"I brought Joe Palooka back and my Joe Palooka is a young MMA fighter, and he goes around the world and he gets in trouble and he gets out of trouble, and boy I can't begin to tell you how much fun we've had putting this out, and now finally after 2 to 3 years of work, on Wednesday December 19th, Joe Palooka will be in comic book stores across the USA," stated ring announcer Joe Antonacci, who talked about his resurrection of the comic book Joe Palooka. Check it out!
PC: Joe, you have the MMA comic book, Joe Palooka, coming out on Wednesday. It's gotta be exciting times for you?
JA: Well, we have Joe Palooka, which was a classic and iconic boxing comic book in the 1940's to the 1980's. I'm sure he was the longest reigning heavyweight champion of all time (laughing). He was champ from the time of Joe Louis to the time of Larry Holmes, right. But what's great is the trademark was abandoned and I obtained the trademark, which gives me the right to come out with a comic book called Joe Palooka. So I brought Joe Palooka back and my Joe Palooka is a young MMA fighter, and he goes around the world and he gets in trouble and he gets out of trouble, and boy I can't begin to tell you how much fun we've had putting this out, and now finally after 2 to 3 years of work, on Wednesday December 19th, Joe Palooka will be in comic book stores across the USA.
PC: What is the process to create something like this? It seems like a lot of time and effort would go into this.
JA: I started over 3 years ago when I saw a friend of mine who had resurrected a 1960's comic book character. I said, "Eddie, what are you doing?" It was like the coolest thing I had ever seen. And he goes, "Well, I grew up on this comic and I loved it and I had the action figure. It was kind of like G.I. Joe and I had the comic book and I loved it and I found out it was abandoned." So I went home, because he told me how he looked it up on the trademark website, the US Government trademark website, and that's how he found out it was abandoned. So I go home and I look up my favorite comic book of all time, Joe Palooka, and low and behold, what do I see? I see that Joe Palooka has been abandoned since 1984. Well, it's not abandoned anymore (laughing). I resurrected it as an MMA fighter, which is kind of an interesting story in its own because I am a boxing ring announcer. I go around the world and around the country and I am a ring announcer for professional boxing, yet when I brought Palooka back, I brought him back as an MMA fighter.
PC: I definitely wanted to ask you the process behind that. Is it that you're fascinated with MMA or did you just feel it was the way to bring Palooka back as a MMA fighter to change things up with times?
JA: I really do love MMA. You know what? I came to realize I love any sport, men or women, where two people compete head to head. I was watching the Australian Open and it was an Italian woman who I had never seen before playing a Russian woman who I had never seen play before and I'm gonna tell you, it was one of the greatest tennis matches I had ever seen. And at that point, I said, "You know what? I don't watch fighting for the violence or anything else. What attracts me to MMA is the one on one competition." It's two people. I say I'm better than you and you say you're better than me; let's settle it. I mean, it's as old as time itself and the bottom line is whether its chess or whatever, I will watch anything where two people go head to head. I want to see a point guard try to break down a defender, I want to see a pitcher try to break down a hitter,and a wide receiver try to break down a defensive back. I look for the one-on-one matchups in team sport. So it's all about the one-on-one matchup. I don't believe for one minute that MMA fans crave violence or blood; those are all parts of it and aspects of the fighting game, but I think it's less than 1% of MMA fans that say they watch it because it's violent. I think they are MMA fans because of the competition, and in that sense, boxing and MMA are exactly the same.
It can even be man against the elements or man against man. But boy I tell you, that's what really gets us fired up, and Joe Palooka is a character and a lovable kid. In issue number one, which comes out Wednesday, he gets in trouble. He goes to cash his first MMA check in the bank and there is a bank robbery going on. I won't give away too much, but he is mistakenly accused of being part of the robbery instead of an innocent bystander that tries to help out, and a bank clerk gets shot and Palooka ends up his name is Nick Davis and he ends up being accused. So he goes on the run and enters a Mexican Toughman Contest in Mexico and he picks up the nickname Joe Palooka because he's a fighter from America. From there, I take him all over the world and he's on the run, but it's almost like the fugitive, you know, he's fighting to clear his name and he's fighting to make a name for himself at the same time. And that's my story and I can tell you, I'm not talking about friends and my mom and dad who are reading the comic books and loving it. I have MMA fans telling me, "Joe, I read this comic and I cannot believe it. I love it. When is issue two and three?" We have an entire 6-story arch coming out. I can't wait to put it in peoples hands because I just know if they hear about it and read about it on sites like FightHype.com and Facebook and Twitter and social media, the more people that hear about this, they are really gonna love it.
PC: Is it beneficial to put something out like this during the social networking era so to speak?
JA: It's really good for building awareness, but you are still going to have some who will show the comic book on YouTube and turn the pages and focus in on 'em and violate your copyright, but that goes with the territory. I don't know, can I prevent piracy and prevent somebody from putting it online and scanning it? Ah, maybe I can and maybe I can't, but that's my publisher's problem. The publisher which is IDW, the big four publishers are Marvel obviously, DC, Dark Horse and then IDW is fourth, and IDW got it. I went to them. I didn't even go to Marvel and DC. They are set. They got their Spiderman. They got their niche; their good. I went to IDW and they got it. An MMA comic book that's really well-written and well-drawn with a great story and great art; we're in. And you know what's interesting is people say, "You got comic book readers and you got MMA fans and do they have anything in common?" Doing this comic book, I found out they have a lot in common.
PC: Will any familiar faces be in the book?
JA: Yeah, actually, in the first edition, when you flip over to the back page, the back cover is going to feature an ad for Jaco, the sportswear, and Rashad Evans and Alistair Overeem is in the ad. And he goes around the world and becomes a better and better fighter and he reaches the upper echelon; you could expect to see several UFC fighters in the comic. You know we sponsored UFC fighters right from the get go. People would be amazed if they realized how little an undercard fighter makes at some of these UFC events. Guys fight in the UFC and everyone thinks he's making a million dollars. It couldn't be further from the truth. And they publish what they pay and there are guys getting paid $4,000. If they don't get a win bonus, which would make it $8,000, but they are stuck at $4,000 and now you're telling me you're going to expect two months of training to get ready for a fight and you know darn well that guy is in the gym every day, so he doesn't have a full-time job. He may have a part-time job at best. Who can afford to train for two months in order to make $4,000? If you are making $2,000 a month, you are making $500 a week, and if you are making $500 a week, that's $25,000 a year and that's if you are a UFC fighter and you're fighting every two months. Well A.) how many guys are good enough to be a UFC fighter, and B.) who is good enough to fight every two months (laughing)? So this is not a sport of kings. This is not a sport where these guys are rich. So I wanted to get the name out there. I wanted to get www.palooka.com out there. So I put it with my logo on trunks and my first fighter ever was a relatively unknown fighter two years ago in Philadelphia named Johnny Hendricks. I liked him because he had a beard. So I sponsored Johnny Hendricks and let him wear a Joe Palooka headband and he got such a kick out of it, he wore it all night. Even after he won, he wore it that night like it was his good luck charm. Since then, we have sponsored Brendan Schaub and Jimmy Hettes and Jim and Dan Miller. We love all of these guys and they tweet about us and make us their status on Facebook and I couldn't be happier with the success. We really are happy to help the fighters. These fighters are just eking out a living and then they have to make appearances and sometimes they work at a gym and they train people, but they are just trying to make a couple of bucks.
PC: I wish you the best with this comic book. It sounds very interesting. Give us the info where we can check out Joe Palooka!
JA: On December 19th you can go to any comic book store in America. If you don't know where a comic book store is, go to Google and Google "comic book store locator by zip code" and you can put in your zip code and find a comic book store near you. And you can always go to www.palooka.com and you can actually go to the website and for $1.99, you can download online issue 1 and issue 2. You get both for $1.99. You know comic books these days are 4 bucks a pop, so that's the deal of the century. So thank you for helping me out. I love FightHype and I love the support that the fans are giving me and I promise you that if you pick up that comic book, you are not gonna be unhappy.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]