Lina Rosé Saxtorph made her debut in March 2021 with the comic book series Anepantla published in Danish by Forlaget Fabel. It is a beautifully illustrated story where we follow Atl – in the fascinating historical world.
Follow the story from the start - the series can be read by everyone, and there are several layers within the story that both captivating and well written.
The year is 1480. Large areas of Central America are dominated by the Aztec Empire. Thanks to an ambitious alliance with two city-states, the empire has been able to conquer both land and power. But this otherwise strong alliance is being threatened by another people known as the P’urepecha. The two peoples have long been rivals, but the P’urepecha grew in ressources, which greatly worried the Aztec emperor, Axayacatl.
Meanwhile, a young woman known as Atl travels to the Aztec capital to play music at Axayacatl’s royal court. She is not interested in the intrigues of the court but is drawn by the mystical Rain God and the secrets that hide in his temple.
Front page of part 1 'Anepantla: I Regngudens Tempel'
Back cover of part 1 'Anepantla: I Regngudens Tempel'
Already at 14, I got the idea of writing a story set in the Aztec Empire. I have always loved history, and comic books, especially Sussi Bech’s Nofret series which was a great inspiration for me.
When I first started learning about the rich culture and history of Mesoamerica, I could not understand why there weren’t more stories out there about that part of the world. Here in Europe, they are pushed aside in history classes and if people have heard about the Aztecs, they often only associated them with bloody rituals and the fact that the Spaniards invaded their land.
I definitely thought that light needed to be shed light on their culture in its entirety and outside comparisons with Spain or other Europeans. I immediately started researching everything I could to make my story as “historically correct” as a piece of historical fiction allows.
I chose to have the story play out during the reign of Axayacatl as tlatoani (or emperor if you will). It was during his reign that the conflict with the P’urepecha escalated.
The P’urepecha are another people who are completely unknown to many here in Europe since they almost never feature in our history books. However they played a huge role in precolombian Mesoamerica, and they were one of the only peoples who could resist and ward off the Aztec Empire, and it was against them that Axayacatl led his people into the biggest military defeat that the Aztecs had known till then.
Page 16 of 'Anepantla: I Regngudens Tempel' inked and coloured.
Concept art of Mexican cityscape and nature as
well as an illustration of main temple in the Aztec capital
Expositional illustrations of the Mexica and the P'urepecha
A Lengthy Process
Since I am completely self-taught when it comes to comics, (funnily enough, I have another arts degree – in Musical Theatre) I spent many years practicing storytelling through the media of comic books.
I started Anepantla as a web-series on DeviantArt where I discovered that people were interested and wanted to read it. Back in 2014 I made the decision of working towards a real publication. I stopped uploading to DeviantArt and instead started rewriting large parts of the story and start over with new illustrations. It was tedious work, but worth it in the end.
The first part of the series came out in Danish in March 2021 and part two is already in the works as well as an English translation.
Below: comparison of one of the pages from Anepantla part one. The first picture is from back when the story was still a web-comic and this used to be the very first page. In the final published version, it appears after the prologue.
Above: panel from page 30 of 'Anepantla: I Regngudens Tempel'