I don’t particularly like putting forward that anything is necessarily the best in entertainment.

I prefer to say that something is my favourite. Because art and entertainment is subjective. You could say that something is the best-selling. Or perhaps most well-reviewed. Best known. But I don’t think there are any objective criteria to measure the best of any artists’ creations. And through that you’ll have a bevvy of different answers when you ask a question like what’s the best from them.

With Alberto Breccia it’s easy to make an argument for several of his works, especially the collaborations with Oesterheld. Mort Cinder gets many accolades. The Eternaut pushed his style. Dracula can be considered fun. A historical importance can be placed on his biographies of Che Guevara and Eva Peron.

I’ve saved by favourite for last, though, Perramus. I think it was the first time I’d ever come across Breccia’s work. In French actually. A single volume in the late ’90s of L’île de Guano. It was actually the third part of the broader adventure, but I found it hilarious, even if I didn’t yet appreciate its context. A kind of absurd revolutionary war story that reminded me of Dr. Strangelove and Duck Soup.

I’m sorry, but my whole life is a fantasy, a story.”

Perramus: The City and Oblivion by Juan Sasturain and Alberto Breccia, as translated by Erica Mena, feels like a culmination of the themes and styles across much of Breccia’s work. Both in terms of storytelling and artwork. It collects the four separate graphic albums in one volume as translated fully into English for the first time. Following the various adventures and misadventures of a man who had his past erased and goes by the name stitched into his coat. Accompanied by a band of strange characters, including a fictionalized Jorge Luis Borges.

The artwork is Breccia at his peak. Personally, I think even more so than his colour work in his Dracula, of which this is reminiscent. Like his process work shown for that work, the art in Perramus blends his vast experience with technique and experimentation into an exquisite whole. There’s a surrealism present in his exaggerated figures and stark expressionistic shadows, bathed in a grey wash. There’s an impressive attention to detail in the highly expressive faces. A bit of humour in the caricatures of real and fictionalized people. It works incredibly well for a story that combines adventure, mystery, satire, humour, and a kind of literary redemption for a country.

Sasturain and Breccia deliver four discrete tales starting with a story that’s essentially a gathering of characters. It also sets up the location where the third story will take place, in an interesting country where trailers for fake movies are sold to America. There’s an interesting theme of smoke and mirrors that runs through the entire work, a kind of existential question of identity.

The second and fourth stories both set up a multistage quest hinging on a mystery; the former around clues relating to the soul of a city and the latter about locations where the smile of South America can be reclaimed tooth by tooth. The stories taking on a kind of metaphorical representation of personal and national identity under and after an oppressive regime. And the third story the aforementioned absurdist war tale.


If we eliminate time, all roads, slow or fast, lead to revolution, and so they are irrelevant.”

Perramus: The City and Oblivion from Sasturain and Breccia, as translated by Mena, is a fantastic adventure story that takes some incredible twists and turns along the way. It’s a sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious, sometimes literary, but always compelling work from an artist at the very top of his craft telling a challenging story that picks up the pieces from a time under a despotic regime.


Classic Comic Compendium: PERRAMUS – The City and Oblivion

Perramus: The City and Oblivion (The Alberto Breccia Library – Volume 2)
Writer: Juan Sasturain
Artist: Alberto Breccia
Translator: Erica Mena
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: June 17 2020

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!