Buckle up for the ride of a lifetime with hardcore wrestling legend Mick Foley as the accomplished novelist takes the wheel on the brand new limited series "R.P.M." from 12-Gauge Comics.
A multiple New York Times #1 bestselling author, Foley teams with fellow writer Shane Riches and artist Jose Holder for the four-issue series launching this November. "R.P.M." marks the first foray into comics for the four-time World Heavyweight Champion Foley, who previously penned a number of autobiographical titles, three children's books and two novels—not to mention his countless appearances in television shows and voice acting work. The title follows car driver Revere Windsor, a descendant of the legendary Paul Revere, as he races from Boston to Miami to deliver an important package. Some international criminals and government agencies look to permanently detour the hero, but thankfully he holds a secret under his metaphorical hood: a hyper-kinetic depth perception that allows him to see and react to things faster than anyone else. Needless to say, expect a few—as Foley's wrestling persona Cactus Jack would say—bang-bangs of explosions in this high-octane adventure.
Pulling over a bit from their fictional cross-country adventure, both Foley and Riches spoke with CBR News in an exclusive first interview about the new series, providing a road map to the title's creation and sharing a story on how a young Foley had a nice day after visiting the studio of a legendary comic artist.
CBR News: To start things off, Mick, you're a very accomplished writer—penning a number of autobiographical books and a few children's stories as well. What made you decide to try your hand at comic book writing? What is appealing to you about this medium as opposed to regular novels?
Mick Foley: I noticed a few years ago when I did appearances at comic book conventions, that wrestling fans brought my autobiographies to sign, but very few would show up with the fiction novels. Talking and interacting with fans who were avid readers, but chose not to read my fiction work got me thinking about different mediums to reach my audience. A friend of mine, Jill Thompson, convinced me that many of my fans would be more open to reading my fiction work in a visual format where I could amp up the action—graphic novels or comic books.
Shane Riches: Mick's fiction work, "Tietam Brown" and "Scooter," are amazing dramatic novels. "Tietam Brown," in particular is one of the most emotional, character driven stories I've read. Doing a graphic novel, in contrast, allows Mick to go wild with his incredible action ideas in on the comic page.
How did the deal with 12-Gauge come about? Did they approach you about the series at a convention or give you a call?
Foley: Actually, the deal came about because of work Shane and I did on the film adaption of my novel "Tietam Brown." Shane was instrumental in steering the project into script form. Because of our collaboration on the "Tietam Brown" script had been a very painless process, I was extremely open to Shane's suggestion that we do a comic book.
Riches: As a huge fan of Mick's fiction work, I encouraged him to try his hand at comic books. My brother, Victor, had previously written the action thriller "The Safest Place" for 12-Gauge which was a terrific experience. So, last year in San Diego, we struck a deal with 12-Gauge to do "R.P.M."
We know the series follows Revere Windsor, a car-driving descendant of Paul Revere. How did you guys come up with the idea to R.P.M, which sounds like a really cool mix between racing film and Jason Bourne style espionage? Also, is there a double meaning to the title?
Foley: Being a big-time history buff, I thought it would be cool to do an update on a historical figure—giving him a 21st century edge while still being steeped in history. So, we took the attributes that made Paul Revere such a lasting legend and past them on to one of his descendants, who goes by "Revere." As far as a double meaning, sadly no, beyond the similar initials. We just thought it sounded cool.
Riches: You nailed it in your question comparing "R.P.M." to the Bourne franchise mixed with say, "The Fast and the Furious." What's awesome about Mick is that we have in-your-face action sequences with narratives including tidbits on the Revolutionary War. It's an amazing way to enrich the characters and story without losing a beat of action.
Windsor has a rather interesting special ability—he "sees and reacts to the world faster than anyone." How does this tie into his relation to the legend of Paul Revere? I believe reaction time played a very important role in that story as well.
Foley: When Shane and I first started tossing ideas around about Revere, we wanted to give him a super-power that would allow our readers to willingly suspend disbelief, which is always the ultimate goal of a good pro-wrestling match. So, we wanted to give him a power that might seem unlikely, but not theoretically impossible and still grounded in reality. As far as a relationship to Paul Revere, by giving him what we call hyper-kinetic depth perception, we were attempting to advance the legend of Paul Revere. Of course, our guy is facing a completely different enemy at more rapid speeds.
Riches: In a nice nod to the original, our Revere wears a belt buckle with the all-seeing Masonic eye designed by his ancestor. Paul Revere was silversmith who actually did that piece. It let us steep our fictional Revere in reality and was a natural tie-in with his ability to "see the speed." The biggest different between Paul Revere and "R.P.M." is that our Revere doesn't start out with the noblest of intentions. For him, delivering a package is just a job he does for the rush. As the story progresses, he needs reevaluate who he is and start living up to his namesake.
Besides Revere, who are some of the other characters we'll be seeing in this title and what can you say about them?
Foley: We have a female lead who is as tough as any TNA wrestler and a government agent whose motives are questionable to say the least.
Riches: I'll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag that there's also a character who bears a suspicious resemblance to Mick. Beyond that, I don't want to say anything else other than he becomes a real scene-stealer and you've never seen Mick like this before.
Mick, your experience in wrestling certainly gives you a very, very good insight into action and especially gives you an advantage when it comes to visualizing fight choreography for something like this. Yet from the sound of it, the action mostly takes place on the road. Are you also a high-speed package deliverer in your spare time? How much has your experience helped with this project?
Foley: One of the things I liked was that the high-speed nature of this story ensures that the action sequences take place in unique geographic locations. Chase scenes down Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, fist fight in the Florida Everglades, and who knows, we may have a steel cage setup on Mt. Rushmore. As far as delivering packages in high speed in my spare time, you'd have to ask my wife.
Riches: Mick's visual eye for action makes this story extremely unique. We can guarantee you'll see things done in a car that have never been seen before in any medium. Our artist, Jose Holder, is going to blow people away with his action shots. His style is hyper-kinetic mix of Walter Simonson and Barry Windsor-Smith. We also made sure that the action goes far beyond car chases as Revere finds himself using his ability in all sorts of crazy situations. Imagine if your depth perception and reaction time were better than anyone's—from the mundane like always finding the quickest route through a crowd to the action packed thrill of escaping a helicopter while driving a Smart car. I can't wait for people to see that scene in #2.
Are you guys comic book fans yourself? Mick, there's that story of how you were inspired to get into wrestling after seeing Jimmy Snuka. Did you have a similar moment with comics—where you read a comic and fell in love with the idea of super heroes?
Foley: I was an absolutely huge comic book fan for about a solid ten year period from 1973 to 1983. I believe I have an uninterrupted run of about a 100 straight "Incredible Hulk" comics, even though I made the foolish decision to cut a Marvel trading stamp out of #181, the origin of Wolverine. One of my most inspirational comic book moments was when I was at the home of my brother's classmate, John Buscema, and he allowed me to go into big John's studio and watch his dad at work making Thor come to life.
Riches: That's funny, I just read an old issue of "Conan" that Buscema drew. Talk about an amazing artist. I've been a lifelong comic fan, including going to San Diego Comic-Con since I was ten years old. For me, I think it was the Wolfman/Perez run on "The New Teen Titans" and the great Joe Staton covers on "Green Lantern." Marvel-wise, I'm with Mick. The Hulk is the greatest.
What are some of your influences, comic book or not, for this story?
Foley: My interest in comic book superheroes, especially the anti-hero, led me try to explore being a wrestling character in greater depth. I was enamored with the bad guys who weren't really bad at all—heroes who were simply misunderstood by society. So whether it be Hulk, Spider-Man, or Prince Namor—or later on an appreciation for the darker toned Batman—these guys were a big influence on me.
Riches: For me, the grounded action stories by Steven Grant, Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman were definitely an influence on "R.P.M.," particularly how they combine a nice sense of humor in the middle of dire action events. Even Carl Barks as far as taking readers on a journey and using location as a character. Also, Geoff Johns is the master of the last page reveal to keep readers wanting more. Hopefully, we were half as successful as those guys.
If you look at comics versus wrestling entertainment, both are similar in a lot of ways—heroes, villains, the emotion, the stories. What do you think the appeal is of both mediums and how the two relate to each other?
Foley: There's a huge cross-over audience. In some ways, fans look at wrestlers like real life superheroes—even if Stan Lee never featured a hero with my particular physique on Marvel's covers. I see shades of wrestling in many of the comics, whether it's a literal reference like Spider-Man's origin or just some of the trash talking the heroes and villains engage in.
Riches: Pretty much every wrestling fan I know is also a comic book fan. A couple of years ago, Mick and I were walking around the Gaslamp District in San Diego during Comic Con and we couldn't take two steps without someone asking for his autograph or photo. And Mick's the nicest guy in the world, so a two block trip took about an hour.
To wrap up, is writing comics something you guys would like to continue doing? Maybe even a comic about the adventures of three crime fighting brothers—Dude Love, Mankind and Cactus Jack? I personally would absolutely love to see that.
Foley: This has been a really great experience for me. I couldn't have done it without Shane as a co-writer who was able to take my strengths and compliment them in such a way that we tell a kickass action story. We see a lot of potential for "R.P.M." in the future and definitely have ideas to continue his tale. There are also several other stories I was once thinking of putting in novel format that might come to life on the comic book page instead. As far as the three crime fighting brothers, once you get the Mankind copyright from Vince McMahon, I'm onboard.
Riches: We definitely want to continue the adventures of Revere in future series of "R.P.M.," as well as work on a few new ideas we've been tossing around. Fans of Mick's legendary hardcore style and sense of humor should really love his first foray into comic books. This definitely shouldn't be the last we see of "R.P.M."