Introduction (english text)

From the end of the 30's to his death in 1993 Alberto Breccia produced a huge amount of comic strips and illustrations. If he worked all his life for the Argentinean market, opportunities to publish elsewhere and above all the politic and economic situation of his country incited him to pursue an international career. Thus, one of his first strip Don Urbano, created around 1938, was destined to a Colombian magazine. At the beginning of the 40's, it's Puño Blanco intended initially for the local newspaper La Razón which is also diffused in Uruguay, in Paraguay and Venezuela. During the 50's, comics sell well and are fashionable in Argentina, it's often viewed as its "golden age", so it becomes less necessary for him to sell his work elsewhere while at the same period he is also involved as a teacher at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte de Buenos Aires. In 1960, Breccia moves briefly to England to work for the Fleetway agency and it is there, with these pocket comics, that he start to progressively conceive the graphic style which will be at his full power in Mort Cinder, created not long after his return in Argentina. At the end of the decade, he publishes, this time in Chile, a Historia Gràfica de Chile. Mort Cinder and the Eternauta start to be translated in Italy around 1972 and know success. Since this point, most of his production is directed to the European market. During the 80's, many trade paperbacks of his comics are being published in Argentina, Spain, Italy and France. Finally, in the first years of the 90's, he is the focus of some critical attention in France and he is proposed several illustrations, covers of fanzines and limited prints. At the same period, he illustrates Umberto Eco's Il Nome della rosa. This rapid panorama shows us that to follow step by step the progression of the art of Alberto Breccia, to understand his style metamorphoses, it becomes essential to cross references of books and mags from various countries, and two continents.

This opus, so large, so protean, has never been - at our knowledge – considered as a whole because to be comprehended in this way it should be at first better known. Alberto Breccia has never known the fame and success of his colleague Hugo Pratt, and didn't impulse, as this later, a plethora of art books, essays and biographies. If today, the critic recognises without hesitation the talent of Alberto Breccia and his considerable influence on comics craft in the world, it seems that he is often approached with some too respectful distance or fear, and the audience who truly love his art his still too limited – that's at least our point of view- even if while proceeding to our bibliographic researches we found many passionate praises.
Certain strips of Breccia, among the most well-known, benefit actually of high quality reprints, in Argentina like in France, but the major part of his opus remains scarcely known and ignored. So, to get a general view it seems necessary to begin to define its corpus, to collect a large bibliography and to inventory it without establishing any artificial hierarchy, even the most minor pieces of Breccia are worthy of interest.
While we can dispose actually, in specialized books and more and more on the Internet of complete bibliographies of writers among the most forgotten or dispensable, of exhaustive filmographies of obscure cinematographers, while we can even find all about the adventures of any super-hero with the help of detailed indexes covering the whole history of US comics, there exists nothing of equivalent for Alberto Breccia. It is our goal to remedy to this situation and we are very curious to see what we are just about to discover!
The bibliography of Alberto Breccia is not an easy one to establish, notably because certain strips have a path rather difficult to follow. Among the short stories initially published in magazines, just a portion finds itself reprinted in paperbacks, often years later and in a different country. This is the case for the Cthulhu cycle: the first complete version in hardback (following a partial Spanish book) was published in Mexico in 1980, six years after the original publication in Italian magazines. Also, the strips of Dracula were first collected in album in France in 1993.
These reprints often differ from the original printings in terms of size, lettering, even breakdowns. For the black and white ones, the aspect of the drawing can be slightly altered, depending on the quality of the material used by the printer (original art, photographs, ancient print files, vintage comics). The pages can be very contrasted, have some kind of "postmark" aspect (a vintage flavour which has its fans!) when the editor makes use of ancient documents, they can, on the contrary, show previously unseen subtle nuances of grey when the editor choose to employ new photographs of the original art. Not mentioning here the changes induced by the current digital printing process…
We hope as well that this bibliography will permit to put an end to some false assertions or assertions that may be notably tempered down. It is the case of the supposed influence of Milton Caniff on his early strips. When you take a closer look, you find out that obviously the influences of Alex Raymond, the US creator of Jungle Jim and Secret Agent X-9 and Burne Hogarth dominate in the 40's. Later, in the mid of the 50's, we can observe some parallel between his Vito Nervio and the "angular" Johnny Hazard of Frank Robbins (intentional rapprochement or simple coincidence, that's to be discussed).
We can also briefly evoke the stylistic identity of Breccia, all in twists and convolutions. And if we can see a passage from mainstream comics (mainstream is a word that definitively doesn't fit Breccia) to experimental or avant-garde sequential art, the transition is not continue nor linear. For example we can remark that in the turn of the 70's, Alberto Breccia alternate with an astonishing facility strips drawn in a half realistic vein still carrying the spirit of his Vito Nervio (in Escuadra Zenith or Agente “nessuno”) and others radically personal, each defining its own style (L’Eternauta, the Cthulhu cycle, Daneri, Buscavidas).
This website aims to list in an exhaustive way the published works of Breccia in French, Italian and English and give a representative view of what exists in spanish (making a really in-depth inventory of the published works of Breccia only in Argentina is a considerable task out of our reach and that seems unfeasible to accomplish from France! Still, we will include the largest possible numbers of items we can. And with the help of contributors, we may gradually define a quite decent checklist).
If this data base has chiefly for goal a better comprehension of the career of Breccia, to find his works mirroring each one else and give bibliographic landmarks, we shall also list all the most recent editions, so that the amateur can simply find out what is available actually in books shops, in his own language. On the web, questions like "which title?", "which publisher?", "which version?" are numerous and we hope that this bibliography will be of some help.
This non official website wishes to contribute to a better knowledge of Breccia output. It is totally not for profit. The authors of this website and his collaborators are the sole responsible persons of the information and ideas diffused here.
This website is for amateurs, collectors, curious.
We will take the liberty to figure here, as a visual comment, glimpses of pictures by Alberto Breccia (for the works actually available or that may be reprinted in the future, we choose to show only some re-cropped panels) and hope to find if not the support of Breccia right owners and publishers, at least their gentle tolerance.
Versions in English and Spanish of this actual introduction are also available. Maybe we will part the website in several autonomous entities if it happens to be necessary but we find interesting, and fun, that several languages come across in this website.
This database will be regularly updated, corrected and completed. Don't hesitate to suggest additions or corrections. Contributions are welcome…

Rotomago, january 2009


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