Welcome to Vista Del Sol…
The product of a Kickstarter that was funded back in 2011 – before the platform had seriously taken off – and recently published, Elliot Blake and Alexis Ziritt’s The Package is a graphic novel about good ol’ fashioned revenge. Spanning the East Coast down to Mexico and back, we follow Fred as his life takes a more than expected turn in the hands of Paz. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this graphic for a long time, so has the wait been worth it?
Sure, the thick blacks that Ziritt opts for in some panels are pretty damn thick, but when he breaks it out it just piles on the edgy atmosphere that Blake’s story is taking us through. There is nothing happy to be found in this graphic novel, The Package is about characters that have lost, seemingly, all sense of humanity and dignity, but want to take back just a little bit – as much as they can – for themselves. When the drama is at its heaviest, the lines are at their thickest and the pages beautifully reflect the tensions between the characters and what they’re feeling.
But the lines aren’t clean, and this further helps to bring out the grimness of the story involved. Only a few brief panels are pure and those have some of the cleanest artwork. I haven’t seen such a tight balance between the art of a graphic novel so clearly reflecting the story and emotional tones of the characters and scenes in a long while. Not a single panel feels wasted, everything just helps to bring you through this tale of painful torment.
When I say that Fred’s life takes a really expected turn, it’s pretty obvious from his tormenting of Charlie that this is the kind of protagonist you’re not meant to be rooting for from page one. This is the kind of guy that’s been on a fast track to some kind of torment for quite a while. But Charlie is a nasty piece of work too and it’s brave of Blake to present two such unlikeable characters from the beginning. Despite this whole anti-hero set-up that’s going on, Fred always stays on just the wrong side of likeable, I never quite emphasised with him, but the way Blake handles this means that I enjoyed not being on the character’s side.
On the other side, we’ve got Paz. She’s distant, but intense. Warming towards Fred in a way that is kind of forced; when they finally see eye-to-eye I don’t think enough had happened between them for the kind of understanding and acceptance that happened. Her plight has a bit of True Grit about it, but it’s set in a time where even dishonest cowboys are hard to find, yet the way she latches on to Fred is so reminiscent of that classic Western. Not that the comic is an outright Western, there’s a hint of Bonnie and Clyde to it as well along with a dash of the symbology of “Hotel California”. But the interaction between the two is such that on some level the intimacy they achieve makes sense.
The Package is a gripping graphic novel that provides a bloody and satisfying story. Blake and Ziritt should be pleased with what they have achieved here in this modern revenge story that uses less than familiar character types. It’s not for the easily offended, but is definitely for those of us who enjoy a yarn involving organised criminals getting their just desserts.
Our reviewer was one of the original backers of The Package’s Kickstarter campaign and received a physical copy of the graphic novel as part of their reward tier. Currently, the graphic novel is available digitally from Comixology.