Comic timing for debut novel

DRAWN OUT: Michel Mulipola is debuting his new graphic novel at Comic-Con.
DRAWN OUT: Michel Mulipola is debuting his new graphic novel at Comic-Con.

Comic books led Michel Mulipola to become an artist and a professional wrestler.

Now they're leading him to San Diego for the annual entertainment expo Comic-Con.

Mulipola will leave his Mangere home next month to fly to the convention, where he will debut his new graphic novel Headlocked to about 130,000 people.

The book is "like an HBO drama" and follows aspiring professional wrestler Mike Hartmann.

"I'm a wrestler as well as an artist so it was a perfect fit for me," Mulipola says.

"I met the writer Mike Kingston at Comic-Con in 2011 and we just hit it off. The next year he hired me to draw some exclusive Comic-Con work."

The Headlocked project embraced the internet from start to finish.

It was funded by fans through a Kickstarter campaign, eventually raising more than $30,000 to get the book finished.

"Mike writes the script from New York and emails it to me. I start doing a layout as I'm reading it. I send that back for approval," Mulipola says.

"I draw it up on my computer. Technology has made everything so much easier."

Mulipola will hold a signing event at Arkham City Comics in Royal Oak, the store he runs, when he comes back from San Diego.

"I always loved to draw as a kid," he says. "I fell in love with comics too and started to draw my own.

"Luckily I have been stubborn enough to never have a back-up plan."

His entry into the world of wrestling also came about through comics.

"It was the closest thing to superheroes in the real world," he says.

"I created a comic of what I would be like as a pro-wrestler. So after that I just went and did it.

"That was eight years ago now."

Manukau Courier