“Respect My Craft” – Lou Ferrigno

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Louis “Lou” Ferrigno

Profession: Actor, Body-builder

Notable WorkThe Incredible Hulk TV series (1978-1982), Hercules (1983), Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989), The King of Queens (2002-2007)

“The Hulk was a unique character because of his strength and power. He doesn’t have a costume like Spider-Man or like Superman – The Hulk is more visual. His passion and his strength, that is what separates him from anything else.” – Lou Ferrigno.

Want to hear something crazy and exciting?! Lou Ferrigno and all his muscles will be at Denver Comic-Con this year! Due to his accomplishments both in the entertainment industry and his personal life, we at Hush only feel it is appropriate to show our respect for the man who once picked up a bear and through it like a mile away into a river…no lie.

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Louis Jude Ferrigno, better known as Lou was born on November 9th, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. Growing up Lou was a skinny, introverted child who struggled coming to terms with who he was. As a young boy he had an ear infection, which caused nerve damage, ultimately leading up to him loosing 80% of his hearing. Lou wasn’t perfect in his father’s eyes, yet he taught him to never feel sorry for himself.

Without a doubt,   Ferrigno was a huge comic book fan who looked up to heroes such as Spider-Man and most of all The Hulk. Because he was so introverted, he fell in love with comic books because they were very therapeutic for him. It gave him a vision of who he wanted to be and the power he could one day have. He would stare into comic books and find a sense of peace, relief, and solace with them like many comic book fans do. In fact, comic books were what influenced Lou to start body-building. Seeing the Hulk, with his muscles and power, made young Ferrigno take his first step toward becoming the person he grew up to be.

Lou simply became obsessed with working out, and how pumping iron made him feel. That power and that feeling never went away. He entered his first body building competition when he was 19, and took 23rd place. That loss motivated him to never lose again. He started putting in twice the effort and achieved quadruple the results. After that first competition, he never took less than 3rd place. Through his stupidly cut muscles and his put-others-to-shame strength he has earned a victory in IFBB Mr. America, IFBB Mr. Universe, and Mr. Olympia. I’m not jealous at all, nope.

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During the time when the production of The Incredible Hulk was starting to get under way the director cast 7‘2’’ Richard Kiel, who is famously known for playing the infamous Bond villain, Jaws, to play the green goliath. However, one day, the director’s infant son told his father that “that man” (Richard Kiel) couldn’t be the Hulk. Curious, the father asked his son why not. And the son told his dad that the Hulk has a lot of muscles and that “that man” does not. BURN, RICHARD KIEL!! Rethinking his approach, the director decided to call Lou Ferrigno and offer him the role. For Ferrigno this was a dream come true, being given the opportunity to play a hero he has always looked up to.

While filming the television show there were certainly ups and downs. For one, Lou absolutely hated spending the time in make-up. Between the four hours to apply the prosthetics, body paint, and hair and the hour it took to take all that off, Lou was eager to get through the day of shooting. Due to his unique body, Ferrigno had to perform his own stunts which often left him uneasy. I don’t know about you all, but I would be unsure too if I were doing stunts like running through walls, doors, and glass, and even jumping off of high surfaces. But in true Hulk fashion, he gathered the courage and plowed through those doors, walls and glass, and jumped off those tall building and landed right into our hearts.

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Even through those less favorable times, Ferrigno never lost motivation. With long days of filming ending at all different times of night and day, he always found the time to gather himself and make it to the gym for a work out. I’m still not jealous. And even though Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno went through several changes (HA! Get it?), Ferrigno’s thoughts and appreciation for the Hulk never changed. He has said time and time again that even though a lot of people thought the Hulk was a monster, he only saw him as a gentle soul that didn’t want to hurt anybody. Yet, no matter what he did, he was always running because people would still only view him as a monster. Ferrigno wanted to express that feeling when he played the character; because the Hulk was a silent role, he worked really hard to act through his emotions to convey his thoughts and feelings.

Well, you know what they say, you can take the Lou Ferrigno out of the Hulk, but you can’t take the Hulk out of the Lou Ferrigno. Or is it the other way around? I’m not sure. Either way Lou and the Hulk didn’t split ways once the television series ended. He has made an appearance in both Hulk films (crappy and Incredible) and even voiced the Hulk in The Avengers and the animated series. Sadly, he didn’t get to say “Puny God” but all of the grunts, huffs, puffs, moans and roars all came from the original. And with the new Avengers movie set to drop, Lou has said he will be right there once again to make poetry come out of the Hulk’s mouth. There is even rumored to be another solo Hulk movie come out after Age of Ultron, and I am willing to bet my metaphorical Incredible Hulk #1 that he will make an appearance in some sort of way once again. Once his stretch with the television show was over he focused a lot of his attention back to fitness and created Ferrigno Fitness. Selling his own equipment, having workout and diet plans for the masses Lou looks to turn the world incredible. He even has a 12-week program called, Incredibly Fit.

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Yet like I said before, comics will always be part of Lou’s life and this is evident with the work he has done with one of Denver’s most notable comic shops, Mile High Comics. That’s right, all you puny humans out there, the Incredible Hulk has a partnership with OUR local comic book store. For years now they have been teaming up with various different ventures. He often sits in on booths for Mile High Comics, where he signs autographs, takes photos, and just chats it up with fans; 2014 DCC this will be no different. He will even be at the Mile High Comics warehouse for the opening night party on June 12th at 5:00pm. Lou represents the Mile High City, from doing simple signings, to attending mega-store sales, and even sitting at Mile High Comic’s booth at the San Diego Comic-Con for six out of the last seven years. Maybe because our altitude is higher, it gives him an opportunity to train harder. Either way, Lou Ferrigno has shown major love when it comes to the Denver comic book scene.

Lou with Mile High Comics’ owner Chuck Rozanski at their booth at San Diego Comic Con

Lou with Mile High Comics’ owner Chuck Rozanski at their booth at San Diego Comic Con

So when it’s all said and done, why does it matter? It matters because Lou Ferrigno IS the Hulk. He made this character what he is today, and gave him relevance. From the anger he felt as a child, growing up to be this powerful being showed people that you are not bound by your circumstances. If Lou was never the Hulk, the character would simply be seen as “that big green guy that always acts like someone pissed in his Wheaties.” But because of Lou, the Hulk is more than that. He is more than the monster people see, he is the rage filled goliath in purple pants that stole our hearts. Lou has said, “The truth is, I’ve been the Hulk my whole life…The Hulk was the beginning of me, a platform as an actor to grow. I don’t think anybody else can play the Hulk like I could. I was able to show emotions even with all of the makeup. I don’t think it can be duplicated.” Honestly, I’m inclined to agree with him. Lou Ferrigno is the Hulk, and the Hulk is Lou Ferrigno, and it is impossible to love one but not the other. And due to what he has achieved in life, and the character he has brought to the screen I will forever be an Incredible Lou fan.

 

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight Star Trek: TNG and Reading Rainbow star, Levar Burton.

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