I’m ending the week and this series of blogs with my newest book release. The Original Black Panther has been a labor of love five years in the making, and I wanted the cover to be something truly special. Erik Hodson, Kevlen Goodner, and Sei Ozawa were all on my short list of artists for this project, but before I reached out to any of them, I heard from Adrian Johnson.
Johnson is a member of the “Cult of Cornette,” and he heard about the book from an interview I did on Jim Cornette’s project. Adrian sent me a link to his website and asked if I had a cover artist. I was impressed with what I saw, so we discussed details of what I was looking for, and he went to work.
To say he exceeded my expectations is to sell it short. This is one of my favorite book covers, and Adrian insisted on doing not only the front, but the spine and back. He stuck with I through multiple tweaks, and he was always quick to respond to the tiniest of adjustments in the final days. It looks beautiful on screen, and I cannot wait to have it in my hand.
Adrian’s work can be seen on his website. He’s a remarkable person and a great talent, and I hope this cover helps him to gain a lot of exposure. I can’t thank him enough.
Dr. D David Schultz’s autobiography was a truly international product, written in the United States and edited in Great Britain with a foreword by Bret “Hitman” Hart written in Canada. How did I finish it off? With a beautifully designed book cover created by Japanese artist Sei Ozawa.
Ozawa and I became friends on Facebook through Mad Man Pondo, whom Ozawa met during his tours of Japan. Ozawa has designed most of Pondo’s T-shirts over the years as well as shirts for many other Japanese and American wrestlers. Knowing how good he is and much Pondo admired his artistic skills, it was only natural I went back to Ozawa when I needed a cover for Pondo’s book.
Ozawa is an incredibly talented artist and an incredibly kind and generous person. I hope one day I am able to take him up on his offer to show me around if I ever visit Japan.
I first saw Erik Hodson’s work at a comic con in Louisville, and I immediately loved his work. It was a print of the Baroness from GI Joe standing in front of a H.I.S.S. that sold me on him, but his print of Sgt. Slaughter holding Cobra Commander and Hulk Hogan in headlocks was foreshadowing of what was to come for both of us.
I first used Erik to create the book cover of Space Kat, using actress Megan Mooney (who plays Kat in the trailer for the book) as the model for Kat.
I later went back to him to create a new cover for Martian Queen using my frequent collaborators Ally LaBar and Denny Grinar for inspiration.
Erik has become the go-to art guy for the pro wrestling world, and he was the official artist of Starrcast in September. I am certain he’ll be asked back for Starrcast II. We reconnected this fall, and he did a third cover for me – this one for the Bomb Shelter’s debut novel, A Scattered Timeline.
Simply put, Erik Hodson is an incredible artist. His work always amazes me. My kids have a Gravity Falls print of his hanging upstairs, and one of these days I’m going to get either Baroness or Sgt. Slaughter for my basement. It’s always a pleasure to work with him, to visit with him, and see what he’s created since our last visit.
I’ve decided to spend the week saying thank you to some amazingly talented artists who have contributed to my books. I’m starting with a man who has not only been a friend to me, but to my aspiring artist daughter Lydia.
Lydia and I met Kevlen Goodner at the Derby City Comic Con a few years ago. Lydia decided to cosplay not as a character but as an artist, and she and Kevlen hit it off. We bought a black and white print of the Peanuts dressed as Star Wars characters that now hangs in her room. Since that time the two of them have traded art a few times, and she now has a total of three prints of his in her room.
I hired Kevlen to do the cover art for Louisville’s Greatest Show. Kevlen really captured the essence of the artwork from the old wrestling newspaper ads, recreating the likenesses of promoter Heywood Allen along with the French Angel, Gorgeous George, and Stu Gibson. It’s one of my favorite book covers.
Kevlen had a serious medical setback a few months ago, and he’s been on the slow road to recovery every since. We are praying every day that he continues to improve so he can get back to what he loves – teaching and making art.
So in case you didn’t notice, I stopped blogging almost a year an a half ago. You might notice this if you scroll down and see that my last post was in September of 2017.
I’m gonna give this a try again.
Lots happening in my life these days. Righteous Insanity is about to have a new life in the hands of one of my former students. My 11th wrestling book will be released soon. And recently, my past life as a sci-fi writer crossed over into wrestling with the release of the Bomb Shelter’s first novel.
For 22 years, the Allen Athletic Club’s weekly wrestling show at the Columbia Gym was the place to be on Tuesday night. Promoters Heywood Allen and his successors Francis and Betty McDonogh overcame the Great Depression, the 1937 flood, a World War, and a “crooked” athletic commissioner to bring the best of the golden age of wrestling to Louisville.
Now for the first time, author John Cosper (Bluegrass Brawlers) presents the full story of “That Gang of Allen’s,” the wrestlers, referees, announcers, and others who made Tuesday Louisville’s favorite night of the week. This is the story of the true golden age of wrestling, when men and women wore their Sunday best to see hometown heroes like Blacksmith Pedigo, Kid Scotty Williams, Stu Gibson, Mel Meiners, Sgt. Buck Moore, and “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell mix it up with Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George, the French Angel, Buddy Rogers, Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Mildred Burke, Mae Young, Bobo Brazil, and Ginger the Wrestling Bear.
From mud matches to masked men; from Wild Bill Cantrell to Wild Bill Longson; from live TV to live alligators, the Allen Athletic Club was Louisville’s Greatest Show. This is the story of Louisville’s first great wrestling promotion and the families that made wrestling a vital part of the city they loved.