Bro-therly Love : Reilly Hadden’s “Fellas”

I’m quite likely the least-qualified person to write a review of Reilly Hadden’s new self-published mini, Fellas, given that I know precisely fuck-all about professional wrestling, but at the same time there’s something kind of undeniably sweet about this thing, and Hadden (whose Kricket The Cat strip, by way of full disclosure, runs regularly on a website I serve on the board of — that being, of course, SOLRAD) is a superb cartoonist, so why let a pesky little thing like not knowing what the hell I’m talking about stop me from running my mouth?

Our ostensible “stars” here are two apparently-popular WWE personalities named Sheamus (a.k.a. “The Celtic Warrior”) and Drew McIntyre (a.k.a. “The Scottish Psychopath”), which bodes well for the notion that wrestling has moved on from racist caricatures of Middle Eastern and Asian people, I suppose, but beyond that the context of this particular scenario — which Hadden states is “adapted” from a TV program called WWE Day Of — escapes me, other than recognizing that it would seem to be occurring following a particularly exhausting match between the two opponents-who-are-actually-friends. The pair certainly look spent, in particular Sheamus, and following the conclusion of the proceedings they, for lack of a better term, “share a moment” — and a very long “moment,” at that.

They talk like a couple of annoying-ass “dudebros,” sure, but the bond they share seems near-heartbreakingly genuine, and I think capturing the sincerity of their interpersonal dynamic and of the moment itself is what Hadden’s looking to do with this work — and if that’s the case, it’s a damn successful little comic. The wrestlers repeat themselves a lot as they embrace after their match, but their physical exhaustion seems to give way and/or give rise to a kind of unguarded emotional intimacy that, who knows? Maybe only happens after people have been trying to beat the shit out of each on television for the entertainment of millions.

An interesting thing I noticed is that Hadden decided to draw these guys rather differently than they actually look, and I’m not sure why that is, but I can speculate that it may have something to do with putting some creative distance between cartoonist and subjects in order for said cartoonist to put greater emphasis on their interpretation of a thing than on the thing itself, but again — I’m just guessing here. I think it works, but at the same time, I haven’t seen the actual event to compare it to, so we’re back at square one — only this time I’m actually proving that I’m the last guy on the planet who has any business reviewing this comic, rather than just saying so.

And yet, I’m legitimately glad that I read it. Not only because Hadden’s simple illustrations are expressive and emotive, but because there’s something of a moral to this story, as well, that being : even the most crass and brazen and annoying of people (as most wrestlers at least come off as being) are, at the end of the day, still people, and are capable of sharing intense bonds under any sort of circumstance. Whether or not there’s a sublimated sexual angle here is entirely up your own discretion, but I’m not even sure it really matters either way — these are two “bros” who gave it their all in the ring, and love each other as both friends and competitors, at the very least.
Okay, look, let’s not kid ourselves : you’ll read more complex and more ambitious comics than this over the course of this year — hell, maybe even over the course of this week. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more heartfelt one, that’s for sure, bro.

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Fellas is available for $4.00 from Reilly Hadden’s Esty shop at https://www.etsy.com/listing/1018423124/fellas?ref=shop_home_recs_1&frs=1

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

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