On Sunday afternoon, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other souls lost their lives in a helicopter crash in California. The death of the NBA legend sparked worldwide tributes from athletes, musicians at the Grammys, and celebrities. Yet a tribute from Marvel Creative Director Joe Quesada highlights Kobe Bryant and his love of comic books. In 2010, before Marvel Studios took over pop culture, Quesada drew a cover for ESPN Magazine featuring NBA greats as the Avengers.
Image via Twitter
Knowing that Kobe Bryant had a love of comic books, he was likely very pleased to be depicted as Iron Man. Later, a Marvel variant comic book poster featured Kobe Bryant suiting up in purple and gold Iron Man armor. When Kobe started out in the league, almost no athlete would publicly cop to being a fan of “nerd” stuff. However, Bryant proved to be a little different.
There are plenty of tributes to the outsized legacy of Kobe Bryant, so we thought we’d focus on his love of comic books and other narrative, genre tales. It’s a passion we shared with him.
Kobe Bryant Enjoyed Comic Book Stories from the Olympics to Seeing the Dark Knight Early
The images of Kobe Bryant as the iconic Iron Man is just one way the NBA star loved comic books. The imagery of the medium seemed to follow him after that. In fact, South Korean rapper Myundo released a tribute song for Bryant in 201. The single’s art looked like a comic book cover, with the player as the superhero. He also had enough juice to see Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight very early. He was so impressed by Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker, he asked him to dinner to talk about the role. Ledger died during the film’s editing process in January of 2008. It’s believed he and Bryant met some time before he played the Knicks in December of 2007.
In 2008, a former comic book store-employee Taio Iwado told CBR.com that just before heading off to the Olympics that year, he picked up a bunch of comics to read on the flight to China. Kobe Bryant showed up after the store closed and talked with Iwado about his love for comic books. The soon-to-be gold-medal winner professed his love for the “dark” stories. So, he left with copies of Preacher, 100 Bullets, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The Joker’s Last Laugh, Batman vs. Two-Face, and a collection of DC stories written by Alan Moore.
Recently, Bryant created a young adult fantasy series called Wizenard that merged the genre with sports. The Academy-Award-winning storyteller said it was a book he wished he could have read as a young man.
Kobe Bryant was 41, his daughter Gianna Bryant was 13.
Featured image via Twitter
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.