“I wanted La Mariposa to move and look like a bouncy rubber cannonball in human shape” James Lawrences talks lucha libre, wrestling moves and the story behind The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet
James Lawrence’s The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet is currently tearing things up on Kickstarter, and has earned a glowing review for its mix of outlandish wrestlers and high energy all ages action. We caught up with James to find out more about the story behind La Mariposa and why wrestling and comics make such good tag team partners!
La Mariposa is based in the zany world of Mexican wrestling – what was it about this world which made you choose to set your story there? And what is it about wrestling and comics which makes such a great fit?!
JL: I think the reason why wrestling and superhero comics in particular have such crossover appeal is because they have a similar way of doing things; they tell long-form stories, usually without an end goal in sight, using a broad range of characters who constantly shift allegiance. I grew up as one of those crossover fans, watching wrestling and reading superhero comics, so when I first saw a luchador it was like a colliding of my two favourite worlds. As I learned more about the traditions of Lucha Libre (such as the concealing of one’s identity in public and essentially living the character), I became fascinated by the magical realist implications of that and ultimately decided to see if I could build a world governed by those rules.
It feels like more than just a wrestling comic though, with elements of video games, manga and of course classic superheroes in there as well. Did you set out to combine all these genre or is it just a reflection of things you love?
JL: I didn’t set out seeking to create a hybrid tribute to the things I love, but that stuff is gonna bleed in anyway. A lot of it is experimentation and playful improvisation. The Inventory Screens in the book came out of realising that I hadn’t given La Mariposa a bag in which to carry stuff about, but then I remembered that Link from Legend of Zelda doesn’t have one either and he does just fine.
The characters are amazing, are any of them based on real life wrestlers?
JL: I tried to base The Sons of Justice on broad archetypes of wrestling characters rather than specific individuals (the hotshot, the spooky mystic, the old-timey throwback etc). I think it would be really cool to guest-star a real-life luchador one day though! Sort of a Muhammed Ali meets Superman-type deal.
How important was it for you to make La Mariposa into a strong female heroine? I love the way you have her as being quite stocky and with big thighs so that she looks more athletic than just being some bimbo – was that important when designing her look? And how has the character developed with time?
JL: Honestly gender doesn’t play too much into the character for me. If I’d made her a bloke instead there’d probably be very little difference in her personality. The decision to make her quite stocky was inspired by watching a lot of Joshi – female Japanese wrestlers – who pack incredible power into relatively small, compact frames. I wanted La Mariposa to move and look like them; a bouncy rubber cannonball in human shape.
The book is packed with some amazing characters, from the Sons of Justice, to the demon warriors to the fantastic commentators, but which were your favourite to draw and write?
JL: Aside from La Mariposa, I really enjoyed the flashback scene with Scorchio II and Ojo Tercero Sr. I quite like the overblown dialogue of silver-age comics, so it was fun to drop some “Old Chum”-type stuff into their conversation. And of course there’s Bully Boy Bronson, who is immense fun to draw.
You also seem to add in a real layer of emotional depth to the story – especially with the Murcielago chapter – was it important to give the story some depth and not just be a bunch of wrestling matches?!
JL: I was writing the story as I went and by the time I got to Murcielago I was starting to feel concern that the chapters were going to feel a bit samey, so I tried for a slightly different approach. I like big action and combat set-pieces, but I’m always impressed by storytellers who manage to find non-combative ways to resolve a conflict while still keeping it interesting to read.
Speaking of which, how important was it for you to keep actual wrestling moves and holds in there amongst the craziness?!
JL: I feel like I should’ve put more in! I designed the demons with weird physical quirks that made it quite hard to have certain moves in there. Going forward I want to put a lot more actual wrestling in La Mariposa because I do believe there is no move more devastating than a well-executed German Suplex.
You’re bringing the collected print edition to Kickstarter, did you make any changes to the story to prepare it for a print edition and what can people look forward to in the crowd funding campaign?
JL: I was tempted to redraw some early pages, but I quickly realised that it would be better to let the pages stand as they are so people can see the improvement over time for themselves. The only thing i did do was remove a small interlude chapter because it made more sense timeline-wise to include it in another book down the line.
With this being my first kickstarter I’m keeping things nice and simple: It’s all about the book. There are other goodies, like bookmarks and stickers, and I’m offering a limited supply of custom commissions. I’ve got some stretch goal ideas, but I’m keeping those quiet for now until the time comes.
And finally, with this arc over can we look forward to more La Mariposa stories soon?!
JL: Oh definitely. I adore working on this series, and honestly it’s all I want to do with my spare time. I’ll be looking to launch a full-colour collection of the Legend of La Mariposa mini-comics before too long, and I’m currently working on a brand new original story which I’ll announce further down the line.