Monday, December 1, 2014

Ernie Pike

Maybe I shouldn't post a whole story by the great Héctor, but I'm doing it just the same because I don't believe that this story will ever be republished (Hugo Pratt didn't drew it!, you see?!...). Maybe the Argentinian government will put their money where their mouth is and someday they will publish Oesterheld's oeuvre in a deluxe collection with great production values (getting the Library treatment, I mean...). While that doesn't happen, and I don't believe that it ever will, to be honest, here's my small contribution... Frontera # 48, March 1961: Héctor Germán Oesterheld (w), 19 year old Jesús Balbi (a). My translation.

(1/2) A rosary of shadows is coming down the mountain. /  (1/3) The artillery grunts relentlessly at the heights. It seems like the monstrous organ of a nameless cathedral. / (1/4) There, on my side, is a soldier, wounded in an arm, but also wounded elsewhere, a lot deeper than the flesh, because his eyes are trembling when they go from one body to the next... / (1/5) "Are you searching for a comrade?"

(2/1) "Yes, I'm searching for Stanislas... I let him in the trenches when they evacuated me..." / (2/2) "Maybe he's still there, in the trenches...." "No... he can't be... They told me that that trench was sweeped. There was a German counter attack..." / (2/3) "Well, one never knows, of course... Stanislas always manages to get out of trouble... Yes, he always gets out of trouble...." / We are at the front in Montecassino. Our troops try to advance as much as they can. They bleed to death to conquer a hill, but another one follows and the enemy doesn't give up, fighting with all they've got for every yard.... / (2/4) An endless rosary, the mules with the bodies are still passing by. They go up transporting ammunition and they return transporting death. / (2/5) "It's starting to snow, my boy... Soon it will be night. They will come no more today...." / (2/6) "No... they will come no more... I'll have to wait until tomorrow..." / (2/7) "Don't take it like that, my boy, you will meet Stanislas safe and sound soon. You said so yourself, he always manages to get out of trouble..."

(3/1) "Remember Company C. They said that it was licked when they appeared on the ridge they had just conquered to the Germans... but..." / (3/2) "Where's the soldier? Where is he?" / (3/3) "Hey! Come back here! Where are you going?" / (3/4) "He went... to the frontline..." It didn't even cross my mind to go after him. It snowed and he was a lot more faster than me. He soon disappeared behind the rocks. Besides, I have enough with my writing shores. If one tries to follow every man with a problem, this would be the never ending story... / (3/5) The next day it continued snowing. And the next I didn't even remember the soldier with the wounded arm. There're so many things going on at the front that every day seems like a century. / Again the mountain threshed its black rosary of mules and corpses... / "The mules again..." / (3/6) "The wounded come with them... Those who can walk, I mean... who knows what the others do..."

(4/1) "Yesterday the fight was ugly... the mules are more loaded than ever..." / (4/2) "But... that arm?" / (4/3) "The boy with the wounded arm..." / Yes, I recognized him immediately... it was him... / (4/4) "You knew him scribe?" "More or less... What happened to him?" / (4/5) "What was bound to happen... He appeared in the trench looking for a certain Stanislas... he was beside himself... he said that he had been in all the other trenches searching... that he had to find Stanislas..." / (4/6) "The sergeant tried to stop him... He told him that he had to go behind the lines... but he escaped and jumped the parapet..." 

(5/1) "And he went into the snow, onto the enemy. They saw him immediately, of course... The machine gun almost cut him in two..." / (5/2) "He had to be cuckoo. Why search his comrade in such a way?" / (5/3) "In the end, we are all always looking for someone..." / (5/4) "We... we are all searching for someone..." / (5/5) "The wounded man continued his path. And the endless passing by of the mules continued..." / (5/6) "Never, not even in the middle of the desert, did I feel so alone. Yes, we are all always looking for someone..."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

EDMOND, un portrait de Baudoin - Coda

If you read the quote below you will understand perfectly why the comics milieu (comics publishers especially) is my enemy.

I also wonder why the State (and I mean every State) spends so much money sponsoring the arts while completely forgetting art comics. It's no one's land, really... Great comics fall outside the industry and outside mainstream culture as well...

...And yet... for a while, at the beginning of the 90s (and during most of the decade), everything seemed possible... somehow...

EDMOND, un portrait de Baudoin

EDMOND, un portrait de Baudoin (trailer) from Kaleo films on Vimeo.

Pour justifier son refus de lui accorder un prix prestigieux, un éditeur lui confia un jour: "Si vous aviez été récompensé, cela aurait tué la bande dessinée telle qu'on la connait aujourd'hui. Vous, Baudoin, vous ne faites pas la bande-dessinée, vous faites de l'art, de la poesie. Ça ne nous intéresse pas.
To justify his refusal to give him a prestigious award a publisher admitted one day: "If you had received it, it would have killed comics as we know them today. You, Baudoin, you don't create comics, you create art and poetry. That doesn't interest us.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Comparison

Remember when I said below that craft is not enough to produce great art, but a world vision isn't enough either?...

Robb Armstrong, "Jump Start," Sunday comic strip, January 17, 1993 [originally published in color].

The above Sunday page doesn't represent offensive stereotypes of black people. On the contrary, these characters act and talk like real people which means that the characterization is quite well done... and yet... 

The drawing style is dull: the lines are heavy; the backgrounds either don't exist or are a generic "I drew these books and bookshelves and people, but I could very well draw other books and bookshelves and people instead" kind of backgrounds...

Worst of all though: the situation depicted is rather plain and the worthwhile anti-racist message lacks any kind of punch (even if the punch line, precisely, is the best part of the page). 

Now, compare the page above with these two panels below (I don't think that I need to add anything; the power of the images and the power of the words talk for themselves):

Héctor Germán Oesterheld (w), Alberto Breccia (a), "Mort Cinder," Misterix # 799, March 6, 1964. [Night at the Thermopylae. Some wounded man complains. He must be a Persian to wail like that... / The Fates weaving, laughing because they have almost no thread... So many lives will end soon...]

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Arturo del Castillo

Misterix # 715 was published in 1962. At that time Arturo del Castillo was already working for Fleetway Publications in the UK. He co-adapted, namely, Alexandre Dumas' musketeers novels to comics as we can see below...

Arturo del Castillo (a), Leonard Matthews (s), Lion, Fleetway, September 28, 1963. (Story reprinted from Film Fun - 1961.)

Arturo del Castillo (a), Leonard Matthews (s), Lion, Fleetway, December 14, 1963.

Arturo del Castillo (a), Leonard Matthews (s), Lion, Fleetway, February 1, 1964. 

Arturo del Castillo (a), Leonard Matthews (s), Lion, Fleetway, February 22, 1964. 

Below are four panels created by Arturo del Castillo in the year of his retirement, 1989. He died three years later.

Arturo del Castillo (original art).