By Luis Alonso Pérez
!Ladies and Gentlemen… In this corner… weighting 210 pounds… from planet Kripton… The Man Of Steel… Superman!... !And in this corner… weighting 245 pounds… directly from Mexico City… The Man with the silver mask… El Santo!
El Santo against Superman… two true giants of Mexican and United States pop culture. A combat that could only conceived in the minds of those who grew up reading American comics and watching wrestling movies, or better yet, going to the wrestling matches on Friday nights. An out of this world battle that could only be brought into reality on a series of 25 illustrations called Lucha de Leyendas (Battle of legends), now featured in the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT).
The artists behind this collection call themselves “Colectivo Lucha.” An eclectic group of young designers and illustrators from this region, with the special collaboration of nationally and internationally renowned graphic artists.
The expo is put together with the work of: Juan Carlos Arenas, Jorge Herrera, Roberto Gutiérrez, Carlos Lerma, Benjamín Camberos, Felipe Torres, Maximiliano Lizárraga, Israel Chavira, Jorge Gutiérrez, Sandra Equihua, Jorge Aldrete, Adrián Gamboa, Fritz Torres, César Evangelista, Alejandro Magallanes, Oswaldo J. Barahona, Lili and Eddy, creators of Mucha Lucha, and Gabe Swarr, an illustrator who has participated in cartoons like Ren and Stimpy, Dexter’s Lab and Mucha Lucha.
On the inaugural night, visitors, guests and media filled up the lobby at CECUT. The place looked like the premiere of the new Batman movie or a Blue Demon Jr. match. The event left the traditional ribbon cutting inauguration, and turned into a real celebration, with live music, food, drinks and the screening of two short films related to wrestling, as well as a special screening of the movie “El Santo against the vampire women”.
“I think I’ve never imagined presenting something in CECUT” said Jorge Herrera, a member of the Lucha Colective. “The work of graphic designers is regularly seen only in billboards, flyers or printed advertising. Presenting our work in a cultural space like CECUT motivates me to continue illustrating and improving what we achieved. I’m very happy; I’m smiling from one ear to the other”.
The idea of creating a reality where Mexican wrestlers and comic book superheroes faced each other in fierce battles came out of coffee shop conversations, back when Carlos, Benjamin, Jorge, Felipe and Juan Carlos where studying graphic design in Universidad Iberoamericana in Tijuana. The conversations that emerged when they asked themselves who would win “this one” and “the other one” resulted in a final presentation project, where each one would participate with an illustration.
For this first event, they invited Roberto Gutierrez from Ensenada, who back then was studying graphic design. He collaborated with Benjamin to organize a second exhibition in a coffee shop in Ensenada. On this occasion they decided to invite professional designers and illustrators.
For their most recent expo, the members of the collective invited some well known artists into their project. “This exhibition is like our baby” said Roberto Gutierrez. “It’s the first time we put together an expo (as a collective) we want to work on other subjects, but we think this is a great idea, so we are trying to make it grow as much as possible.”
There are many plans in the future of these young illustrators. They have been invited to present some of their work in the “Fiestas de Vendimia” in Ensenada, as well as other offers, but for now they are all very happy with the result of their exhibition. “This is very satisfactory for all of us who have been organizing and participating. All of our lives, we have been “doodling cartoons,” but now it’s no longer a hobby, this is what we do for a living, and I believe not many people can do that.”