Friday, July 20, 2007

Go, Read: Hugo Pratt

Here are some scans of 1960-episodes of "Ernie Pike", written by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and drawn by Hugo Pratt, the series' initial artist. Some pages stand out, such as the striking bottom half of page six of "Pearl Harbor", with a very interesting use of black-and-white. Also interesting is page four of "Bismarck", mainly because it's incredibly text-heavy. This reminds me of a comment Alberto Breccia made in an interview, pointing out that Oesterheld could write some very good stories, but that he wasn't always a good comics writer: the artist sometimes had to do a lot of cutting and re-arranging in order to make the story work as a comic. (Breccia was Oesterheld's collaborator on such masterpieces as Mort Cinder and the 1969 version of El Eternauta.)

"Ernie Pike" was a series of war stories written by Oesterheld and drawn by several artists; however Pratt's episodes are the ones that have been most widely reprinted in the past few years (currently 4 volumes published by Casterman are available in French). The series' simple premise (reporter Ernie Pike tells war stories) allowed Oesterheld to show different characters in a variety of settings, with his characteristic emphasis on the human element.

Speaking of Pratt, the Archives Pratt site has an interesting (but incomplete) bibliography of the artist, including some very attractive cover galleries, such as the one for Sgt. Kirk Magazine, which shows some beautiful color work by Pratt (along with work by other artists). "Sargento Kirk" was originally a 1950's series created by Oesterheld and Pratt in Argentina. In 1967, Pratt created Sgt. Kirk Magazine in Italy, where the first "Corto Maltese" stories would appear. Here Pratt would also reprint several of the stories he did in Argentina during the 1950's, but omitting Oesterheld's name (Oesterheld's publishing outfit, Editorial Frontera, had gone under in the early 1960's, leaving Oesterheld owing money to several people, which caused some bad blood between him and some of the artists).


fxv said...

Very interesting article, thanks!

And for your information, the 2 first volumes of Ernie Pike by Casterman have been published in Spanish by Norma Editorial:

Markus said...

I am a big fan of Corto Maltese after having discovered his work while living in Italy. Thanks for the links and check out my post comparing Corto with American superhero comics.