March 4, 2007
Famed Pro Wrestler to Take on Superman Artwork Project for DC Comics

Here's an interesting crossover between worlds. WWE's Jerry "The King" Lawler, who is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, has been asked to draw Superman for an upcoming Web-based project by DC Comics. I don't know the particulars, but the news was announced back in January and sounds like an interesting cross-extension of two worlds that have touched on each other many times throughout history.

According to WWE's official announcement back in January, this is "the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy" to draw Superman for an official DC project, since Jerry is "a huge comics fan and a lifelong Superman enthusiast."

The WWE promised a followup in the next week, but I have never seen it.

I'm interested in the way this impacts convergence culture because it is quite rare that a well-known performer in one entertainment world is asked to do a creative project in another. Celebrity art is fascinating in general, and it will be interesting to see if Lawler fans will be interested in crossing over to view his work on the Superman franchise. One would think that there could potentially be significant crossover between comic book and wrestling fans, so there is also a natural extension in the target demographic for both groups as well.

Lawler has been a lifelong artist. In fact, the story of his entry into wrestling came because of his artwork. According to an interview with WWE Raw Magazine, Lawler explained:

I actually got started through my artwork in 1969. I won a commercial art scholarship to Memphis State University, and while I was there I wound up drawing some caricatures of some different wrestlers who were wrestling in my hometown of Memphis. I sent them to the TV station that was broadcasting the matches. The promoters ended up showing the caricatures on the show, and called me up afterwards and asked me if I would mind doing that as a weekly thing - whenever they would do a recap of the matches at the Coliseum, I would draw a caricature of the match. After a while of that, they asked me to be on the show, and that was actually my first opportunity to meet some of the wrestlers. I was a wrestling fan and watched the matches. The best known wrestler of that area at the time was a guy named The Fabulous Jackie Fargo. He had a nightclub in town, and after seeing my artwork, he asked me to paint caricatures of him all throughout the club. He and I then formed a friendship, and I would travel with him sometimes. Finally, after about a year or so, I got up the courage to ask him if I could wrestle. I felt it was the most glamorous lifestyle you could ever imagine.

And Lawler features some of his own caricatures and other artwork here.

According to fan Meredith Riley back in 2002, when she had the chance to have lunch with Jerry Lawler for Valentine's Day, Lawler started the conversation off by talking about Superman. "The other winners seemed a bit overwhelmed as he talked about his admiration for Superman, so I decided to loosen things up by asking him,'Have you seen the new Superman show on the WB?' Without missing a beat he answered, 'Smallville? Yeah, it's pretty good.' I knew then that it was going to be a fun lunch."

The deal had been in the works for a few months, dating back to news blurbs from October that Lawler had approached DC Comics about a project.

I don't know what kind of crossover this could create, but fans of both genres have been talking about this in online forums while they wait to find out exactly what Lawler will be doing for the Superman franchise. Most likely, it will be an online project, but no details have been released yet.

By the way, WWE just announced they are inducting Lawler into the WWE Hall of Fame next month, so it seems his name will be getting a lot of press over the next month. That makes this a good time, strategically, to launch the crossover artwork project.

Also, to see a little debate between crossover fans and non-crossover fans, look here at the Newsarama blog.