Box Brown is an Ignatz award winning comic artist and the founder of Retrofit Comics, an independent graphic novel publisher. This month First Second Books is releasing his full length graphic novel that tells the incredible true story of André René Roussimoff who will be more familiar as Fezzik and Andre the Giant. Box was kind enough to answer our questions via email before the release of Andre The Giant: The Life and Legend.
Being someone who has a chronic pain disorder I really related to the segment of your book referencing the fact that Andre was in constant pain. How surprising a revelation do you think that is going to be for most readers?
I think the level of pain and disability that Andre went through isn’t as well known. It was clear late in his career that he was in pain. He would come to the ring with braces. But, the extent to which his everyday life was effected may be surprising to some people.
Do you hope the book expands awareness for Andre’s condition. Acromegaly. Are there any foundations or anyone doing research at present? Any way you know that fans can donate or help other people like Andre?
Yes, of course, I’d be happy if the book raised awareness for Acromegaly. I would hope as well that maybe it would open peoples’ eyes to what it’s like for people living in chronic pain, but I guess those are high hopes for a comic book.
Much of people’s perceptions of Andre sound like tall tales (no pun intended) and when it comes to the story you are telling how much of it is the man and how much is the public persona? How much do they differ?
His wrestling persona for most of his career was that of a babyface or “good guy.” I think generally he was a really sweet guy with a kind heart. At times outside of the ring he may not have always been kind to everyone, but nobody is perfect. From my research I can also say Andre outside of the ring was looking for peace and quiet. I do think, however that Andre loved performing and loved to travel. Late in his career when he was plenty wealthy and in a great deal of pain he continued to perform almost right up to his death.
I was a fan before taking on the project. Andre wasn’t my favorite wrestler as a kid mostly because by the time I started watching he was a hell (or badguy). I think the
more I learned about Andre’s story the more I thought of him as a tragic but beautiful inspiring figure. As someone with a healthy fear of death, I was most fascinated with the idea that Andre was given a death sentence at a young age. We’re all given a death sentence, but rarely is it so defined as Andre’s was. He was told he wouldn’t live past 40, and he lived his life to the fullest.
How did you go about getting interviews from The Princess Bride Cast? Were there any stories that did not make it into the book?
The interview about Andre are from The Princess Bride DVD extras! The cast seemed to be extremely touched by their experiences with Andre. Mr. Mandy Patankin (Inigo Montoya) gave us a blurb for the book and was extremely gracious about it. He was definitely affected by his experience of working with Andre.[amazon template=iframe image&chan=default&asin=1596438517]