After reading Oni’s Play Ball, it got me thinking that there is a real dearth of sports-based comics in the US. While Japan has a rich history of sports based comics (Prince of Tennis, Badminton Girl, and Slam Dunk just to name three), here in the state there really isn’t much. I think that the colossal catastrophe that was NFL Super-pro probably spoiled it for most of us.
There have been a few sports-themed comics released recently such as the aforementioned Play Ball and another Oni book, Super-Pro K.O. There is also Heart, an MMA comic published by Image. So, with this recent crack in the dam, I thought I would take a look at 5 sports that are ripe for their own comic.
I have a soft spot for rugby. I played it for a few years and grew to love this sport. It is fast-paced, full of action, and there are some amazing visuals.
In addition, rugby is fueled with international grudges which rival anything you will find in soccer (sorry, football). Just try walking in to an All-Blacks bar wearing a Wallabies jersey.
Most importantly, Rugby is the consumate team sport. The game is played with 15 men on a side. Each position is integral. No team can be successful with only big beefy Props, or with skinny little Backs. It is a sport where everyone relies on everyone else. There is no “offense” or “defense”. There is only 80 minutes of action.
I envision a series where a local rugby union player gets a chance to try out for the national team. Will he be good enough? Will he be fast enough, strong enough? Will the other players who have played together for so long accept him in to their ranks?
Before you yell at me and tell me that poker is not a sport, try turning on ESPN any time during the day. If it isn’t a re-run of Sports Center, it is some version of the World Series of Poker.
Not only is poker a tense, psychological game, the world of professional poker is full of larger than life personalities who do everything in their power to psych out their opponents. Whether it is wearing sunglasses all the time, listening to headphones, or dressing like the unabomber, poker players are “on” all the time.
While it is tempting to go with a “Professional Wrestling” style of storyline for the comic, I am thinking something more dramatic.
Anyone who questions the drama possible in a poker match has not sat through the final scene with Teddy KGB. Watch it, and then tell me there is no room for a really good poker comic.
When I originally made this list, bicycle road racing was in this spot. The Tour de France. But then I thought, “why stop there?” Triathlon requires an athlete to be a master of not one, but three disciplines. And, at the Ironman level, it is taken to the extreme.
2.4 mile swim pushing, shoving, and kicking your way through hundreds of swimmers. 112 mile bike ride in the scorching sun. 26.4 mile marathon to wrap it all up.
Chrissie Wellington is, pound for pound, the best athlete on the planet. She is the reigning Women’s Ironman World Champion, and holds the Women’s world record at the distance. She has never lost at the Ironman. Very few men in the world can best her. And, when they do, it is not by much.
Triathlon is the most equal playing field in sports. Men, women, young, old, and even paraplegics and amputees all compete on the same course at the same time with the same set of rules and restrictions. Everyone has 17 hours to complete the entire course.
To get to the world championships, you have to qualify at a regional. Doing that is quite the feat. Having participated in a half-ironman, I can tell you that the time and energy commitment is unbelievable. The sacrifices one has to make just to get to the starting line are immense. There has to be a comic in there somewhere.
When most of us think of sailing, we think of bluebloods for an outing around the bay. Where is the drama in that?
Welcome to the Volvo Ocean Race
Formerly the Whitbread ‘Round The World Race, this ocean race pits crews in a nine month race, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October and concludes in Galway, Ireland, during early July.The teams sail over 39,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient.
In the initial running of the race back in the 1970′s, three men were lost at sea. Each year, dozens of men are injured or swept overboard. You race 4 hours on watch, 4 hours off, round the clock. You go to bed tired and wet and get up tired and damp. Tempers flare on the ships between the crews, and everyone seems to have some idea of how the ship should be run. It is up to the skipper and the watch captains to make sure that everything stays on course.
5: Competitive Ballroom Dancing
This one is probably the easiest one to translate to the comic page. There are graceful people moving together in harmony, trying to convince the judges that their passion is real. However, peel back the layers and you will find there are hours of repetition, plenty of griping, and more than a little backstabbing.
And the costumes!!!!!
This is the perfect opportunity for a riff on The Cutting Edge. Boy and girl are forced together to become a team. They can’t stand each other, but are forced to find a way to overcome their differences if they are going to win the big competition.
Given the popularity of Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, there is the possibility of some sort of crossover appeal. If nothing else, it wold give us something completely different than anything else on the stands.
What do you think? What sports are ready for their comic debut?