Ric Flair is will step back in a pro wrestling ring for the final time on July 31 in Nashville. But at the same time, he'll also be taking his first steps into the world of comic books. Written by Scout Comics President James Haick with art from Rafael Loureiro, Codename: Ric Flair is an upcoming series that poses a question — what if when Flair recovered from his 1975 plane crash he not only became "The Nature Boy," but also started working as a secret agent for the US government? Flair, Haick and project manager Kelly Brewster sat down with ComicBook recently to discuss the new series.
Flair kicked things off by explaining how the series came about — "Gosh, it's been almost two years. James and I, and another gentleman that we all came together and agreed on doing it, and I think the other guy just decided he didn't know enough about the project actually as did Kelly and I, until we got to know James better. So he was a little frustrated and we just, we stuck with it and finally through the help of James and his partner, we're in it. We're understanding it better, and we're really looking forward to it being a successful project."
Haick then explained how the story pitch came about, saying he was inspired by some of Flair's legendary road stories. He specifically brought up Flair's match with Antonio Inoki at the Collision in Korea event in North Korea in 1995 and his NWA World Heavyweight Championship match against Jack Veneno in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1982.
"Really where it stemmed from is just the amazing stories that Ric has for his life on the road, just all the different things, especially when travel wasn't as easy and him being the champion," Haick said. "Traveling from territory to territory and some of the amazing stories, it just, it made sense to what's facts, what's fiction. And by doing this, where basically, The Nature Boy was, by day, the world's greatest villain in the wrestling world, but by night he was actually helping save the world. So it's kind of like a... It was a good comparison. We were talking about the other day, like (Tim Burton's) Big Fish. It's like a Big Fish meets Archer, all tied with fact and fiction stories about Ric's past in the wrestling business, as he was traveling around defending the title."
"So yeah, just picking his brain, that's kind of where the whole thing expanded, came from and it's just been an absolute blast working with Ric, getting to know him and Kelly and we're so excited to finally drop this project," Haick later added. "It's been in the works for quite a few years. And the artwork on it, I have to give props. I'm biased, but Rafael Loureiro, who's the artist of the project...his work is just absolutely stunning."
Flair admitted he wasn't big into the comic book world, but started paying attention when he began going to conventions and saw how many people would line up to meet Stan Lee. The 16-time world champion said he got the chance to shake hands with Lee prior to his passing in 2018.
"What got me interested in it was that I have done ComicCons over the last maybe seven or eight years and I actually was at three that Stan Lee was at before he passed away," Flair said. "And I kept saying, 'What the hell's with that line? Who's this guy?' Because I don't understand the comic book world. But there is obviously, a lure to comic books, that the comic book people get."
A limited-edition release of the Codename: Ric Flair will be released in late July to coincide with the Ric Flair's Last Match event, as well as the launching of a Kickstarter for the series. Collectible ash can previews, signed printer plates and various pieces of merchandise connected to the series can be found here.