Don’t let the covers of Ringside fool you. Despite this comic being set in the world of pro-wrestling, it is very much a serious story. Using pro-wrestling as the backdrop for a dramatic tale has been done before. Most notably in Darren Aronofsky’s film The Wrestler. Instead of telling the story of an aging wrestler that just doesn’t know when to quit, author Joe Keatinge and artist Nick Barber tell their own tale.
It is a tale that is closer in nature to an Elmore Leonard crime novel, than an episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30. The main character is Danny Knossos, a retired pro-wrestler, who finds himself finally coming home. The circumstances for his return aren’t ideal, and he manages to get himself involved with organized crime.
The first act of this the story focused on Danny’s return, and how he reluctantly became a one man wrecking crew for his criminal boss Eduard. Now entering the second act of this drama, Ringside #6 shows Danny in a different light. He is more violent. It is a type of violence he seems to show a lot of talent for, but it is a violence he isn’t entirely comfortable doing.
Keatinge does a wonderful job writing this comic. Like all the issues in the series, the dialogue is a major strength. His writing is highly readable, with just enough colloquialisms to make the characters feel authentic.
Barber’s art is interesting to say the least. His style appears very loose and sketchy. It is a sort of controlled minimalism that for some could be a turn off. However, getting past the minimalist aesthetic, he does well with the storytelling portion of the issue. He never seems to overcomplicate the page. The art is laid out very straightforward and makes the story easy to follow along with.
There are some true virtuosos when it comes to comic book art, but being able to properly lay out a book that is readable is often an understated skill. This book wouldn’t be nearly as compelling if Barber wasn’t on art duty.
The use of color seems simple and basic, which in its own way perfectly pairs with the simpler sketchy nature of Barber’s art. Colorist Simon Gough helps to make the artwork pop out on the page using lots of warm colors. Even with scenes that take place at night, the darkness has a certain amount of brightness to it. You really get the sense these characters are somewhere in California.
In a world of oversized men wearing colorful costumes Keatinge and Barber manage to create a believable and compelling tale. The dialogue in this comic feels authentic and is very readable. Danny Knossus is a great character, and in Ringside #6 we get to see him in a more violent role. The art could be tough for some to digest, but Barber’s skill at laying out pages more than makes up for any sort of personal taste.
- Dialogue is strong
- Danny beating people up
- Page layout is straightforward and easy to read
- Minimalist art style could be a turnoff for some