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Hugo Pratt Gallery > Hugo Pratt Gallery is proud to present one of our favorite artists - Hugo Pratt. In this prestigious gallery you will only find signed lithographs and art by Hugo Pratt. We are probably the world's leading gallery, presenting more signed lithographs than any other gallery, touched by the hand and pen of the genious.

Hugo Pratt is one of comics' all-time greats, yet his works remain unavailable in English, which is perhaps why it took until 2005 for him to be inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. Marcos Castrillón arranges a long overdue introduction to the master.

By Marous Castrillón

This is adventure. Danger, love, something to fight for. To the connoisseur of European comics, the name Hugo Pratt is as sacred of the names Jack Kirby to an American superhero reader, or R Crumb to an indie 'comix' fan. It is more than just a name. It is legend.

An adventurer and soldier turned cartoonist, Pratt built a gallery of romantic heroes mixing the old French swashbuckling brand of heroes with 20th century ideology and attitude. Dumas meets Bakunin. These are bitter men who can't help but be idealistic despite their contempt toward the human race; disgruntled figures swept up by the tides of history and forced to act on their ideals not because they want to, but because they feel it's the right thing to do. In Pratt's world, altruism is a sickness and we have no cure for it.

Pratt was born near Rimini, Italy, in 1927, right in the middle of the Italian fascist revolution. He lived in Venice as a child, a city that marked him as no other, soaking him in his aura of magic and romance. Soon he moved to Ethiopia with his family, which was then an Italian colony, and fell in love with Africa, a love that he showed repeatedly in his work.

In 1944, after the Italian defeat in Ethiopia, he moved back to Venice, where he was mistaken for a South African spy and arrested by the SS. Not wanting to enlist with the Germans, he joins the allies to work as an interpreter.

As soon as the war ended, he started working as a cartoonist, but the lack of opportunities to build a career in his own country made him move to Argentina, then the country of hope for many Europeans, which harboured a fertile comics scene where people like Breccia, Oesterheld and Solano López were creating some of the greatest masterpieces of comics history. There he quickly paired with Argentinean maestro HG Oesterheld and contributed pencils to Westerns like SERGEANT KIRK or TICONDEROGA. He also started to cultivate his long lasting love for war series, starting with the superb war-journalism series ERNIE PIKE.

And suddenly, he found his own artistic voice, which combined a rich taste for adventure and exoticism with 19th century romanticism and sense of wonder. From then on, he would almost exclusively write his own stories - and score a few masterpieces in the process.

His style, at first very influenced by American master Milton Caniff, shifted from the clear line of the American cartoonists and the Franco-Belgian masters to a detailed and atmospheric mix of heavy-inked lines and watercolour spots, with the inking focused not in backgrounds, but in characters themselves and in the set pieces. Pratt used thick blacks to enhance expression and mood, a move that was soon to be emulated and taken further by Argentinean masters like Breccia and Carlos Muñoz, the forefathers of modern masters like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola and Eduardo Risso.

This evolution in Pratt's style can be clearly seen in works like the adventure romp ANA DE LA JUNGLA and WHEELING, a sequel to the frontier Western TICONDEROGA. But it was not until 1960, when he moved back to Europe, that he finally got the financial backing he needed to start his own magazine and write his own stories. The magazine was called SERGEANT KIRK, and that was where the legend of Corto Maltese, his most famous character, was born.

Until his death in 1995, Pratt alternated Corto Maltese adventures with scattered work for Italian and French publishers, like VERANO INDIO (1983) and GAUCHO (1991) - both with superb and typically kinky art by glorious pervert Milo Manara - and his own solo efforts, CATO ZULU (1984) and LES ESCORPIONS DU DESERT (several volumes from 1975 to 1980), arguably one of the best war comics ever created.

Pratt's distinct character design and excruciating eye for detail are matched by the strength of his storytelling technique and the depth of his understanding of character. His stories are true masterpieces that should be in every school library, because they're not only phenomenal adventure tales; they also offer a detailed glimpse of the world during a decisive and turbulent time in human history.

This article is Ideological Freeware.

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1.  Hugo Pratt - C.M., portfolio 1977
KOMPLET portfolio, ''C.M.'', udsendt i 1984, nr. 800/999, signeret af Hugo Pratt. Perfekt stand.
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