Book Review: Illegal Cargo
“You have to be careful. There are a lot of bad people on the railroad, looking for business”
A couple of months ago I came across an ad online for a small comic book publishing company I had never heard of. The ad was asking if people were interested in reviewing their books. I took a chance with Black Panel Press and submitted a response. Weeks went by, kick starters came and went, and I eventually assumed I hadn’t been chosen. But then suddenly an over-sized graphic novel titled Illegal Cargo showed up at my door.
This was the first graphic novel I’d ever been sent by an author/publisher, so I was head-over-heels excited (y’all know how much I love graphic novels). Anyways, the point being I’m so called I took a chance with this publishing company, and so thankful they connected with me. Special thanks in particular to @abenttoe from @blackpanelpress for sending me the copy in exchange for an honest review!
SUMMARY: Although he had never been the most present father, José Sendero, an elderly Salvadoran, has always wanted the best for his daughter, Helena, who now lives far away in America. When an unexpected messenger arrives at his door, José must decide whether to bury his head in the sand, or leave everything he knows behind to be there for his daughter when she needs him most.
This book is inspired by the true stories of everyday immigrants on their way to the United States from places like South America and Mexico and the tireless work of humanitarian organizations like Las Patronas who support them. Written (in English) and illustrated by Augusto Mora, a Mexican artist and author of various web comics, graphic novels, and short stories. Mora certainly did his research before writing this story, and you can tell his heart was really in the making of it.
These types of stories are always tough to read because they’re so heavily based on real trauma and events. The story is a heartbreaking one, and you really empathize with José and the other immigrants as they face numerous life or death perils on their journey. The point of this comic is to raise awareness about social issues just as much as it is to tell a good story. On both accounts it succeeds.
In addition to following José I also enjoyed the storyline featuring the benign spirit (La Siguanaba: part woman, part horse skeleton) pushing him onward, as well as the one with the Mexican gangsters. The art is also gorgeous, the varying characters and terrain rendered in vivid detail and beautiful colors. The story moves quickly and ends on a somber, somewhat dissatisfying note (though I understand the point of it), but all in all I really enjoyed this book!
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
If you’re interested in seeing more from author/illustrator Augusto Mora then check out his website at http://www.muertequerida.com/menu/. You can also follow him on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/augustomora/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/augustomora). Click here if you’re interested in seeing more Black Panel Press comics!