Friday, 29 August 2014

Boxiana Vol. 1 preview: The Original Johnson


Over the next few weeks, this blog will be featuring a series of exclusive previews of content from Boxiana: Volume 1, which will hopefully whet your appetite and persuade you to buy the full volume, which will be available as a paperback book (RRP £9.99) or ebook (RRP TBC).

Today I'm continuing the 'boxing comics' theme of several previous posts by presenting an extract from the third chapter of Boxiana Volume 1, written by Trevor Von Eeden which examines Trevor's motivation for the creation of his Jack Johnson graphic novel The Original Johnson.


Trevor's article is a heartfelt, provocative and fiercely intelligent analysis of American history, and Jack Johnson's significance within it. It's a unique and highly creative piece of writing which I absolutely adore, and hope you all will too!
To accompany this extract, Trevor has also kindly supplied Boxiana with some stunning scans of original artwork  from The Original Johnson, as well as some previously unseen examples 0f alternate artwork, including a fabulous cover concept which spins the cliché of the 'great white hope' into the 'great black hope'.

For more info on Trevor click here for Boxiana's interview with him and here for an extract from our article on boxing-themed comics.

As I publish further previews from the anthology in the coming weeks and days, hopefully you'll conclude that Boxiana: Volume 1 will be worth purchasing. If not, then at the very least I hope you enjoy the free sneak peeks and other blog posts!
Anyway, that's enough of the hard sell, here's the latest preview - which consists of the a 1,000 word passage of what is a 6,o00 word feature. Enjoy!



Boxiana: Volume 1 preview

Round 3
THE STORY BEHIND ‘THE ORIGINAL JOHNSON’

Renowned comic-book artist Trevor Von Eeden explains the philosophy and intentions behind his graphic novel masterpiece ‘The Original Johnson’, which tells the story of the pioneering heavyweight legend Jack Johnson …

Jack Johnson was the son of a slave - a man who had been reduced, in the country of his own birth, to the vile degradation of existing as a human being without humanity; a human being without freedom, individuality, dignity, hope - or originality. A human being without any form of reality, whatsoever. A human being with only a memory - of the painful, indisputable, irrefutable, irrevocable fact of his own individual existence, his own personal, inner reality - his own humanity. Living in a world dedicated to fear, hatred, hypocrisy, and above all - conformity. A world now and forever closed and opposed to the simple, self-evident fact of his own reality.



How does a human being not go mad, in a circumstance such as that? Is it possible? Was it possible to be a slave in Early America, and not go insane - eventually? Apparently, from the writings and testimonies of those fortunate few who managed to somehow survive the horrible institution, it was indeed possible. But, oh - what courage it must have taken! True freedom begins in the mind of the individual, and the man that Jack had as a role model in his father must have been a man of extraordinary courage, intelligence, and dignity, to have raised such a son. We’ll never know - but what we do know is that Jack made of himself a genuine hero, a legend - and a creature of inevitable myth. But as a real, live, flesh and blood person - with a childhood, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears, just like you and me - Jack has never been a part of the public consciousness. His legend has taken on a mythic status, as if he were a creature of fiction like John Henry, the black ‘steel-drivin’ man’ who died competing against a soulless machine in a contest of railroad track laying.




But Jack Johnson was REAL - and he didn’t die, nor lose, in a contest against the soulless machine that was the world of his day and time - he WON! And he thrived spectacularly, conquering that world single-handedly, again and again, until he chose to end the battle - on his terms. Unfortunately, for the past hundred years or so, his story has been almost exclusively told by the very same people whom he had conquered - and although the indisputable greatness of his unique and unprecedented achievements is such that no distortion of the actual facts of his accomplishments was possible - it was still indeed possible to present a partialized portrait of his personality, life, and character to the public in diluted and selectively constructed form enough to essentially trivialize, marginalize, vilify, and ‘niggerize’ this great man’s memory - especially in the minds of his own people. The simple (or simple-minded) reasoning behind that being so that no others of his ‘ilk’ (i.e: color) would be able to potentially follow in his footsteps, by figuring out exactly how and what he’d done, then doing it themselves. The ‘Great White Hope’ was that black people in America would never realize the potential inherent in their own humanity - period.



Jack Johnson’s entire life and being were a direct refutation and serious threat to that singularly cowardly and corrupt intention. So for the past century, Jack’s actual humanity has been either glossed over, or ignored. Unfathomable mystery became another part of his myth, and legend - he became an official global anomaly, instead of a man of courage who had conquered the forces of an inhuman evil, simply by standing up for his own humanity. What he’d done was extraordinary, no doubt - but absolutely far beyond the abilities of lesser mortals, like your average black American ...  There was nothing in Jack’s legend (as created and perpetuated for four score and twenty years and more, by the same racist culture he’d fought against all his life) that anyone could possibly identify with as a normal, black human being, and say, “Hey, I know how he did that - and I can do it too!” A big reason for that being, of course, that the racist reporters of his day actually didn’t know themselves how he’d done ‘it’ to begin with!



Jack succeeded in his battle against Racism simply because he, himself, was not a racist - how can one really expect people born and raised in an overtly, proudly racist country like early America to understand, much less accept that fact? A man ahead of his time is always just that … In the hands of his enemies, Jack’s very greatness became the means of his diminishment, especially in the minds of the people he truly represented - the oppressed, underprivileged, ignored, and downtrodden - in any society. The poor, huddled masses, as some call them ...  But some truths remain alive in memory, despite every effort to erase, bury, or modify them, and Jack Johnson represented - and will always represent - HUMAN FREEDOM. The only way to defeat racism is with humanity, and Jack lived, exemplified, and applied that doctrine to every facet of his life and personality. It showed in his genial, generous, good-natured character, and was the reason the man enjoyed his life to its zenith. He was free of anyone else’s definition of himself but his own. Jack’s clearly stated p.o.v. on Racism was: “I treat people as if race doesn’t exist” - this profoundly revealing statement is not one of denial, but of dismissal - of the inherently divisive, bogus, and cowardly tenet of Racism itself. But no one of his time understood what he meant, and here in the 21st Century, we’re only now beginning to catch up to this extraordinary man’s exemplarily original - and TRUE - point of view.



How did Jack do it? How did he conquer an entire racist world? How did he create and live a life that no-one else had ever even conceived of before - and enjoy the minutes, hours, days, and years of a life spent right in the midst of his enemies? Easy … he loved his fellow man - and was completely free of their own, self-inflicted fears.

THE FULL ARTICLE WILL APPEAR IN THE PRINT AND EBOOK EDITION OF BOXIANA: VOLUME 1, TO BE PUBLISHED IN NOVEMBER
ALL ARTWORK COURTESY OF TREVOR VON EEDEN

TREVOR VON EEDEN was born on July 24th, 1959, in Georgetown, Guyana (formerly British Guiana) - the only English speaking country in South America. He came to America with his family in 1970. In 1976, at age 17, he became DC Comics’ first black artist - and the youngest they'd ever hired. His first assignment was to co-create their first original black superhero, Black Lightning (the black GL knock-off, John Stewart, had debuted shortly before.) BL is still alive and well in the DC Comics Universe. Over the years, Trevor has also received favorable acclaim for his work on Powerman/ Ironfist #56-59 (1979); The Batman Annual #8 (1982); The Green Arrow mini-series (1983); the cult favorite, Thriller (1983-85); The Black Canary mini-series and subsequent regular series (1990-1993) and Legends of The Dark Knight #149-153 (2001) - his last work for DC Comics, to date. His first self-written/drawn graphic novel The Original Johnson, the story of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was released in December 2009 to generally positive acclaim from fans and critics alike. A quote from the New York Times Book Review graces both covers of the two volume paperback set. Trevor is currently at work on his second book, The Story of HERU: The First Hero, and resides in the Gun Hill Road section of the Upper Bronx. He is single, lives alone, and enjoys his own company quite a bit. When it comes to sex, he likes women - but infinitely prefers them to be smart, rather than dumb. A good wife would be helpful - but not mandatory - for achieving happiness and peace of mind in life. He has no major complaints nor regrets to report.
Boxiana: Volume 1 will be available through Troubador PublishingAmazon in the UKAmazon in the USA and all good traditional and online booksellers.

Further exclusive previews of Volume 1 content, as well as further information about Boxiana's contributors will feature on the Boxiana blog in the coming weeks.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Boxiana: Volume 1 is an anthology of never before published boxing writing and takes an in-depth look at the sport’s past, present and future. Original, startling and thought-provoking, Boxiana examines pugilistic themes, characters and issues ranging from the personal to the universal, combining exclusive interview material with meticulous research. The book’s fresh approach will both intrigue and delight all serious followers of boxing.

Featured in Volume 1: comic book legend Trevor Von Eeden analyses the significance of Jack Johnson; Mario Mungia tries his hand at amateur boxing; Ben Williams uncovers his grandfather’s bareknuckle boxing career; Matthew Ogborn considers the issues boxers face on retirement; James Hernandez catches up with Jon Thaxton; rising light heavyweight Chris Hobbs recounts his life in the military and the ring; Rowland Stone recalls a heady night in 1992; Corey Quincy attempts to solve the Wladimir Klitschko conundrum and Luke G. Williams examines the meteoric rise of Deontay Wilder and the under-rated career of Chris Byrd. 

No other boxing anthology can match Boxiana’s eclectic range of subject matter, or its in-depth examination of issues and characters from boxing’s past, present and future.
Luke G. Williams
Editor

Monday, 25 August 2014

Boxiana Vol. 1 preview: A New Hope



Over the next few weeks, this blog will be featuring a series of exclusive previews of content from Boxiana: Volume 1, which will hopefully whet your appetite and persuade you to buy the full volume, which will be available as a paperback book (RRP £9.99) or ebook (RRP TBC).

Today I'm presenting an extract from the fourth chapter of Boxiana Volume 1, written by myself, which examines rising heavyweight Deontay Wilder. The article is an in-depth look at Deontay's career so far, his background and the team surrounding him. The article features interviews with Deontay himself, his manager Jay Deas and the other members of his 'Bomb Squad' team - Mark Breland, Russ Anber and Cuz Hill.

With Deontay in line for a mandatory shot against WBC Heavyweight Bermane Stiverne in the next few months, hopefully you'll find it a timely article as we wait to see whether he can make the step up to World Championship level. I think Deontay's got what it takes and is the most exciting heavyweight in the world right now - only time will tell if I'm right!

As I publish further previews from the anthology in the coming weeks and days, hopefully you'll conclude that Boxiana: Volume 1 will be worth purchasing. If not, then at the very least I hope you enjoy the free sneak peeks and other blog posts!

Anyway, that's enough of the hard sell, here's the latest preview - which consists of the first 1,000 words of what is a mammoth 6,o00 word feature. Enjoy!


Boxiana: Volume 1 preview
Round 4

A NEW HOPE


Luke G. Williams was recently given extensive access to America’s great heavyweight hope Deontay Wilder and the team surrounding him. After hearing what they have to say, he assesses the possibility that the ‘Bronze Bomber’ is the saviour heavyweight boxing has been waiting for …


They say that you can measure the state of professional boxing by the strength and profile of the heavyweight division. If that’s true, then the sport is currently on life support. Wladimir Klitschko, in all his robotic glory, bestrides the division - master of all he surveys, with a series of increasingly hapless victims having prostrated themselves at his feet. Klitschko has made noises about trying to extend his reign until the age of 50 but, Eastern Europe and the boxing cognoscenti apart, no one really cares - he may be a master at winning, as a decade-long unbeaten streak proves; he may even be a master pugilist, as his incredible determination to maximise his strengths and neutralise his weaknesses illustrates, but his inability to engage or excite the casual sports fan or wider public, particularly in America, has left heavyweight boxing in desperate need of a new face to re-establish the pre-eminence of the World Heavyweight Championship as the most prestigious honour in sport.

Deontay Leshun Wilder could be that new face. The saviour. The new hope. The next ‘big thing’. His professional record as of September 2014 certainly evokes excitement and infers a propensity for violence; in 32 bouts, Wilder has never been past four rounds, and every single opponent he has faced has been knocked out, many of them savagely so, left in a heap with their limbs twitching and bodies convulsing and contorting in concussive pain. Now that he is on the verge of challenging for a world title, Wilder is in the unenviable position of carrying the burden of America’s heavyweight hopes on his broad, tattooed shoulders. If a charismatic, photogenic and engaging man like Wilder can become World Heavyweight Champion … if he can buck the recent dominance of eastern European heavyweights … if he can unify the belts in an exciting style, sending the top contenders sprawling to the canvas ... then maybe, just maybe, he could revitalise boxing’s popularity, which has been under siege from a confluence of factors already too well-rehearsed and discussed to recite again. A series of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ aren’t much to hang the future of a sport on, but sometimes boxing fans have to cling to whatever hope they can find.


* * *


The Appalachians are a vast series of mountains, ridgelines and valleys, that stretch a majestic 1,500 miles through the east of North America, from the island of Newfoundland in the north to the heart of the southern state of Alabama. The vast swathes of broad and needle-leaf trees that characterise the flora of much of the region have borne silent witness to centuries of bloodshed, struggle and violence; from the cultural clashes between the first European colonists and the native Americans, to the American War of Independence, American Civil War and the Civil Rights struggle.

Tuscaloosa, the fifth largest city in the state of Alabama, is located in the foothills of the Appalachians. Like many towns and cities across America, its history sums up many of the maddening contradictions of the American dream. It was in Tuscaloosa, on 11 June 1963, that Governor George Wallace stood in front of the entrance to the University of Alabama in an attempt to maintain segregation at the University by blocking the entry and enrolment of black students Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood. It was also near to the site of modern-day Tuscaloosa that, in 1540, the Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto was ambushed by members of the Mobilian tribe, led by one Chief Tuskaloosa, a fearsome warrior who was said to be so much taller than the Spanish that “he seemed a giant”. After a bitter and bloody battle lasting nine hours, the Spanish emerged triumphant, although Chief Tuskaloosa’s bravery was not forgotten, with later settlers naming the town in his honour, as well as the river that ran through it, which was termed the ‘Black Warrior’ river, a nod to the meaning of the chief’s name when translated from Choctaw. Interestingly enough, the Gentleman of Elvas’ description of chief Tuskaloosa in 1557 pretty neatly summarises the qualities of a great heavyweight champion: “Full of dignity … tall of person, muscular lean and symmetrical … Equally feared by his vassals and the neighbouring nations.”

It somehow seems appropriate that Tuscaloosa is the birthplace and home of Deontay Wilder, for the heavyweight division has long been looking for a ‘warrior’ to curb the Klitschko brothers’ monotonous dominance. After the false dawns represented by the likes of Michael Grant, Seth Mitchell et al, and given Wilder’s untested chin and occasionally wild style, many sceptics scoff at the notion that he is the prodigal son the sport has been waiting for. But, interviewing Deontay himself and the team who surround him, a compelling case emerges that Wilder is the real deal, and that the Heavyweight Championship of the World isn’t merely his dream, but his destiny.

* * *

Although Wilder has admitted that he possessed a youthful tendency to get involved in street scraps, it would be inaccurate to characterise his upbringing as misspent or dysfunctional, in the way that, say, Mike Tyson’s was. “My childhood was good,” he confesses, an unusual but refreshing admission to elicit from a boxer, given how regularly the sport’s participants proudly parade their stories of a misspent or deprived youth. “I had good teachers in school who cared; I was taught right from wrong. I learned to respect people and to expect people to respect me. I learned to not to be a fool. Alabama is a great place to raise a family; you can live here and not worry about too much.  I still live here and would recommend it to anyone.  I've had opportunities to move but I don't want to; this is home.”

To paraphrase the classic plot device from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, there was a ‘Rosebud’ moment for Wilder - in other words, a moment that explains and puts into context everything that he has achieved, strived for and focused on since. For Wilder, that moment was the birth of his daughter Naieya on 20 March 2005. X-rays soon after revealed a hole in Naieya’s spine and she was subsequently diagnosed with the developmental disorder spina bifida. “Naieya is my inspiration,” Wilder stresses. “After she was born with spina bifida, the doctors said she wouldn't do this or that but she is now doing all the things they said she wouldn't. I never would've gotten into boxing without her.” After Naieya’s birth Wilder, then just 19, was fuelled by a steely determination to provide for and support his daughter the best he possibly could. He dropped out of college and was soon driving a beer delivery truck to earn a living as well as working at a branch of Red Lobster, a seafood restaurant chain. A sports enthusiast, Wilder had never given a boxing career a second thought, however desired careers in American football and basketball had not materialised, so he decided to consider other options. And that’s when he discovered the Skyy gym.



THE FULL ARTICLE WILL APPEAR IN THE PRINT AND EBOOK EDITION OF BOXIANA: VOLUME 1, TO BE PUBLISHED IN NOVEMBER

Boxiana: Volume 1 will be available through Troubador PublishingAmazon in the UKAmazon in the USA and all good traditional and online booksellers.

Further exclusive previews of Volume 1 content, as well as further information about Boxiana's contributors will feature on the Boxiana blog in the coming weeks.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Boxiana: Volume 1 is an anthology of never before published boxing writing and takes an in-depth look at the sport’s past, present and future. Original, startling and thought-provoking, Boxiana examines pugilistic themes, characters and issues ranging from the personal to the universal, combining exclusive interview material with meticulous research. The book’s fresh approach will both intrigue and delight all serious followers of boxing.

Featured in Volume 1: comic book legend Trevor Von Eeden analyses the significance of Jack Johnson; Mario Mungia tries his hand at amateur boxing; Ben Williams uncovers his grandfather’s bareknuckle boxing career; Matthew Ogborn considers the issues boxers face on retirement; James Hernandez catches up with Jon Thaxton; rising light heavyweight Chris Hobbs recounts his life in the military and the ring; Rowland Stone recalls a heady night in 1992; Corey Quincy attempts to solve the Wladimir Klitschko conundrum and Luke G. Williams examines the meteoric rise of Deontay Wilder and the under-rated career of Chris Byrd. 

No other boxing anthology can match Boxiana’s eclectic range of subject matter, or its in-depth examination of issues and characters from boxing’s past, present and future.

Luke G. Williams
Editor

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Boxiana Vol. 1 extras: Five rounds with Trevor Von Eeden


Over the next few weeks, this blog will be featuring a series of exclusive previews and 'extras'  relating to the content of Boxiana: Volume 1, which will hopefully whet your appetite and persuade you to buy the full volume, which will be available as a paperback book (RRP £9.99) or ebook (RRP TBC).

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an extract from the second chapter of Volume 1, written by myself, which charted the history of boxing-themed comic strips and comic books. That theme continues today with an exclusive interview with comic book legend and Boxiana contributor Trevor Von Eeden

Trevor is a crucial contributor to Boxiana: Volume 1; not only has he written a brilliant and heartfelt article about Jack Johnson which is included in the volume (this piece will be previewed here in the next few days), but he has also produced a series of dynamic, exclusive and original pieces of art which will be showcased throughout the volume. The black and white illustration of Jack Johnson at the top of this page is just one such example. To see the others, you'll have to wait to see the final, printed edition of Boxiana which will be published in November!

I first came across Trevor's art when I was a young comic-book fanatic in the 1980s. His work was full of energy, creative daring and crackled with a spirit of experimental adventure. Years later, I discovered that Trevor had produced a two-volume graphic novel based on the life of Jack Johnson. As a huge Johnson and boxing fan, I was both excited and thrilled to discover how one of the comic book heroes of my youth would bring to life perhaps the most important boxer who ever walked the face of the earth - and The Original Johnson, as this landmark work was called, certainly didn't disappoint.


Not long after reading The Original Johnson I got in touch with Trevor and was delighted to discover that he was a real gentleman with a keen intellect; even better (for me!) was the fact that he liked the sound of my concept for Boxiana and was willing to contribute both artwork and prose to the volume. He's been a constant support and encouragement ever since, and a true pleasure to work with.

 As I said earlier, I'll be printing a preview from Trevor's article on Johnson in the next few days. In the meantime, here's Trevor's thoughts on five questions which I'll be posing to all of Boxiana's contributors over the next few months as we count down to publication in November.

Boxiana goes five rounds with Trevor Von Eeden


Round 1: Can you remember the first boxing match you ever watched?
The first boxing match I remember seeing was the Ali / Liston fight. It was truly mythical- almost biblical in its effect on my psyche (Samson blinded, yet still overcoming the Philistines - loved it!), and it changed my life forever. Then, when I was introduced to the essence of confidence, natural intelligence, love, and joy that was Muhammad Ali’s personality, I remember thinking that with that man in the world, I never need fear losing anything important to me, ever again. He showed me that you can fight for, and win, whatever you wanted in life, as long as you believed in yourself and persevered, despite whatever odds.  I was around 12 or 14 at the time. Before Bruce Lee, Ali was the first (non-white) man in my life to conquer an entire, racist world (not just American society) simply by being himself, and by believing in the fruits of his own labor. An inspiration that has never dimmed.

Round 2: Who are your favourite boxers and why?
Muhammad Ali (the absolute GREATEST of all time), Jack Johnson (one of the greatest MEN to ever walk the planet - period), Sugar Ray Leonard (a miniature version of Muhammad Ali, who did his idol justice), Manny Pacquiao (the Bruce Lee of boxing - blatantly cheated out of his title after the Bradley fight, because he’d become a born-again Christian, which is apparently bad for a boxer’s image, to the powers that be, in Las Vegas…), Sugar Ray Robinson and  Joe Louis also come to mind.

Round 3: Is boxing morally justifiable?
From what point of view? Is sex between consenting adults morally justifiable? It is, in private. When sex becomes a public affair, for profit, that’s when the issue of morality arises. Same with boxing. Fighting sports are as old as civilization itself (especially since most civilizations were built and maintained thru warfare in the olden days) and boxing is but one of the many martial arts that have existed throughout history. If the question refers to boxers being unscrupulously exploited by callous, greedy men, at the risk of their physical and mental health - that presupposes that the average boxer is a punch-drunk idiot, incapable of handling himself in a business arena - which I think is a long dead cliché, in the 21st Century. Men from Jack Johnson up to Muhammad Ali and beyond, have shown conclusively that being a boxer definitely does not preclude one’s also having the gift of superior intelligence, as well (the “punchdrunk palooka” is a cliché born of jealousy, as are most prejudices). Sex and violence are staples in every civilised society - they’re usually the main ingredient in every popular movie, and most other forms of social entertainment. Two men voluntarily beating the hell out of each other in a ring is undoubtedly morally repugnant to the more squeamish and sheltered people in life - but in a free society, boxing, MMA, and the ever-popular, albeit physically brutal sport of American football, will live on for as long as athletes (and couch potatoes) exist. Does the argument against moral justification take into account the free will of all the parties involved, or is it just another attempt at moral dictatorship by the ever-present, passive-aggressive “moral majority” in every society? America itself was born as a reaction to religious persecution by a malevolent majority - who felt  the right to determine and dictate the “correct” stardard of morality to others. But did they take into account the free will of the parties involved? Boxing is not prostitution, there is no treat of a public health hazard thru communicable diseases involved. It’s a form of self-defense, necessary in an unrelentingly violent world. Boxing is a martial art. One of the oldest in history. It’s simply mutual combat, unlike rampant, wanton prosmiscuity, which is never justifiable - ask anyone who truly loves their sexual partner. Physical love is the most personal, selfish thing that a human being can experience, not something to be bartered about in the marketplace like a piece of cloth, cheese - or meat. On the other hand, is (the Art of) self-defense morally justifiable? Well, who in their right mind would ever say “No” to that question?

Round 4: Time travel has been invented and you are able to match up two fighters from boxing history. Who would they be and why?
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Louis; Ali vs. John L. Sullivan (in his prime); Sugar Ray (either one) vs. Jim Corbett/Billy Conn/Willie Pep; Marciano vs. Frazier; Pacquiao vs. Mayweather (lol) A young Sugar Ray Leondard vs. Manny Pac would be epic, actually … I’m sure I could think of more, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind. What I’d LOVE to see, if I had a time-machine kinescope, are the fights and fighters from the bare-knuckle era (including the great John L. himself, natch), and the early days of glove boxing. Nowadays, in our 12-15 round bout encounters, it’s inconceivable that boxing matches went on for 50-100 rounds  at a stretch - and that’s without gloves, or any other form of protection! ( I’d imagine the ever-popular kick to the groin must’ve had a field day back then…)

Round 5: What achievement or piece of work from your professional life (writing or otherwise) has given you the most satisfaction?
I have two favorite jobs in my career, so far: The Batman Annual #8 (’82) - the first job where I consciously decided to pull out all stops and draw the script as I saw it, instead of translating (and expressing) it thru the styles of the artistic heroes in my head (Kirby, Adams, Buscema, Swan, Toth). I literally sat down and wrote down a “mission statement” about what I wanted my new style to be, and how I wanted to express myself through it. To this day, it’s the book I’m most proud of, in my 25 year career at DC Comics. I was able to ink it myself, and also got my girlfriend at the time, Lynn Varley, to colour it - her first job in comics. I’d met her at Neal Adams’ Continuity Studios, where she was one of the top inhouse color artists there. She later went on to marry well, and helped her husband, Frank Miller, become one of the most successful creators in comics history during their 20 year marriage. I’m very proud of what Lynn has accomplished in her career, and the Batman Annual #8 is a permanent record of a very happy time, for me. The other “most satisfying” book of my career is The Original Johnson - the first book I’ve ever written and drawn. Unfortunately, dealing with an unscrupulous and untalented publisher has resulted in a lesser quality presentation of my book than I’d designed and expected (for one thing, the cover painting I’d specifically created for my book—my first cover painting ever - was not used. The book was also half inked by someone other than myself, due to the underhanded actions of my publisher. Fortunately, I liked the other inker’s work, but it displeased me not to be able to ink the entirety of my own first book. I’m currently hauling them into court to receive the royalties that they still haven’t delivered, in over four years … the bums.) These actions by others are the reasons why TOJ is not my “most satisfying” job - but it IS my most personally expressive, and I’m very proud to have created it. The book was also very well received by both critics and the fans, which is tremendously gratifying to me.

Thanks to Trevor for sparring five rounds with Boxiana!

TREVOR VON EEDEN was born on July 24th, 1959, in Georgetown, Guyana (formerly British Guiana) - the only English speaking country in South America. He came to America with his family in 1970. In 1976, at age 17, he became DC Comics’ first black artist - and the youngest they'd ever hired. His first assignment was to co-create their first original black superhero, Black Lightning (the black GL knock-off, John Stewart, had debuted shortly before.) BL is still alive and well in the DC Comics Universe. Over the years, Trevor has also received favorable acclaim for his work on Powerman/ Ironfist #56-59 (1979); The Batman Annual #8 (1982); The Green Arrow mini-series (1983); the cult favorite, Thriller (1983-85); The Black Canary mini-series and subsequent regular series (1990-1993) and Legends of The Dark Knight #149-153 (2001) - his last work for DC Comics, to date. His first self-written/drawn graphic novel The Original Johnson, the story of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was released in December 2009 to generally positive acclaim from fans and critics alike. A quote from the New York Times Book Review graces both covers of the two volume paperback set. Trevor is currently at work on his second book, The Story of HERU: The First Hero, and resides in the Gun Hill Road section of the Upper Bronx. He is single, lives alone, and enjoys his own company quite a bit. When it comes to sex, he likes women - but infinitely prefers them to be smart, rather than dumb. A good wife would be helpful - but not mandatory - for achieving happiness and peace of mind in life. He has no major complaints nor regrets to report.


Boxiana: Volume 1 will be available through Troubador PublishingAmazon in the UKAmazon in the USA and all good traditional and online booksellers.
1    
Further exclusive previews of Volume 1 content, as well as further information about Boxiana's contributors will feature on the Boxiana blog in the coming weeks.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Boxiana: Volume 1 is an anthology of never before published boxing writing and takes an in-depth look at the sport’s past, present and future. Original, startling and thought-provoking, Boxiana examines pugilistic themes, characters and issues ranging from the personal to the universal, combining exclusive interview material with meticulous research. The book’s fresh approach will both intrigue and delight all serious followers of boxing.

Featured in Volume 1: comic book legend Trevor Von Eeden analyses the significance of Jack Johnson; Mario Mungia tries his hand at amateur boxing; Ben Williams uncovers his grandfather’s bareknuckle boxing career; Matthew Ogborn considers the issues boxers face on retirement; James Hernandez catches up with Jon Thaxton; rising light heavyweight Chris Hobbs recounts his life in the military and the ring; Rowland Stone recalls a heady night in 1992; Corey Quincy attempts to solve the Wladimir Klitschko conundrum and Luke G. Williams examines the meteoric rise of Deontay Wilder and the under-rated career of Chris Byrd. 

No other boxing anthology can match Boxiana’s eclectic range of subject matter, or its in-depth examination of issues and characters from boxing’s past, present and future.

Luke G. Williams
Editor

Friday, 22 August 2014

Bare-knuckle legends: Henry Pearce


I have some good news to celebrate today, having signed a contract with a publisher for a long-planned boxing book that I've spent more than a decade researching. Exact details of the book need to be kept under wraps for now, but I am able to reveal that it is connected with the Georgian era of bare-knuckle boxing.

I love every era of boxing for different reasons, but, for me, the Georgian period is the most fascinating in the sport's history, mainly because it is richly populated with charismatic and compelling characters. One of my favourite pugilists of this, or any, time is Henry Pearce, otherwise known as the 'Game Chicken'.

Pearce was, by all accounts, a teak-tough man, with a touch of gallantry to him as well. He never lost a single prize fight, and could count among his victims such legendary figures as Joe Bourke, John Gully and Jem Belcher. After dismissing the challenge of Belcher, though, the age-old temptations of wine, women and song turned his head, and, within two years, he was dead, having contracted tuberculosis.

While researching my book this week, I came across a glorious obituary of Pearce in an old newspaper archive. The obituary was published shortly after his untimely death in 1809 and I've reproduced it in full for your delectation - have a read and I promise you that one of the most exciting prize fighters who ever walked the face of the earth comes into sharp and glorious focus again:

DEATH OF THE GAME CHICKEN - 1 May 1809
"Yesterday afternoon, at half-past four o'clock, died the celebrated pugilistic hero, Henry Pearce, alias the Game Chicken, and once the Champion of England. His fighting career was put to an end to by a complaint of the lungs, brought on by dissipated habits, and at which brought on his dissolution.

The title of Champion of England has, from time to time, been bestowed on various candidates for pugilistic fame; but certainly it was never more justly bestowed than on the person in question; for in the numerous contests in which he has been engaged, he never was obliged to yield the palm of victory. Pearce was a native of Bristol, which has, of late years, been so celebrated for producing heroes. He was about 30 years of age, stout and athletic in appearance, from 5 feet 9 to 10 inches high. Although a professor of boxing, he was never involved in pot-house brawls or casual rencontres.

The first battle of note which he fought, was with a man of colour at Bath, who had been for some years the dread of that neighbourhood. He obtained a hard-earned victory, after a contest of upwards of an hour. He was much inferior in point of strength to his adversary, and was indebted to his success to what may be termed a cautious, cunning system of fighting rather than to a proficiency in the art. Soon after this, the fame and rewards of [Jem] Belcher having been spread far and near, Pearce was tempted to try his fortune in London as a bruiser, and accordingly he came to town at the particular request of Belcher, who having declared his intention of retiring from the ring, promised him the patronage of all this friends. Pearce first entered the lists with Bourke, whom Belcher had twice beaten, and they fought in a room inn St. Martin's Lane by candlelight. The conflict was short and desperate, and in a quarter of an hour the Bristol hero was declared the victor. The bottom he evinced on this occasion procured him the name of the Game Chicken; upon which he crowed defiance to all the game cocks in the kingdom, Belcher excepted (it being his intention not to pit himself against any of the Bristol breed). Gully was at this time in the Fleet for debt, being anxious to fight his way out, he proposed a combat with the Chicken, which took place for a purse of one hundred guineas: on this occasion Guly distinguished himself as a man of bottom and science; but, after an hour's conflict, was compelled to yield to superior strength and experience.

The Chicken's next rencontre was with Elias Spary; the copper-smith, on Moulsey Hurst, and there he gained fresh laurels; for Spray was a man of great strength, and about the middle of the battle, placing a blow on the temple of the Chicken, it required some dexterity on his part to carry on the contest until he recovered from its effects. The battle, however, being won by the Chicken, he was challenged by a countryman of the name of Cart, who held his opponent but a short tug, for the battle was nearly decided in the first round, the Chicken planting his favourite blow in the jugular vein, which completely disabled his antagonist.

The Chicken now became a great favourite with the amateurs; he excited the envy of Belcher, who had, during his retirement, the misfortune to lose an eye; besides, by keeping late hours, he had greatly impaired his constitution. In this state he prepared to fight the Chicken and the battle took place in Yorkshire, much against the wish and advice of Belcher's best friends. The debilitated state of Belcher, and the disadvantage he laboured from want of an eye, gave the Chicken an easy conquest, which, under different circumstance, would have cost him dear. This was the last battle the Chicken ever engaged in. His constitution from this time gradually decayed; and his death, if not entirely originating in dissipation, was undoubtedly accelerated by it. Finding his dissolution at hand, he expressed a desire to see his relations from Bristol; and his father, amongst the rest, took leave of him yesterday morning. Some time before his death Pearce was impressed with sentiments of religion, and requested a clergyman to assist him in his devotions. He hoped forgiveness from all those whom he might have ill treated in the way of his profession, and declared, with his last breath, that he died in charity with all men."