L’uomo del Sertão (1977)

Texts and drawings by Hugo Pratt

This single story comprising 48 comic pages appeared 
in the French magazine “Pilote” from issue 35 (April, 1977), éditions Dargaud.

This challenging and surreal story is set in 1938 in north-east Brazil, where the soul of Gringo Vargas lingers over the Sertão. The region is poor and the “Cangaceiros” (rebels) are trying to throw off the yoke of the powerful “Macacos”, as the population here defines the government soldiers. The wild, young Satãnhia is the girlfriend of Gringo Vargas, one of the rebel leaders, and sister of Sabino, a young man who betrays his comrades and causes the death of Gringo and all the Cangaceiros. Mãe Sabina, believed by the soldiers to practice Candomblé (black magic) has seen a vision of Gringo while in trance but when she tells this to Satãnhia the girl’s reaction is violent and unexpected. The girl kills the fortune-teller and desperately seeks out her lover who, despite being dead, seems to live suspended in a pre-death dimension caused by the magic of Mãe Sabina. Gringo Vargas can peacefully reach the kingdom of the dead only if he can accomplish his own revenge by killing the traitor Sabino. But Sabino is killed by his sister Satãnhia who believes she has accomplished justice; instead she has made it impossible for her lover to carry out his rightful vendetta. Thus, Gringo Vargas is forced to kill the only person who shares the same blood as the traitor, his beloved Satãnhia, by dropping her into space from a high mountain peak. While she falls her red robe opens up in the wind like a flower among butterflies in flight.