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Biopunk Worlds & Tribal Influences: A Conversation with Trujillo Creator Gustaffo Vargas

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing Gustavo VargasTrujillo, a cyberpunk-themed comic laced in dystopia and tribal imagery. Trujillo is the work of designer and illustrator Gustavo Vargas, who took the plunge from his art work to both illustrate and write this Peruvian-inspired sci-fi adventure comic.

We caught up with Gustaffo to talk about cyborg dogs, Blade Runner influences, and the future of the universe Trujillo takes place in…

A Place To Hang Your Cape: Why did you want to bring Trujillo to life?

Gustaffo Vargas: I just felt I needed to do it. From the beginning of 2016, I started attending comic festivals and working for some cool UK independent publishers; all of this inspired me to realise that I also wanted to do my stories.

AP2HYC: What was it like to mix the comic’s themes of futuristic dystopia with tribal beliefs?

Vargas: That came naturally I think. It might be related to me being Peruvian, over there there’s plenty of folk traditions and rituals mixed with more modern life; we are used to mixing things together without thinking too much; I think my head works a bit like that, so it was a natural step when constructing this world, like putting ingredients in a pot and finding out how it cooks after you taste it.

AP2HYC: Were there any works in comics, films, etc that particularly influenced the comic?

Vargas: None come to mind that influenced heavily the comic. But I’m sure there’s plenty I don’t notice that add details and other stuff to this comic. The background itself, the cyberpunk/biopunk world is influenced by some bits of William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, also Blade Runner comes to mind. Comic-wise David Rubin’s The Hero and Paul Pope’s 100% are books I read over and over.

AP2HYC: Trujillo packs in plenty of muscular world-building. What inspired this world?

Vargas: Thanks for noticing! In one word: Perú. That’s the main starting point, the main canvas. There’s so much colour and rhythm and hectic craziness together with flavours and noise filled with plenty of fascinating characters there; it’s a place where things don’t work but amazingly they find the way to work in pretty funny ways.

So, I grab the elements I want from there and start exploring possibilities, those what if moments that can be the tip for constructing a rich world.

AP2HYC: Was it difficult condensing the world of Trujillo into a brief read?

Vargas: Not so much. Actually the story came before or almost together with hints of this world, I had cyborg-dogs running into a place in my head; from there both the story and the world started growing together, there came a moment when the story plot was finished and I had to keep on adding more layers and consistency to this world.

AP2HYC: Will we be seeing more of Trujillo, or is this a one-shot?

Vargas: This world has a lot more to give. I had Trujillo’s story in my head since 2014; that year I did a short story and released a black & white magazine with a friend, just weeks before leaving Perú, this story is about what happens shortly after Trujillo finishes – in the jungle; That’s a story that didn’t conclude, so it might happen in the future.

AP2HYC: Do you have any new projects in the works?

Vargas: At the moment I’m pretty close to finishing L1MA (Perú’s capital) and I will show it for the first time at these year’s Thought Bubble. L1MA takes place in the same world, and it starts with some pirañas (street kids) that find something peculiar.

I will also finish this year a graphic novel for Accent UK, with an amazing brilliant story written by Dave West. It will be a nearly 80 page comic that forms part of the Blessed/Cursed series. I’m really excited to finish this work that started last year and hear what people thinks about it.

There’s also plans to make stories of the same world that take place in other parts of Perú. If characters will appear again, or cross paths, that’s something I don’t know, the story will tell.

You can discover more about Trujillo from Gustaffo’s online store. Have you read Trujillo? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara