Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Alberto Breccia: Conclusion

Breccia Introduction
Breccia Part 1: Mort Cinder
Breccia Part 2: El Eternauta to Lovecraft
Breccia Part 3: Perramus

From Perramus by Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia

Alberto Breccia’s work is desperately under-appreciated in the English speaking world. This article can only scratch the surface - I haven’t touched on his adaptations of Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson, or any of his wonderful colour work, including arguably his last great work, Dracula, Dracul, Vlad? Bah! a comical take on Dracula executed in a fully painted cartoon style different again from anything shown here. (For a fuller overview of his work, try the website Historieta Argentina.)
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I rate Alberto Breccia so highly because, for the last thirty years of his life, he never stopped experimenting. He was always trying new techniques, new storytelling methods, new drawing styles. I don’t like everything he did, and not all of it is a success, but that's what happens when you constantly dare to try something new. What's remarkable is to see such a pioneering spirit in someone approaching the end of his career.
Breccia’s work was always fresh and always bold - and brave, too. I don’t mean "bravery" in some namby-pamby artistic “the fans won’t like it and I’ll get bad reviews” sense. I mean that he lived at a time and in a place where his work could have put him literally in danger of his life, yet he continued anyway.

Recommended Works

The website Historieta Argentina gives a comprehensive overview of Breccia's career, with samples.

Mort Cinder (1962) - 2 volumes. black & white
Breccia-Lovecraft: Mitos de Cthulu (1975) - 1 volume, black & white
Perramus - (1986) - 3 volumes (but, confusingly, 4 books; Books 1 & 2 are published as volume 1, Book 3 as volume 2, Book 4 as volume 3), black & white
Dracula, Dracul, Vlad? Bah! - (?date), 1 volume, colour.


Availability


Very little of Breccia's work has ever been translated into English - Fantagraphics started publishing Perramus in comic-book format in the 1990's, but sales were poor and only four issues (covering part of book one) came out. The only volume currently in print is the Alberto Breccia Sketchbook, actually an album of page layout sketches with text in both Spanish and English.
In France, Les Humanöides Associes published reprints of Mort Cinder (2 volumes), L'Eternaut, Le Couer Revelateur (Poe adaptations) and Dracula, Dracul, Vlad? Bah! in the early 2000's while Casterman published the whole of Perramus as three deluxe albums in the 1990's.
In German, there are translations of Mort Cinder (2 volumes), and Perramus (3 volumes) , both published by Carlsen Verlag in the 1990's.

To the best of my knowledge all of the above are currently out of print.

Spanish offer the best crop of titles, naturally, and a number of titles have come back into print in the last few years; my copy of Breccia-Lovecraft: Los Mitos de Ctulu was bought new in Spain only a couple of years ago. Titles seem to have been reprinted by a number of publishers, so your best bet is to google "Alberto Breccia" and look for Spanish language retail sites.

Most of my own collection has come via www.abebooks.com, a clearing house for second-hand bookshops around the world; it's an excellent source, reliable and cheap; I usually pay about £10 per volume including international postage. The only drawback is that shipments from the states can take a couple of months if you're not willing to pay a premium.

Breccia Introduction
Breccia Part 1: Mort Cinder
Breccia Part 2: El Eternauta to Lovecraft
Breccia Part 3: Perramus

10 comments:

George said...

Nice set of articles about an artist who, for whatever reason (too challenging? Too old?) has hardly any profile in the English speaking world.

It might be worth mentioning (for those who want to seek him out) that there's a short story of his in the back of an issue of Fantagraphic's Sinner. IIRC this story was effectively wordless.

He also did a bit of work in the UK in the early 60s. I've two of his picture library stories - one a very interesting Western, the other a spy short. Unfortunately these are easy to find.

There's more here

George said...

Unfortunately these are not easy to find...

sheesh...!

Antonella said...

Thank you for bringing specs of Alberto Breccia's work to the surface in the UK.
I have got to know his extraordinarily talented and unique artist in 1982, when I started a Comics School in Rome - Italy, and read/admired most of his work. 2 decades later, in Paris, where I was actually drawing animated films, I went to cinema to watch a lovely gem, a film I cannot recall the title. It was about a guy who took his bicycle and decided to travel up north in South America - from Argentina - to journey some of the places his deceased father had visited. The father of the guy in the film was Alberto Breccia! Throughout the film the drawings of Breccia were showned in big screen size, a real treat! Anyone knows the title / the director of the film, which I'd love to have?
Thank you
Anto

julio said...

Hello ANtonella , the name of the film was EL VIAJE , directed by SOLANAS, after seeing the film I named my first daughter USHUAIA, the starting city of the travel across America. Thank you for the tip : the father of the travelling guy was Breccia , I was not aware of that .....
Julio from Copenhagen.

D'Israeli said...

Antonella & Julio, thanks for bringing this up. There are details about El Viaje on IMDB here, but it doesn't seem to be available on DVD anywhere...

Daniel said...

Mr. D'Israeli
I'm a brazilian admirer of Breccia's work. We are so close to Argentina, but Breccia's work has never been published in Brazil, I don't know why. I have argentinian editions of Sherlock Time, El Eternauta and Mort Cinder. Oesterheld and the two Breccias (Alberto and Henrique) made a comics biography of Che Guevara. That's an extremely hard book to find, I've only seen some panels on the net, but Breccia's art on it, as usual, is completely different from anything he's done before or after. It's said that this book was the excuse Argentinian right-winged dictatorship needed to bring Oesterheld down.

I was lucky enough to see Breccia on a comics event in Rio de Janeiro in 1991. I think he died shortly after that. I was 16 at the time and didn't know about the huge talent I had in front of me, I just thought "OK, some old argentinian guy". Years later, when I learned about his work I regreted not being able to meet this genius again.

It seems to me that Bill Sienkiewks (I probably got that wrong...) work is quite close to Breccia's, even though i think the argentinian artist to be superior. The "Perramus" panel that shows Ronald Reagan and an american eagle resembles Bill's work on "Brought to Light" a lot.

Congratulations for showing his amazing work to a broader audience.

Daniel said...

May I add something? It is said that on one episode of "Mort Cinder" called "In Jail" Beccias used a shaving blade dipped in ink to paint the panels. This episode looks like "Sin City", but was published 30 years before Miller's books.

Felipe said...

Hey Matt, here in Brazil they finally released something by Breccia, for the first time ever... it's the Ché Guevara biography, which he did with Enrique. If you're interested in having it at least for the art write me at sobreiro(at)gmail

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