Pullbox Reviews: Lily Checks Out Tuskers, “Beautifully Brutal”

Tuskers, is a 130 page independent graphic novel focusing on a herd of African elephants escaping a poaching militia in South Sudan in an effort to make it to safety at an animal sanctuary in distant Kenya. A group of wildlife rangers must put themselves on the line to fight for a cause larger than anyone could have ever known as they help get the orphaned herd to safety. This thrilling passion project gives its readers an inside look into the horrifying and devastating world of poaching, as our protagonist Detroit takes on her journey of triumph and growth, showing the world the sheer beauty and power that these magnificent creatures hold.

The subject matter and the beautiful illustrations of this novel pair perfectly to create an unforgettable experience for any who read, leaving fans like myself with a long lasting impression and newfound appreciation not only for these creators but the real world heroes that fight for this on the frontlines.This is legitimately the most beautiful novel that I have ever had the opportunity to read, and I hope that this work of art can be shared with the world.

Tuskers has been made possible by a talented team of dedicated artists and writers who have spent years researching the African crisis to present the information in a way that only a graphic novel like this could. Greg Tumbarello is known for his fifteen years of experience and his work with companies like Lion Forge, and now his work as editor of Tuskers.  Marc Gaffen (Grimm and New Amsterdam) and Javiar Barrios (Writers Guild of America) are the writers of this masterpiece and wanted to create this to shed light on terrible poaching that is still happening today in a thrilling and entertaining graphic novel. 

I would like to highlight one of the most extraordinary parts of this whole thing- the artwork. Each illustration was done by hand with watercolor and ink only utilizing black and white with accents of orange to bring the vast scenery into the forefront. Daneil Govar (Marvel,Valiant, DC, Dynamite, and much more) is the immensely talented artist who took on this colossal project and brought the story to life with his mesmerizing illustrations. 

Although a lot of amazing work can be done digitally, there is just something about traditionally drawn work that really encapsulates the talent, artistry and sheer amount of work that goes into something like this. The art alone is powerful enough to capture the reader’s attention from beginning to end. This is the first time in a long time that I have enjoyed a novel this much and have been invested in the characters from the start. Watching the time lapse of him creating a single page is truly awe-inspiring and fascinating to see his process as an artist.This graphic novel is essentially made up of over 100 individually tailored art pieces, and that is one of things that really made this so impactful. On their Indiegogo page, you can buy some of the original artwork along with a regular copy shipping out soon. I highly recommend checking out the video below to really show the work that goes into each and every illustration. 

The characters, elephant and human alike, were truly captivating and kept me completely enthralled in the story from beginning to end. The narration paired with Gavar’s brilliant work ties everything together into this beautifully brutal experience. I think that the writing really speaks for itself as the characters develop and the main action ensues, so I don’t want to get into too much detail because it is really something you need to experience for yourself. I will however, say this, I usually do not get this emotional when it comes to graphic novels and comics, but within the last 20 pages or so, I lost my composure and was truly moved. I walked away from this novel with so much respect for these creators and awareness of such a large issue sweeping through the elephant population today. 

I cannot recommend Tuskers enough and will be rereading and reliving this experience once I am done writing this. This is more than a novel, and I think that if more issues gained awareness like this, then people would be more invested in them. Before going into it, I really had been oblivious to this issue, but now am aware of the graphic world that is poaching. This passion project is a definite read, receiving a 16/16 from me, and is by far, the best thing I have read (with the best art) yet this year. You can find out more, order a copy, and check the creators out here.

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