re leading him to San Diego for the an­nual en­ter­tain­ment expo Comic-Con.

Mulipola will leave his Man­gere home this month to fly to the con­ven­tion, where he will de­but his new graphic novel Head­locked to about 130,000 people.

The book is ‘‘like an HBO drama’’ and fol­lows as­pir­ing pro­fes­sional wrestler Mike Hart­mann.

‘‘I’m a wrestler as well as an artist so it was a per­fect fit for me,’’ Mulipola says.

‘‘I met the writer Mike Kingston at Comic-Con in 2011 and we just hit it off. The next year he hired me to draw some exclusive ComicCon work.’’

The Head­locked project em­braced the in­ter­net from start to fin­ish.

It was funded by fans through a Kick­starter cam­paign, even­tu­ally rais­ing more than $30,000 to get the book fin­ished.

‘‘Mike writes the script from New York and emails it to me. I start do­ing a lay­out as I’m read­ing it. I send that back for ap­proval,’’ Mulipola says.

‘‘I draw it up on my com­puter. Tech­nol­ogy has made ev­ery­thing so much eas­ier.’’

Mulipola will hold a sign­ing event at Arkham City Comics in Royal Oak, the store he runs, when he comes back from San Diego.

‘‘I al­ways loved to draw as a kid,’’ he says. ‘‘I fell in love with comics too and started to draw my own.

‘‘Luck­ily I have been stub­born enough to never have a backup plan.’’

His en­try into the world of wrestling also came about through comics.

‘‘It was the clos­est thing to su­per­heroes in the real world. I cre­ated a comic of what I would be like as a pro-wrestler,’’ he says.

‘‘So af­ter that I just went and did it.

‘‘That was eight years ago now.’’

Photo: JAMES IRE­LAND

Drawn out: Michel Mulipola is de­but­ing his new graphic novel at Comic-Con.

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