I've always been interested in the intersection between comics and sports. The stereotypical comics-reading nerd isn't much of an athletics buff, but there are many, many people who enjoy both. Even those who don't can recognize that comics and sports seem to scratch similar itches for their fans by offering bottomless rabbit holes of involvement. Final Four brackets and fantasy football leagues require and celebrate the same kind of obsessive knowledge that comics fans enjoy sharing and discussing.
Ron Marz is a great example of a combination comics/sports aficionado: His Twitter stream is just as likely to discuss the Mets as Metropolis, and he's even written a sports comic, The Protectors, created by Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije and drawn by Bart Sears.
It was also Marz who pointed me toward the NFL Heroes posters below, also drawn by Sears, featuring "rocket-armed quarterback" Jay Cutler, "defensive dominator" Julius Peppers, and "legendary linebacker" Brian Urlacher. They're available from Idonije's Athleta Comics.
I asked Sears and Idonijie to talk a little about their love of comics and sports and how those things connect for them.
"We have superheroes in our everyday life," Sears told me. "Men and women who do amazing, wondrous things, feats of near-magic far beyond the abilities of normal humans. We call them pro athletes. It just makes sense that some of these gifted people’s abilities would go even farther than on-the-field wonder, taking them straight into the realm of heroic fantasy."
Idonije said, "I've always loved sports and I have always been a comic book fan, and I believe the two worlds of sports and comics is a very natural union. Many great stories are found within the lives of those professional athletes we love and admire. Their amazing abilities often transcend their field of play as they motivate the hero in all of us to be more and to do more. Athleta Comics specializes in magnifying these incredible sports heroes through the lens of comics. With every picture and every story, we will showcase our greatest heroes."