On this day (20 August) in 1995, Ugo Eugenio Pratt (known as Hugo Pratt), the comic book artist and illustrator, died in Grandvaux, Switzerland.

As a young child, Pratt had spent much of his childhood in Venice. In 1937, he moved with his mother to Ethiopia, in order to escape Mussolini’s fascist regime. He returned to Italy as the Second World War was drawing to a close.

Pratt’s first-hand experience of conflict and the fact that he was interred in a prisoner of war camp as a young man, influenced his art, which amalgamated realism and the ability to tell a tale with factual research.

In 1949, Pratt received a request to take up work in Argentina, which he accepted and accordingly, moved to Buenos Aries. Pratt also worked in London for a brief stint between 1959 and 1960.  From this point he migrated from Italy, to France and then on to Switzerland, where he spent his last years.

His legacy includes the creation of the captain and sailor, Corto Maltese, a character invented by Pratt whose adventures were published in a comic book of the same name. Pratt was also awarded the following accolades: a 1974 Prix Saint-Michel; various awards at the Angoulême Festivals of 1876, 1981, 1987 and 1988 and a 1886 Max and Moritz Prize.  In 2005, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.

Images: Black and white portrait of Hugo Pratt. Wikimedia Commons.

Black and white portrait of a young Hugo Pratt in Buenos Aries. Wikimedia Commons.

Hugo Pratt, drawing for the cover page of The Ethiopian. © 1978 Cong SA, Switzerland.

References: Désireé Sormani, “Corto Maltese Lands in Bologna.” In Abitare, 2016.  

Treccani Online Encyclopaedia.

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