cover image Perramus: The City and Oblivion

Perramus: The City and Oblivion

Alberto Breccia and Juan Sasturain, trans. from the Spanish by Erica Mena. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (484p) ISBN 978-1-68396-290-8

Originally serialized in French in European magazines starting in 1984, and not published in Spanish until ’87 due to the political situation in Argentina that it sends up, this first and complete English translation of Breccia (The Eternaut) and writer and TV host Sasturain’s sprawling, Swiftian satire pulses with fury. Perramus, the protagonist, teams up with Canelones, a rough-and-tumble Uruguayan; a pilot nicknamed The Enemy; and author Jorge Luis Borges, to oppose the regime of “the marshals.” Their cracking adventures are divided into four sections, each of which follows its own absurd logic. “The Pilot of Oblivion” recounts Perramus’s survival after he avoids being “disappeared” by the skull-headed henchmen of the Argentinian dictatorship. He abandons his memories in a brothel, choosing the companion “Margarita, for oblivion.” “The Soul of the City” follows a quest to save the heart of Santa Maria, a stand-in for Buenos Aires. “The Island of Guano” accomplishes the overthrow of dictator Mr. Whitesnow, a Henry Kissinger stand-in, from an island where guano is currency, in a parable about winning freedom from America’s influence. In the final section, “A Tooth for a Tooth,” the adventurers search for the missing chompers of tango singer Carlos Gardel’s skull, symbolizing national healing. Breccia’s gritty chiaroscuro technique and overstuffed panels immerse the reader in dark humor. This bawdy epic plunges the reader into the suffering soul of a nation. [em](Apr.) [/em]