Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Breccia, Alberto

(1919-1993) Uruguay-born Argentinian Comics artist. AB has applied a wide range of drawing, painting and printmaking techniques in his very personal approach to comic strips, and has been quoted as a major influence by almost every leading practitioner in the field. He published his first drawings at age 17. His first strip of note was Mu Fa, un Detective Oriental ["Mu Fa, An Oriental Detective"] (1939), a humorous parody of Fu Manchu. Around this time he joined the Argentine Realist School of José Luis Salinas (1908-1987), along with two other young artists who were to gain worldwide acclaim, Arturo del Castillo (1925-1992) and Hugo Pratt (1927-1995); their book on the art of comic-strip drawing was Tecnica de la Historieta (1966 Brazil).

During 1940-1947 AB produced a number of short stories and adaptations of popular novels in the sf and horror vein for the magazines El Gorion and Rataplan, including La Mano que Aprieta ["The Gripping Hand"] (1940), El Jorobado ["The Hunchback"] (1942) and La Hosteria Solitaria ["The Lonely Inn"] (1943-1944). He then embarked on the newspaper strip Vito Nervio (1947-1958), a series with sf and fantasy elements about a secret-service agent. Thereafter he formed a lasting partnership with the writer Hector Oesterheld (?   -1977), producing sf and horror series such as Sherlock Time (1958) and his great masterpiece, Mort Cinder (1962-1963), for the Argentine magazine Misterix.

AB travelled to the UK in 1960 to work for Fleetway Publications, where he drew a number of 68-page Western and spy comic books in a bold, loose brush line style. He returned to Argentina in 1962.

In 1968 he briefly took over the long-running series El Eternauta ["The Eternaut"], and then put his own life in danger by creating his very personal El Vida del Che ["The Life of Che"] (graph 1986). He buried the proofs of this series in his garden when the original art was confiscated and the printer killed by the military authorities: it was eventually published, years later, in Spain. AB then began adapting into strips H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories as Los Mitos de Cthulhu ["The Cthulhu Mythos"] (1973-1974; graph coll 1985), in which the terrifying subterranean creatures stood as an Allegory for the grip of terror imposed by the Argentine secret police. In 1977 Oesterheld and his entire family were murdered by them.

AB began experimenting with a wide range of drawing and painting techniques including collage, frottage, resist and monotype, and his work became increasingly moody and expressive. In this way he rendered Un Tal Daneri ["A Man Called Daneri"] (1974 Mengano; graph coll 1977), a moody monochromatic series of short stories about a contract killer, and brightly coloured, humorous adult versions of Fairytales, Cuentos de los Hermanos Grimm ["Tales from the Brothers Grimm"] (1980-1981; vt Che ha Paura delle Fiabe? ["Who's Afraid of Fairy Tales?"] graph coll 1981 Italy).

On the fall of Argentina's military dictators after the Falklands War (1982), AB and writer Juan Sasturain embarked on the biting political satire Perramus (graph 1984-1986 4 vols; vol 1 trans 1991-1992), in which his close friend Jorge Luis Borges features among many other famous faces. He followed this with a very personal version of Dracula (graph 1991).

The publication of AB's fantasy work in English has been desultory at best, aside from Perramus. In Heavy Metal have appeared The Dunwich Horror (1979), Mister Valdemar (1982), Poe (1985), To Draw or Not . . . (1988) and Dracula (1992).

AB's son Enrique (1944-    ) is also a considerable talent in South American comics. [RT]

Alberto Breccia

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.