A pro wrestler who’s also one of New Zealand’s top Pasifika comic artists is heading to Northland in the hope of inspiring a new generation with the power of storytelling.
Michel Mulipola, a self-taught illustrator who now works for Disney, will visit Ōkaihau College on June 1 as part of a national Storylines Tour.
College librarian Ursula Medusa said Mulipola was one of very few Pasifika people who made a living from comic art.
His graphic novels such as Samoan Heroes had a growing international fanbase and he had worked as an illustrator for Marvel Comics, professional wrestling company WWE, Sky TV and the New Zealand School Journal among others.
Medusa said comic art was popular among library users but rarely practised by Pasifika artists.
She said Pasifika people were naturally gifted storytellers who used a variety of different mediums.
“Michel’s medium happens to be comic books. Comics are often misunderstood as an art style, superheroes or a genre, but in reality, it’s a storytelling medium,” she said.
Medusa hoped Mulipola’s presentation would inspire the college’s male students in particular.
“It’s a bit of a rags-to-riches story. He started drawing at age five, he’s self-taught, and he’s also been a wrestler and done all sorts of other stuff. He’s done what he loves and now he’s employed by Disney. We’re really stoked to have a role model [representative of the concept of] boys and books.”
Mulipola, who also goes by the artist name ‘Bloody Samoan’, was born and raised in Māngere, South Auckland, and was a pro wrestler and gamer before his art career took off.
His grandfather’s villages are Lefaga, Iva and Manono and his grandmother’s are Papa Sātaua, Faleasiu, Vaimoso and Sinamoga.
■ Storylines is a charitable trust that has run Story Tours since 1993 with the aim of bringing children’s writers, illustrators and storytellers together with their readers to encourage literacy and the joy of reading. Go to www.bloodysamoan.com to learn more about Michel Mulipola.