Ernie Pike (1957)

Texts by Héctor G. Oesterheld, Jorge Mora (1 episode),
Hugo Pratt (5 episodes)

Drawings by Hugo Pratt

A long series that appeared in the Argentine magazine “Hora Cero Mensual” issue 1 (May, 1957), and later in “Hora Cero Suplemento Mensual”,“Hora Cero Extra”,“Batallas Inolvidables”, “Libro de Hierro”, all published by editorial Frontera.

The character is based directly on the American war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who died towards the end of the Second World War on a small island in the Pacific near Okinawa while he was following the 77th Infantry Division into which he had been incorporated. The inscription on his tombstone reads “Who knows if he’ll still be here” and is dated 18 April 1945. As a journalist Pyle covered war stories on several fronts all over the world and produced articles that, at the time, made him very famous back in the US. By creating Ernie Pike in his likeness in this excellent comic story the Authors wanted to pay tribute to this extraordinary man who had an exceptional talent for conveying the atrocities and absurdities of war. Ernie Pike is depicted in the illustrations of each episode as the narrator of the facts and so appears to be directly involved in the events and hence is perceived as a real person. So this fictional character uses the style of the real-life Ernie to recount the life, anxieties and fears of unknown soldiers as well as forgotten acts of heroism, small personal tragedies and stories of courage that often border on cowardice. Many have claimed that without Pratt’s drawings this series would never have achieved the lofty heights of striking success it attained and this is most probably true because no other comic artist has ever managed to get into the spirit of a character so completely and totally as the Master of Malamocco (as Odb, alias Oreste del Buono, was later to define him). The series which was born in 1957 and concluded in 1976 has 34 episodes of considerably different length attributed to Pratt, (the shortest cover 4 pages while the longest runs to 25). Other artists who alternated with Pratt were Solano Lopez, Alberto Breccia, José Muñoz and Walther Fahrer. Note: The range of Italian language publications that have hosted the character goes unrivalled in other European countries, from when he first appeared in 1958 on the magazine Albi del Nuovo Sceriffo, and later Albo del Castoro, il Corriere dei Piccoli, il Piccolo Sceriffo, il Piccolo Ranger, Albo Gli Invincibili, Sgt. Kirk magazine, Asso di Picche (edizioni Sgt. Kirk of 1969, not to be con- fused with the Albo Uragano magazine), Super Gulp,Totem, Corto Maltese magazine, the Lizard hardback, and not forgetting the Mondadori books and those published by Florenzo Ivaldi, including the top-notch oblong hard-cover volume published in June 1974.