Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hugo's Swipe File - Coda

My good friend Manuel Caldas wrote the following comment below: “You really hate the poor Pratt!” I have a few comments to comment the comment:

1) I love his drawing abilities, at least while he was in Argentina (the last highly mannered Pratt leaves me cold);

2) I hate his writing (he couldn’t write to save his life, but that’s what happens to most comics artists); he disguised this with tics borrowed from Oesterheld;

3)  He was a sloppy storyteller at times (I mean his layouts, editing and continuity), but I’ll leave that to Faustino Arbesú, as I wrote on this blog already.

All this is irrelevant if we don’t attack the crucial problem of why is the comics canon such a travesty? There are lots of sociological and other reasons, but one of them is because most comics readers (babymen and fanboys, really) can’t spot good writing even if it hits them on the head… hard… But it gets worse: they can judge a good drawing from the tech point of view, but that’s it… They are completely oblivious to what really matters: relevancy, meaning, the artist’s vision of the world.

Do I hate Hugo Pratt’s work? Not really… there are far worst things on the face of the earth. Do I resent the fact that he’s in the comics canon while the true genius behind him isn’t? You bet your pants I do!

That said don't forget that this still is Hugo's Swipe File, so, here goes another one...

On the left: Hugo Pratt, cover of HoraCero Extra! # 1, April 1958.
On the right: William Eugene Smith, Sgt. Aggelos Klonis, Saipan, August 1944.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hugo's Swipe File

The Crib is dangerously becoming the debunk the Pratt myth blog (this must be the only anti-Pratt blog on the whole Internet!). Hugo Pratt the solo creator doesn't interest me in the least, mind you. The comics creator that really interests me is Héctor Germán Oesterheld. Speaking of which... I read another outrageous claim in the Petitfaux book about the little gem that is "Lobo Conrad." It really gave me the creeps. The man can't even remember the story and then, unceremoniously goes on congratulating himself because "Jesuit Joe" is oh, so much better... but, hey,  big news, right? Anyway I'll talk about that another day. This time, and just for the fun of it, I give you, gentle readers, a well known swipe... Notice also how the Caniff half page is a lot better.

The last page of Hugo Pratt's "Ann y Dan" as it was originally published (with the washes; why do they wash away the washes in the Euro versions? They do the same thing with the Ernie Pike stories, let alone, sacrilege!, when they add color!!...). Frontera Extra # 35, September 1961.

Milton Caniff, Terry and the Pirates, the two bottom tiers of the last page, December 29, 1946 (repro from the NBM edition).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hugo Pratt: The Misinformation Continues (It Never Ends)

Juan Sasturain, Buscados Vivos, 2004.

Let's remember again which Ernie Pike stories Dominique Petitfaux and other European critics claim that Hugo Pratt wrote: "Un blando" ("On ne se refait pas...") Hora Cero # 11, March 1958; "Un buen susto" ("Une aventure dangereuse"), Hora Cero Extra! # 53, November 21, 1961; "Tarawa" ("Tarawa"), Hora Cero Extra! # 1 April 1958; "Untitled" ("Les Dix-sept de la sapinière"), Hora Cero # 13, May 1958; "Guardia nocturna" ("Garde nocturne"), Hora Cero Extra! # 39, April 6, 1961.

Why did I write the titles of the stories in Spanish (the original language of publication in Argentina) and French? Because the smoking gun of this affair comes from an interview with Hugo Pratt by Dominique Petitfaux published in De l'autre coté de Corto [a name invented by Oesterheld by the way]: Hugo Pratt - Entretiens avec Dominique Petitfaux (1990; from the other side of Corto: Hugo Pratt - interviews with Dominique Petitfaux). In this book Hugo Pratt said (45 of the 1996 edition; my translation):
[...] as a matter of fact I wrote myself some of these [Ernie Pike] stories: On ne se refait pas...,Une aventure dangereuse, Tarawa, Les Dix-sept de la sapinière, and Garde nocturne. [Sic for the italics.]
The problem with this is that in another interview published in the above Sasturain book, but conducted by him in 1982, Pratt said (37):
[...] in ERNIE PIKE there are one or two scripts that are entirely mine like the one with the pilot who falls in the jungle and stumbles across a patrol entirely composed of Fidji natives whom he doesn't recognize. There's in there a huge ironic component. I think that my contribution to comics, as far as the stories are concerned, is, precisely, the ironic touch. 
Also (54, 55):
[Juan Sasturain] - What are the [Ernie Pike] episodes that you remember with more fondness or you feel more identified with?  
[Hugo Pratt] - "Francotiradores" in the first place. The ending is very beautiful. There's the best Oesterheld in it: when the two rivals fall dead helping each other and "the same wind scattered their hair." I also remember "Un teniente alemán" as being great. 
[...] [Juan Sasturain] - What about "La patrulla"? It has the atmosphere of JUNGLEMEN.
[Hugo Pratt] - It is set in New Guinea, of course. But the drawings are different. Here I applied some new techniques like the direct inks, without pencils. There's also "Tarawa" that I like a lot because of the atmosphere. With all those palm trees inclined to one side... "Tarawa" is the end of the romantic war, with those individualized marine veterans. 
In the Argentinian interview Pratt would never dare say that he wrote "Tarawa," he just says that he likes it. On the other hand it's curious that he throws a vague "one or two scripts" that he wrote entirely, but just describes the one that he effectively wrote ("Un buen susto"). Unfortunately Sasturain didn't ask him about those other "or two" scripts. Finally Hugo Pratt himself gives us the key to unlock the problem. He clearly states that his trademark is the use of irony and we can't find a shred of irony in, at least, three of the other four stories. Besides, there are two details that are telling: 1) these stories are too wordy for Pratt (he even complained about Oesterheld being too wordy); 2) the main character (or one of the main characters) dies at the end. In "Un blando" lieutenant Leopardi is killed by the Danakil because he tried to save his British prisoner. In "Tarawa" soldier Melvin Levine died because, after being terribly afraid (he shit himself), he lost his mind wanting to avenge his fallen comrades. In the untitled story published in Hora Cero # 13 seventeen Brazilian soldiers are killed on a mad German captains's orders because, after being captured, they refused to talk. "Guardia nocturna" is the only story that I could believe was written by Hugo Pratt (it was published in 1961, it's a bit ironic - dark humor ironic, I mean... -, people die in it, but not in the usual way). The prose style is clearly Oesterheld's though.

If Hugo Pratt wanted to say that, in comics, drawings are the story too, it's fine...In that sense he wrote those stories, but, in that case, didn't he write all the stories that he co-created with Oesterheld? Why stop at five?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hugo Pratt: The Misinformation continues! - Coda (the real one this time)

Will this bullshit never stop? I guess the great man himself, Hugo fucking Pratt is to blame. Li... er... daydreamer that he was he li... fantasized that he wrote those Ernie Pike stories and everybody in Europe believed his li... delusions. Here the same stories as indicated below are recorded as being by Pratt, plus, this one:

Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 1, September 4, 1957.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Visado Pela Comissão de Censura - Coda

The editor of the magazine (director) as he appeared in Mundo de Aventuras # 437, January 2, 1958.

In the last post I wrote: "A no guns policy [...] chopped arms off and forced editors to change plots." In the highly recommended (if you read Portuguese) book by Leonardo de Sá Dicionário Universal da Banda Desenhada (universal dictionary of comics, 34) I learned that the editor of Mundo de Aventuras, José de Oliveira Cosme was part of the censorship committee that censored the mag. Talk about being schizo... My phrase isn't wrong though: this is a case of self-censorship. The censor Oliveira Cosme forced the editor Oliveira Cosme to erase guns, chop arms off and change plots.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Visado Pela Comissão de Censura

The Cisco Kid, by Rod Reed (w) and José Luis Salinas (a), February 21, 1951.

Mundo de Aventuras # 94, May 31, 1951. (Cisco just walks in the thug's direction: is he a fool?)

The Cisco Kid, by Rod Reed (w) and José LuisSalinas (a), February 27, 1951.

Mundo de Aventuras # 95, June 7, 1951. (Cisco just "fell" instead of "being hit.")

The indicia of Mundo de Aventuras # 94.

It's a known fact that an anti-comics campaign existed almost everywhere during the 1950s. In Portugal, on top of that, there was a Fascist dictatorship practicing censorship to all media. A no guns policy, as seen above, chopped arms off and forced editors to change plots. What can be read in bold letters at the bottom of the indicia above is "Visado Pela Comissão de Censura" (surveyed by the censorship committee).

By the way "editor" is a false friend in English and Portuguese. The editor in Portugal is the publisher.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Terceiras Conferências de Banda Desenhada em Portugal, 2013

No próximo dia 18 de Setembro vou participar nas Terceiras Conferências de Banda Desenhada em Portugal, 2013, com uma comunicação intitulada "Héctor Germán Oesterheld na Editora Columba". Desde já agradeço a presença dos que estiverem presentes (o pleonasmo é propositado). 

O cartaz acima é de Marta Monteiro, mas, já agora, uma nota: claro que poderia fazer uma pequena desconstrução e dizer algo assim como "os conferencistas vão dar a voz a quem não a tem (os animais, com a excepção do papagaio que é a voz do dono) por cima dos poderes instituidos." (Neste caso, o poder colonial, mas por que é que o colono é negro?, ou será a sombra da selva que lhe enegrece o braço?) Por outro lado, e esta leitura é que me chateia: poder-se-ía dizer que, mais uma vez, o cartaz veícula o cliché da literatura de cordel, do filme do pobre, da aventura juvenil, da fantasia desabrida, da literatura de evasão... Essa não é, afirmo-o vigorosamente, a "minha" banda desenhada. Se bem que desta vez, e por acaso, até é tudo isso que tem a ver com a minha comunicação a qual se poderia resumir da seguinte forma: o que é que acontece quando um grande artista se vê obrigado, pelas circunstâncias da vida, a exercer o seu ofício numa empresa grosseiramente comercial?    

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hugo Pratt: The Misinformation Continues! A coda of sorts...

We all know the story... Hugo Pratt used Oesterheld's likeness to portray Scribe in the Sgt. Kirk series. He did the same thing in Ernie Pike. Pike's writing may be inspired by Ernie Pyle's, but his looks are a caricature of Oesterheld's face. What Pratt did with Oesterheld he did with himself also. Look who's below in the first page of "Tarawa" playing sergeant Burger.

Maybe Ernie Pyle's looks weren't that different (at least with his helmet on) from Ernie Pike's though...

Hugo Pratt: The Misinformation Continues!

This is outrageous: the misinformation about the great Héctor Germán Oesterheld in Europe continues!

Here I found the following incredible claims:

"(13) SGT. KIRK, dessins de Pratt (quelques encrages par Ivo Pavone, en 1954-55, par Carlos
Ruiz et par Juan Cruz, collaboration de Gisela Dester pour le dernier épisode, des planches
mises en couleur par Stefan Strocen, probablement du n°225, 9-1-53, au n°475, 20-12-57),
scénario d’Oesterheld et Pratt."

"(15) TICONDEROGA, dessins de Pratt (assisté de Gisela Dester à partir de la septième
livraison), scénario d’Oesterheld et Pratt. Gisela Dester (dessins) succède à Pratt en 1959."

"(16) ERNIE PIKE, dessins de Pratt, scénario d’Oesterheld, sauf pour les épisodes 13, 14, 16,
33 et 34, scénario de Pratt, et pour l’épisode 18, scénario de Jorge Mora, frère d’Héctor Oesterheld."

Hora Cero # 11, March 1958

Hora Cero Extra # 1, April 1958

Hora Cero # 13, May 1958

Hora Cero Extra! # 39, April 6, 1961

These are the first pages of 13, 14, 16, 33, mentioned above as written by Hugo Pratt. As you can see the script (Guión) is clearly indicated as being written by Oesterheld. Number 34, below, was indeed written by Pratt, but the story is indicated as being "Por Hugo Pratt" (By Hugo Pratt). (Oh and I bet that "Juan" Cruz is really Carlos Cruz.)

Hora Cero Extra! # 53, November 21, 1961

As for Sgt. Kirk and Ticonderoga I will just post a cover of Misterix magazine and the first page of Ticonderoga. In both cases the script is, obviously, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Héctor Germán Oesterheld alone.

To show you that I'm fair though, I want to publicly thank Dominique Petitfaux and José Muñoz for the information about the great colorist: Stefan Strocen.

Misterix # 312, September 10, 1954

Frontera # 1, April 1957

PS I really should do a comparative study of themes explored in Ernie Pike and Corto Maltese