The Legend of La Mariposa: An Interview with James Lawrence

The Legend of La Mariposa: Vulcan’s Challenge is a new all-ages adventure inspired by lucha libre legends. We sat down with creator James Lawrence to find out all about this new tale.

The cover of The Legend of La Mariposa: Vulcan’s Challenge (art by: James Lawrence)

Fans of wrestling and exciting all-ages action are going to be thrilled with what British cartoonist James Lawrence has created in The Legend of La Mariposa. The story centers on the eponymous La Mariposa, a young luchador who’s off on her Road To Glory — a rite of passage for masked wrestlers in order to build their legend. For La Mariposa, this means helping others in need.

Her new adventure, Vulcan’s Challenge, has La Mariposa taking part in a 15-Luchador Battle Royal against an eclectic cast of other masked wrestlers such as Gato Peligro, Hornette, Great Carp, among others. Whoever survives must answer the challenge of The Vulcan.

This story is fully complete, and Mr. Lawrence has set up a Kickstarter to help fund a large-scale print run so that it can be sold worldwide. As of this writing, the project has reached more than halfway through its goal of £2,220 since being launched last Friday.

I was thrilled to do an interview with Mr. Lawrence about his new Kickstarter project recently, as he discussed the process in bringing La Mariposa to life for readers of all ages to enjoy.

La Mariposa creator James Lawrence (provided by author)

RingCrashers: How did La Mariposa come about?

James Lawrence: The Legend of La Mariposa came about when I got back into pro wrestling around 2014.  I’d fallen out of love with the comic series I was making at the time and was looking to create a story in a more whimsical fantastical setting that wasn’t as limiting as the aforementioned series was.  I’ve always been really inspired by Stan Sakai and Mike Mignola’s approaches to creating their work – Self-contained stories that go on to build the biography of the protagonist and the world they occupy while allowing the creator to focus on whatever they want without being tethered to a lot of tight continuity.  Initially The Legend of La Mariposa was intended to be a gag comic but it’s grown into something a little more than that to me.

RC: Can you give a quick summary of what the story of La Mariposa is?

JL: La Mariposa is a rookie masked wrestler walking her Road To Glory, the pilgrimage every luchador must undertake as they seek to build their legend in a world of magic, strangeness and buried secrets.  The Road To Glory can take many forms, but for La Mariposa it means helping out whoever she can, however she can.

RC: What drew you into the world of wrestling and what made it become a direct inspiration for the world of La Mariposa?

JL: Pro wrestling at its best feels mythic.  We suspend our disbelief to transform incredible athletes into avatars for battles of Good vs Evil, Rich vs. Poor, Hate vs. Love.  A hard slap to the chest, sold well, can come off like someone being hit by a meteor.  Taking these larger-than-life figures and literalising them into actual fantasy warriors in the same vein as a gunslinger that can shoot the ace out of a thrown playing card or a ronin who can cut down twenty men in a single swing feels like a logical extension of that idea.  Nowhere is that more obvious than in Lucha Libre.

I’ve always loved Luchadores and been fascinated by the lore and traditions that surround the concept.  There’s such a sense of mysticism and gravitas to the concept of the masked wrestler that it felt ripe for adaptation into a more fantastical setting. 

The Vulcan serving up an order of chops for La Mariposa & friends (art by: James Lawrence)

RC: What do you think makes the eponymous La Mariposa a great heroine that readers will come to like?

JL: I try to write La Mariposa as earnest, honest, generous and enthusiastic.  I want her to be ambitious, but not obsessed with victory and fame when a nobler goal, like helping someone in need, presents itself.  At the same time though, she is a fighter by nature, and will throw as many hands as she needs to, especially if the target really deserves it.  My great hope is that people will root for La Mariposa like they would root for their favourite wrestler.

RC: Do you have a favorite wrestling moment?

JL: Oh man.  Going off the first thing that comes to my head, it’s probably going to have to be Grave Consequences from Season 1 of Lucha Underground.  It encapsulates everything that I try to put into The Legend of La Mariposa.  It’s a hard-hitting, brutal, but very artful match that is just dripping with drama and the mythic quality that I keep going on about.

I’m also such a sucker for any time that the Poison Mist comes out.  Great Muta, Tajiri, any time.

RC: How has the creative experience been like for you in getting this Kickstarter off the ground?

JL: This is Kickstarter number three, so I have the process down by this point.  It’s always fun coming up with rewards for people to add on as well as figuring out the right way to present the series to new readers.  That said, the continuing uncertainty regarding the state of international shipping means new challenges arise every time when it comes to calculating costs, but that’s the way of the world right now.  Just when you think you’ve got the answers, they change the questions.

RC: What’s your advice for any creator in finding their feet in terms of creating ideas?

JL: Two things: 
1: Start small.  Making comics is very labour-intensive and you may well not have the stamina right out the gate to make the 300-page opus you’ve had in your head since you were 12.  My advice is to take the ideas you’re most excited about and knock out shorter stories so you can get used to finishing things.  The shortest finished work is usually more satisfying than the longest unfinished work.

2:  Make stuff about what you’re interested in, no matter how obscure.  Your audience is out there, and will find you eventually.  Again, comics is labour-intensive, so you better be working on a concept you’re passionate about, or you’ll burn out quickly.  Much better to just have fun with it and not worry about chasing a trend or accruing a large audience as fast as possible.

RC: What do you hope readers will take away when they read La Mariposa?

JL: My sincere hope is that they just have fun reading my work and want more!  On a more personal level, I think the greatest success for any artist is when a subsequent generation of artists cite their work as a prime influence.  The idea of someone someday going on to make their own work and find their audience and then, when asked, replying “The Legend of La Mariposa made me want to make my own comics” makes me feel really warm inside.  That applies to pro wrestlers too, by the way.  If a pro wrestler ever went “The Legend of La Mariposa made me want to put on kneepads and lariat people’s heads off”, I think I’d die of joy.

You can support the Kickstarter for Legend of La Mariposa at this link. James Lawrence’s Twitter can be found here, and you can find out more about La Mariposa on the official Tumblr page here.

By Marc Quill

Writer of things.

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