Mick Foley signs autographs at the Canadian National Comic Expo on August 26, 2000. — Photo by Stephen Laroche

The King of Hardcore Wrestling, Mick Foley, otherwise known as Cactus Jack, Mankind or Dude Love returned to Toronto once again last weekend — but not for a match.

Making an appearance at the Canadian National Comic Expo Saturday, Foley was stopping in Toronto en route to New York for an appearance later that day. He was gracious with his fans, many of which brought socks, books and even a steel chair for him to autograph.

The signing, which was sponsored by Chaos Comics, drew hundreds of wrestling fans waiting to share a moment with one of their heroes. Among the first in line was 11-year-old Sean Celsie. The wheelchair-bound youngster was looking forward to meeting his hero and wanted to say to him “You rock!”

Chaos has produced a number of comic books focusing on the adventures of World Wrestling Federation superstars in real-life settings. An exclusive version of the Mankind comic was available at the convention for a nominal fee. Foley appeared to be content with the writing and artwork within the book.

“I was really pleased with the comic,” he said. “A lot of times I have problems with peoples’ concepts of the character. I think (artist) Jerry Beck did a great job.”

Mankind comic book artist Jerry Beck poses with his work at the Canadian National Comic Expo on August 26, 2000. — Photo by Stephen Laroche

Beck, who has been working in the comic industry for several years, recently began to reach a larger audience through his work for Chaos. His work on the Mankind comic was a gargantuan task for many illustrators, as he completed it on a tight 15-day deadline.

“This was my first-ever Chaos deal,” Beck said. “They called me and needed it done real fast. That also led into an Undertaker book.”

For Beck, this was the first time he would meet the subject of his work. While he is a casual wrestling fan, the Cleveland native had lost touch with the mat wars in recent years. He was a bigger fan when he was younger.

“I’m not a television fan. I actually started watching more when I started getting the wrestling work,” Beck said.

Beck, who used to design gravestones, was frustrated with the comic industry and ready to return to his old profession before a call came in from Chaos. He is also a graduate of the Kubert School for Cartooning and has some hope for the future of the comic industry but believes it needs to change in some ways.

“I’m lucky to be working at all considering how the industry is,” he said. “It’s kind of been stagnant for several years. I wish there would be a new distributor for small press (comics).”

In addition to his wrestling-related artwork, Beck has drawn other titles including Evil Ernie and the Insane Clown Posse comic.