By Gustaffo Vargas
Manu is A5 (148mm x 210mm), 44 pages, full colour, price £5.00
Review by John Freeman
The Graphic Novel: Manu is a Peruvian science fiction comic about monkeys, jaguars, cyborgs and a mystery. Set in a dystopian world, the main story takes place in the Amazonian rainforest and the Peruvian highlands…
The Review: If you read my review of Gustaffo Vargas’ cyberpunk comic,Trujillø, then you’ll already know I’m a fan of the art and storytelling of this talented artist, animator and designer – but Manu, his latest project, is a stunning step up from previous work, which for me was already jaw dropping.
Largely set in the Peruvian Jungle, in this first Issue Vargas lays down the threads for what looks to be an intriguing cyberpunk mystery, told through bold storytelling, yet crammed with carefully choreographed character scenes, building the cast, and setting the scene for action and intrigue to come.
Gustaffo doesn’t set out to explain the background setting of his cyberpunk dystopia within the story itself – at least, not in this first Issue – it just is. The story unfolds within a world populated by cybernetic, talking animals, corrupt and powerful villains (both petty and international in their ambition) – and a central character haunted by a past that you get the impression threatens to consume her…. if she lets it.
I’m anxious to avoid spoilers here in advance of this comic’s release at Thought Bubble. Suffice to say, I’m hooked, again, by Gustaffo’s storytelling, and utterly stunned by his terrific art, sense of visual pacing, and often powerful action sequences. That these are so effectively combined with a genuinely quite beautiful ability to deliver the same attention to his character scenes, to my mind, makes him a creator that really should be on your radar, if he isn’t already.
As long as the next issue of Manu delivers on its promise, expanding and revealing some of the reasons for the enticing mystery set out in this first Issue, this is an independently published comic well worth your attention.
It has mine.
• Manu A5 (148mm x 210mm), 44 pages, full colour, price £5.00will be released at Thought Bubble, and will be available on Gustaffo’s online store after that at gustaffovargas.bigcartel.com
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.