Comics above the Law

OFF THE TURNBUCKLE: Graphic novel illustrator Marvin Law, left, with fellow graphic novelist Conor McCreery, was inspired one day to mix comics and professional wrestling. The result, despite some bad timing, was Slam the Webcomic.

Illustrator tries wrestling with new webcomic

Marvin Law is looking for the right time to lay the smackdown on the Toronto comic book scene.

The East York CI alumnus, class of 1997, has spent the past 13 years steeped in the Toronto graphic scene, illustrating the likes of Thor, Captain America, Gandalf the Grey and other heroes of might and magic.

But seven years ago, in the darkest depths of his own Mordor came an idea to fuse his passion for pro wrestling and his favourite medium, comic books.

“I thought, throughout my courses, I’ve seen comic books based on wrestling that were just horrendous and made me want to cry,” he said. “I thought, ‘You know what, I think this can translate into a great comic book,’ and it’s just a matter of how you take the subject matter and apply it.

“I love both things, and I ended up drawing all of it.”

Though the main influence of his two lead characters Sledgehammer and Sarge came from his video game playing of Smackdown vs. Raw, the real inspiration came from the 1978 comic book Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.

“In the story Superman loses his powers, and he’s fighting Muhammad Ali,” Law said. “Superman doesn’t really have the technical skills to fight.

“So I thought, ‘What if superheroes didn’t have a power, but had to learn how to fight?’”

After writing three scripts, getting friends and comic book editors, Kris Feric and Logan Lubera, to edit them, Law set out drawing.

“For me it was a coherent story and I finished that part, handed it off to those guys, and they told me what they liked and didn’t like,” he said.

Thus Slam the Webcomic was born, putting the lives of the National Federation of Wrestling’s professionals into an illustrative full nelson.

But its birth from pencil to paper came at a time when real world wrestling was reeling from the Chris Benoit steroid scandal that led to the murder-suicide June 25, 2007.

“It was never my intention to have art imitate life and it just happened as I was doing it that the Benoit scandal hit,” he said. “I was mortified because it shone a bad light on wrestling and I didn’t want to add to it.

“The whole premise of the story wasn’t to make wrestling look bad, it was just a part of it.”

Now with all 12 issues drawn, and coloured by David McConnehey, Law is looking to raise money to get Slam printed.

“I’d love to have a hardcopy to send to people, to say, ‘Hey man, read this, you’ll love it’,” he said. “It reads cool as individual copies.”

In the meantime, he’s working on two indie comics and a short story, and when he’s not creating worlds with a stroke of the pencil, he’s tripping the light fantastic.

“I’m moving towards fantasy,” he said. “It’s fun to draw — I don’t have to use rulers? What?

“I don’t mind (drawing with rulers), but it feels very technical — there’s no life to it,” he said. “Straight edges, buildings, if I want to draw something like that I’d be an architect.”

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