Wheeling (1962)

Texts and drawings by Hugo Pratt

This long saga was produced over four distinct periods:
 the first part was created in 1962, the second part was started in 1964 and concluded in 1980-1981, and lastly a final part was added in 1994.
The first part was published in the Argentine weekly “Misterix” from issue 700 of April 1962, editorial Yago. The second part (only the first 34 pages) on “SuperMisterix” from issue 801 of March 1964, while the conclusion
 (the remaining 28 pages) came out on the French magazine “Métal Hurlant” from issue 51 of May 1980, Humanoïdes Associés publishers. The final part that was added 
was published in the volume “Wheeling, il sentiero 
delle amicizie perdute” in October 1995, edizioni Lizard.

This is Hugo Pratt’s first great masterpiece, both in regards to the graphics which are as mature and well detailed in the first as they are airy and synthetic in the second, as well as in regards to the subject matter which deals with the American wars of independence that took place in North America in the eighteenth century between the pioneers and the interfering interests of the French and English that had sent their soldiers there. The work is a celebration of the great adventure narrative, made richer here by the presence of all the different Indian tribes of the area that can be recognised apart thanks to their aquiline noses and prominent cheekbones and who feature as fickle allies that continually switch sides. In this work the author is able to put his considerable historical knowledge of the period’s events to good use, creating a tapestry of great pathos and including in the storyline many characters who actually existed in real-life to mix together with his fictional characters: Criss Kenton, a seventeen-year-old Virginian, Patrick Fitzgerald, an English aristocrat of the same age, Mohena, a young white girl brought up by the Indians after they had slayed her whole family, the redskin Tiny, who demonstrates an unusual wisdom for her tender age. Alongside these fictional characters that are essential for the storyline there are a number of historical figures such as the tormented figure of Lew Wetzel, the pock-marked Indian-killer, the renegade white man Simon Girty (to whom Pratt gave his own face), the rough but honest Ebenezer Zane who founded Wheeling, Daniel Boone, one of the most daring pioneers of the time, Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, and Madame Montour, interpreter and agent of the Indian Department. Undoubtedly this saga always occupied a special place in Pratt’s affections, to the extent that he went back to it a number of times in order to polish it off and conclude it at whatever price, finally achieving his aim a year before his death. Note: In 1990 Hugo Pratt wrote “Il romanzo di Criss Kenton”, a prose narrative based on the comic story, for the Editori del Grifo.