After nearly 24 years in the business (or as he would say it “biz-e-ness”), “Almighty” Christopher Daniels has finally reached the top of the mountain by winning his first world title at Ring of Honor’s 15th Anniversary Show by defeating The Bullet Club’s Adam Cole back in March. Since then, The Fallen Angel has defended his title against a number of formidable opponents in and out of an ROH ring. The intense competition won’t be stopping any time soon either as The Ring General gears up for a series of events in the midwest and the ‘War of the Worlds’ tour alongside the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling ahead of the ‘Best In The World’ pay-per-view event on June 23, 2017.
However, despite many challenges ahead of him in the ring, the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion (of the World) always makes time for comics. And not only is he reading numerous titles from his local comic shop, but he’s creating comics as well. Previously, we spoke to him in 2015 about his collaboration with Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani of ‘Aw Yeah Comics’, ‘Tiny Titans’, and ‘Itty Bitty Hellboy’ titled ‘Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics’. Now, part one of a two-part sequel called ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’ that finds the veteran of the squared circle on the wrong side of the law can currently be found in a local comic shop near you. Before the release of the second half sometime in the near future, we had the chance to speak with Daniels about this new collaboration and his future in comics.
Christopher Daniels: I’ve always kept in touch with Art and Franco. When we first did ‘Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics’, we had a great response from Art and Franco first of all. Then they would sell that book at conventions and we were selling them at shows with a great response from the fanbase. And I literally just had another idea for a story and submitted it to Art. It took a while from having it written to being able to have it made only because of Art’s schedule. He’s such an in demand artist. He’s doing stuff more and more like ‘Itty Bitty Hellboy’ and ‘Itty Bitty Mask’ for Dark Horse. They were doing the Superpowers mini-series for DC. All this stuff was happening, but finally, Art had the opportunity to devote some time to putting the first issue of ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’ out.
SF: With this round being two issues, it seems that your stay in Action Cat and Adventure Bug’s dimension lasts longer each time. Could we see a full on Christopher Daniels limited series down the line from ‘Aw Yeah Comics’?
CD: That’s certainly possible, man. I can’t say yes or no only because for me it 100% depends on me being inspired by what I think is a good story. I certainly tip my hat to guys that are writing monthly books like the Brian Bendises, the Dan Slotts, and the Nick Spencers of the world who are writing day in and day out because I honestly thought, “Oh good! I got two great ideas. Yay me!” like I was accomplishing something. Those guys probably do that all day every day. They get a good idea and flush it out and put it down on paper and making books and I’m over here like, ‘Yay me!” I mean, if I had a well thought out idea and a plan, I would certainly love to do more books with Art and Franco.
SF: At San Diego Comic-Con, ‘Aw Yeah Comics’ made an exclusive print available featuring The Addiction and The Young Bucks. Has there been any talk of including any other Ring of Honor stars in future collaborations?
CD: Not specifically. I wrote a backup story that I hope is going to go in the second issue of ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’ or it would be exclusive when we try to collect the three books for trade paperback. I don’t want to talk about who’s in it, but there are two sizable stars that I wrote a story about that see Frankie and I again interacting with the cast of characters from ‘Aw Yeah Comics’. It all depends on if I have an idea. If I come up with a great idea that involves Jay Lethal, then I would certainly write it. Or if I came up with an idea that dealt with Dalton Castle, I would certainly write it. I don’t think those guys would have an objection to being added into this comic book scheme that I’ve got going down.
SF: That would be awesome. Dalton Castle is such a colorful character already. Since the first time you and Kaz collaborated with Art Baltazar & Franco, a number of new wrestling comics have popped up. The guys at ‘Headlocked’ have been doing their thing for a while, but now WWE has a new series at BOOM Studios and Image is publishing ‘Ringside’ by Joe Keatinge. Have you had a chance to check those out yet? What do you think of them?
CD: I haven’t checked out the WWE book but I probably will at some point. I read the first issue of ‘Ringside’ and I dug the mentality of it. It reminded me a lot of this mini-series that Arcana released a couple of years ago called ‘Swerve’ written by Jon Judy. It basically was a thriller set in the world of 1980s Texas wrestling, which I thought was outstanding. It was a really enjoyable mini-series. I think that a lot more people are looking at the world of professional wrestling as a possibility. Even if it’s stories that are based in the world that aren’t necessarily wrestling driven, they see the world of professional wrestling as an interesting landscape to dive into.
SF: The legendary John Byrne is supposed to be involved with ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’ in some capacity. How did that come about?
CD: That was the plan. I contacted John. Basically, when the “I’m a Paul Heyman Guy” shirts were a thing in WWE, I had the idea to make the “I’m a John Byrne Guy” t-shirt through ProWrestlingTees.com. I wore it once on Impact Wrestling and someone brought it to John’s attention. I contacted John’s art dealer and through him, I had the chance to talk to John and discuss the possibility of him doing a pinup for ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’. I think the hold up right now is just scheduling. I know that John is very busy doing his ‘Star Trek’ books with IDW, but the fanboy in me would love the opportunity to have John Byrne do something with us and to be able to say that I got to work with John Byrne in any capacity would be outstanding.
SF: As we discussed during our last interview (and as anyone can tell who has seen your ring gear over the years), you’re a Marvel guy. If Marvel Comics asked you to work with them, which characters would you most like to work with?
CD: Not specifically. Again, it all boils down to the idea. I’ve had a couple of ideas. I’ve just recently written a Rocket Raccoon/Luke Cage team-up story that I sent to those guys. I mean, you can’t just send them unsolicited work. I spoke to some of the higher ups and their scheduling and their editorial process is very intense so I hope that they like what I wrote but I don’t expect anything from it. Hopefully, they’ll at least give me an idea if what I wrote was any good, but I’ve had ideas for different things that I haven’t had the chance to put down on paper yet other than that one story.
But yeah I think that in the landscape of Marvel right now, there’s a lot of lighter hearted books. You look at things like ‘Rocket Raccoon’ and ‘Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’ and ‘Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat!’ and even some of the stuff like ‘Champions’ by Mark Waid. There are times of seriousness, but there’s also a sense of a lighter team-up book happening there and I think that that’s a pretty cool trend to see that comic books don’t always have to be dark and dour. They can be lighthearted and entertaining and I think that Marvel is finding a great balance between both. Depending on if you’re reading ‘Unstoppable Wasp’ or ‘Captain America: Steve Rogers’, you’ve got two different tones there. I’d love the opportunity to do something with any of those guys and it’s just a matter of being inspired and being able to say, “This is a story that I’d like to tell.”
SF: You mentioned a whole lot of great titles right there, but what are some of the books that you’re seriously following? Are you still keeping up with the Avengers and whatever Brian Michael Bendis is doing these days?
CD: I absolutely am. The top things that Bendis is doing are ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Infamous Iron Man’. I’m a big fan of what he’s doing with the Ironheart character in ‘Invincible Iron Man’. And then reading Mark Waid’s ‘Avengers’ is really cool. I’ve always been a fan of Mark Waid’s stuff so that Avengers title and ‘Champions’. Also, that other Avengers title that he’s doing that’s a throwback to the time that Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were the Avengers. I think that that’s such a great side story that he’s doing.
Other stuff I’m reading includes the stuff that Nick Spencer is doing in ‘Captain America: Steve Rogers’. I think that it’s brilliant. I think that I was one of the few that read the first issue and didn’t react with a huge backlash. I suspected that something was going down and that second issue that explained the whole thing was just masterful. I just dug it and the ramifications of all that. And then having that character participate in ‘Civil War II’ and being the lynchpin for things happening the way that it did. I just thought it was outstanding and I’m really looking forward to ‘Secret Empire’ in the next couple of months.
SF: Nick Spencer is definitely doing some interesting stuff in his work right now, but it’s a pretty divisive storyline. How do you feel about the reception to Captain America’s “heel turn”, so to speak?
CD: Look, man, great art gets that response. Some of it is going to be positive and some of it is going to be negative, but he took the status quo of Steve Rogers and turned it 180 degrees and I love it. You get such an immense conflict. Those big grand ideas are what sells and what’s really good. If you look at Bendis and the mentality of bringing the original X-Men to the present day, the ramifications of that are still being felt. When you look at what Nick is doing with Captain America, I just think about how long he can keep this going and i think that ‘Secret Empire’ will tell that story and answer those questions.
SF: Finally, where can our readers find you online and when can they expect issue two of ‘Aw Yeah Comics! Team-Up’?
CD: Follow me on Twitter [at @facdaniels]. That’s how I usually keep my fans informed. You can also follow my exploits on ROHWrestling.com. That’s my home base and that’s probably where I plan on finishing my career. You can watch the television show on ROHWrestling.com or if you have the FITE TV app [which is free to use], you can watch Ring of Honor TV on your tablet or smart TV every Monday night.
[As far as] the second issue, a lot of it depends on our schedule. I know that they’re doing a lot with Archie Comics in the near future on ‘Itty Bitty Archie’ and the Sabrina the Teenage Witch book. Hopefully, I can get it done by the end of the year. I’m going to do my best to keep on Art and let him know that there’s a fanbase for the ‘Aw Yeah Comics Team Up’ book. Hopefully, we can get it done, man. It’s just a matter of being able to prioritize.