Ivan Plaza is the founder and publisher of Chido Comics. He is also one of the co-creators and co-writers of the Masked Republic Luchaverse.
Marco Lopez is a comic writer who has worked with Lion Forge on licensed properties and has written an issue of Grimm Tales of Terror for Zenescope. He is also a writer, editor, and co-creator behind Puerto Rico Strong, alongside of being co-creator and writer for Masked Republic's Luchaverse.
Both have decided to sit with (Heard it Thru) The Griotvine today to talk about the Luchaverse.
GREG ANDERSON ELYSEE: First and foremost, what is The Masked Republic Luchaverse?
IVAN PLAZA: The Luchaverse is, as far as I know, the very first attempt of a shared universe in which real life Luchadores exist, along with a couple new characters. This is a world that gives a brand new spin to the Lucha libre folklore, tradition, and lifestyle by mixing it with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and tons of action.
MARCO LOPEZ: Like Ivan said: this is a shared universe of genre storytelling. No different than Marvel or DC or Valiant, but our heroes and villains happened to be Luchadores and its steeped in the great tradition and culture of Lucha along with an eye toward classic pulp storytelling and a love of genres such as scifi, fantasy, horror and superheroes. Anything they can do we can do and hopefully better, but the readers will be the judge of that.
ELYSEE: How did this idea even about? Were you approached or is this a complete original piece?
PLAZA: This was something the multimedia company Masked Republic has been developing for a while since they represent a lot of Luchadores from Mexico in the United States. Everything from appearances, wrestling shows to licensing deals. They saw the work that was being done at Chido Comics with other wrestling comics, including the work I did with the Lucha Underground license a couple of years ago. We started conversations a little bit after that.
They approached Chido with a basic concept of what the wanted to do, then Marco and I took it to an entire different level.
LOPEZ: Ivan and I used to work together in a comic shop he co-owned. I had known him for awhile. We talked here and there and when I was a contributing writer for Bleeding Cool, I helped him get some love for his Joey Ryan Kickstarter. He knew I was working my way into comics and a mutual friend back then thought it might be good if we worked together. Ivan told me what he had going and what Kevin [Kleinrock, the owner of Masked Republic] was interested in doing and I was excited to leap at the chance to do something like this. To create a world not only based on the traditions of lucha but also combining it with different genres and crafting some killer stories. They're genre comics that happen to have Luchadores as the heroes and villains. And considering how superheroes and their costumes were inspired by wrestling, it's not too hard to see the similarities and differences with what we're doing here.
ELYSEE: Going into wrestling for a bit, the first book is focused on wrestler Rey Mysterio! I laughed seeing his 619 finisher depicted in a comic book. Is Mysterio involved in the making of this verse in some way aside from this character?
LOPEZ: Rey is. We don't personally speak with him but Kevin [who also] partners with Chido Comics on this venture, does. Kevin will go over certain ideas in the script with Rey and Rey will read the script. He, as far as I know, loves everything we've done. The wrestlers involvement in these books is to make sure we respect their legacy and the culture behind lucha.
PLAZA: One of the great aspects of Chido Comics partnering with Masked Republic for these one-shots was the fact that it makes the back and forth with the talent, who ultimately own their characters, very easy. Even though we would love to be on the phone with Rey Mysterio or any of the lucha legends and get excited together about ideas, it's almost impossible to keep track of all the luchadores, who most of them are still actively wrestling and touring. Having said that, they are all involved in the process and are part of the approvals process.
ELYSEE: What are the other books you have planned for this verse, what are they about, and who are the creative teams?
LOPEZ: The universe kicks off with five one shots (that's of course including the Rey Mysterio one shot) and Ivan and I are co-plotting the 5 one shots and I'm writing the scripts for each one. The second one will be Lucha Brothers and the third we can't mention right now but we will very soon as there have been some last many changes in the line up. But beyond that one, we will also have a book with Super Astro and Solar coming up and another with Konnan.
PLAZA: Lucha Brothers is being masterfully done by the talented Javier Caba from Spain, which features two of the hottest and acclaimed lucha libre free agents today, Penta Zero M and Rey Fenix, who are brothers in real life. Then we have the amazing Diego Simone from Argentina, who's working in our newest luchador to become part of the Luchaverse, but we can't reveal that one just yet. The creative teams for Konnan and Super Astro and Solar will also be announced later this year.
ELYSEE: Are the rest of the creators involved Latinx?
LOPEZ: Outside of myself and Ivan, the artist for the third lucha book is but the others are not. We plan to bring on more Latinx creators. If all this goes well and leads to a series of mini series, there is a very cool Mexican creator we had recent chats with. We're looking to create a very diverse team of people on these books and so far I believe we're doing that, but there's always room to improve and we plan to if again these first round of books are as successful as we believe they will be.
PLAZA: One of the many reasons I started Chido Comics was to do precisely that. Some of the best Latinx talent in comics right now you can catch them working at the Big 2, which is fantastic! But, there are still a vast amount of creators that haven't been able to find a way to break through or don't necessarily know how to network their way through this crazy business, so if I can at least redirect the spotlight on them, I can at least feel I did my part. When it comes to the Luchaverse books, these one-shots needed to be made under a crazy deadline, so our options to get more Latinx talent that was available were limited. We can still work our variant covers in the near future and things like that. But I do have plenty of other projects brewing in order to bring more people aboard that I can't wait to work with.
ELYSEE: So you said you'll be incorporating various genres for these stories. Are there particular aspects of Latinx culture that will be incorporated in these stories and how do you plan to make it seem "authentic" if so?
LOPEZ: I think the first Rey Mysterio book shows that in my use of Mayan and Aztec mythology. And there are minor touches here and there from the first one shot to the others, like the use of Spanish/Spanglish or certain geographical settings. And again: if these are successful, there are more myself and I'm sure future writers who come on board would like to explore.
PLAZA: Yes! Obviously, us Latinx have deep roots when it comes cultural, family, and religious traditions. Whether you are Mexican, Puerto Rican or Colombian, we all have our own. Like Marco mentioned, in the Rey Mysterio book we focused heavily both on the cultural and family tradition that comes from being involved in Mexican lucha libre. You will see this theme throughout all the one-shots and the "authentic" part comes from working directly with all the luchadores, making sure they are being represented as close as possible to their real life personas, but keeping in mind that these are comics books and that some things will have to be slightly adjusted to go with our main narrative.
GREG: Will we get an Avengers/Defenders style comic where there's a team up with all the Luchadores?
LOPEZ: That's a possibility. I don't wanna get ahead of ourselves and say that's definitely the plan. Since we don't know what will happen from now to then. But that is an idea we have been tossing back and forth and we've already discussed how to build towards that and it won't include any tie ins. If and when it happens it would be its own mini series. Like how Marvel did crossovers with their Ultimate Universe. I'm not a big fan of doing tie ins to a cross over. It should stand on its own. And it's definitely not something we would do every year either.
GREG: What's the schedule thus far for the releases ?
PLAZA: The Rey Mysterio book is available now for purchase at LuchaShop.com, TheLuchaverse.com and very soon through Comixology. Also, the Lucha Brothers comic will be available at the end of August and fans attending the Expo Lucha Convention in Las Vegas will be able to grab a copy before anyone else.
GREG: How can retailers find and order the books?
PLAZA: Right now we are in the process of getting approved by Diamond so we can make it easy for comic book retailers. In the meantime, retailers can contact Chido Comics directly if they want to carry the books now in their stores and fans can buy directly from Chido Comics as well at LuchaShop.com and TheLuchaverse.com.