One day I was looking over a friend’s shoulder at a graphic novel they were reading on an iPad. I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous artwork, even though I was unable able to see the text from where I was sitting. I immediately downloaded the book from Amazon to find out more and that’s the first time I saw artist Paul Louise-Julie’s name. What my friend was reading was The Pack, a graphic novel about a couple of brothers who happen to be werewolves in a story that takes place in ancient Egypt.
Siblings Khenti and Nekhet, members of the “Shadow Assassins” work for the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenon, caryying out his ordered hits and wetworks. The brothers are not of Egyptian birth but are actually from Nubia (modern day Sudan and Lower Egypt). Although they live in the lap of luxury and commoners probably think them mercenaries they are both old enough to remember how their father was killed by the Pharoah. The young men seem to have been in servitude to the king since they were boys and Khenti, being the eldest has always wanted to avenge their father’s death, whereas Nekhet would rather live lavishly and forget the incident ever happened. As fate would have it, after a hit gone wrong, Nekhet gets bitten by a large wolf while trying to escape, but does not die. No one is witness to his miraculous recovery but the next full moon his newly aquired lychan abilities takeover…that’s where the story really takes off.
Khenti eventually finds his brother hiding out in Egypt but trouble follows him and they must then begin their lives on the run. Their adventure includes a near fatal injury sustained by Nekhet, a mysterious woman found beaten and left for dead in the desert and in addition, a mysterious watcher who has been tracking them. The storyline, it seems, like Khenti’s Pack, continues to grow.
What I think
I’ve been raving about Paul Louise-Julie’s work for awhile, his use of light and perspective are beautiful and his use of sweeping vistas is almost cinematic. Sometimes I wish some of that detail stayed consistent in the closeups but that is more of a preference on my part and does not detract from the work at all. When I saw the gorgeous splash page of Pharoah’s welcome in Book 2, I couldn’t help but think that if Louise-Julie ever animated that scene it would be as majestic as Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In the Shell Innocence parade scene. His color work stays even and consistent across panels, and although that might seem compulsory, I have seen many comics, both indie and “mainstream” who seem to fight their own continuity in that regard. The thing that I find most intriguing about The Pack is how little dialogue there actually is on the panels. Often floating oblong panels over a gorgeous wide shot, Louise-Julie is modest with his words and confident enough to let his artwork speak for itself. His use of the khemetic langauge through hieroglyphs within some of the bubbles is something I’ve also never seen before. (Don’t worry, he translates everything).
This work feels like historical fiction in that Akhenaten, Egypt and Nubia actually did exist, even though their fictional iterations within the world of The Pack did not. Most impressive is the fact that Louise-Julie writes, draws, and produces each issue himself through his own company Midas Monkee. Even though this means less frequent titles, being that he delivers more than the standard floppy 22 pages, (both Books 1 and 2 average well over 35 pages) it’s worth the wait.
I would absolutely recommend this comic to anyone 15 years old and up, (there are depictions of gore, violence and brief nudity). Currently, The Pack is currently only available digitally, but Paul Louise-Julie states that he has planned a full 5 issue arc for the Pack as well as a printed volume when the story is complete and I am really looking forward to it. In fact, the artist has several plans in the works, Yohance, his much lauded Afrofutristic “space opera” is among them. But I’m still holding out for the third installment of The Pack. Especially now that a female werewolf is involved!
BUY THE PACK HERE