I love comics, so it was a wonderful surprise to be asked to review a handful of BJJ themed titles by Bryan G. Brown. At the time of this review, Bryan is a 2-stripe blue at Team Balance, and has lost a significant amount of weight! Nice work!
FIRST FIGHT COMICS
First Fight is an autobiographical series about Bryan’s experience entering mixed martial arts tournaments and training at different fight camps. This Xeric award winning comic delves into the exploration of his fascination with fighting. Several well known artists as well as martial artists make cameos in this series.
MONSTERS OF MMA
Also included is a review of Monsters of MMA number 1, written by Bryan G Brown, available as a print-on-demand and digital download through IndyPlanet. My rating: 2 out of 5.** (I’m a bit torn on this rating, as this comic is not one I would have picked up, so it’s completely based on personal enjoyment, not on execution, which was clever).
See Bas Rotten take on the half man, half beast Kimbo Spliced as they lock into mortal combat before millions of spectators to determine who will be the toughest monsters of them all!
The realm of sports entertainment has taken a strange turn in this future land where mutated fighters battle each other for the promise of wealth and fame as the Monsters of MMA. Appearances can be deceiving though, and one could quickly learn that the deadliest monsters in this tale are outside of the cage.
First Fight #1 focuses on Bryan Brown’s path from starting at an MMA gym to entering in Grappler’s Quest as a nogi competitor. About half is about the training and weight loss before GQ, and about half is a breakdown of what happened at the tournament.
First Fight #2 in color! is set after the tournament. The first half is how life and weight caught up with him, and how he started connecting with folks at a comic conventions and constantly being asked if/when he would compete again. The last half is how he started at Team Balance, a jiu jitsu school, and about the training at the school.
First Fight #3 mostly focuses on jiu jitsu. It shows what it is and what it isn’t, it showed what sorts of things Bryan was learning at Team Balance, and it gives a good overall feel for jiu jitsu as a whole, as well as focus on his own emotions about leaving and coming back – that wonderful insecurity!
First Fight #4 is a bit more recap, and still focuses on the jiu jitsu. It shows Bryan’s decision to take his training to the next level, and shows some of his progress.
Overall, First Fight is a series about a regular Joe who decides to start pursuing grappling. Not just as a hobby, but also to compete. It’s about how it affected his daily life, his health, and his relationships. First Fight #5 has not yet been released.
Monsters of MMA #1 is a straightforward fighting comic. Different monsters get in the ring and compete. The comic is entirely of their fight. The story arc is that there is a UFC style fight with various monsters. The comic starts from the ring announcer introducing fighters, then going backstage, then the match in its entirety. Kimbo Splice, half-man half-beast vs Bas Rotten, undead fighter. Lots of blood, lots of stabbing and limb losing.
First Fight story
I enjoyed reading First Fight for the same reason I love reading blogs from BJJ hobbyists. I love jiu jitsu, I love how it changes people, and I love to hear those stories. I can relate with the protagonist, and I enjoyed his story. There was enough overlap from one comic to the next to keep people interested, but not so much that it felt like an entire recap. Issue 2 devoted more pages to recapping than 3 or 4.
First Fight art
This is where it fell slightly short for me. I’ve been reading comics for most of my life, and the art style does often influence my enjoyment of the reading experience. I thought that the images were very clear, and definitely helped show the story much better, including jiu jitsu visuals. Stylistically I prefer a more polished art. It is simply a personal preference, not a critique.
Monsters of MMA story
I thought the idea was clever. It was well done, lots of details put into it, including character development, the progression of the fight, and I thought it was an interesting idea that was executed nicely. However, I didn’t care for it based on the amount of fighting and gore. I am definitely a storyline gal. It reminded me a lot of Celebrity Deathmatch, but with monsters!
Monsters of MMA art
It was clearly executed – well thought out, and lots of attention to detail. Visually it was easy to follow, and there were some interesting textures built into the art, such as the skins of the monsters. I also liked Bryan’s use of fonts for the various effects – I thought they were used effectively. It also had some interesting documentary style sections, similar to the Fight Science episodes from National Geographic. However, due to the blood and gore, it was not my cup of tea.
I would recommend the First Fight comics to the “everyman” and “everywoman” in Jiu Jitsu over the age of 30. I would send them to comic fans who appreciate a good story over Marvel-style art, as the story is the main selling point. I would also send it to folks starting out in jiu jitsu or mma, or people who were thinking about starting but needed that push. I might even send it to family or friends of someone who has started BJJ at a later age.
I would recommend Monsters of MMA to folks who enjoy (or at least don’t mind) some of the gorier fighting games, and for those who enjoy action over story. It could also make an excellent gift to a UFC fan, or folks who enjoy the humor in violence. I do not recommend for anyone who is a stick in the mud.
DISCLOSURE AND THANKS
Disclosure: Bryan, the author, sent me these comics. They were sent with the intent of writing a review. This did not influence my review. Please visit his Facebook and let him know you heard about him through jiujiubjj.com! Thank you SO MUCH Bryan! Please let us know when First Fight #5 gets released!
Jiu Jiu’s Question: Are you interested in reading BJJ or MMA comics? What would appeal to you most in these kinds of books? Which do you think you’d prefer – First Fight or Monsters of MMA – and why?