Bears will get punched. In the face.
This is the promise of the new Image Comics series, Shirtless Bear-Fighter. Writers Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner, artist Nil Vendrell and colorist Mike Spicer have produced one of the strangest comics to be announced in recent memory. It’s literally about shirtless guy fighting bears. You can keep your science fiction dramas and your crime thrillers; we’ll take the bear punching. This sound like too much fun to pass up.
So, what exactly is Shirtless Bear-Fighter about? “‘Angriest man alive swears to fight all bears for what they did to him,’ would be the simplest pitch, but we hope readers will quickly realize that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Girner told us. “It’s also the story of a wrathful man who has to change if he’s going to save his loved ones and the forest he’s sworn to protect,” Leheup added. So yes, it’s about a shirtless dude piledriving bears, but there’s a heart and soul to it, too. “Bears will get punched (or suplexed, kicked, piledrived) every issue, but this comic will also deliver humor, drama, tears and cheers. It’s the full package,” Girner said.
The shirtless bear fighting character isn’t some one-dimensional punching machine, either. “It was like Sebastian and I had stumbled onto this legend that had been frozen in ice. All we had to do was wake him up and get the hell out of the way,” Leheup said of the comics’ development. The writing duo told us that the title of the story came first, which led to them building a mythology around it. “It was like we had the perfect title, now we needed to do the work and make a comic that was worthy of it!” Girner said.
There’s certainly a throwback quality to this title. From ’80s action movies to classic superhero comics, the influences on Shirtless Bear-Fighter are rooted in macho action-adventure stories. “The obvious well we drew from is superhero comics, and the very-silly-yet-mega-serious approach to pathos that genre does so well when it’s done right. So much of that is ‘screaming angry men forever flexing muscles for revenge’ which is hilarious and can be very cathartic, but we wanted to use that silliness as a vessel for a story that was very close to our hearts,” Leheup said.
It’s clear from looking at the covers – which you can peep in the gallery below – that Shirtless Bar-Fighter has cornered the market on the aforementioned “screaming angry men.” Finding the right artist to bring all that angry-dude energy to life was no easy task. “We needed someone who wasn’t just a good draftsman and great at storytelling but someone with a unique voice that could really nail comedic timing and most importantly, the emotional heart of any given scene. Nil (Vendrell) can do all of that and draw the crap out of a bear-fight.”
Shirtless Bear-Fighter is being unleashed this June, and we’re pretty damn excited to check it out, even though we love bears. When we asked Jeheup and Girner why they hated the lovable forest creatures so much, they gave us a couple answers, which ranged from “they don’t wear pants. It’s indecent,” to “they also sleep too much.”
The truth, it turns out, is much deeper than that though. “The worst bear is Kuma from Tekken,” Girner said. “When I play Tekken against Jody he always picks Kuma and kicks my ass. Because Kuma is bullshit.”
Images: Image Comics