Andre the Giant: Life and Legend written and illustrated by Box Brown
Ok I will admit that I originally picked up this book because of Andre’s involvement in The Princess Bride. I thought he was brilliant in the movie, and so funny. I knew he had been a professional wrestler, but didn’t know much about him, so I decided to give this graphic novel a try because Andre seemed to have the kind of life that would be more interesting in a visual form. I enjoyed the story, though as other reviewers have mentioned, it wasn’t as personal as I would’ve liked, but rather from a outsider point-of-view.
I have never enjoyed watching professional wrestling as a sport because I know it’s faked, plus it seems reminds me of a soap opera with all its heroes and villains. As the author/illustrator points out in the author’s note in the beginning of the book, “The culture of professional wrestling is, in some ways, built upon mass deception.” However, in the case of someone like Andre the Giant, it seems like a good fit. Here you take someone who would not ordinarily fit in and because of his size and strength, he is in a profession where he was respected, loved and makes a whole lot of money doing what he was good at.
Andre Roussimoff was born in France to a Polish family, and was already taller than the average adult by the time he was twelve. He starts wrestling in Paris in 1969. He goes to Japan on his first international tour in 1970, where he first learns of his condition, Acromegaly, a tumor that grows on the pituitary gland of the brain which causes abnormal growth. It will cause him to “age prematurely, become crippled and his brow and jaw will become more pronounced (pg 53)”. Plus he will only live to age 40, which is what precipitates his constant need for alcohol (of which he drinks copious amounts of in the book) to forget about that fact. From Japan, he flies to Montreal to fight. He’s there for about a year before he heads to New York in 1973, where he meets Vince McMahon Sr, who is really the key to why Andre became one of the most popular professional wrestlers in America. Hulk Hogan, who was the only professional wrestler I really recognized growing up, was essentially Andre’s protege. Andre the Giant was 7’5″ and about 500 lbs at the height of his popularity. He died around age 40 in the country of his birth. 3 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.