There’s some great news for fans of the astonishingly brilliant South American comic artist Alberto Breccia. His stunning Mort Cinder strip, written by the equally talented author Héctor Germán Oesterheld, is to be published in English by Fantagraphics in October.
“For those who haven’t seen this before, prepare to be amazed,” enthuses artist David Roach. “This is one of the greatest strips of all time, drawn by one of its true geniuses. And no, I’m not overselling it!”
Born in Uruguay in 1919, Alberto Breccia is one of the undisputed master cartoonists. Throughout his prolific career, marked by artistic collaboration, he innovated the comics field.
He spent most of his life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the 1950s he became, along with Francisco Solano Lopéz, an honorary member of the ground-breaking “Group of Venice” — a band of expatriate Italian artists including Hugo Pratt, Ido Pavone, Horacio Lalia, Faustinelli, and Ongaro.
Through Pratt he met Héctor Oesterheld, with whom he co-authored some of the key works of his career, such as i (1962), Che (1968) and their critically acclaimed 1969 re-editon of The Eternaut.
A story with political overtones, Mort Cinder is considered one of Breccia’s finest achievements – horror-adventure tales that are as thrilling, dread-inducing, and accessible as they were half a century ago. Created in collaboration with Oesterheld, who’s provided an introduction for this new edition, this episodic serial, first written and drawn between 1962 and 1964, follows the wanderings through time and space of a man who rises from the grave each time he is killed.
A supernatural being, he has witnessed the darkest side of humanity — from ancient Greece to the mid-20th century.
Drawn by Breccia in moody chiaroscuro, the artist’s rubbery, expressionistic faces capture every glint in the eyes of the grave robbers, sailors, and slaves that populate these stories; while the slash of stripes of prisoners’ uniforms, the trapeziums of Babylon, and more create distinct and evocative milieus.
Breccia other works include his collaborations with Argentinean comics writer Carlos Trillo. During their fruitful pairing in the 1970s, Breccia made major graphic innovations working in colour (as in Chi Ha Paura delle Fiabe?) and in black and white (as in Un Tal Daneri).
Other of his staple works include Cthulhu Myths, a Historia grafica de Chile, and Perramus — created with the poet Juan Sasturain — which was awarded a prize by Amnesty International for its stand against dictatorial regimes.
Breccia is perhaps best known to British comic fans for his work through the Bardon Press Features office in Barcelona for Fleetway Edtions in the 1960s, first on Super Detective Picture Library Number 172 “Passport to Peril” (an adaptation of the novel, Assignment Helene by Edward S Aarons), drawing episodes of “Spy 13” and “Kit Carson” for the Cowboy Picture Library, among other work.
He’s often described as “the master of black and white” and is, rightly, considered one of the most influential creators in comics history, at the vanguard of the comics medium.
Back in 2016 we published an essay on his work by artist Ron Tiner, over three parts, a study which offers a tremendous insight into his work.