Look out! There's a future comic writer coming through!
Shane Helms has been wrestling for most of his life, but is most famously known as the WWE superhero character Gregory 'Hurricane' Helms. He's won numerous championships in a dozen promotions, but still ever synonymous with the black and green-clad do-gooder. What started off as an homage to Green Lantern, became a character that helped define his career.
Recently, Helms began attending a comic book writing course at the Jacob Krueger Studio instructed by writer Ron Marz.
Marz, a 30-year veteran of the industry, talked about what he wanted out of the course himself.
"Teaching the class really made me take a step back and figure out why I do what I do when I write a script, both practically and in terms of theory," Marz tells Newsarama. "You do this long enough, it becomes instinctual, and you're just doing the thing you know how to do. So the class made me quantify all that, and translate it into information that I could deliver over the course of a four-week session."
Newsarama chatted up Helms about taking the course, what he felt like he learned from Marz, his love for Green Lantern, what's in his pull box, and what his longterm goals are with comic book writing.
Newsarama: Shane, so before we get started, how are you holding up with everything going on due to the pandemic? Keeping safe?
Shane Helms: Very safe! And luckily with my lifestyle, it hasn't been hard. When I'm not on tour with pro wrestling, I'm kind of a homebody anyway, so it hasn't been difficult for me to just stay home away from crowds.
I'm still able to do my podcast Highway2Helms and yes, I know everyone has a podcast now, however, I first started H2H in 2010 so I'm a bit of a pioneer in that world.
H2H is also where I debuted 'The Comic Slam,' where I review and discuss some of my favorite comics. That's one outlet for me and I also partnered up with The Pro Wrestling Report and FiteTV to put out PrimeTime with Hurricane Helms every Thursday night.
To be fair, I am starting to get a little stir crazy though.
Nrama: What comics are you reading right now? What's in your pull box?
Helms: I still read tons of books. Right now, the top of the list would be Ice Cream Man, Strange Adventures, Doctor Tomorrow, Daredevil, Legion of Superheroes. Resistance, and Captain Marvel.
I get sent a lot of books due to the success of The Comic Slam on Highway2Helms, that's been such a great perk!
Nrama: So recently you took a comic writing course with Ron Marz at the Jacob Krueger Studio, obviously you've had comic experience in the past working with Michael Kingston on Headlocked, but what made you want to take it?
Helms: I had a great experience working with Michael Kingston and it was awesome to see my name in print as a writer in a comic book, but that just scratched the itch temporarily.
I love comics and I have stories that I want to tell so when the COVID pandemic hit and I got furloughed from WWE back in April, I looked at this free time as an opportunity to try and educate myself a little more on the inner workings of comic book development. I've always been a fan of Ron Marz's work and I got a lot out of taking his course.
Nrama: How did you think it went? Did you feel like you learned anything?
Helms: I enjoyed it very much and I learned quite a bit, actually.
First off, I learned just how much really goes into developing a comic book script. It's so much more than just 'having a good idea.' In the story I did for the Headlocked comic, I came up with the grand concept of the tale I wanted to tell, but I didn't know how to really put pen to paper to express that idea. That's where Michael Kingston came in and used his talents to take my idea and make it even better.
Ron's class educated me on how much Kingston really did. The class was invaluable to me. I didn't want it to end.
Nrama: Comics have always been part of your WWE character for the most part, outside of you turning 'serious' for a bit but I remember the Hurricane being super over. How did the pitch meeting go for that character?
Helms: It was actually WWE's idea. I had a pretty successful amateur career and never envisioned myself as a comedy character or a character of any kind, to be honest. I just wanted to be a wrestler.
The head writer of Monday Night Raw at the time, Brian Gerwirtz, had always wanted to do a superhero-based character, but never found the right guy until I came along. I had the Green Lantern tattoo on my shoulder, I wore comic-related T-shirts all the time, so it was no big secret that I was a huge comic fan. The timing was perfect.
Nrama: Obviously you being a Green Lantern fan, how did you meet Ron?
Helms: So, I met Ron at a con once and we've become friends on Twitter. As awful as social media can be at times, there are some good things such as connecting with like-minded people. Ron's run on the Silver Surfer and his work on Green Lantern are some of my all-time favorite stories.
Nrama: I read your script as it went along in class, do you plan on making something out of that?
Helms: I do. It's part of a much larger story that I have in mind. I've got a notebook filled with ideas and unfinished stories. My biggest problem is going to be deciding what to use and what to edit out. But that's not a bad problem to have.
Nrama: Long-term talking here, what's sort of your end goal with comic writing?
Helms: As a kid, comics helped me a lot and I'd love to be able to help anyone with the same joy and wonder that comics gave me. And to be honest, in the early '00s, years before the big superhero boom in Hollywood, I don't think there was anyone that was giving comics as much mainstream love as I was.
I once gave a Green Lantern shirt to Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of pro wrestling's most popular wrestlers ever on Monday Night Raw when that show was cable's highest-rated live show. Millions of people saw that.
People started buying Green Lantern shirts just to wear to WWE shows because I didn't have any Hurricane shirts at the time. That's literally why I got my first T-shirt made.
I've always appreciated what comics have done for me and I just want to be able to share some of my stories with the world.