Newly released, the Glorious Wrestling Alliance: Ultimate Championship Edition gathers the best wrestlers in the universe to compete for championship title! The Great Carp, an amphibious wonder, is feeling the weight of his championship. Miranda Fury has donned a mask to smash wrestling’s glass ceiling. And Gravy Train is desperate for a new gimmick, but it’s hard when you’re shaped like a giant gravy boat. This hilarious graphic novel pays homage to the surreal theater of pro wrestling while diving deep into the identities and anxieties of these zany characters.
Today author and cartoonist Josh Hicks shares his favorite comics, the start of Glorious Wrestling Alliance, and why wrestling provides the perfect backdrop for this story. Read on to find a special video and book trailer!
Hello Josh. What is Glorious Wrestling Alliance?
Glorious Wrestling Alliance is a comic book about the behind-the-scenes goings on at a professional wrestling promotion. We follow a bunch of characters around as they navigate life in and outside of the ring – at work, at home, on tour and more. We’ve got world champions with crises of confidence, we’ve got wrestlers shaped like gravy boats, we’ve got wrestlers who secretly wish they were poets. It’s a heady mix of wrestling, bickering and internal struggle, plus jokes!
You’ve been making comics for a while. What got you into comics and graphic novels? What were some of your favourites growing up?
I read comic books a lot as a child – in the UK we’d get versions of American Spider-Man comics that were a couple years behind what people were getting in the US, and we had a really great UK-only Sonic the Hedgehog comic that I devoured when I was like 8 or 9. Then I kind of fell off it as I approached my teens, only to get back into it at the end of high school via stuff like The Umbrella Academy and Scott Pilgrim. Great formative texts. It was still slightly shameful to like comics then, so I kind of just enjoyed them privately. Luckily (and rightfully) that doesn’t seem to be the case any more! I also really liked anime and manga – Dragon Ball & Evangelion were huge for me growing up.
How did Glorious Wrestling Alliance come about?
I’d always made comics in some way or another, but mainly I just doodled them and threw them away. In my early twenties I actually started finishing short stories and getting them published in anthologies here in the UK. I started thinking up these little Glorious Wrestling Alliance stories based around these characters that I had in my head, and then started self-publishing them as little zines and minicomics, carting them around different comic shows in the UK. After a while Lerner reached out and we put together this deluxe full-colour version of the book. I couldn’t be happier with the experience.
What do you hope readers will get out of Glorious Wrestling Alliance?
I hope they laugh, mostly. There are a lot of characters in this world, all with their own distinct concerns and quirks, and so I hope that readers can find things to empathise with and see bits of themselves in there, and maybe take some solace from that. I also really took pains to make it a satisfying read that looks after the reader from page one and gives them a solid, rewarding comics experience. Mainly though I just hope they laugh.
Like comics, I loved wrestling as a kid, but it fell by the wayside as I got older. I feel like this is everyone’s relationship with wrestling, for the most part. What didn’t fall away though was my love of these old Japanese wrestling video games – I don’t know why that’s the case, psychologically, but it is – and revisiting stuff like Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on the Playstation 2 and Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 on the Nintendo 64 was the main creative inspiration when I started these stories, really. I’d love to look at these rosters filled with characters I didn’t know anything about and imagine what their stories would be like – and when you boil the book down to its core elements, that’s kind of what it is. That was the impetus, really. Since starting the book I actually have gotten back into wrestling in a big way, and it is great. It is by no means for everyone though, and enjoyment of wrestling is by no means a prerequisite for enjoying this book! More than one person has told me they loathe wrestling but love this book, which is cool and weird.
Do you have any advice for young artists wanting to get into making comics?
My advice would just be to make them, even if you don’t really show anyone straight away. The thing with comics is that if you write and draw them yourself, they can be a really rewarding creative thing that you can do without having to wait for anybody or get anyone’s approval. Make short stories first, maybe put them online, maybe print them and attend some small comics shows (that’s what I did!) The main thing is just committing and finishing something, even if it’s small. That’s the biggest hurdle, but luckily it’s the first one – and it gets easier from there. Make comics! And don’t let anyone tell you what to do in them.
New Video from Josh Hicks!
Praise for Glorious Wrestling Alliance
“Spine-crushing fun.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This campy graphic novel is a knockout.”—School Library Journal
“[A] delightful story about characters beating their self-doubt with metaphorical steel chairs. It’s a mix of silly fun with gentle introspection. Wrestling fans will get a superkick out of this.” – AIPT Comics
“A comical, affectionate take on wrestling culture, this will be especially appealing for professional wrestling fans.” – BookRiot
“Josh Hicks does a tremendous job satirizing professional wrestling in Glorious Wrestling Alliance. Every facet of pro wrestling, from art to ego to commerce, gets a shot at the title with Josh’s witty dialogue and vibrant art! A very funny and entertaining read!” —Christopher Daniels, All Elite Wrestling
“Josh Hicks knocks it out of the park with Glorious Wrestling Alliance.” —Voices of Wrestling
“[A] kinetic spectacle of leg drops, championship title matches, and anxiety that captures the glory of sports entertainment.” — The Beat
Connect with the Author
Read more interviews with author and illustrators on the Lerner Website!