L’uomo della Somalia (1978)

Texts and drawings by Hugo Pratt

This single story comprising 48 comic pages appeared in the French magazine “Pilote” from issue 52 (September, 1978), éditions Dargaud.

The year is 1931 in the Somali desert on the border with Ethiopia, where the British patrol commanded by Lieutenant Abel Robinson is in pursuit of a band of rebels. When a sudden sandstorm comes up he is separated from his men and finds himself transported in a dream-like and suspended dimension to the west of Eden. There he meets a series of strange characters such as Kayin, the avenging angel, and by using Samael (the poison of God) he sees the great mother Ewa, whom he considers to be beautiful. Stunned by this moment of madness the Lieutenant opens fire on Kayin, but his bullets miss their target when the figure suddenly disappears, or perhaps never existed except in the mind of the Lieutenant himself. Here, as in L’Uomo del Sertão, the story is dominated by a gloomy and tragic mood, with a very powerful esoteric and religious atmosphere, that includes references to the Old testament. Moreover, there is a sense of loneliness conjured up by the forts in the desert where men can lose their reason, isolated as they are in the endless silence of the vast expanses of sand. At the end of this extraordinary story the truth about what has happened is revealed. Another patrol, that has been sent out into the desert to search for that of Lieutenant Robinson, finally finds him lying out on the sand. A soldier is standing next to him and explains to his captain: “It’s Lieutenant Abel Robinson of the “Somaliland Camel Corps”. He’s dead. I’m sorry, Captain, but when we approached him he started shooting. I had to kill him.” Later it will be revealed that Abel Robinson had killed all the members of his patrol by shooting them in the back.