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Two Friends Enter, One Comic Leaves! The Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia Origin Story


Suspicious Behavior Productions is Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel – two professional game writers who became friends and co-writers, and who created a company to have the creative freedom to put their own stories out into the world, for better or worse.


Ed:
I was a nerd growing up in Portland, Oregon the 70’s and 80’s – into comics, cartoons, video games and especially wrestling. My family was one of the first on our block to get cable, so in addition to watching the WWF on NBC and our local NWA territory, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, I’d watch hours of Georgia Championship Wrestling on Superstation WTBS from Atlanta and the AWA on ESPN. I’d buy several wrestling magazines each week and even buy back issues at used bookstores so I could explore wrestling’s history. One of the walls in my bedroom was overlaid with corkboard, and I covered every square inch with wrestling posters and magazine clippings.

I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life, so it’s amusing to reflect that my favorites – Bobby Jaggers, Dusty Rhodes, “Playboy” Buddy Rose – were all overweight guys that still managed to kick ass and act baller. Those guys were my superheroes, just as much (if not more so) than Spiderman or Batman. I don’t watch much wrestling now, but I still dig it as an art form and look back on it with fondness.

Matt:
I grew up in the 80s and 90s in the north suburbs of Chicago. As a kid, the WWF (as it was known back then) was omnipresent and Hulk Hogan was its most iconic face. We didn’t get cable until I was in junior high, so I only had access to Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, and locally syndicated airings of G.L.O.W. Still, my brother and I were captivated. We used to act out our favorite matches (Hulk vs. Andre! Steamboat vs Savage! Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude!) on my parents’ king-size bed, our poorly-executed scoop slams and diving elbow doing untold damage to the box spring. After cable finally came into the Entin household, I had access to a lot more wrestling – that was during the creative lull of the early 90s when the rosters were crowded with gimmicks like Doink, Papa Shango, and Disco Inferno. Wrestling almost lost me then, but the nWo debuted right when I was in high school, and that was it – I was a fan for life.

Ed:
As a kid, I made this promise to myself that one day I would work as a writer in video games or animation. The only things holding me back were depression, a nasty addiction, a total lack of self-esteem, bad grades, zero discipline and no plan whatsoever on how to make it happen. At twenty-eight or so I was walking down the street to my dead-end job and happened to walk past the offices of Bungie, which were in Chicago at that time (this was well before Halo). I was already a fan of their games, so when I looked through the office window to see all these cool creatives with game posters on their walls and toys on their desks I got jealous, then I got inspired. I began to work on myself and made a plan of sorts on how to break into the games industry. A year or so later (this was 2001) I got my foot in the door at a game studio in the suburbs of Chicago. I found myself doing some writing for the games I worked on and a few years later I was sitting next to Matt Entin – a new hire brought on to help us with the dialog for Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. We’ve been friends and cowriters ever since.

Matt:
I went to college to be a computer animator. I thought I’d probably work for Pixar or ILM. During my senior year, my friend and I made a point-and-click adventure game called Ockers, about a foul-mouthed Australian reprobate. I wrote the story and dialog for it. The first video game studio that hired me brought me on as a writer (not as an animator) based on my work on Ockers. I remember my first meeting with Ed during the interview process. Ed didn’t want to do a formal interview, so we just talked about old LucasArts games for thirty minutes. Little did I know, it was the beginning of an enduring friendship and collaboration that would still be going strong a decade-and-a-half later.

Ed:
So Matt and I had some success together as writers on Magna Cum Laude, but not so with the ill-fated sequel. The studio hit hard times and was forced to lay us off. I was crushed – my wife wasn’t working at the time and we our boys were still rugrats, then. Matt was indomitable – he encouraged me to make the thirty-minute drive into the city during the dead of winter, park eight blocks from his drafty apartment and write screenplays with him while we looked for jobs. We had a blast and it took my mind off of my anxiety. We also came up with some cool ideas for scripts and finished several of them in the years that followed – one of them was Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia.

Matt:
After the lay-off, I left video games to go to advertising school—first in Minneapolis, then in Europe. It was during my six-month European jaunt that Ed and I worked on Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia. If you go back and read that first draft (which is almost a decade old now), so many of the major pieces were in place—including the wrestling bear.

Ed:
In the years after the layoff, I gradually found myself writing for video games full time as a freelancer – several of them with Matt. At this point I’ve worked on almost seventy video games – some big, some not so big, but I’m hugely grateful to have a career in an industry that I love and to be able to work from home to boot. In fact, it was our relative success in video games that caused us to Matt and I to abandon writing spec scripts for Hollywood. The gamble just didn’t seem worth it.

One of our beloved stories stuck with us, however – like a Billy Jack Haynes headlock, we just couldn’t get free of it – Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia.

Matt:
Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia was a story we just had to get out there. While we were both comic book fans, writing comics wasn’t something we’d even considered before. But it slowly dawned on us that Wrestletopia’s colorful characters and over-the-top narrative were perfectly suited for the medium. It was also something we could self-fund… or so we thought. Sure, once we put together a creative team, it cost just a bit– okay a lot more than we’d initially estimated, but just to see Rory and Don and Manifest Destiny finally come alive was priceless.

Ed:
So here we are, a fifteen years later, still writing for games and still committed to publishing Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia (and hopefully many more comics to come). To loosely quote former NWA champion and hardcore legend Terry Funk, “The money isn’t there but the times are good.” For a couple of guys used to work-for-hire gigs, the creative freedom is intoxicating, and we’re thrilled with the reaction to our first two issues (our third is on the way). We’re still looking for a publisher and we’re still hoping it’ll somehow take over the world, but even if it doesn’t, we won’t give up.

Peace, Love and Brown Rice,

Ed & Matt

From left – ED, Weird Al, Matt
Dan “The Body” Schkade and Marisa Louise (AK Col. Von Slamstein) our artist and colorist, respectively.

 


Connet with Ed & Matt

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