NYCC 2022: Catching Up With `Hell Is A Squared Circle’ Writer Chris Condon

by Tom Smithyman

New York Comic Con’s Artist Alley is packed with enough creative talent to tell all manner of stories for decades. Among the tables of pencillers, inkers and colorists is writer Chris Condon, whose wrestling comic, Hell is a Squared Circle, was released by Aftershock Comics on Wednesday. The writer of That Texas Blood talked to about his long-time love of wrestling and what he’s exploring in his work.

Tom Smithyman: Congratulations of your newest title. Tell me about Hell is a Squared Circle.

Chris Condon: It’s a wresting story. It’s a noir story. It’s a crime story. It also has hints of horror in it. And the reason why is because it’s about this guy’s descent, across his life, into his own personal hell.

Smithyman: It’s the feel-good story of the year!

Condon: Exactly. It starts dark and gets darker.

Smithyman: Why wresting? Is it a metaphor?

Condon: I didn’t plan it that way, but he is wrestling with his inner demons. That’s the most obvious thing that I can make a connection with.

By why wrestling? I grew up loving wrestling. The main character is named after my created wrestler from a video game from the 90s, who I’ve maintained throughout my life. The Irish Mooska is me. And it was such a thrill to be able to put him in a comic.

It just seemed like the perfect opportunity to write a book that is, like That Texas Blood, crime-tinged, horror-tinged but focusing on a sport that, until this year really we hadn’t seen much in the way of comics. So it was fun to explore it.

Smithyman: Why do you think these genres such a good avenue for exploring the human condition?

Condon: It’s a universal struggle. Whether you’re in a sport, whether you’re writing comics, whether you’re drawing comics, whether you’re trying to get into the film industry, the struggle is the same. You’re trying to get up and get to a different level.

Smithyman: How was working with your Hell is a Squared Circle artist Francesco Biagini?

Condon: When we were working on very early concepts, of what people were going to look like, the vibe of the issue, I said: `Bernie Wrightson’s Creepshow.’ And Francesco just got it. It just clicked with him. And I think he nailed that vibe. I think it you look at our book and you look at Creepshow, you have a brother and sister relationship there.

Smithyman: Does your work have a theme that you’re exploring, whether it’s conscious or not?

Condon: I’m just trying to explore the human condition in my own way. That’s what we do with That Texas Blood. We have our main character that we’re sticking with, Joe Bob, and just exploring him across time. Why he wound up the way he is in the first arc and why he’s so world-weary. That’s really all I try to do. For me, where my writing comes from is just talking to people and just observing. Those are the things I find interesting. The things that connect us all. The dark parts of ourselves. The light parts of ourselves. Exploring those. Why we do the things we do as humans.

Smithyman: As a writer, do you have everything planned out in advance or are you more seat of the pants?

Condon: One of the things a lot of people do is outline very heavily. I’m not an outliner. I do know the general gist of where things are going.

If I’m writing a scene and I like a character, I let it play out and see how it goes. That’s one of the things that we do that not a lot of other comics do. We let scenes flow. That’s something that both artist Jake Phillips and I love about our comic.

Smithyman: That Texas Blood has a deliberate space. You’re not in a hurry to get to where you need to go, but you’re still telling a compelling story.

Condon: If you’ve ever been out to Texas, it’s a slow-paced life. And that’s not a dig on the place, that’s the way it is. Everything is spaced apart. The people are spaced apart. The way that they live is a little bit slower. They take their time. Nobody’s in a rush. And so that’s how we wanted to tell the story.

It’s the complete opposite to what we did in Hell is a Squared Circle, where we went boom boom boom, moving along. It’s so fun for me, as a writer, to explore that slow-paced life and let those scenes play out, where sometimes we don’t even have dialogue. It’s just somebody sitting in a room by themselves. And that’s a testament to Jacob’s artwork. If another artist were to do it, I don’t know if it would work as well. But Jake does an amazing job of getting into the heads of characters.

Smithyman: Who is your favorite wrestler and why?

Condon: Shawn Michaels. When I was growing up, I loved his outfit. I loved the bravado. He just was cocky. I think that one of the things that’s attractive to young people about wrestling in general is that they’re sort of these superheroes. They’re larger-than-life people. That was something about him that spoke to me. The outfits. The great theme music. He just exuded a vibe that I was on board with.

Smithyman: Thanks for taking the time during New York Comic Con to talk about these projects.

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