Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rafael Gallur's...Mexican Wrestling Covers

Born in Mexico City, Rafael Gallur, who signs his work under the pseudonym Garr, is one of the best know and most popular artists to come out of Mexico in the past few decades. Starting his career as an assistant to famed artist Zotico Fonseca, his first published work appeared in the newspaper, La Prensa. Rafael soon landed in the publishing house Edar, later known as Vid, illustrating numerous comic book titles like Mini Aventuras, Mini Policiaras, and Mini Terror. (Mini being the digest sized format most used in Mexico) Gallur soon started to be noticed for his dynamic covers for the comic company Ejea, drawing the gangster title, Frank Klein, as well as Sangre India, and Poseion Diabolica. All the artist's flashy and often over-the-top covers and pages he produced in the 1970s and 1980s were of many different genres, whether it be Westerns, horror, detective, adventure, erotic, or suspense. But my favorite work of this talented south of the border artist are his painted covers and lushly designed pages he produced for Mexico's wrestling comic titles such as Blue Demon, Sensacionales de Luchas and Arena, just to name a few.


Lucha libre, Spanish for "free fight" has a rich history in Mexico and was basically a regional sport until Salvador Lutteroth founded his Mexican Wrestling Enterprise in 1933 providing a national presence for his colorful matches. But it was not until 1942 when the greatest wrestler of them all, El Santo (The Saint) first stepped into the ring with his distinctive silver mask. With the growth of  television in the 1950s, promoter Lutteroth changed lucha libre from a popular sport into a pop-culture phenomenon, transforming Santo into  a superstar and folk hero to the Mexican people. Comics, movies, and hundreds of new masked luchadors soon followed over the years including Blue Demon, Mil Mascaras, and Huracan Ramirez. The importance of the mask as a symbol has historical significance dating back to the days of the Aztecs and is a mainstay of Mexican wrestling, often providing a theme and the much needed mystique and secrecy for its wrestler. The covers shown here have many of the elements started in the extremely popular El Santos and Blue Demon movies, fighting zombies, weird monsters and a touch of fantasy. Angel Blanco, Blue Panther, Garrmanias, and the Blue Demon are just some of the many heroic fighters that graced the covers by Rafael Gallur in the spectacular wrestling comics he illustrated.   

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