Thursday, November 5, 2009

My kind of hero.

It's not enough to create a visual and a name and call it a "character". Character is the sum of personality and motivation. When I created Wrestler Zero I had to ask myself what kind of character was he going to be. Was he going to an angry and cynical person? Would he be motivated by revenge? Or would he be an optimistic character motivated by a desire to serve a greater good? Would Wrestler Zero be a hero because of some intrinsic quality or would his heroism grow of out his circumstances? What is my kind of hero? I had to look back before I could go forward with this question. I started reading comics when I was five years old. Iron Man, Batman, Superman and Spider Man were my favorites during those days. At the age of nine my mom and I moved to Puerto Rico. Comic books were widely read and available there. It was during my time in Puerto Rico that I discovered the three heroes who would become my all time favorites and in large part the inspiration for Wrestler Zero.

From left to right: Blue Demon and El Santo. And below is Mil Mascaras:

All three of these men are Mexican masked wrestlers who enjoyed immense popularity in Puerto Rico. Santo and Blue Demon starred in their own comic books, a sepia toned mix of photos and hand drawn backgrounds. All three wrestlers starred in their own films as well. In their movies they were pro wrestlers who also fought monsters, aliens, mad scientists and organized crime. To the the ten year old boy I was then, and to the one who still is very much alive in me now, these men were superheroes who were real in a way Superman and Batman could never be. In their comics and in the movies their characterization was very surface level, they were simply "men of good will who serve justice". They eschewed recognition and rewards, the good fight was it's own reward. Perhaps in the eyes of today's supposedly more sophisticated comic book reader these heroes are simplistic and dull, their motives pollyannish. But I disagree. The more complexity you try to superimpose on simple heroic characters the more you dilute their purity. Simple doesn't mean devoid of meaning. Simple means that it speaks to the reader because it's understood intrinsically. The world of comic books, novels and film is wide enough to accomodate all of the heroic archetypes. There's something out there for every taste which is as it should be. But my kind of hero is the man of good will who serves justice.

1 comment:

  1. As well that, that should serve the definition of Hero. The Luchadores you mention above became icons in Mexico and beyond. They became larger than life because of the movies and media and influenced generations. It's great that you would mention them Tony! Like you, Mil Mascaras represented a real hero...unlike just comic book heroes (who also hold a place in my heart.) But a real live, flesh and bone herculean of a man who could move like a cat in the ring and take on all comers? That was the best!