Cartoonist: Gustaffo Vargas
Publisher: Tacu Tinta Press (Self-Published)
WHAT IS IT?
Trujillo is hard to put in words. The easiest way to describe it is as a high-tech, low-life Peruvian comic, with an emphasis on low-life. Or, as creator Vargas says in his synopsis, "A Peruvian Cyberpunk comic about gangsters, shamans, drugs & dogs."
Think District 9 without the aliens.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Trujillo begins after the "package" Xolo is transporting is stolen with him living through the attack (and with multiple face injuries to show for it). Yet before we get into the thick of the plot, let me inform you just who Xolo is, especially since he is mentioned often throughout here. Vargas doesn't drop too much information on each character, which honestly helps the story not feel watered down. What we can glean from the small tidbits is although our main character Xolo is young, he seems to know what he is doing with the carrying of packages. That, and he has probably been in the "industry" for a while as he seems to know a lot of people for help. Nonetheless, he references someone known as "Grams" that is never really spoken on much. But, from what he says we can tell this is someone who cared for him and means a lot. Now, with the package gone, he has to get it back. Sadly, that isn't his only problem, as he has to get it back from a rival gang, on top of figuring out who sold him out in the first place.
Throughout Trujillo's 20 pages, Vargas shows a cyberpunk Peru with gangsters, shamans, drugs & dogs at a nonstop pace that's sure to keep you engaged. Grams always told Xolo, "Be clever, otherwise, you're fucked," and this continues to ring true throughout the comic.
Trujillo's cover works great because of how much space Vargas leaves for his art. Instead of the cover being cluttered with logos and such, Vargas keeps it quite simple while letting his art do the heavy lifting. Plus, without even reading the story, the cover sets our expectations well.
Sometimes, the cyberpunk genre can get confusing, or just feel too same-y. Trujillo is pretty straightforward, but adds some cool ideas.
Each character gets enough page time to make you interested in them, but Vargas never goes deep into their history, which helps make the story not feel bogged down. We are given just enough information for each character to understand why they do something.
Vargas uses each page to progress the plot. No page feels wasted or unneeded. Instead, everything matters and builds toward the ending.
By starting the story in the middle of the action, we hit the ground running. At no point does the story slow down or feel like a slog to read. Instead, we are treated to a high-octane plot. This is even true during the more talkative moments; Vargas makes sure each conversation doesn't stall.
I love seeing different cultures represented in comics and other media, and feel like it needs to happen a lot more (especially by members of said culture). That said, I couldn't tell you much about Peruvian culture. But, seeing as how Trujillo was written by a Peruvian, I'd wager they have the culture pretty spot-on. On that note, Vargas is able to mix the culture and cyberpunk phenomenally.
Xolo compares making a plan (to steal the package back) to cooking. The comparison works quite well and that's due to Vargas' writing during it.
Vargas' art style really works with the genre. There are a lot of pages were Vargas plays with panels and layouts and, when he does this, they look amazing. During the big fight scene, Vargas makes the violence pop, while making everything clear and easy-to-read, so it's still a blast to read through.
Even the most mundane, non-action parts are dynamic enough that they keep you interested throughout. During a few times where characters are just talking, Vargas changes the angles and views enough that you don't tire of what is transpiring.
Trujillo has a gorgeous color palette that is one to behold. This is due to the colors being on the brighter shade and having an exotic aura to them.
When the characters are in a night club (it's never called that, but I believe it is), Vargas uses a red tint throughout the page to help give the sense that they are in a weirdly lit area.
It's hard to find the exact font style, but Trujillo's lettering resembles the font style you'd see in European Comics.
In a few instances, Vargas adds the sound effect on the subject making the noise. When something explodes he adds a large BOOM in the clouds, or when the characters speed away there is a BROOOM, RRRR in the clouds left behind. This may not happen much, but anytime it's included it adds a lot to the panel.
Memorable Quote: "...and when in doubt, make it spicier." – Xolo. I loved the cooking comparison, but especially this part as if I'm not sure with my cooking, I do just make it spicier.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: Although it doesn't get overviolent, there are some moments that are more "adult-oriented," so just beware.
During a few moments in the story, "Trujillo" is spelled differently. Once as "Trujillo" and another as "Trujillø," and both were talking about the location. Looking into it, I couldn't find much information about it. It seems either spelling is fine, as the cover has it Trujillø and Vargas' website has Trujillo.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Trujillo is a great comic that's short, never lets up, and just feels different than other comics. This can boil down to the difference in culture and just how fantastic Vargas' storytelling and art is. Not only that, it's one of the better cyberpunk stories out there. Vargas really uses the "lowlife" aspect more than other stories have, especially with some of the locations and the people who live there.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Lima by Gustaffo Vargas
Protector (Now Called First Knife) by Daniel Bensen, Simon Roy, Artyom Trakhanov, Jason Wordie, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Coffin Bound, VOL 1 by Dan Watters, Dani, Brad Simpson, Aditya Bidikar
If you like the art:
Manu by Gustaffo Vargas
Tartarus VOL. 1 by Johnnie Christmas, Jack T. Cole, Jim Campbell
Sweet Downfall #1 by Stefano Cardoselli, Panta Rea, Bram Meehan
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Gustaffo Vargas - Cartoonist (@GustaffoVargas)
Outlander: Vargas is Peruvian and lives in Edinburgh, UK.
Multitalented: Does all the work on his comics.
Knows three languages: Spanish, English, German.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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