We recently received the (adult) graphic novel biography Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (May 2014, First Second). As any Princess Bride fan will know, Andre the Giant is the professional-wrestler-turned-actor who played Fezzik in the movie.
Born Andre Rene Roussimoff, he grew up in rural Molien, France, where he was too large to ride the school bus and his father was friends with Samuel Beckett (who knew?). He moved to Paris, became a wrestler, went to Tokyo, and was diagnosed (in Japanese) with acromegaly (“He’ll age prematurely. His brow and jaw will grow more pronounced. His heart and organs won’t be able to keep up with his body. His joints, too. He’ll be a cripple. Then the doctor said he wouldn’t live past forty…”). He made his way to North America, wrestled professionally, drank a ton, got in a lot of fights, was kind of an ass (used the n-word against another wrestler; turned his back on his young daughter), and died at 46. There’s some hero worship on the author’s part (from the intro: “Andre the Giant represents all that is good in professional wrestling”), but the subject’s failings are never sugar-coated. Black-and-white panel illustrations depict all the rock-’em, sock-’em action.
The book is mostly based on anecdotes from friends and colleagues, and there’s a brief section on the Princess Bride filming. Christopher Guest — the six-fingered man — enjoys shaking Andre’s gigantic hand; Andre drapes his huge hand over Robin Wright/Princess Buttercup’s entire head to warm her up; director Rob Reiner balks at a giant $40,000 bar tab. Mandy Patinkin (Fezzik’s brother-from-another-mother Inigo Montoya) is blurbed on the book jacket: “A giant of a man in every way. I am thrilled to see his story finally told!” Princess Bride fans might — and ’70s- and ’80s-professional-wrestling fans will definitely — find a lot to like in this book.