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Review: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

andre the giant life and legendAndre the Giant was a 7’4″, 500 lb wrestling legend, but his nickname of “giant” also applied to his life in general, not just his size. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, especially watching wrestling, it was hard to miss this legend of a man. In this graphic novel out from publisher First Second, creator Box Brown pulls back the curtain a bit on the larger than life sensation.

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend takes us from Andre’s childhood in France through his wrestling career, the filming of The Princess Bride, ultimately to his death in 1993. While there’s only so much detail one can go into in a graphic novel, the book gives is a stark, insightful look at one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th century.

The graphic novel opens up with Andre at age 12 and his journey into wrestling. Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Andre Rene Roussimoff suffered from gigantism, and eventually suffered from acromegaly. The disease not only lead to his size, but also eventually cause ailments connected to his large frame as well as early aging. The disease, a death sentence, obviously weighed heavily on the man, not only limiting his options in life, but also leading to pain for which he self medicated his entire life.

What Brown has put together is a subtle story concerning all of that. While it’s not outright said, it’s clear Rousimoff’s drinking, was an attempt to dull the pain. The known death sentence, as well as his constant travel also had him abandon the family he didn’t acknowledge. Cobbled together from various accounts, the graphic novel shows the good, and the bad of Andre, and leaves it up to the reader to figure out why he might have acted the way he did. At times rude to fans, was this due to his pain? His feeling he was always an “attraction?” Or was he just a dick? At times mean, other times gentle, the man in his short life lived it to its fullest, seeing the world, and experiences that we can’t even imagine, even with Brown putting them on paper for us.

And it’s those experiences that make up this graphic novel. Think of it as illustrated accounts of the man, as opposed to a complete narrative. It takes us through Andre’s jet setting life, lifting just enough detail to help us know more and understand the man. It never dives too deep into him, relying on accounts of his friends and coworkers to weave together the story. This isn’t an in-depth biography, it’s an easy to digest highlight of his life.

With all that, the read is beyond enjoyable, featuring many individuals, that like Andre, are larger than life. The illustrated style is simple, and fantastic to look at, making it clear how much of a giant Andre really was. For fans of wrestling, those with nostalgia of the 80s, people who want to learn more about the individual, or those that just want to read a tragic story, Andre the Giant: Life and Legend is a fantastic read, one that I was excited to check out ever since it was announced. It’s absolutely a fantastic graphic novel to pick up, for an interesting biography to read during these summer months.

Story and Art: Box Brown
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

First Second provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review