Alberto Breccia, strip-cartoon artist and illustrator: born Montevideo 1919; died Buenos Aires 10 November 1993.
THERE is a certain kind of strip- cartoon creator who is beyond the comprehension of the majority of this art-form's fans. He is usually someone with a pessimistic, left- wing, pacifist-anarchist outlook on human existence, expressed through picture panels that are dramatically composed and brilliantly detailed works of art in their own right. Such men often have a passion for literature of a marginal kind, and an acute sense of character. They may employ their own scenarists, or base their stories on famous novel or films.
Such a creator was Alberto Breccia. At the age of three, he was taken by his family from his birthplace, Montevideo, across the estuary of the Rio de la Plata to the lively working-class port district of Buenos Aires. his district was to form the sombre backdrop for Breccia's early realistic style.
By the age of 17, Alberto was publishing his first comic sketches in children's magazines, and he began to make his name as a humorous cartoonist and illustrator. By the 1940s, his Punto Blanco series was being syndicated all over South America and the United States. He started adapting popular movies, mainly B-movie detective features and Argentinian novels, producing over 300 books for children, and working in publicity.
He was teaching in a Buenos Aires art academy when the turning-point in his career brought him in contact with a colleague, Hugo Pratt, who was to become the celebrated creator of Corto Maltese, the favourite hero of Francois Mitterrand. Together with like- minded artists like Jose Luis Salinas and Arturo del Castillo they launched the avant-garde movement in strip cartoons whose influence was to spread throughout South America, the United States and eventually to Europe.
The timing wasjust right. The whole of South America, taking the lead from all …