TAMPA — Chris Jericho is professional wrestling’s self-proclaimed renaissance man.
The Tampa resident whose real name is Chris Irvine lives up to the hype.
Besides performing for All Elite Wrestling, Jericho is the front man for the Gold Record band Fozzy, author of three New York Times bestsellers, an actor, a movie producer, a gameshow host, a podcaster and a philanthropist.
On Saturday, the eight-time wrestling world champion will add comic book writer to that resume when he releases his “The Painmaker” graphic novel series at a launch event at Clearwater’s Emerald City Comics at 11 a.m.
“We’ve been planning the launch of ‘The Painmaker’ graphic novel for the better part of the year,” Jericho said via email. “I’m stoked to see this day arrive.”
Those who attend can preorder the first of the four issues in the series’ initial story plus meet Jericho.
Orders “are expected to ship shortly after Jericho’s appearance,” Emerald City Comics’ website says.
“The Painmaker” is based on Jericho’s darker wrestling alter ego of the same name.
“The concept is what would a serial killer look like if he was a pro wrestler,” said David Shapiro, head of Semkhor Productions, which is partnering with Jericho on this endeavor. “Now, using the graphic novel medium, we explore the origins of how he got his powers and the paths that he has to choose. The story takes place in a techno occult landscape where he has adversaries that he must fight as he sets out on a course of either redemption or more power.”
Fans will have an opportunity to influence the story.
Each physical first issue comes with a digital collectible — one of 380 variations of the edition’s cover. The collectible provides access to an online version of the graphic novel that has some panels already animated with more to come. It also unlocks online contests, starting with a game of War with digital playing cards inspired by “The Painmaker.”
Then, in a few months, Shapiro said, they will release a “higher end” version of issue one, which will include a metallic cover and one of 8,888 unique digital collectibles.
Those collectibles will provide access to a forum where fans can share character and plot ideas with Jericho and Semkhor Productions.
“We can build out the explorable universe based on those ideas,” Shapiro said. “The great thing about graphic novels is how they create these larger worlds. We have created a new approach that is a real evolution and unlocks the potential of the graphic novel.”
If you go
Meet Chris Jericho and preorder one of his “The Painmaker” graphic novel series.
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Where: Emerald City Comics, 4902 113th Ave. N, Clearwater
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Tickets: Ticket packages range from $40 to preorder the graphic novel without meeting Jericho to $320 for a collectible package and VIP access to Jericho. For full ticket details, visit emeraldcitycomics.com.