As a supplement to artist Ron Tiner‘s thee-part series on the life and work of Argentinian comics creator Alberto Breccia, here’s six pages from his work Buscavidas (a title which has different titles in English, among them “Story Gatherer”, “Scandal Monger” or “Hustler”), written by Carlos Trillo.
Sadly, the work has never been published in English – an example of work that deserves to be – and we’re grateful to Ron for providing a translation. It was last published in a special edition, in Spanish, by Planeta deAgostini, an edition listed at a ridiculous price on Amazon.co.uk.
First published in the early 1980s, Buscavidas centres on a faceless character who travels from town to town telling stories about other people. In all, the work comprises 13 stories offering a grotesque commentary on Argentina during the years it was under military dictatorship. The country’s dictatorship had begun to fail, but freedom of expression had still not fully recovered. This inevitably influenced the authors in their mode of expression.
Here’s Ron’s translation of one story, a gruesome love story that’s perhaps not for the faint-hearted; and there’s more on the origins of the work after these images.
The Spanish web site The Cult notes the work sees Alberto Breccia exploring new territories in terms of style in this series of moral fables, “this time focused especially on the contrast between black and white, reminiscent in some ways of children’s stories.
“With Buscavidas, I began to draw with white on previously blackened boxes of ink, just like I did in the adaptation of Acuérdate by Juan Rulfo, Breccia told Vertige Graphic in 1992, for a feature titled “Ombres et lumières” (“Light and Shadow”). “I wanted to experiment with new solutions and this was the result”
This unofficial French Alberto Breccia web site notes he painted Buscavidas in white acrylic on a previously blackened surface, and this drawing technique brings a special atmosphere to the project: the light is raw and very direct, with no halftone, no half measures. Shadow and light are frank, the first and second planes are intertwined, the perspective distorted.
Buscavidas is a character looking for stories of others, interested in the darkest sides of human nature: adultery, drunken stories, cowardice, human malice … He meets his victims on the street, in bars in the city, then carefully preserves their sordid stories in a binder.
All the original drawings on the project (some featured on here on the excellent Troesmas blog) were lost in the late 1980s and the work’s most recent collections have utilised documents and reproductions provided by Argentinian and Italian publishers who have published these pages in various journals in the past, presumably including the two-volume version published by Doedytores in the 1990s .
A previously unpublished story of Buscavidas was published in the Spanish language title Breccia Negro Version 2.0 in 2006 (available only in Spanish).
Ron Tiner’s essay on Alberto Breccia has been published in three parts on downthetubes
• Read one of his classic stories, in English, translated by Ron, here
• Image and Narrative: C Stands for Censorship: “Dirty War” Comics, Camouflage and Buscavidas
• Watch a 2010 interview with writer Carlos Trillo on his project Grafonauta (in Spanish)