cover image Life of Che: An Impressionistic Biography

Life of Che: An Impressionistic Biography

Héctor Germán Oesterheld, Alberto Breccia, and Enrique Breccia, trans. from the Spanish by Erica Mena. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (90p) ISBN 978-1-68396-522-0

This explosive biography of Che Guevara (1928–1967) showcases Breccia’s ongoing collaborations with Oesterheld (Mort Cinder). Tracing the famed revolutionary’s life from childhood to his death at the hands of the CIA in cahoots with the Bolivian government, Oesterheld’s clipped script style is well matched to Breccia’s moody, scribbly line, which echoes the righteous passion and controversy that Guevara curried. Oesterheld connects Guevara’s youthful travels across South America with his revolutionary consciousness, depicting Guevara as horrified at the abject poverty he saw as a feature of capitalism. What separates Guevara in this telling from the revolutionaries he fought beside was his devotion to the poor, the oppressed, and the sick; there are as many images in the narrative of him healing the sick as there are of him plotting military strategy. Breccia’s intense chiaroscuro and use of collage conjure a gritty and visceral setting that amplifies Guevara’s exploits, with occasional, effectively jarring ink-splatterings of blood. Originally published in Argentina in 1969, two years after Guevara’s death, the comic drew the ire of the government, which confiscated all of the originals. This English-language reprint, shot from a restored printing of the original, holds a faded effect that lends to its feeling of being a cultural curiosity. Breccia’s distorted realism passionately evokes Guevara’s larger-than-life persona. (Mar.)