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Lucha Libre

Críticas 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
*STARRED REVIEW* As if going to a lucha libre (“wrestling”) match with his grandfather and uncle weren’t exciting enough, the young narrator of this engaging story buys a mask identical to the one worn by his favorite wrestler. Although Carlitos’ uncle can’t actually make it to the fight, a face-to-face encounter with his hero, the Man in the Silver, keeps the protagonist distracted. Astute readers will easily deduce the identity of the masked man, as they learn about Mexican wrestling. The fluid colloquial English and Spanish and grainy graphic-novel style illustrations executed in acrylics make for an attractive package with definite appeal for boys. An informative endnote in English presents a brief but engrossing history of lucha libre. This title is sure to become popular in both libraries and bookstores.
Kirkus Reviews
Carlitos and his father go to the arena in Mexico City to watch a bout of “lucha libre” (professional wrestling) with Carlitos’ uncle Vicente. Although this tale is set a half century ago, the wrestlers are divided, just like now, into bad guys (los rudos) and good guys(los technicos), and the audience loves booing los rudos and cheering for los tecnicos. Young readers will shiver along with Carlitos at the frightening costumes and manners of the bad guy—El Cucuy (the boogeyman), the evil caveman and the vampire—and thrill to the heroes—the Mighty Bull, the Masked Rooster and Carlito’s favorite, the Man in the Silver Mask.

While Carlitos (and younger readers) may not figure out why Vicente misses the bout, older readers will realize who the Man in the Silver Mask really is. Garza’s illustrations are oversized, wildly colored and presented in bold outlines, recalling both Mexican folk art and the rowdy spirit of the stylized sport. They are sure to draw in every wrestling fan under the age of 10. His afterword is a brief history of Mexican wrestling and especially El Santo—The Saint—its most popular hero and the original man in the silver mask.
School Library Journal
Going to a lucha libre in Mexico City with his grandfather is exciting in itself, but the young narrator of this engaging story is thrilled at being allowed to buy a mask like those worn by the luchadores.
Carlitos chooses a silver one just like that of his favorite wrestler. From their seats at ringside, the fights are exciting, including a face-to-face encounter with the boy’s hero, the Man in the Silver Mask. Astute readers will easily pick up on the identity of the masked man, and all will increase their knowledge of the Mexican version of the World Wrestling Federation.

Smoothly integrated information in fluid colloquial English and Spanish combines with grainy graphic-novel-style illustrations executed in acrylic to create an oddly compelling and sophisticated package. An informative endnote, in English only, presents a brief but engrossing history of lucha libre. Certain to be a popular choice.
NBC Latino
This is a really fun book for little lucha libre fans.
This is a really fun book for little lucha libre fans. When young Carlitos attends his first lucha libre match with his Papá Lupe, he becomes mesmerized by the famous – and somehow familiar – luchador, the Man in the Silver Mask. Before long, Carlitos is a devoted fan, cheering for the other técnicos (good guys) and booing the bad guys, los rudos. Written with full text in both English and Spanish. Ages 4 to 8. Hardback.
- Monica Olivera, June 4, 2012  Visit Website
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Papá Lupe and grandson Carlitos have just arrived at the arena in Mexico City to watch the lucha libre (Mexican-style wrestling) match, but Tío Vicente, who was supposed to be there too, hasn’t shown up. Carlitos picks out a souvenir mask and decides to root for The Man in the Silver Mask, who, the vendor assures him, is “the greatest luchador of all time!” As three masked rudos (bad guys) enter the ring, Papá Lupe explains why the crowd erupts in derision, and when the trio of técnicos follows, Carlitos recognizes his newfound hero in the silver boots, tights, and mask. Tío Vicente shows up after the match, and, although Carlitos’ uncle is in fact the flashy wrestler who vanquished the rudos, to his nephew’s delight. Carlitos’ story, told in English and Spanish on facing pages, is a completely dispensable framework for the real appeal of the brawny comix-like paintings in vivid Mexican folkloric colors of hyper-muscular wrestlers in their superhero (and supervillain) garb and the cogent explanations of arena traditions and ritualized fighting style. A lengthy endnote offers background on lucha libre history, extending the interest of this title to readers who are too sophisticated to enjoy the paper-thin family story. Children familiar with the sport will welcome the vibrant visual paean, while fans of wrestling, comic-book superheroes, and all things pugilistic will wonder where lucha libre has been all their lives.
Boston Herald Review
The sport [lucha libre] became ‘‘a poor man’s theater,” according to Garza. The masked fighters, known as ‘‘luchadores,” are classified as either ‘‘tecnicos” (working-class heroes who play by the rules) or ‘‘rudos” (bad guys who use dirty tactics to get ahead). It’s the classic struggle between good and evil.

‘‘Somehow, in the nick of time, the good guy will triumph,” Garza said. ‘‘And if he doesn’t, it’s to set up a bigger match down the road.” Once a loser is determined, he’s unmasked, revealing his true identity.

Who was that masked man? Mexico’s ‘lucha libre’ wrestling pioneer hailed from Hub

Jack Black may bring the world of lucha libre to a mainstream audience unfamiliar with Mexican wrestling in ‘‘Nacho Libre,” opening Friday, but one of the sport’s early pioneers hailed from Boston. And he was Irish.

Nacho Libre!:
Not much information exists about John ‘‘Cyclone” MacKey, according to lucha libre scholars. Some accounts give his name as John Sullivan, others bill his last name as ‘‘MacKey,” ‘‘McKey” or similar incarnations, according to Davison Koenig, a designer and co-curator of the ‘‘Masks of Mexico” exhibit at the Arizona State Museum. (The Herald has chosen to use the name ‘‘MacKey,” in keeping with the Arizona exhibit.)

MacKey was part of a troupe of American wrestlers brought to Mexico City in 1934. Salvador Lutteroth, a Mexican businessman, had seen a professional wrestling match in Texas and wanted to bring the sport across the border. In one wrestling match, MacKey wore a crude leather mask. It was likely no more than a black hood with holes for his eyes and small slits for his nose and mouth, according to Xavier Garza, author of ‘‘Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask.”

At the time, masked icons had found their way into the cultural mainstream. The masked master swordsman ‘‘Zorro” had defended the people of California from the corrupt Spanish governor since 1919. Alexandre Dumas’ ‘‘The Man in the Iron Mask” also was well-known at the time, according to Koenig. But MacKey’s mask unexpectedly resonated with his Mexican audience. The Aztecs, Mayans and other ancient Mexican civilizations used masks in birth, death and marriage ceremonies. Aztec warriors were said to have disguised themselves as eagles and jaguars as they fought conquistadors.

‘‘(MacKey’s mask) was just a gimmick, a publicity thing,” Koenig said. ‘‘I don’t think he was drawing on a tradition going back thousands of years.”

After MacKey’s debut in the mask, other wrestlers donned masks in the ring, and lucha libre was born. The sport became ‘‘a poor man’s theater,” according to Garza. The masked fighters, known as ‘‘luchadores,” are classified as either ‘‘tecnicos” (working-class heroes who play by the rules) or ‘‘rudos” (bad guys who use dirty tactics to get ahead). It’s the classic struggle between good and evil.

‘‘Somehow, in the nick of time, the good guy will triumph,” Garza said. ‘‘And if he doesn’t, it’s to set up a bigger match down the road.” Once a loser is determined, he’s unmasked, revealing his true identity.

Today, lucha libre is Mexico’s second most popular sport, behind soccer. Luchadores are often well-known and respected in their neighborhoods and are more than symbolic figures. Many champion for social change and campaign for presidential candidates.

"Nacho Libre” is based on the life of Rev. Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, a Roman Catholic cleric who - unbeknownst to his parishioners - wrestled in lucha libre matches for 23 years to raise money for his orphanage.
- June 13, 2006 
San Antonio Express-News
"We'd go across the river to see lucha libre, and when we visited my uncles in Monterrey, we'd go there, too. It was the costumes mostly. It was like theater with fighting, but what I really liked were the costumes. To me, those guys were like superheroes and supervillains from the comics come to life." —Xavier Garza
Captivated by lucha libre icons

Growing up in Rio Grande City, with Mexico literally "just a stone's throw away," a young Xavier Garza was mesmerized by the masked marauders of lucha libre.

"I was totally fascinated by it," says the local artist and writer whose new book from El Paso's Cinco Puntos Press, "Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, a Bilingual Cuento", explores the explosive phenomenon of professional Mexican wrestling from a young boy's perspective.

"We'd go across the river to see lucha libre, and when we visited my uncles in Monterrey, we'd go there, too. It was the costumes mostly. It was like theater with fighting, but what I really liked were the costumes. To me, those guys were like superheroes and supervillains from the comics come to life."

In the book, young Carlitos gets his first taste of the outrageous sport of lucha libre when his Papá Lupe takes him to a match in Mexico City. He's immediately inspired by the spectacle and pageantry of los rudos (the villains), such as El Cucúy, who wears a green monster mask with "fanged white teeth like a great white shark," and los técnicos (the good guys). "A true técnico will never cheat to win any of his matches," Papá Lupe tells Carlitos.

Carlitos' Tío Vicente is supposed to meet them at the match, but never shows up. Then, the star of the show, the greatest luchador of them all, El Santo, the Man in the Silver Mask, makes his entrance. There's something familiar about the eyes peering out from his mask — straight at Carlitos! El Santo, the greatest of the good-guy wrestlers, defender of the faith from the forces of evil, even smiles at him! Needless to say, Carlitos is instantly a lifelong fan.

When Tío Vicente shows up after the match, Carlitos raves about El Santo, describing each moment — each hold, each dive from the turnbuckle, the unmasking of El Vampiro — that his uncle missed. Tío Vicente and Papá Lupe simply exchange a sly smile.

"I like to think of lucha libre as poor man's theater," says Garza, who also illustrated the book, working out of his studio at Gallista Gallery on South Flores. Last year, he exhibited a series of portraits of his childhood TV idols at the Institute of Texan Cultures. He's also exhibited his art and told his stories at venues in Arizona and Washington.

"It's got all these theatrical elements: antagonists and protagonists, wrestlers in supporting roles, a script, costumes and well-drawn characters. Then, after the show, wrestlers go backstage and take off the masks. You might see someone with the same build, but without the mask, you wonder, 'Is it really him?' There's this whole air of mystery."

"We loved 'Lucha Libre' from the minute we saw it," says Lee Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press. "We thought the story was really cool, but the illustrations with their bright, strong colors were just so full of energy that we couldn't resist, especially the illustrations of the luchadores in their masks and capes. Whenever we told any guy about this book, even guys who were maybe a little older than 10 or 20 or 30, he'd say, 'Oh yeah, I'd like to see that.' So we knew we had a book that boys of all ages would find hard to resist." Garza, who's 36, gushes when he tells the story of getting to meet one of the most famous lucha libre stars, Mil Mascaras, a few years ago.

"He was wearing his dinner mask, sort of like a Batman mask, with the bottom cut out, so he wouldn't get food all over," Garza says.

Garza's first book, "Creepy Creatures and Other Cucúys," was published last year by Arte Publico Press in Houston. He is currently working on a book of lucha libre stories for young adults, "Adventures in Mexican Wrestling," and has two more children's picture books on the press: "Juan and the Chupacabra", and "Charro Claus" (Cinco Puntos), about a Southwestern Santa who wears a mariachi suit instead of the traditional red coat. Garza both wrote and illustrated the books, which is rare in an industry that usually pairs a writer with an illustrator he or she may not even know.

"I'm very lucky because it's not the norm," he says of writing and illustrating. "Both publishers have been great to work with and have been very receptive to my ideas and pictures."
El Paso Times
Texas author unmasks intrigue of lucha libre

The classic battle inside and outside the ring in Mexican wrestling always pits good vs. evil—usually involving masked competitors.

Xavier Garza transforms this Mexican cultural icon into an entertaining illustrated bilingual cuento in "Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask". Garza honed his skills as an author, artist and storyteller growing up in the small border town of Rio Grande City, Texas.

In Garza's tale, Carlitos and his father, Lupe, wind up at the lucha libre matches, booing the bad guys, El Cucuy, El Vampiro, El Cavernicola and cheering for the good guys, El Gallo Enmascarado, El Toro Grande and everybody's hero, El Hombre de la Mascara Plateada. He keeps wondering why his Uncle Vicente isn't there. Garza throws in a bonus, a brief history of lucha libre. Countless Mexican boys grew up dreaming that they might be as brave as El Santo, Mexico's most famous masked wrestler.

Garza's excellent contribution to children's literature will definitely introduce new audiences to the fantastic world of lucha libre.
Alive Columbus
Do you love Mexican wrestling, but find yourself having trouble explaining the appeal of the mysterious masked musclemen to your young niece or nephew? Then perhaps you should let the words and paintings of artist Xavier Garza do the talking for you. His new children’s book Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask is a primer for kids and grownups into the south-of-the-border sport that provided pop-culture inspiration for surf rockers Los Straitjackets, cartoon Mucha Lucha and crazy B-movies like Santo Versus the Vampire Women.

For the kids is the main event, about a youngster whose father takes him to watch wrestling while visiting his big bicep-ed tio Vicente, who suspiciously is never there when the Man in the Silver Mask is. The boy learns about the rudos, the scary bad guys like El Cavernicola, The Evil Caveman who are willing to cheat to win, and the heroic técnico, who will “earn his victory fair and square by using his superior wrestling skills.”

For the grown-ups, the story is followed by “a brief but tremendously exciting history” of lucha libre. Both age groups should appreciate Garza’s paintings, with their folk art/street mural vibe, thick line strokes and white-warm colors—even if it’s for different reasons.
San Antonio Current
"Without resorting to the kitsch or comedy that plagues so many other pop portrayals of these masked men, Garza's hyper-exaggerated, vibrant illustrations spring to life from the book's pages and convey an aura of reverence and awe befitting his young protagonist. Carlitos has a blast and, chances are, you will, too. It's the next best thing to having front-row seats for the Friday-night match."
¡Mucha lucha!
Xavier Garza illustrates the chaotic joy of Mexican pro wrestling

As a child growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, Xavier Garza remembers being mesmerized by reruns of now-classic El Santo movies. Religiously, he followed the exploits and adventures of the legendary silver-masked Mexican wrestler, whose battles against monsters, mummies, and mysterious mujeres scarcely compared to the dramatic confrontations ringside. Still, nothing he had seen on TV prepared him for experiencing lucha libre in person while visiting cousins in Monterrey, Mexico.

As an adult writer and illustrator, Garza conveys that rush of awe and excitement through Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask, his loving homage to the sense of wonderment and surprise he first felt upon encountering his idols.

Garza calls lucha libre "el teatro de los pobres," the poor-people's theater. In the spirit of Brechtian theater, wrestlers, as skilled, trained, professional athletes, rehearse choreographed acrobatic tricks and interact with the passionate, boisterous audience while playing scripted roles neatly divided into good and bad. (By themselves, Garza injects, "it's just grown men in costumes," but with spectators "it's a show.") Furthermore, by wearing the mask "they become the living embodiment of cultural stereotypes," or social anxieties, he says, larger-than-life characters that "play on all our fears and hopes."

Xavier Garza's bilingual story, Lucha Libre, features 38 full-color illustrations. In Lucha Libre, Garza sets the action in Mexico City's massive Arena Coliseo. Inside, television crews broadcast twice-weekly matches nationwide, while outside vendors sell T-shirts and masks emblazoned with the likenesses of famous and favorite wrestlers. Young Carlitos and his father, Papá Lupe, have come to cheer on as The Man in The Silver Mask - a not-so-subtle reference to El Santo - joins El Toro Grande, the Mighty Bull, and El Gallo Enmascarado, so named because he has "the fighting heart of a rooster." This trio of heroic técnicos faces off against the villainous rudos El Cucuy, El Vampiro, and El Cavernicola, a Captain Caveman gone bad. The rudos, as expected, try anything to win but despite their dirty tricks they're no match for the spirited técnicos. Pow! Pow! Pow! In the world of lucha libre - unlike real life - at the end of the rounds the just always prevail.

Without resorting to the kitsch or comedy that plagues so many other pop portrayals of these masked men, Garza's hyper-exaggerated, vibrant illustrations - similar to the series of paintings he's shown at Gallista and other galleries throughout South Texas - spring to life from the book's pages and convey an aura of reverence and awe befitting his young protagonist. Carlitos has a blast and, chances are, you will, too. It's the next best thing to having front-row seats for the Friday-night match.
El Paso Inside & Out Magazine
Narrated by a young lucha libre fan, The Man in the Silver Mask tells the story of a boy’s trip with his Papá Lupe to a match. The eye-popping illustrations, by author Xavier Garza, highlight the exciting world of Mexican wrestling where the action is brutal, the crowd goes wild, and real men wear masks.

Papá Lupe promises the narrator that he’ll see Tío Vicente at the event, but the boy’s uncle is nowhere to be found. The boy’s attentions turns to “the greatest luchador of all time: The Man in the Silver Mask.” Papá reminds him that a true luchador is never seen without his mask, “Anyone could be a masked luchador and you would never know it.” With Tío Vicente still missing, the match begins. Los Rudos, the cheaters come in first, booed loudly by the audience. Then, Los Técnicos, the heroes of the day, arrive. The fighting is brutal. In the middle of the action, The Man in the Silver Mask stops and stares right at the young narrator. The boy can hardly believe his eyes, “The Man in the Silver Mask smiles at me as if he knows me!”

More surprises are in store for the little boy when the match ends and his mysterious uncle finally shows up. A fun read for all ages, the real drama in this book lies in the gorgeous color illustrations. The Man in the Silver Mask is my hero.
El Mundo
Xavier Garza: Mente y corazón de luchador

Hay que darle las gracias a Xavier Garza por traer a El Santo, el luchador mexicano más famoso de la historia, directamente a los corazones de los niños en un libro bilingüe publicado este mes.

Garza, pintor y escritor de 36 años del pequeño Rio Grande City (en el condado de Starr, frontera con Tamaulipas), narra su cuento tanto en inglés como en español. Además es el autor de las ilustraciones de Lucha Libre: The Man in the Silver Mask. A Bilingual Cuento, publicado por la editorial Cinco Puntos.

"La lucha libre es el teatro de los pobres", dijo Garza en una entrevista con RUMBO. "Tanto los luchadores rudos como los técnicos se convierten en leyendas, son héroes, modelos a seguir para la juventud mexicana", dijo Garza. El autor recuerda una experiencia que vivió cuando era niño y que lo dejaría marcado. Cuenta que su padre lo llevó a Camargo (México) en un viaje corto en auto a través del puente internacional. Y ahí conoció de primera mano lo que es el espectáculo de la lucha libre, animando a sus luchadores favoritos.

"Las familias que no tenían medios para ir al teatro, por el contrario sí podían juntar el dinero para llevar a toda la familia a ver la lucha libre". Después pasaba los veranos pegado a la televisión, viendo las películas de El Santo. Y siempre que tenía la oportunidad compraba los libros de historietas del personaje. Su primer libro, publicado por una editorial apenas el año pasado, se llama Creepy Creatures and other Cucuys, del que ya ha vendido 15,000 copias. Pero aun así lograr la publicación del segundo, Lucha Libre, fue muy difícil.

Garza comenzó a escribir hace poco más de 10 años. Al principio leía partes de sus obras en cafés y otros lugares públicos. Después 'imprimía' él mismo sus libros con ayuda de una copiadora. Garza empezó a pintar, con idea de ilustrar las historias que trataba en su ficción. Ilustrando los cuentos del chupacabras que corría en la imaginación de los niños, e historias que mostraban cómo los pequeños se enfrentaban a los problemas que se vivían en las ciudades del sur de Texas.

"Para mí, la pintura y la escritura van juntas", comenta Garza. "Escribo y pinto sólo acerca de lo que he vivido, y cuando se ha vivido en la frontera, eso es mucho". Aunque Garza trata a la pintura y la escritura como una sola disciplina, su talento en ambos campos ha sido reconocido por separado. Sus cuadros se han exhibido con frecuencia en la Galería Gallista de San Antonio.

Se ha reconocido la importancia de su obra pictórica en libros de arte chicano como: Chicano Artists of the Millennium en 2003, publicado por la Universidad de Arizona. La combinación de pintura y escritura de Garza es extraordinaria, pero dice que lo que hace no tiene nada de extraordinario, que la magia está en la cultura dentro de la cual creció.

"Pero hay una belleza ilimitada en estas experiencias comunes y corrientes", dijo. Por ejemplo, en Lucha Libre los personajes utilizan sus cuerpos como un lienzo. Sus disfraces de colores los convierten en santos, en demonios y en dioses aztecas.

"Así pintan escenas que nos recuerdan que estamos en el centro de una lucha entre el bien el mal". En sus historias y pinturas, el bueno siempre gana, algo que Garza espera que se convierta en una verdad para los niños a los que llegará su libro. Con ese mensaje espera que los pequeños sigan su camino por el mundo, inspirados en las batallas de sus luchadores favoritos; una batalla entre el bien y el mal.
- June 13, 2005 
Yellow Brick Road
Wrestling matches in Mexico feature good guys (los tecnicos) and bad guys (los rudos). At the match in Mexico City, Carlito wishes his Tio Vicente could be there, but the famous luchador The Man in the Iron Mask has eyes that look very familiar…Garza highlights the power of wrestling (Lucha libre) in Mexico, and the mythology of good and evil played out on the wrestling stage.
Teaching Tolerance
Xavier Garza tells the story of Lucha Libre, Mexico's freestyle wrestling sport, which mirrors a fight between good and evil. Favorite heroes and feared villains in outrageous costumes wrestle for victory in the wonderful Mexican tale.
Children's Literature
Carlitos is on his first trip to Mexico City to see a Mexican wrestling match with his father and his uncle. The adventure begins when Carlitos gets to choose a mask as a souvenir of the event; after careful consideration, he chooses that of the Man in the Silver Mask. Putting on the mask makes Carlitos feel powerful and excited as he learns about the good vs. evil aspects of lucha libre and its roster of characters. But all this excitement makes Carlitos miss his uncle, who has not yet shown up, especially when the Man in the Silver Mask stops ringside and looks very intently at him. After the fight, in which the good guys win, Carlitos comes across his uncle who just happens to have a Silver Mask figurine for him. Though Carlitos does not confirm his uncle's identity as the Man in the Silver Mask, the possibility is awfully likely. This dramatic tension is subtle throughout the book, particularly in contrast to the bold illustrations and poster-style design, which are more exciting than the narrative. Garza includes a valuable addendum regarding the history of lucha libre, which is informative without being inaccessible to children.

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