Pablo’s Inferno

By Rhode Montijo
black and white
Published by Abismo

Years ago, I explained to a friend that all writers have an Aztec story just lurking inside of them, waiting to get out. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the heart of the matter is that the Aztec culture was a rich and intriguing one, full of story possibilities. Maybe that’s why I was so instantly captivated by Rhode Montijo’s Pablo’s Inferno, his self-published mini-series where we get to see a much more interesting version of the afterlife than what most popular media presents to us.

Pablo was a young boy crossing the street when a hit-and-run accident left him dead. Now Pablo is journeying through the Aztec afterlife, where his only ally is the mysterious Quetzal as the two of them search for a series of mysterious artifacts. But time is running short for the duo, if Pablo is ever to discover what his true destiny has in store for him.

Most people would probably be a little confused if I tried to explain how a book where the lead character dies on the second page is charming, but that’s exactly what I came away with when reading Pablo’s Inferno. Montijo’s portrayal of Pablo as he stumbles through the afterlife is one of an innocent and sweet young boy, but also a very smart one. He’s extremely likable because Montijo gives him a real wit about him, and as his time in the afterlife progresses, he grows more sure of himself. He’s a great protagonist, and it’s a real joy to read about him in this fantastic setting that Montijo brings to life. The setting itself is almost a character in its own right, and once Montijo cuts down on the expository dialogue to explain it to those unfamiliar with the concepts and just lets it shine on its own right, it’s just as intriguing to read about.

Of course, Pablo’s Inferno wouldn’t be able to come to life so well if it wasn’t for Montijo’s art. With such clean figures and characters in the foreground, it’s amazing to see the amount of detail that’s put into the backgrounds. Pablo and Quetzal are drawn with simple brushstrokes, allowing their emotions to appear on their faces with a great clarity. At the same time, though, you get to see the lush Aztec afterlife unfolding all around them, from step pyramids to mysterious artifacts, with mythic beings surrounding them at all times. With panels like Pablo leaping through clouds of butterflies and confronting dying gods, it’s no wonder that the Xeric Foundation instantly saw the strength in Montijo’s creation and awarded it with a publishing grant.

Published as a five-issue mini-series, Pablo’s Inferno is an enchanting creation that you’ll want to read over and over again. Suitable for all ages (provided they don’t mind seeing the lead mowed down in the first couple of pages, of course), this is an intensely appealing book that makes me want to see more comics from Montijo in the near future. If your local store can’t get issues of Pablo’s Inferno for you, the creator does have them available on his website. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Comments are closed.