In the pop culture universe, mixed martial arts has bled over into many other formats over the last several years.
From TV appearances with the likes of Chuck Liddell on the HBO series “Entourage” to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s turn as a movie star in the remake of the “A-Team.” The sport itself has even taken on new life in movie form with films like “Red Belt” and the upcoming release “Warrior,” as well as being portrayed in popular TV shows like “True Blood.”
Yes, MMA is a global sport that can truly transcend any medium that the right artist can expand upon. It’s for that very reason that G4’s “Attack of the Show” host Blair Butler has combined her love of mixed martial arts and comic books into a new four-part series that will debut later this year called “Heart.” It will be released by Image Comics.
Butler has long been a true supporter of MMA, and has hosted a segment called “MMA Chokehold” on “Attack of the Show,” where guests like Nate Quarry, Urijah Faber, and others have appeared to break down fight cards and give MMA yet another platform to expose the sport to new eyes.
Over the years, Butler’s primary work for G4 has been covering the comic book industry. Now she gets to combine her love of MMA and comic books into a whole new series following the rise of a young, brash fighter making his way into the sport.
Being a fan and follower of MMA and a longtime comic book collector, Butler had the perfect formula to pen her first ever series.
“I’ve always wanted to write a comic, but it was intimidating as hell,” Butler told MMAWeekly.com. “You’re afraid to put stuff out there and fall on your face. I mean fear of failure is huge. And that’s what I love about MMA. Fighters are willing to put themselves on the line, willing to risk getting KO’d in front of a crowd, to put on a show. And it’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for years. I just didn’t have a hardcore collaborator until artist Kevin Mellon came into the picture.”
Mellon, who has drawn for industry giants like Image Comics and IDW Publishing, put his pencils to work as he brought Butler’s vision to life.
The appeal in the series is to crossover between the fans who love great art and stories in comic books and the MMA base, which covers a similar 18-to-34-year-old demographic with a passion for action and compelling drama.
“I hope comics fans will take a gamble on a genre that hasn’t been featured much in sequential art and that MMA fans will pick up a comic because it’s devoted to the world they love,” said Butler.
“You know, one thing I really want to get across early is that the protagonist, a young up-and-comer named Oren ‘Rooster’ Redmond is in no way representative of all fighters, and his training camp isn’t representative of all training camps. This is a little slice of life set in a smaller MMA circuit and his philosophy will be totally different than that of a lot of seasoned, professional MMA guys because he’s young, and cocky… and has a lot to learn.”
The lead character is a burgeoning fighter attempting to blaze his own path into the sport, coming up through the local promotional scene.
“It focuses on the rise and fall of a young MMA fighter named Oren ‘Rooster’ Redmond who follows his older brother into the world of MMA. It’s set in Kansas City, my hometown, and while it’s completely fictional, it’s awesome that there are more KC fighters popping up in Bellator and Strikeforce lately,” Butler explained.
The series, set to debut later this year, is currently slated at a four-issue run, but knowing her passion for the sport and for comics, Butler is enthusiastic about the chance to do more if the fans want it.
“If people like it, there are so many stories set in this world that I want to tell. An unequivocal ‘yes,'” Butler said.
While the two industries might seem somewhat far apart, comics and MMA are much closer than some might realize. It’s that very reason why Butler is hopeful that fans in both genres will check out “Heart” when it’s released and see how the fictional word of comics can express the very real world of MMA.
“I hope MMA fans will give it a chance. I absolutely love this sport, so it’s a big deal for me. I’m totally nervous, and hopeful,” Butler commented.
“Heart” by Blair Butler and Kevin Mellon will be released by Image Comics later this year.