Masked Macho Mexican Mayhem - Lucha Libre
Frissen and Silva on Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre the comic is a humorous take on the pop culture aspect of the sport of Mexican professional wrestling that shares it's name. Often displayed in a humourous light such as in Nacho Libre and the animated cartoon ¡Mucha Lucha!, the comic is a humorous take of normal people like you and me whose lives are permeated by the Lucha Libre culture of masked wrestlers and over-the-top technical moves and motion. The book follows 3 paths – the adventures of the Luchadores Five, Tequila and the Tikitis. You don't have to know who El Santo is…. but it makes it even funnier.From Mexico to LA and into your local comic store (with a stop in Europe), Lucha Libre is published by Image Comics, with several issues out and the first collection due in stores on November 5th. In addition to collecting the first five issues, Lucha Libre, Vol. 1 will also have behind-the-scenes artwork from writer Jerry Frissen and artists Bill, Fabien M., Gobi and OHM. For more we talked with writer Jerry Frissen and toy-maker Robert Silva, who has a big role in the Lucha Libre success. Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Jerry. Where did the idea for Lucha Libre come from?
Jerry Frissen: From a lot of different places. First, it’s because of Los Angeles. I wanted to talk about the city and its “babel tower” feeling. So I decided to mix everything, even what could be considered unmixable. I wanted to put together everything I like, lucha libre, horror, sci-fi, humor, monsters, super heroes, etc. Like Los Angeles, Lucha Libre became a melting pot. For my characters, I took a lot from Trekkies or comic books fans that I see in conventions. People wearing costume in a day to day life. NRAMA: Lucha Libre was first published by French publisher Humanoids, and now it's in the States here with Image Comics. How'd that work out that way? JF: Humanoids was the first publisher interested in Lucha Libre, so we went with them. Then Image agreed to publish the US version. We just have 3 issues more in french than in the U.S.. It’s also published in Spain and Italy. NRAMA: Probably my favorite of the Lucha Libre strips is the ones with the Luchadoritos. I read somewhere that you describe them as "part Peanuts, part Dennis The Menace and lots of Lucha Libre" and that'd pretty apt, but can you explain it to us further? JF:: With the Luchadoritos, I wanted to do something a little bit more “simple” than the rest of Lucha Libre. There are only four characters, they’re children and there aren’t grown ups in their world. They talk about them sometimes but you won’t see them. The main guy, Melindez, is a huge Lucha Libre fan and his dream is to become the best luchador ever, but he’s small, thin and not strong at all. He’s also a little bit of a coward. NRAMA: The lead strip in the single issues has been the Luchadores Five strips. What can you tell us about these guys? JF: They’re people who decided to fight back. They’re not sure about what they’re fighting for but they fight back. Since they claim to have latino origins –which hasn’t been proven– they dress as luchadores. Some of them don’t have jobs, others live with their parents, one of them is fat… They’re not typical heroes. They’re protecting their neighborhood –East LA– against many invaders, werewolves, an Elvis impersonator, tiki warriors, French heroes, etc. The thing is they seem to be the only people to care about that. Nobody gives a shit about them or of their enemies; but the Luchadores Five know they must protect people. Since they don’t have any sort of acknowledgment from the people around them, they’re bitter and they’re very often thinking about quitting. They also fight a lot amongst themselves. NRAMA: The Professor Furia strips are also quite hilarious, about a lucha libre teacher who cons and abuses his students. Will we ever see him cross over with the other strips? JF: Furia is my way of being mean, I mean REALLY mean. He’s a disgusting character always thinking about his profit without having any sort of considerations for others. He wants money, alcohol, girls, everything. He is referred to in the Luchadores Five as the teacher of King Karateca but I don’t know if we’ll ever do a crossover. NRAMA: You work with a core group of five artists: Bill, Gobi, Fabien M, Herve Tanquerelle and Witko. How'd you hook up with them? JF: After seeing some amazing pages by Bill for a self contained short story about a boy Luchador, I contacted him and asked him to work with me. We began working on The Luchadores Five. When they saw the results, both Gobi and Fabien, who were Bill’s childhood friends, wanted to be part of the project. I was following the work of Tanquerelle for a while, I thought it’d be the perfect fit for Luchadoritos. I met Witko in Angouleme in 2006, we were both really drunk and I asked him to work with me without even knowing who he was. Turns out I was pretty lucky that day. NRAMA: This book is done in an interesting format – it's an anthology of smaller stories that build up to form a larger one. Is this a European convention I'm not aware of, or where did you get this idea from? JF: Humanoids told us that we could have complete freedom on how to publish Lucha Libre. That’s what we came up with. It’s not a European convention at all. In Europe, we’re considered as comics from another planet. I’m glad that Humanoids and now Image followed us in this concept. NRAMA: The series has just started here in the U.S. but it might be better known for the line of art toys that was put out. Let's have Robert join us to talk about it. Robert, what can you tell us about the toys? Robert Silva: The toy line is something I convinced Jerry, Gobi, and Bill to do. At the time, the Designer Toy movement was becoming a larger presence in the United States and I felt that the style Bill and Gobi had established with the Luchadores Five and Tequila would translate well to the urban stylings of the Designer Toy Industry. We ended up releasing our first two figures, Tequila and El Panda, before a single issue of Lucha Libre was published. Because of the awesome designs for Tequila and El Panda, we were able to quickly find an audience with the toy line. Since then we have released two other figures from the Lucha Libre universe: Red Demon and Dr. Destruction. At this point all versions of Tequila and Red Demon are sold out. El Panda's are getting scarce and Dr. Destruction continues to sell strong. The funny thing is even though this whole series was developed as a comic, we are best known for our toys. We're hoping to change that. Our toys kick ass and so do our comics. We're doing everything we can to spread the word on this truth! [laughs] NRAMA: There are rumors of a Luchadores 5 film – is that true? RS: We're still moving forward on film development. As you probably know, the film business is a very unpredictable one... but we are super happy with the team we have actively developing the film. Of course, we're not naming names... but as soon as we're given the go ahead we'll announce what's been going on. NRAMA: Before we go, let's regale in some achievements you've received for the series. Lucha Libre was nominated earlier this year for Best Humor Publication for the Eisner awards. Jerry, what was it like to get this honor? JF: I have to say I was pretty happy. I would even be happier if we would have won! It was nice to be nominated and it was nice to be at the comicon for the ceremony. It was a great night. I really felt like we were part of this great community and just that made me happy.