This is the fourth volume in the Fantagraphics reprint project of the Alberto Breccia Library but, to my discredit, it’s my first encounter with the Argentine master’s work. The book has overwhelming aesthetic gravity that pulled this ignorant comics shopper into its orbit.
This volume reprints stories from the early 1980s. They’re almost entirely wordless shorts featuring a hapless Dracula. The artwork is all lush, layered paint, with every form distorted for maximal effect, every page a clinic in beautiful ugliness. The rendering alone is worth the price of admission.
On the most superficial level these are gag stories (what happens when a vampire gets a toothache etc) but there are sinister overtones and social criticism throughout. The most overt story “I Was Legend” shows Dracula wandering through scenes of regime brutality until he flees in desperation to the ironic sanctity of a church. Via footnotes and accompanying text this volume points out symbols relevant to the context of the Argentine dictatorship.
Also included in this volume is a fascinating and extensive sketchbook section displaying thumbnails alongside finished pages.
As a Breccia novice I can’t comment on where this fits into the oeuvre but for me it was a tantalizing introduction to that artist’s stature. I’ll be tracking down the rest of this reprint library, including the forthcoming Life of Che.