I imagine I have been working on this book, in one form or another, when I first saw the photograph on the left--2017 or thereabouts.
My grandfather (r) stands beside a billboard advertising Maurice Tillet, the French Angel, as The Wonder Man of Wrestling.
The photo was likely taken in 1940 outside of Hunts Auditorium in Wildwood, NJ.
For a while I have been going back and forth on whether to call it Searching for Tillet...Looking for Maurice...or some combination therein. For a moment, I had it titled The Ugliest Man in the World but really disliked it...although it gets to a bit of the core of Tillet's story--using his disfiguring looks to his advantage in marketing himself as a wrestler.
Many headlines in the '40s used that concept to their advantage--sensationalizing his appearance, to which it seems feel right into the plan to make as much money as possible while his body could endure the physical toll both his affliction, acromegaly, and professional wrestling took on him.
But, this morning, the label on the billboard next to my grandfather jumped out at me: Wonder Man. It evokes the superhero, other worldly element, but it also includes to sense of what I am doing here...looking for him, the real him...not the marketed giant of the wrestling ring.
The person, I am finding, is far more fascinating than the wrestler's persona.
And so the title stands (for now): Wonder Man: an illustrated search for Maurice Tillet.