‘Bloody Samoan’ Michel Mulipola is a professional wrestler, player and comic artist
Michel Mulipola, alias the “Bloody samoan, “spends the time of his life. Not only is he a full-time cartoonist (Headlocked, WWE), but he is also a pro Samoan wrestling champion signed with Impact Pro Wrestling and member of the New Zealand esports team Esports without theft.
Because he clearly doesn’t have enough to do, he also co-founded a comic book shop in his hometown of South Auckland, New Zealand. When Mulipola was growing up, the only place he could fuel his love of superheroes was through the comics he found on the local convenience store’s roller rack.
But just as little Michel loved capped crusaders, professional wrestlers were his real heroes.
Like many Samoan children, Mulipola grew up in a family full of wrestling fans. The WWF, as it was called then, was on every week, and he was a huge fan of Macho Man Randy Savage. On the playground, he and his friends would pretend to be “Macho Man” and challenge other kids who idolized their favorite stars, like “The Hulkamaniacs” and “The Warriors”.
He didn’t know his comic book and wrestling dreams would come true.
Self-taught artist, Mulipola honed her skills for several years. He finally got his big chance when freelance designer Michael Kingston asked him to design interiors. on a new number Headlocked, a series chronicling the coming of age of an aspiring wrestler in the world of professional wrestling. Kingston had also operated a WWE Hall of Famer, Jerry “The King” Lawler, as a cover artist for the number and sales, took off.
Wrestling is all about delivering a good story, and some of the greatest wrestlers are artists and writers themselves as well. the Headlocked The team knew they had had success when they managed to convince big workers like Booker T to contribute artwork. Other stars like AJ Styles, Rob Van Dam and Shane Helms also wrote screenplays for the series. The independent comic was so popular with fans that Boom! The studios approached Kingston and Mulipola to work on their license WWE Comics.
But Mulipola doesn’t just attract brawlers – he’s a wrestler himself on the New Zealand professional circuit.
Not only has he managed to merge two of his favorite loves, comics and pro wrestling, he’s also passionate about portraying Pacific Islanders in both fields. By regularly visiting schools in South Auckland and neighboring Pacific Islands, Michel Mulipola is an inspiration to other Samoan and peaceful children.
In between his school visits, SYFY WIRE chatted with Mulipola via Zoom to talk about his inspirations, the depiction of the Pacific Islands in the comics, and how he accidentally became a pro. Tekken player.
Growing up, were you only a fan of WWF wrestlers?
No, King Haku, the legendary Tongan wrestler, was a huge inspiration to me. He was one of the few Polynesian faces on television who was shamelessly Polynesian. He wrestled all over the world, and when he always spoke Tongan in public. Even though I’m Samoan, I used to tell people that he was my uncle. It was how much I had a strong bond with him.
I met King Haku a few years ago after I started wrestling, and we became the New Zealand tag team champions together. So I was able to share this distinction with one of my heroes.
When did you start your wrestling career?
I got into wrestling 15 years ago after creating a comic book that [I designed after myself] as a professional real life wrestler. So when Impact Pro Wrestling here in Auckland there were trials, I was like, “why not give it a try?” This is how it all started. I ended up being pretty good at it. My character’s name is “Liga”. Half lion, half tiger, full Samoan.
You had so many idols in real life. Who were your heroes in the comics?
I loved the X-Men as a kid, of course, and Walt Simonson / Louise Simonson’s work on X-Factor is one of my favorites. Mark Silvestri, Art Adams and Jim Lee are all artists who have inspired me.
But the character who had the biggest influence on me as a kid was The Green Lantern. When I first saw him in the DC Super Powers Collection, he stands out from the other characters because his colors are different. He was different. I loved it. When I started reading more Green Lantern stories, I realized I was Green Lantern. Through willpower and imagination, I could bring anything I could think of to life through my works. As an artist my pencil is my Power Ring
Headlocked is truly a wrestling fan’s comic book. What is the secret of its success?
When I illustrate the wrestling elements of the story, I don’t present it as a fan. I draw from lived experience. We have worked hard and tried a lot for several years, and we have been fortunate that a lot of famous wrestlers are supporting us. It’s always interesting when [pro wrestler] tells us they like to draw. I’m like, “Oh man, send us some pictures, and we’ll tidy them up a bit, color them in, and put them in the book.” It’s really cool to have wrestlers who want to flex different creative muscles and have Headlocked be the lead for it.
Which wrestler preferred to work with?
I think it must be Ric Flair. When Mike told me he asked Ric Flair to do a story, I was like “What?” How much bigger can we get than Ric Flair? It would have to be someone like The Undertaker or, like The Sting, or something like that.
How did you get to draw for Boom on WWE?
Thanks to Samoa Joe and his advocacy for Team Headlocked, the WWE stuff came to us. Mike and I did a little story with him introducing a Samoan wrestling character. When Joe was approached [by Boom!] about doing a comic book story for the WWE comics, he knew he could count on Mike and I to help him make the story.
I have to draw Samoa Joe beating Roman Reigns. It’s a comic book rarity. Samoan on Samoan violence written by a Samoan illustrated by a Samoan. You can’t find this anywhere else. I had so much fun illustrating this.
What does the New Zealand comic book scene look like?
We have amazing artists. There are plenty of Asian comic book makers on the New Zealand scene as well, but she is predominantly white and male. However, we have some fantastic designers to come.
As the only brunette to come, and because my style is more brash and daring because my background is dynamic action and mainstream superhero stories, I wasn’t adopted right away. New Zealand comic book scene is historically more independent [art scene]. But I didn’t care because I got to do what I loved, and I pretty much let my work speak for itself.
Also, I don’t know of any other Polynesian or peaceful comic creator who does this professionally. So I’m kind of a pioneer.
Is that why you travel so often to tell the children of Pacifica about your work?
Absolutely, in the South Pacific, [being a comic book artist] was never considered a career path. Sharing my story and showing children what is possible is important because I want to show other brown kids from poor neighborhoods who look like me, who dream differently, who dream weird and big, if I can do it you can do it too.
I actually have my comic book line [for kids] that I gave up last year English and Samoan.
Speaking of performance, it’s Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month here in the United States right now. What does it look like from New Zealand?
The “PI” part is a bit interesting. Because whenever we see AAPI stuff, to us it’s always East Asians. We always say to ourselves, “Where are the Pacific Islanders?” Don’t bring us together if you don’t represent us. Fortunately in my part of the world, due to the proximity of all the islands, we are not fighting for representation [in other areas].
Where did you find the time to become a pro-Tekken player?
I played Tekken since I was a child Tekken One. I just played and perfected my art on the New Zealand scene. But things started happening in 2018 after I went to SDCC. That year Evo [The Evolution Championship Series] was just a few weeks later in Las Vegas. So I thought, “Why don’t you test myself to see how good I am?”
I was playing on fire all week, even at pre-events. Then to Evo, I played well enough to face Beat, one of the top 10 players that year. And because I was playing it, the game was broadcast live. I didn’t win, but I became one of the first New Zealand players to be featured and placed in the top 12 percent of Tekken players that year at Evo.
It was a surprise because my goal was to have fun and hopefully play well enough. No pressure. I’m a pretty cool guy, you know?
Is this your mantra? “Are you just going to have fun?”
No. My real mantra is, “Get the job done and don’t get confused”.