Puno, the latest entry into Gustaffo Vargas’ amazing series of amazing “Peruvian Comics Cyberpunk”, has caught fire on Kickstarter, aided in no small part by backing from top US creators who include Editor-at-Large Shelly Bond and writer Brian Michael Bendis.
We’ve highlighted Gustaffo’s work before on downthetubes, including Crayta, written by Dan Abnett, available to read free here, and decided it was high time to touch base with this hugely-talented UK-based comic creator, to chat about his latest project – and he kindly shares some tips for successful crowdfunding, too!
Gustaffo Vargas is a Peruvian comic book artist and writer, a member of the SkrawlLordz based in Edinburgh, who began self- publishing his Peruvian Cyberpunk comics in 2017. Manu, L1MA and Trujillo released so far and Manu, reviewed here, deservedly won Pipedream Comics’ “2019 Best UK Independent Comic of the Year” Award.
Gustaffo has also has worked with Dan Abnett as principal artist for Crayta: Sunset, and for UK independent publishers such as Accent UK, Madius Comics, Future Quake Press, Time Bomb Comics and, in Peru, for In Planet Stereo and Carboncito.
Who were your earliest influences as an artist?
Gustaffo: I was lucky enough to bump into the Argentinian masters José Muñoz, Domingo Mandrafina and Roberto Fontanarrosa, and Enrique Breccia, the son of noted comic artist Alberto Breccia – and discovered the work of Alfredo Alcalá after I could finally buy He-Man figures on sale, and each figure came with a mini-comic!
You have an elevator ride to pitch Puno to the uninitiated. Go.
Gustaffo: Discover a place where robotics and bio-technology are accessible to many, where corrupt governments and crime organisations clash constantly in disputes over power.
Dare to enter the World of Peruvian Cyberpunk!
What’s been your biggest challenge creating this latest story in the series?
Gustaffo: This story is full of “first times” for me. It’s the first time I’m working on a second issue, connecting the dots and giving information without giving too much and spoiling the fun, might have been the hardest task. Working the story through characters instead of situations has made me re-structure some parts.
There is a four-page sequence in particular that I’m also very curious about, I’ve never done anything like that and have no idea if it will work. Not being sure about things is plenty of fun.
I also show a bit more about how politics and post-colonialism works in Peru, and that was very hard to make.
I’m very curious on how Puno will be received, what the readers might think of it.
Were you surprised by backing from some big names in the US comic industry?
Gustaffo: My jaw is still opened in awe at how Puno has been received. It just makes me feel incredibly grateful and very lucky; It is also a reassurance that at least I might be doing one or two things well, and that’s all I could hope for!
Do you have an outline idea for how long your overall story will run, or do you just see it as continuous?
Gustaffo: Yes, this story started taking shape as I was creating L1MA in 2018. After I wrote the first plot, I realised it was going to be a bigger creature, 100-pager or more; It was going to take a lot more time than L1MA or Trujillo to make, and I really wanted to come with a new book in 2019.
So, I structured the story in three parts. The first one was Manu, Puno is the second one, and the last issue will be Pilcuyo, which is planned to be released in 2021.
How’s the Crayta project going? And how did it come about?
Gustaffo: Crayta is going steady and very well. Again, I feel so lucky to be part of this amazing team, it’s such an inspiring and rewarding project.
Dan Abnett was working on the Crayta story for Unit 2 Games, and they were looking for a leading artist to do 4 issues of the comic and also the character and environment design.
I met Ian Culbard at NICE Comic Festival last year, showed him my comics and had a very nice chat with him. He then mentioned my name to Dan, who remembered the work I’ve shown him a couple years back, that’s when they called me for a meeting and that’s how it all started.
Where else might we see your work in the near future?
Gustaffo: This has been a very busy and exciting year. We run SKRAWL with the SkrawlLordz, which should be released by November. After this campaign ends, I will start working on a fantastic project with Mad Robot Comics, Saxon’s Second-Hand Books, written by Ash Deadman and edited by Matt Hardy, and it should be ready in the beginning of 2021.
I also have a page written by Matt for Tales of The Quarantine anthology by Frazer Brown. Following that, I will start working on Pilcuyo.
A couple more projects are still in early stages, so we will see what comes first!
What one piece of advice would you give creators seeking to crowdfund their project you’ve learnt from running them?
Gustaffo: I’m very new to the crowdfund experience. I was very lucky to be involved in both the SKRAWL and Saxon’s Second-Hand Books campaigns. I’ve learned a lot from them and keep receiving great advice from the SkrawlLords as well as from the Mad Robot team.
Firstly, make a reasonable plan for your campaign, production, printing, delivery, costs, be realistic.
Try to be as precise and as clear as possible about how you explain your project, put your voice in it. This includes making the best art you can. After all, this is a visual medium. Make the best cover possible. Just like a book on a shelf in a comic shop, the cover is the one that will make you open a book.
Have good communication with your backers and anybody that is interested in your project. The same goes with any other campaign creators, you really feel it is a community working together and helping each other, which is great!
It is a lot to take in and process, but please, don’t forget to have as much fun as possible!
Gustaffo, thanks very much for answering our questions and your crowdfunding tips at this busy time. The very best of luck with Puno and everything else you’re working on!