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Friday, 28 August 2015

Must Have, Must Read: Paul Louise-Julie's 'The Pack'

I have just discovered The Pack - an African Mythology Graphic Novel created, written and drawn by American-born, French-Caribbean artist and designer Paul Louise-Julie. According to Okayafrica, the series has five seasons, broken down by region (North, East, West, South, Central), with each season comprised of about five sagas focusing on a particular kingdom or realm. Issue 1 (A Wolf in Egypt) was published in March and Issue 2 (Brothers Out of Bond) in July. 

Wait, What?!! This has been out since March!!! Why am I only just finding out about this? I blame my self-imposed hibernation,because this has me written ALL over it - mythology, ancient civilisations, werewolves, gorgeous illustrations!!! Seriously, can't contain my excitement. 

Both issues have already been downloaded on my Kindle ready for the weekend, but here's a synopsis - so you understand why I am so excited: 

Former Assassin Khenti is now a fugitive from the Lotus Kingdom and running for his life. His only hope is to reunite with his brother Nekhet and escape to Nubia. However, he soon finds there are much more dangerous things than soldiers lurking in the Egyptian Marshes ... 

The Pack is a Graphic Novel about a motley group of Nubian and Egyptian Werewolves. It follows their tales and misadventures as they travel through the fantasy land of Africa...

Why the focus on mythology? In an article written in March for Bleeding Cool, Louise-Julie writes that:


'Maybe it's because they are the cornerstone of civilisation? I mean, the greatest civilisations in human history incidentally had the most memorable mythologies that still inspire today. From Gilgamesh to the Greeks or China to the Mayans. all of these fascinating cultures had equally fascinating and complex mythologies. They provided a foundation upon which their art, language, architecture, clothing and philosophy were based. In a way, out mythologies define us. They're an artistic representation we hold dear.'
On the inspiration behind the series, Louise-Julie goes on to write that while he had visited over 23 countries by his 19th birthday (that's pretty awesome) and he was captivated by the mythology in these cultures - 'each country was brimming with its share of modern or ancient fantasy' - there was still 'one problem':
'You see, as an American-born, French-Caribbean kid growing up in Europe; I couldn't fully connect with these stories. I mean - I loved them - but I could only identify so far. I knew I couldn't cosplay as Peter Parker, Legolas or even Harry Potter without feeling awkward. I was an interested tourist, nothing more. So I scoured the bookshelves of my collection (like Gandalf when he looks through scrolls in The Fellowship of the Ring). But the ironic truth was that I didn't feel represented in any of the worlds, books, comics or movies I loved so much. Being an artist, I tried drawing "Black versions" of my favourite fantasies but to no avail. In the end, they looked like non-creative knockoffs like a blaxploitation movie without the soundtrack. What was I to do?'
What Louise-Julie did next was pretty awesome. Going back to the continent, he 'discovered the remnants of Ancient Empires that even locals had forgotten', met a Wolof man - Moktar - who took him 'to a secluded part of the city [where] and old man seated on a rug' who told him 'the history of the entire region spanning back centuries.Tales of knights, and Realms, kings and heroes, demons and spirits'. And then for the next 5 years 'studied everything from ethnolinguistic blood groups, to Ancient African history, art and ruins'.

Read the rest of The Packs origin story and how Louise-Julie 'designed over 30 different civilisations' on Bleeding Cool. Also, in April, Okayafrica spoke with Paul Louise-Jean who revealed more about the series, and it sounds oh so amazing. After the Egypt Saga, there's 'the Nubian Saga ... Sokoto Saga followed by the Tuareg and Marakash Saga. That ends 'Season 1: The North'. Season 1 will be set on the Western part of the continent. In between saga, numerous chapters will also be released, including 'History of the Akanti', 'History of the Dwarves', 'Tale of Queen Candace of Nubia', 'The Dragon Slayer' and more. Seriously amazing!!! 

The Pack is available for download on iBooks and Kindle. You can also follow the series on Twitter @ThePackComic, and here are some of the amazing illustration from the first two issues via Paul Louise-Julie's Behance page:









GORGEOUS!!!! Well, I'm off to tuck into the first 2 issues. Wishing everyone a lovely bank holiday weekend. Hopefully it's dry. 

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