As we published earlier in the week, the first ever MMA themed comic book “Joe Palooka” has debuted online with issues #1-2 available for purchase online. The development and creative process can be credited to Joe Antonacci, a boxing announcer and MMA fan/ sponsor who revitalized the brand a few years ago. FightHubTV was able to speak with Antonacci about his character and what fans can expect to see.
FH: When did the idea come to you to bring back Joe Palooka?
Joe: It was about two years ago, a friend of mine had started to bring back a character and I thought it would be cool. I checked with the trademark and business end what I had to do and knew it had to be Joe Palooka for my character re-birth.
FH: Why Joe Palooka?
Joe: As a kid, I have always been a fan of combat sports. I grew up in New Jersey and it was the early 70’s when I was reading comics and watching boxing, guys like: Frazier, Ali, Forman and others; so we would leave mass every Sunday and go to the newsstand, I would get money and buy a comic every three weeks and a Ring magazine on the last Sunday since it only came out once a month. I loved Joe Palooka because it was something I was interested in and the comic left you hanging until the next week, you know? How will he get up? What’s gonna happen, etc.
FH: Did you feel that brining him back that MMA was the best outlet?
Joe: I did and still do. I talk to comic guys and they like MMA, I talk to MMA guys and they like comics so it feels like a natural cross over and its relieving to see how accepting both sides have been to the idea. These are two things that people relate to and go crazy about
FH: Comics have become a form of Americana; with their recent “Hollywood revival” will this help with Joe Palooka?
Joe: I think it will help with the fan base it is directed to and new fans in general. I mean, MMA is everywhere and not slowing down; you can go to a comic store and still get characters that were created years ago. So, I think that the longevity comics hold to the fans added to the draw of MMA is a great success.
FH: Where are you taking this character?
Joe: All around the world (laughing) the idea of Joe is to have a character with story, emotion and story. Something that you want to read the next issue and not forget. On top of that, we are working with real life MMA stars like: Rashad Evans, Brendan Schaub, the Miller Bros. and many others to feature in our series. This way, you can see that we are trying to make it authentic, well at the same time a comic with some twists for event venues you will have to wait for and be surprised.
FH: The development in the first issues is just as high quality as mainstream comics, is that what we can expect from here to come?
Joe: Absolutely. Quality and character is the most important. I know what I would want to read and do my best along with my staff to produce something that everyone can appreciate. We are fans of both industries and want to keep the ones who are already while at the same time, attracting new ones.
FH: Jim Miller was sponsored by you recently, how do you see Joe Palooka going in the future for fighter sponsoring?
Joe: The UFC and everyone involved (fighters, managers, etc) are really good to new companies. I went to UFC 133 and was treated like royalty. They were open and inviting; managers were coming to me and asking how they could get their fighters involved so it is amazing how well this is received. I think this will be a blossoming deal for some time.
FH: For the collectors out there, when can we expect physical copies of the issues?
Joe: Early 2012 will be the delivery date for hard copies. They will be in every comic shop across the nation. I would say to download for the best quality visually but I know people love to collect so please do that to. There are a lot of things happening, including a new series which will spin off from Joe Palooka but you will need to stay tuned to see where it goes. I just want to say thank you to people like you and FightHubTV and fans who have embraced this idea and given it the success it has and will have with your support.
FightHubTV would like to than Joe Antonacci and his staff at Joe Palooka for their time and product they have delivered to the MMA and comic worlds. Please visit www.palooka.com for your free 15 page preview of issue #1, you can also find info on ordering issues #1-2 there; follow them on twitter @TeamPalooka or friend them on facebook as Team Palooka.