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Talking to CM Punk about the Cubs and comic books

SB Nation interviewed new comic book writer CM Punk about Chicago sports and his transition into MMA.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

CM Punk has made the leap from WWE to the UFC, but he's also begun a burgeoning career as a comic book writer. His latest offering appears in the third issue of Vertigo's Strange Sports Stories anthology series, out Wednesday. Punk's contribution is a story about a cursed baseball team, which may seem familiar to some MLB fans.

SB Nation: Is this story your love letter to the Cubs?

CM Punk: I think 100 percent it is, yeah. There's a couple inside jokes thrown in there that aren't strictly personal inside jokes that I think longtime fans of mine and longtime fans of the Cubs will pick up on it. Yeah, I was happy to be able to kind of write it about a cursed team. Apparently, a lot of people think the Cubs have been cursed for over 100 years.

This story ... is this more or less what it feels like to be a Cubs fan?

[laughs] I think so, in the most extreme way, yeah. There's been some pretty ridiculous seasons. Just when you think things are going good, something you could never even predict happening happens. So in a way, yeah.

What's your favorite Cubs memory of all time?

I've got a few. But I don't think anything really tops the first time I was ever invited to sing the seventh inning stretch. So I think that trumps everything. As a kid, growing up a Cubs fan, that's like a million dreams come true. So that's definitely up there.

Who are your all-time favorite Cubs?

Oh man, hard to pick. I'm buddies with Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood, so they get the honorable mention. [laughs] But as far as all-time Cubs? Ah, geez. I don't know. It's hard to pick against Ryne Sandberg, just because he was the man when I was growing up.

It's a great time to be a Chicago sports fan, because the Cubs are in the thick of it and both the Bulls and Blackhawks are in the playoffs. You think the Blackhawks are going to go all the way again this year?

Yes.

Who will give them the biggest problem the rest of the way?

Well, I think just like last year and the year before, I think the Western Conference is tougher than the East. I think this Western Conference coming up between the Hawks and the Ducks ... it's gonna be tough. I think it's going to be more exciting than the actual Stanley Cup Final.

Are you a little sad that you don't have the Kings mascot to kick around this postseason?

No, I'm glad. I'm glad I don't have to look at Bailey. I'm sick of Bailey. It's one thing to have lost the bet last year with Bailey, but I feel vindicated that the Kings didn't even make the playoffs this year.

I know you're mostly into baseball and hockey. Have you been following the Bulls in the postseason at all?

I follow 'em, because they're a Chicago team, but I'm not really the biggest basketball fan. Obviously I hope they go all the way and they win, because I think the Derrick Rose story is a special one. You won't see me on social media wearing a Bulls jersey after they win or anything like that, but I wish them all the best. I hope they do win.

Let's talk comics for a bit. What are your all-time favorite comics and what are you reading right now?

All-time favorite comics. Preacher. A lot of Vertigo stuff, honestly. I read Preacher once a year. I read Y: The Last Man once a year. I'm a big fan of [Brian] Azzarello's 100 Bullets, I'm a big fan of Jason Aaron's Scalped. I'm a huge fan of anything Ed Brubaker does. A lot of his Daredevil stuff. A lot of his creator-owned stuff, too. His Criminal stuff, I'm really into.

What I'm reading now? Actually, I just finished reading the first Rocket Raccoon trade paperback. I'm trying to get a feel, because I'm going to be writing Drax, going forward. A lot of creator-owned stuff lately. But I also think Mark Waid has been hitting it out of the park with Daredevil. He has been for a while, now. I normally go by writer, so anything Jason Aaron writes, Thor, Men of Wrath, Southern Bastards. Anything Brubaker does. Greg Rucka's Lazarus is amazing. Those are the most recent things I remember that I've read.

You're more into the writer-driven comics. Now that you're in that field, who have been your biggest influences as a writer?

Probably Frank Miller. Frank Miller and Garth Ennis, I'd say.

You're going to be taking on Drax over at Marvel. Do you find it a little surreal that, in a way, CM Punk is now writing Batista?

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I texted Dave [Bautista] right away. "Dude, I'm gonna be writing the Drax comic book!" [laughs] And he was like, "No way!" So yeah, it's definitely bizarre. It's almost one of those stories where you wouldn't be able to make this up.

Have you talked to him at all about the transition to MMA? Has he offered you any advice?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I'm trying to remember ... It might have been a little less than a year ago. I think he was doing a comic con out here in Chicago and he came over just so we could hang out for a little bit. Yeah, I talked to him about it. This was before I made the announcement [that I was signing UFC]. I was heavily thinking about it, so I was -- without spilling the beans to him, because I wasn't sure what I was going to do -- I was asking him all kinds of questions. Because he was in the same situation I was in, coming from the pro wrestling background, a little bit older than he probably should have been [starting out], just like I am. So there's a lot of similarities, so he gave me a lot of advice to help me out.

I know you're probably sick of being asked about this, but what would it take to get you to fight Jason David Frank?

Eh. Skip it. Next question.

As far as your MMA training, how do you feel like you've been coming along and what's the feedback been like from your coaches?

You know, as long as I'm getting better one percent every day, I'm happy. And I feel it's never less than that, so I think I'm doing good. My trainers, I don't think they're blowing smoke up my ass, they tell me when I do stuff bad, and we work on [it]. In another six months, I should be ready to go, but [laughs] ... don't take it from me! It's out of my hands. It's up to my trainers.

What's the most difficult part of preparing to fight in the UFC?

I think it's being well-rounded. Getting my reaction time down for stuff. I know when I do stuff wrong, or when I'm in a bad position. It's just fighting out of those positions and really putting it all together. Every day, training my ass off to be ready. It's not going to happen overnight, that's why I train every day.

You can find CM Punk's story "The Most Cursed" in issue No. 3 of Strange Sports Stories, available here.

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