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Exploring the Peruvian Cyberpunk world in “PILCUYO” with Gustaffo Vargas

PILCUYO is the climax of the astonishing ALTIPLANO saga by Gustaffo Vargas. This Peruvian Cyberpunk saga includes themes like robotics, corrupt governments, and organized crime. While long-time readers are sure to find closure for their favorite characters, PILCUYO will undoubtedly draw new readers into the world of Peruvian Cyberpunk. We had the opportunity to catch up with Vargas to learn more about the closing volume to this explosive saga!

AP2HYC: What inspired you to write the ALTIPLANO Saga?

Gustaffo Vargas: It came out as an exploration of themes that my second one-shot L1MA left open. The ending left a big door open and many questions. I was also curious to see how much the characters would change, especially Lila, the leader of the teenage ‘Piraña’ gang.

AP2HYC: PILCUYO is the final volume of the ALTIPLANO saga. For new readers, can you tell us a bit about the story and the protagonist?

Vargas: Lila, the main character, lives in secrecy in the rainforest, hiding in fear of events that occurred in her past. There’s an international conglomerate that is looking for a very valuable asset that is connected to Lila’s past. This conglomerate won’t stop until it finally finds it. Lila is trying her best to survive and to understand how deep all this goes.

As she is cornered by these events that are beyond her limits, the conglomerate finally finds where the asset is. They send a big army that marches into the Peruvian highlands to capture it. A clash between robots, soldiers, cyborgs, and mercenaries will be inevitable, and that’s where things will get really explosive.

AP2HYC: The comic is filled with beautiful eye-catching colors. What art style would you say your comic has and what has influenced it?

Vargas: Thank you! To be honest I wouldn’t know exactly. I like many things, and I try to see and read all that I can. I’m usually interested in any kind of story and art that I don’t know. There’s such a variety in comics, especially these times, that you feel inspired all the time.

My main focus with colour is to use it as a narrative tool, to create mood, drama, tension, or anything I need on the page. It can be such a powerful and fun tool to play with, I just do my best to have fun with it.

AP2HYC: What are the central themes in PILCUYO?

Vargas: PILCUYO is closure, the past finally catching up with the present. In the middle of a clash of this dangerous corporation with the use of soldiers, mercenaries, robots, and cyborgs. All this madness takes place in the middle of the stunningly beautiful Peruvian Highlands.

It’s a dance of Cyberpunk and biopunk themes with Precolumbian influences, family ties, crime, and conflict.

AP2HYC: Indigenous Futurism is a growing movement that focuses on alternative realities and imagining possible futures with indigenous stories at the forefront. Would you say you have been influenced by Indigenous Futurism or categorize your work as part of this movement?

Vargas: To be honest I haven’t, but the world I’ve been building definitely connects with many themes of Indigenous Futurism. You have native communities, postcolonial societies, and political structures that struggle with their own identity constantly. Those are themes that need to be told if I want to portray stories that feel real about my country.

AP2HYC: As the ALTIPLANO Saga comes to an end, what can long-term fans expect for their favorite characters? Do you think you will return to this Peruvian Cyberpunk world for future stories?

Vargas: Most definitely. Peruvian Cyberpunk is a massive world, and I plan to keep on exploring it. Each book is named after a city or a place from Peru, there is still plenty more ground to explore.

AP2HYC: What has been the most rewarding thing about bringing this comic to life?

Vargas: How the public has engaged and received my stories. I regularly receive messages from readers telling me that they’re looking forward to my next story, my next book. I honestly try my best, but you never know how it will be, it becomes an act of faith.

You’re very invested in them, and you believe in them, imbued into them that you believe in them, but you have no clue if readers will be invested too. Friends, peers, and professionals saying complimentary words about the world I’ve created is also an extra layer that fills me with gratefulness.

AP2HYC: Are there any other projects you are currently working on?

Vargas: Yes! I’m back as the lead artist for Crayta Season 2, written by Dan Abnett and guest artists for Unit 2 Games. Crayta is a sci-fi thriller that serves as a Tie-in to the Crayta Game, available to read for free at crayta.com/comic.

I’m also working with SkrawlLordz to launch SKRAWL #2 Comix Magazine in the first months of 2022 and preparing a short story for it, much different from my Peruvian Cyberpunk world.

And last but not least, I’m working on the first stages of Saxon Second Hands # 2, written by Ash Deadman and edited by Matt Hardy from Mad Robot Comics. SSH is a supernatural adventure set in Neo-Victorian London.

PILCUYO is a must-read for fans of cyberpunk! Be sure to check out the Kickstarter to learn more about PILCUYO. Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

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Carla Vazquez

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